A refugee camp for people displaced (DPs) by World War Two was established in Foxley, Herefordshire, in the United Kingdom, in 1946 and was home to several hundred DPs and others until 1958. The DP camp was set up specifically for demobilised Polish military personnel who had fought on the Allied side against Nazi Axis powers. Many of them, including a few of their relatives, had survived internment and forced labour in the camps of the Soviet Gulag system, coming out via Uzbekistan, Persia and Egypt, before going on to active service with Allied units in Italy and other parts of Europe. After the war, those that came to the UK were housed in barracks that had just been used as a US/Canadian air force hospital camp in Foxley. Within a few years they were joined by other nationalities (some Russians, Ukrainians, Greeks, Italians and even English and Irish families). Soon some started leaving to take up jobs elsewhere in the UK or to emigrate to the USA, Canada or Australia. The camp was closed down in 1958, many of the 400 or so inhabitants being housed in local housing accommodation in nearby Hereford.
Zbigniew Pawlowicz (below third from left) was an avid photographer and this collection includes a tiny fraction of his photographs of people and events in the camp and nearby. It is a unique social history of a little known and barely recorded chapter in the history of the UK and the postwar immigrant community that emerged during cold war years when the DPs could not return to their home towns or farms in eastern Europe (most of these had suffered war damage or otherwise been affected by border changes and new communist regimes).
Polish soldiers having Christmas dinner in Foxley in 1946:
[Some photos on this site were taken using a self-timer with tripod or by a friend instructed to press the shutter release.]
Image: Before demob, soldiers at dinner
For a while the camp was run by Captain William Hawker, who was the Resettlement Officer:
Image: Capt William Hawker
After demobilisation, residents were trained in a choice of either cobbling (as here) or carpentry, which did not often lead to longlasting careers.
Image: TRaining to be a cobbler
Relief that the war was over led to some black humour (winter 1946-47 was very cold, producing huge icicles - used by Zbigniew Pawlowicz and his mates as "weapons")
Image: icicle execution
The occasional dignitary complete with chain of office did visit the camp:
Some families left early to make a new life in the USA, Canada or Australia - the most popular destination was Chicago:
Image: Hryniowieckis before leaving for Chicago
Image: Mansell Lacy Post Office
Mansel Lacy Post Office was housed in this magnificent old house, complete with dove cote (I don't know if the pigeons were ever used for mail purposes in the past). This photo is modern and the house is now private. During the days when the Camp was occupied by Polish DPs, this was where all official documents would be received and official business transacted. The hamlet now only contains a few houses and a church in a picturesque location.
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