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Petworth
Polish Camp

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Petworth Polish Camp Recollections
By- Robert [Bob] Johnson

I was eight in 1951 and my memories of this time are few but vivid as an eight year old would recall. My mother Vera Johnson had remarried to a polish man a Mr John Niewczasinski who lived at the Polish Camp in Petworth Park. It was quite a large camp; we were in number 27 as the address and year were recorded in my National Registration Identity Card.
 
What a glorious location backed by the undulating expanses of Petworth Park where deer roamed freely. The camp was adjacent to the northern edge of Lower Pond that was very close to a 2nd gate [with no lodge] which was the entrance along the London Road leading from Petworth. The pond was abundant with fish including Pike. My stepfather and I fished there a lot and as a family we spent many pleasant hours relaxing and fishing with rods and handlines.
 
It was the first, and only, time I lived in a Nissen hut. I believe they were also used by the Canadian Regiments who were based there during the war. Unusual as they were with their semi circlular shape in corrugated metal, they seemed quite roomy with a large area containing kitchen with butler sink plus dining - living room and maybe a couple of bedrooms and bathroom.
The one striking thing I remember is that when it rained the curved metal huts leaked like a sieve and many recepticals were laid out to catch the water. The interior panels were discoloured and distorted due to the frequent ingress of rain. The winters were icy cold and we made good use of the free standing coal fuelled stove in the large area. We also had a paraffin heater to warm the bedrooms prior to bedtime.
 
There were box shapes for the windows jutting out either side of the hut and ordinary flat windows in the front and rear walls.
 
I think that once a month the air raid siren was tested. It was an ingenious device that was hand operated by a handle which operated gearing inside to rotate a vaned wheel very fast to produce the wailing sound. I used to play with it, just rotating it enough to create a bit of a murmering. Quite often someone shouted at me to leave it alone.
 
My Mother, Stepfather and I used to go to Leconfield Hall for the local hop. There were usually plenty of other kids there to play with while the parents jived and jitterbugged. I believe I also attended the primary school located off Pound Street for a short while. We moved on to Sutton after about a year and I went to Sutton primary briefly before going to Duncton primary where I had commenced my schooling.
 
I do not know how many huts were still in use when we left. But I do know that huts were dismantled fairly quickly as occupants moved out and on to pastures new.
Bob Johnson, Cyprus


related or associated :-
Some of Bob Johnsons Photos & memories
 
letter to Ludwig Jeske
Petworth index

Sutton - - Duncton
 
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National Identity Card
Lower Pond, Petworth Park -
The camp was situated to the left of this photo
Lower Pond, Petworth Park
Entrance Gate on London road
During the war there was a Polish camp in Petworth Park, and there was a Polish priest to say mass there. [ also a Polish school and library] Some of Poles who had lived in the camp, however, remained in Petworth after it was closed, and they were partly responsible for the considerable growth in mass attendance during the 1960s.
Source - Sacred Heart RC Church Petworth
 
Mjr. Mieczyslaw Roman Pajak became Commandant of West Chiltington and Petworth Camps.
see also www.polishresettlementcampsintheuk
 
We would be very grateful for any further information or photographs relating to this camp.
 

 

West Chiltington Camp
Simone Kaptur has contacted us and is searching for any information or photographs of this camp.
 
There are photos and some information of the West Chiltington DP Camp here
 
The conditions in West Chiltington camp were not really suitable........the cold winter of 1947 prompted the authorities to look for a better site.
Mjr. Mieczyslaw Roman Pajak became Commandant of West Chiltington and Petworth Camps.
see also www.polishresettlementcampsintheuk see also
see also Article in County Times - 25 February 2013
 
We would be very grateful for any further information or photographs relating to this camp.
 
Monkmead Wood, West Chiltington. Photo by Derek Martin Monkmead Wood, Photo by Derek Martin - 2012

 
This section is ongoing and changes or additions are being made. If you wish to add to, or comment on, the above please contact us. Anyone wishing to contact Bob Johnson or Simone Kaptur may do so by emailing us and your message and email address will be passed on.
 
Gravelroots publish historical information, as presented to us, in good faith. The authors of researched family history have invariably attempted to create an accurate account or no purpose would have been served in researching it. Although we do seek to ensure that information contained throughout the website is accurate it is impractical to check the accuracy of all the information contained therein. As with all historical research, you should check other sources for corresponding data, rather than rely on any one source.
 

 


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