December 2nd 2020
On Tue, 1 Dec 2020, 22:12 Bogdan Struzik, wrote:
Bogdan Struzik just submitted your form: Contact
Your name: Bogdan Struzik
Message: I believe I know who the couple is in the picture under "News items for 2020". They are Bolek (Benny) and Bronia Romacz. They moved to Plainfield, NJ in the 50's. Bronia's parents were the Jurek's who also moved to Plainfield. I lived in Petworth with my parents until age 5 and then we moved to New Jersey as well in 1955. My father was Jan Struzik and I believe we lived in hut no. 8 next to the pond. Thanks. Bogdan Struzik
Subject: News items for 2020 - Picture
My reply to Bogdan AKA Bob in the USA.
Great to hear from you Bogdan. Can I share your message on our website? I am just going to bed. It is after midnight here in the UK. Merry Christmas to you and your family.
Regards Ryszard Starzec AKA Richard
First of all, Happy Birthday and enjoy your day...and as they say, Sto lat!
Thanks for creating this website and keeping it current. There aren't many of us left from Camp III.
Yes, please share my note on your website.
I have looked at all the information on the site and it's great. I've also shared it with my brother and sister, and some others.
My parents (Jan and Stanislawa Struzik (nee Michalski)) lived in the hut next to the pond. My father was in the Polish section of the British Army, and so was my mother. Both had been displaced from Poland but under different circumstances. My father from outside Krakow was in the Polish Army in Poland, captured and spent time in a POW camp in Russia, and ended up fighting in Italy in the battle of Monte Cassino (received cross of bravery). My mother from outside Warsaw was pulled away from her family by German soldiers, and ended up in Hungary where she joined the Polish section of the British Army. She also served in Italy driving supply trucks for the troops and met her future husband there for the first time. Meeting in England again, they got married in Seven Oaks. They had three children in Petworth; Irena, Edmund, and me (Bogdan). My sister was born in 1948, my brother in 1951 and I was born in 1950. We had left England in 1955 under difficult circumstances to come to the US.
My parents remained friends with some of the residents of the camp after we all moved to the US. As I have stated, they/we visited with Bolek and Bronia Romasz when we were still kids. I believe that they are still living but would have to check with my sister as to their status. We also kept in touch with the Teszners. I believe Adam Teszner and Erica? lived in hut no. 39. The name listed on no.39 may be misspelled. They had three boys in Petworth; Richard (1947), Henyek (1950), and Wesley (1955). They had a fourth son in the US in 1960 (Edward) after moving to Phildelphia, PA. We still keep in touch with Richard and Hank. My parents also kept in touch with Wladek and Weronika Romasz. They also had three sons; Stan (1945?); Teddy (1946?) and Richard (1949). Both the Romasz' lived in Plainfield, NJ, as well as the Jureks mentioned in my previous note.
Just a point of interest. There is a picture that Lydia had posted in her story. She identifies it as a Communion picture, but I checked with my sister and she believes it's from Corpus Christi Sunday. In the picture, my sister is the fourth from left. We also have a copy of this same photo. Those baskets around the girls necks were for flower petals. The petals were thrown in the procession before the Blessed Sacrament. I have some pictures from the camp and will share with you down the road.
My brother and sister, and the Teszner brothers have been exchanging memories lately. It's great to reminisce about those days.
Thanks again for maintaining these memories. Please stay in touch.
Merry Christmas to you and your family.
Bogdan (AKA Bob)
20 August 2020
Looking after our daughter's camp site this weekend we met a lady whose name is Agnieszka. Her father was apparently a maths teacher at the Polish Camp. His name was (now passed away) Ulrych Zerdszinski. He travelled between several camps one being West Chiltington and another one in Gloucester. He finally ended up living in London where his daughter was born. Apparently her mother lost two children during their stays in the camps,apparently one was to Whooping Cough and not sure about the other one. There were very limited inoculation programmes available at the time. I have spoken to my elder sister Stasha and she does not recognise the name. Agnieszka was born in 1953 in London. As the Starzec family were relatively late comers to the Petworth Camp, I wondered if the name of this teacher rang any bells with any of you? The only teacher we knew was Franciszek Cisek. Agnieszka is going to keep in touch and hopefully will share some family photos of life in the camps. Bearing in mind that some of her photos might be from other camps.
I have copied Agnieszka with this email message, maybe we will be able to have a family page for her.
Agnieszka's reply below. She has changed her name by Deed Poll to a phonetic spelling to help English people to get the pronunciation correct.
Just wanted to touch base and thank you for such a lovely stay at your campsite.
Regarding Petworth, I will look up some information and photos and send them to you as soon as I can, I'm waiting for some info from my sisters too.
This may take a few weeks but I haven't forgotten and will be nice to share it.
We will be at your campsite again at some point next year but in the meantime wishing you all the best.
Anyeshka Wood (Agnieszka)
Can I post your comments on the news page. Also I want to put you in touch with someone who is writing about the West Chiltington camp
Is that ok?
Regards Ryszard Starzec
We'd certainly like that!
As it turns out my parents didn't go to Petworth.
It seems they were at West Chiltington first for a year maybe, then moved to Diddington then Stowell Park and back to Diddington. My sister thinks the moves were due to my fathers role as a teacher in the camp.
I was born once they moved to London in 1953 for my fathers job, where he was an accountant for a shoe importing company, having trained at Walbrook college while my mother stayed at the Diddington camp. I still have the letters they wrote to each other then.
My sisters are very interested also and although Petworth was not a place they stayed, it has inspired us to look up the websites for the other camps so thank you for that!
She has driven past Stowell Park and Diddington, (on the old A1 near St Neots about 20 years ago) and aerial views show there's nothing left.
If you feel it would be of interest, I am happy to share the stories and photos from the camps even as a comparison, though it will take me a while to sort as we are renovating atm.
Here is a message we got from a visitor to our website From Alexandra Harris. I have sent both of them copies of their email addresses so that they can discuss the West Chiltington Polish Camp.
Message: Dear Ryszard, What a wonderful website! I hope you won't mind my getting in touch. I'm working on a book about local histories in the Storrington-Pulborough-Petworth area, and have been gripped by finding out about the Polish camps. I grew up on Monkmead Lane (W Chilt) and wanted to know about the camp there - then discovered the Petworth Society Magazine articles... I've been reading as much as I can, and it's opened up so many new perspectives on places I thought I knew fairly well. I feel so grateful to all those who have written about their memories! I'm wondering very tentatively whether you or anyone else might be willing to have a chat with me, or perhaps even have a look over the chapter I've drafted. I'm rather nervous that I might be getting things wrong - but I really want to make it work. I'd be delighted to be in touch anytime - and in any case, I'm sending my thanks to you for piecing together so much amazing history. Best wishes, Alexandra Harris
Subject: Researching the Petworth and West Chiltington Polish camps
9th August 2020
Well thanks to Krystyna Saunders (nee Krawczuk) we have an answer to the question posed by Miles Costello.
Good afternoon Ryszard and All
Lovely to hear from you and that you are all well on this beautiful day!
Thank you for the latest update and for your continued work on the site. Extraordinary what turns up and what a small world it is, the lady in the picture is/was Bronia Romarsz nee Jurek; they were very good friends of my Mother and Father until they emigrated to New Jersey USA in the late fifties; Bronia was my Godmother and Mike Jurek, her brother, worked alongside my Father and Uncle until his untimely death in the late sixties (he could only have been in his late thirties and died from stomach cancer), he is buried at Duncton church. Mr Romarsz's brother, Mike, stayed in England in Petworth until he died; he is buried with his daughter Krystyna in the Petworth cemetery. I have not had any communication from the USA for some years and 'presume' that Bronia is no longer at the address we knew or has moved higher up; if she is still living, she would be in her early nineties now.
Some years ago, Peter and I visited the County Records Office in Chichester when we were doing some research on the camp; you may recall a local photographer by the name of (Ted?) Garland who was very active during that period. We came across a photo called A Polish Wedding - this was Bronia's wedding and both my Mother and Father were in the background; apart from that there was very little.
I hope the above is of interest to you all. Krystyna Saunders
News items for 2020
Miles Costello Sent me this photo and asked the question "Have a look at the attached photograph. It appears to be Ben Romasz & Brunii? Yurek at the Petworth camp. Any comments please?" I don't recognize either of them but it is a lovely photo. Does anyone have and ideas as to who it might be? Please let me know if you have any information.
MESSAGE TO ALL WHO ATTENDED THE PICNIC. PLEASE FORWARD YOUR PHOTOS TO ME BY WHATSAP.
MY MOBILE IS 07836 239 007
New contact from Joe Stempien
Joe Stempien a former Polish Camp Kid contacted us through our Contacts page. Here is a copy of what we have so far communicated.
A site visitor just submitted a new Contact Form
Your name: Joe Stempien
Subject: Petworth Park Reminiscence
Message: Hi Looking through Fridays Mail, I found an article on Stalag Sheffield. I am not implying anything sinister but the pictured Nissan Huts obviously sparked something in my earliest memories of childhood that our family lived in something similar until my 5th or 6th birthday. At which time we were relocated to a lovely village called Bury. I honestly do not recall much about living in Petworth but I am sure that some of your contacts may be able to help my memory. I do recall trying to swim in the lake and going to church. Best regards, Joe
Good morning Richard.
Its a lovely day for golf so enjoy.
I also try, am a member at Cowdray Park and of all the sporting activities I play golf is the most frustrating.
Team sports are best because you can always blame your team mates if things go badly.
At golf unfortunately you can only blame yourself.
Yes of course you can share the email messages and enjoy next weeks holiday.
I have just returned from visiting USA southern states. Visited six of them, very interesting and extremely hot.
Best regards Joe
From: Ryszard Starzec
Sent: Friday, July 12, 2019 8:44 AM
To: Joe Stempien
Subject: Re: New message via your website, from
Is it ok for me to share your email messages on the news page of our website? Tina and I are playing golf today. And we are on holiday next week.
Regards Ryszard AKA Richard
On Tue, 9 Jul 2019, 11:30 Joe Stempien, wrote:
Many thanks for getting back to me.
Am currently living in Westergate so not a problem to meet up in Amberley.
We purchased the old family home in Bury after my father passed away in 1982.
Most of the family had fledged so mother was worried that she would be rehoused as only her and my youngest sister were living there.
We still own this property and my two sisters are currently living there.
I really do not remember seeing early photographs though.
However, I do recall seeing an old military style metal chest in the loft that I always assumed retained my fathers military memorabilia, probably worth investigating at some point.
From: Ryszard Starzec
Sent: Monday, July 8, 2019 4:43 PM
To: Joe Stempien
Subject: Re: New message via your website,
I do remember you and your family and so do some of the others who helped to create this site. I am busy now but would like to meet you.
I live in Storrington and am a regular customer of the Bridge pub in Amberley
Do you have any old photos we could put up on the website and maybe tell your story?
Can we have a chat on the phone and arrange a drink somewhere. Are you still living in Bury?
On 8/21/2018 4:30 PM, Ryszard Starzec wrote:
You have done it again, the mention of Mr. Pilbeam has jogged my memory. I remember the rent collector of that name and I am sure that I remember him coming to collect the rent from my parents in the house we moved to in Nell Ball Plaistow. Was he a tall man (everyone would look tall to a seven year old boy) with very pointed features and a bald head?
I remember so much from my childhood in the camp but I do find it hard to put things in order.
If you visit the website now you will see that I have put your first message onto our news page. I would like to do the same with this message and my response to it, in the hope that it jogs the memory of other Polish Camp Kids. I sincerely hope that you are in agreement with me so doing.
In my opinion your input has been invaluable, if you can think of anything else please let me know.
Miles Costello from the Petworth Society has asked me to draw a plan from my memory. I will try and do that but it is a tall order from a boy who left there in 1957 aged 7 years. In spite of that I will try and draw something up. Do you know if there were any plans of the layout.
This project has become a bit of a mission for me. I know that I have a limited time left on this Planet, and I would love to leave a good account of the Camp for the residents of Petworth and others to enjoy when I finally fall off the perch.
I am heartened by the sincere comments you make and your appreciation of the Polish people and their contribution to the country they decided to settle in.
Home: 01903 745779
Mobile: 07836 239007
Dear Ryszard Starzec,
Thank you for your gracious message. I am sorry to have kept you waiting for a response.
I am not sure that I can add a great deal about the Petworth Polish camp. I was at Petworth in the mid-fifties and although I was working for Petworth Rural District Council, I had very little to do with the camp, itself. I did visit, there, a couple of times, as I recall, to collect rents. This I did, only when the regular collector, Mr. Pilbeam, was on holiday. I did the accounting, in the office, at Newlands, Pound Street, which was on the road to Chichester and opposite the road to Midhurst. On September 28th. 1957, my wife and I were married in the Isle of Wight, off the south coast. Before that I was lodging in The Wheatsheaf Public House. This was on the right of the road from Petworth town centre to the camp. It was almost opposite to St. Mary's Anglican Church.
After we married, my wife and I lived, for a year or so, at 13 Hampers Green. This was a Council housing estate, which was on th opposite side of the London Road from the Polish Camp. The access to Hampers Green was from the Gunter's Bridge road, which parted from the London Road just north of Petworth Common. We were members of the Hampers Green Drama Group, now known, I think, as Petworth Players. Later, we moved to Kingswood, near Bristol.
In Petworth, on the London Road, there was a Youth Centre, where we had various meetings. One of these groups, at least, was chaired by the "Lord of the Manor" who was, at that time, Mr. John Wyndham. He was a private secretary to Harold McMillen, the Prime Minister. I met him. He was the custodian of Petworth House.
We had a happy time at Petworth where, at the PRDC, the Clerk of the Council was Frank Speed, a real country gentleman.
I have tried to fill you in with a few bits and pieces about Petworth. However, do please let me know if you have any questions with which I can help you. I and my family owe a great debt to the Polish people, especially from saving Cowes, our town (possibly our lives!), in WWII. I have also received great hospitality and kindness from Polish people, during my many visits to your country.
It would be nice to stay in touch.
With Love, Respect and Support,
14th August 2018
I have just received this message from David C Jones in America I have replied to him and I have shown his message and my response to it below:-
Sent: Tuesday, 14 August 2018, 18:27
Subject: New message via your website, from
Your name David C. Jones
Your email address mandatory
Subject The Polish Camp at Petworth
Message I am 83 years old and now live in USA. I was working at Petworth Rural District Council, when our Polish friends were being re-housed, in the mid-fifties. Earlier, in WWII, I was living in Cowes, Isle of Wight, when we were defended by the Polish destroyer Blyskawica. I and my family were eternally grateful for the bravery of our Polish allies and the determination of the captain and crew of the ship. Some of the Polish sailors married Cowes ladies, including one in our street.. My dad brought some of the Blyskawica crew to visit our home, as he was working at J.S.Whites, which built the ship. I have since seen the ship at Gdynia, in Poland, as I visited Poland, many times, for the World Bank, when I worked there as a financial analyst. Apart from Warsaw, I also visited Crakow, Lublin, Szezcin, and other cities. My sister, in the IOW, has participated in commemorations for the Blyskawica. God Bless our Polish friends, for whose courage and determination, we might not be alive to write this. Please write back, if you can.
Sent on: 14 August, 2018
My reply, hope you all agree with me.
I am so thrilled with your message that I am going to put it on our news page. We have to get more information about the camp. Please bear in mind that the surviving children who met last Sunday were very young when the camp closed. It would be wonderful if we could get some more information regarding the layout and anything which might help us to give a better picture.
We are delighted that Petworth House have put a link to our website on their website. I would be most grateful if you could help us to with any information you can give us. It is a shame that we didn't start this project years ago. We must have lost a lot of information that could have been supplied by our parents. Thank you for your message, I love it.
Please feel free to contact me at anytime.
I have decided to make some changes to the website, I will explain why below:-
I have renamed the page called "The Team" to a "NEWS" page. All the information previously on the Team page is still there it has just become the oldest entry on the News Page. I have added a message about our Picnic on the 12th of August stating what we will do next. This news page will be there all the time and I will add your emails provided they are constructive, relevant and appropriate as a running news feed for the website.
For example I received two very nice messages from Stasha and Krystyna Saunders and will put them up on the News page.
Stasha sent me the photos she took yesterday and I will keep them and show them soon, not sure how I will show them yet but most probable on a dedicated page about our Picnic. I am away from home at the moment and have been without a desktop and laptop for 3 days but have just got a new Charger unit for my laptop courtesy of Amazon Prime of who I am the biggest fan as I hate shopping. So I am up and running again.
Please log onto the website http://www.petworthpolishcamp.com/ to see the changes I have made.
This message has been posted to at least one member of the couples who attended yesterday. please check the list and inform me of anyone I may have forgotten.
It is my intention to compile another list of those people who have shown an interest in our project, for example Miles Costello and visitors who have shown an interest in our website.
I will send out information of how we can all share the costs of keeping our website going for the next few years and produce a spreadsheet showing all cost and contributions. I believe we should cover the costs by paying a nominal amount each year which any surplus will be used to reduce the contributions for the following year.
Have a look and tell me what you think.
Ryszard Starzec AKA Richard Starzec.
Here are the first messages from members posted on the 13th August 2018
What a lovely day today turned to be! Thanks are due in no small measure to Krysia Saunders (nee Krawczuk) and her husband Peter, Ryszard Starzec (my brother) and Miles Costello. It did rain as we gathered in the car park of Petworth Park, but nothing dampened our spirits, as we set off on our walk to our Camp site. The only landmark left for us to gauge the location of our Nissen huts was the lake in which we used to swim and the ‘climbing tree’.
It was nostalgic (I had not been back at all since moving away more than 60 years ago unlike some of you) and it was quite sad not to see any trace of our homes or the perimeter roads. The surrounding wall looked the same, but that was all. And, imagine, this was our playground! We were lucky and we had an amazing childhood compared to many children after the war.
Thank you Krysia and Ryszard for arranging the venue and date as well as all your communication to ensure attendance. And producing that wonderful spread of Polish goodies and delicious cake baked by Krysia. Thank you Miles for the offer of the Community Centre in Hampers Green. It was a life-saver as it wasn’t quite the picnic weather we had envisaged. Thank you too for doing a piece on the Polish kids! Don’t forget to ask anyone who might read your magazine and either lived with us, or remembers us to contact Ryszard with any memories. We went to school in Petworth and knew a lot of local children.
I was pleased that our brother, Tadeusz, was well enough to join us with Krystyna. The leg is definitely on the mend Tadz, but take care and look after yourself. And, best of all, it was so good to meet again Krysia Martin (nee Bandrowska) and Zoe Keane (nee Dulas) and to be able to have a natter and in a small way, catch up on all those years. Zoe even brought along some photos.
As Ziggi remarked, it was difficult to find time to speak with everyone for any length of time, especially as there was food involved ... but looking around at all of our smiling faces, a good time was had by all.
I noticed how our partners, Peter, Julia, Tina, Paul (Lydia’s son) MIke and my husband Roger faded into the background allowing the Camp kids to have their ‘moment’ . It was noticed and much appreciated. Thank you very much for your support.
Lydia has said she has some photos and a penned article for our web site. I’m looking forward to it Lydia! And I would encourage Zoe and Krysia to do one too. We all have a story to tell, and it will be of interest to us all. And Krysia was telling me she is an author of two books already! As Ryszard said, lets leave something for posterity. He also added "before we fall of our perches” but lets not go there!
See you all next year, if not before.
With fondest wishes to you all,
Message from Krystyna Saunders.
Good morning everybody
Thank you Stasha for your lovely message which reflect my feelings about yesterday, a truly special afternoon and extra special that Krysia Martin, your sister Krysia, Tadzio and Zoe came along too. A very special thanks to our newest friend Miles for arranging 'shelter'; hopefully, he will be able to come along to future gatherings. It all helps to keep our stories alive.
Take care of yourselves and all the best/Krysia and Peter Saunders
Message From Krystyna Martin Nee Bandrowska
Honestly yesterday was something else. The weather certainly did nothing to dampen our spirits. I so loved meeting you all again. Very very special. I argued with Ziggi about the location of our “barrel” (Ziggi you were right!!!). Hm. Then caught up with Zofia which was lovely. Then chatted and chatted to you Stasiu and to your poor husband Roger caught in the middle of endless reminiscences. Goes for Zofia’s husband too. Did they go home with a headache and make an appointment to see a therapist to recover? It was of course also wonderful to see Lydia and Krysia and her husband Peter, who really is very long suffering. And Krysia nee Starzec so delicate still and poor Tadzio- Get well soon! I wish I had been able to speak more to Ryszard and his wife but felt that they probably had their hands full enough sorting out all the web details with Miles and talking compu-speak without Krysia Martin gabbling away in their ear.
So thank you all, and especially to the always well organised hospitable Krystyna and Peter.
Let’s meet sooner than next year. Maybe at mine if you can bear London.
Second meeting of the Camp Kids 12th August 2018
Almost one year after our first meeting we arranged a Picnic in Petworth Park to catch up with what has happened during the last year. The website has grown slowly and we have made some amazing contacts. The website manager at Petworth House who are part of The National Trust has put a link to our website on their History Page. They want their visitors to be aware of the camp's existence and although we still control the content they are happy to see it grow. For our Part we are delighted to have their blessing. Our eventual aim is to hand over the site to them hopefully so that it can provide a permanent record of how the Camp grew, how the Polish residents integrated with local families and how they were housed mostly in Sussex to start with but actually have spread across the world.
One of our new contacts is Miles Costello who is a member of The Petworth Society they have similar interests in providing historic and current information relevant to Petworth. We would like to extend our thanks to Miles Costello and the Petworth Society for giving us access to the Hampers green Community Centre for our Picnic lunch which would have been disrupted by the rain. The proceedings started in the park car park at 2.00 pm. and were followed by a hour long walk over the site of the camp. Then the picnic lunch was shared by everyone who attended, the lunch consisted mainly of traditional Polish delicacies and was a great success.
During the next few weeks we will be processing and sharing the photos taken at the picnic and updating this website. I will also be mentioning all the new contacts made during the picnic.
Please watch this space.
To become part of the Team you need to have lived at the Petworth Polish Camp or have access to photographs that your parents have left. Family stories would be welcomed. The idea is to leave something for the archives of Petworth, up to now there is very little information available. All photographs will be looked after and returned to you unharmed once they have been scanned. If you feel that you can contribute to this project please send a email to me on the contact page at the back of this website.
This website was born during a lunchtime gathering of Kids from the Camp at the home of Krystyna and Peter Saunders.
THE LUNCH Thanks to Krystyna & Peter Saunders for hosting the lunch and inspiring this project.
Former residents of the Polish Camp.
From left to right maiden names only at this stage.
Me, Ryszard Starzec: Lydia Stefańska: Stasha Starzec: Krystyna Krawczuk: Zygmund Janiec: Seated Pani Hela Krawczuk.
The whole group minus Peter Saunders. He took the photo.
Left to right: Darren Carver : Martha Gardner holding her son Reuben Paul Gardner: Lydia Gardner: Stasha Martin: Roger Martin: Krystyna Saunders: Ziggi Janiec: Tina Starzec: Julia Janiec: Ryszard Starzec: Front row: Tonya Carver: Helena Krawczuk (Stefanska) nee Turek.
Stasha and Ziggi
Ziggi was the first to supply a story followed by Krystyna Szczotka who supplied photos only. From them I was able to add text and make her page up. Krystyna Saunders supplied both, and Stasha Martin did the same. I have been asked if stories without photos will be accepted, and yes they will but photos do enhance the readability of them, so please get photos if you can. All contributions will be listed.