In 1948 Checkendon Camp was gained from the MOD by the National Assistance Board and transformed into an inn lodging uprooted Polish families touching base from the Middle East and Africa. Similarly as with every one of the camps/inns settlement was essential, layered Nissen cabins and deliberately set bathing squares yet after about 8 years in a state of banishment and intersection 3 landmasses, Polish individuals before long adjusted to their new conditions. Checkendon wound up one of many clamoring Polish enclaves with its own congregation and minister , school and excitements, a lobby were culture and customs were carefully watched. A considerable lot of the inhabitants were effectively associated with the camp’s public activity, there was a vivacious novice dramatizations gathering putting on plays, an ensemble that sung both Polish and English melodies and a customary Polish move gathering. A 6 man move band played routinely at moves held in the camp’s excitement corridor and week by week film shows were held there as well. There was a very much loaded library with both Polish and English books, an adolescent club, and a table tennis and chess gathering. Life in Checkendon was like the various Camps/Hostels all through the UK. The camp at last shut in the mid 60s.
What a stroke of karma
There is a wonderful church in Checkendon in Oxfordshire. In the churchyard, there is a graveyard which contains various graves of Polish dislodged people. One of those graves contains the remaining parts of my grandma Anastasia Adamczyk (nee Syryca) who passed away in 1953. She had lived with my granddad Adam, in Checkendon Hostel which was arranged about a mile north of Checkendon town. My dad, Jan, passed away on August 1990 and we let his fiery debris go in a plot about a foot away from his mom’s grave.
My mom passed away as of late as May 2008. While “surfing the net” for contact subtleties to orchestrate her slag to be buried with those of my dad, as I investigated by the information and its connections, recollections of my youth returned flooding. Perusing the data about different camps returned me to Checkendon Hostel where I went through the initial 4 years of my life.
While Checkendon camp got a concise notice on the page, I was marginally frustrated to discover no connection and thus no data about it. I “somewhat frustrated” simply because when I began finding out about the camps, how they came to fruition, records of life in the camps, at that point when taking a gander at the photos, it appeared to me that every one of these things could have simply portrayed Checkendon Hostel, the individuals that lived there and how they lived.
Situated at Scot’s Common, Checkendon – 51°33’20” N 1°02’ 49” W, the camp was located about a mile north of the village of Checkendon in Oxfordshire. If you are ever in this part of the country the village is worth a visit – it is quite picturesque and has won awards for the best-kept village. The Hostel was surrounded by woodland and, since its closure, the woodland has reclaimed a large part of the former camp
During the 2nd World War, it would appear that the camp formed part of RAF Woodcote where 70MU (Maintenance Unit) was based. The site was also used to house Italian Prisoners of War and was described as being situated at Scots Common, Checkendon, just before Garsons Lane. The site was later used by American soldiers and finally as a camp forex Polish Servicemen before being given permission for light industrial use. Rentokil had a wood treatment plant there. It is now a Timber Yard and supplier of wooden sheds etc., – Norman Cox and Partners.
Between November 1943 and January 1944, one American unit, the 320th Coast Artillery Barrage Balloon Battalion was stationed at Checkendon which was used as a staging area.
The sketch is taken from a book called “Mud, Dust and Five Stars” the story of the 440th Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion stationed for a short period at Checkendon. I would suggest that the sketch contains “artistic license” as the Four Horseshoes Pub is actually in Checkendon village. The pub which was closest to the camp, which is where the Nissen huts were, was The Black Horse, which undoubtedly made a very good trade up until the camp closed in 1961. It was usually referred to as “Maggie’s” on account of the landlady being called Margaret ï”Maggie” Saunders.
I have myself visited the Black Horse pub on a number of occasions, most recently in July 2008 when I had a conversation with the landlord Martin Morgan about the Polish Hostel, which he remembers. When he was in his early teens, he would ride to the camp with his friends on their bicycles. Sometimes he would go there to watch English films which were shown in the theatre/cinema building. Martin’s wife, whose name is also Margaret, is the daughter of “the original Maggie”. The pub has been in their family now for 106 years. Margaret produced a bound document which contained the above map showing the Polish Hostel and very kindly made a copy for me.
CHECKENDON POLISH CAMP /HOSTEL
My parents Rozalia Leszczyńska and Jan Adamczyk met and married in Checkendon Camp. I was born in 1955 in Battle Hospital Reading as were my brothers Krzysztof, who was a year older, and Edward, who was 2 years younger. We lived in Checkendon until 1959 when we moved to Reading. Naturally, the first language I learned to speak was Polish and, whilst I still speak it fairly fluently, once we moved to Read and I started making friends with children in the neighborhood, English very quickly became my first language.