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Krystyna Krawczuk's story

Christmas at the camp:

A very important time of year, lots of gatherings and it seemed that, due to their resourcefullness, food was as plentiful as it is today and probably better for us as most of it was grown by our parents. Christmas Eve was of course the important meal and my father would invite as many of his batchelor friends who had no families in England making a lot of work for my Mother but they always spoilt us children and festivities would carry on usually well into Christmas morning. The photograph shows, from bottom centre my brother Tadek Stefanski, second row left to right my Mother Helena, myself on her knee, Regina Turek my Mother's Mother, my Father Kostek (Konstanty) Krawczuk with Lydia Stefanska on his knee. Back row: Piotr Janiec, my Grandfather Ignacy Turek, Wladek Marzec, Viktor Kolp and a gentleman I recognize but cannot  put a name to. 

My grandparents, Ignacy and Regina Turek, were one of the last to leave the camp in the early sixties when they moved to a flat in Northchapel.

Kostek  1922 - 1999 born in Stare Klonki, Janow Poleski now part of Belarus.  he was full of life and sometimes a bit of a handful for my Mother.  He fought with the Carpathian Regiment in the epic battle for Monte Cassino in 1944 and proudly marched through the streets of Cassino after the fighting was over, finally arriving at the Polish Camp in February 1947.  I think the photograph gives you a flavour of the splendid man he was.  one of my favourite photographs of me with my Father circa 1951/2 - I still have that chair and have to say it is still serviceable and in better condition that me!

Helena Krawczuk (Stefanska) nee Turek born in Milow, Tarnopol region now part of Belarus, whilst in the refugee camp at Vilavadi, India with thousands of other Polish women and children, married a Polish merchant seaman, Marcin Edmund Stefanski 1911 - 1947, serving on the MV Batory transporting British children to Canada and Australia.  Unfortunately, he was lost at sea during 1947 and therefore, my Mother was already a widow on her arrival at Liverpool in November 1947.  She and my Father met at the camp and were married in 1948.

Petworth Camp Kids:  it is remarkable that after all this time there are still a few of us that keep in touch and I  always feel a comforting warmth when I see friends from such a long time ago, we have a special bond. The photograph on the left below shows my lifetime friend Krystyna Bandrowska (now Martin) on our new tricycles. If my memory serves me correct, there was always something going on for the children. During the school holidays there was Petworth Park to explore!  The photo on the right shows Ziggy Janiec and my sister Lydia looking as if they are about to get into mischief.

First Holy Communion: A very special day, myself looking extremely angelic, from left to right: Krystyna Bandrowska, Krzysztof Janiec, Ziggi Janiec, Krystyna Krawczuk, the boy I can just about remember his face but cannot remember his name, and my sister Lydia Stefanksa.

Entertainment:  Mr Cisek was a teacher who organised lots of shows and pageants for the children and this last photograph shows some of us in national costume: far left is Stasha Starzec, Krystyna Krawczuk, mys sister Lydia is 4th from the right and yet another Krystyna, Krystyna Starzec is second from right. Ryszard Starzec is the boy in the centre wearing the Polish costume It is sad that I cannot place some of the other children but bearing in mind the size of the camp, it was like a small village, I am sure we did not know everyone. Our immediate 'gang' was the Bandrowska, Janiec, Starzec and Stefanski kids.  Maybe we will learn who the missing children are, very soon.  I wonder what happened to Mr Cisek?

Finally: We were all in the same boat, so to speak, but everyone helped one another. The Petworth Camp was not unique, there were many sites over the UK, with no doubt similar characters and stories but our parents went through so much during the war years, losing everything, fighting back and giving us kids the best start they could possibly have - didn't they do well!!!


Krystyna Saunders nee Krawczuk

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