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Memorial in Brandon will honour Polish families who moved into displacement camps across Norfolk and Suffolk after the Second World War

PUBLISHED: 10:48 18 September 2017 | UPDATED: 11:01 18 September 2017

The memorial to the Polsih families will be unvield in Brandon Cemetery on September 24. Picture: V Lukaniuk

The memorial to the Polsih families will be unvield in Brandon Cemetery on September 24. Picture: V Lukaniuk

Archant

A monument will be unveiled to remember the Polish families who arrived in this region after the Second World War.

Victor Lukaniuk, Forest Heath District CouncilVictor Lukaniuk, Forest Heath District Council

Large numbers of Polish people were displaced as a result of invasion and occupation during the war, with many deported to forced labour camps in Serbia.

In 1947 the British Government took in thousands of these families and soldiers and many were sent to Norfolk and Suffolk to live in displacement camps.

These include the Brandon London Road Camp, Weeting Hall Camp and camps at High Ash, near Mundford; Bodney; Riddlesworth and East Wretham.

Suffolk County councillor Victor Lukaniuk’s Polish father Wiktor served with the British in the Eighth Army in North Africa.

Polish outdoor mass held at the Weeting Hall Camp in 1950. Picture: V LukaniukPolish outdoor mass held at the Weeting Hall Camp in 1950. Picture: V Lukaniuk

However once the war finished he was unable to return home.

Mr Lukaniuk, who is also a Brandon Town councillor, grew up in Weeting Hall Camp, which housed approximately eighty families, during the 1950s.

He has spearheaded the move to get the permanent monument at Brandon Cemetery.

He said: “It is to remember the Polish families who came here after the war finished in 1947. This year also marks the 70th anniversary of the Polish displacement.

Units of the Polish 2nd Corps coming into Brandon Station in 1947. Picture: V LukaniukUnits of the Polish 2nd Corps coming into Brandon Station in 1947. Picture: V Lukaniuk

“Many of these people had come from the Gulags in Russia. Not everybody is familiar with the displacement. It is a memorial to those who did not survive and those who did.”

The memorial also makes a reference to the Katyn Massacre where it is believed 20,000 Polish officers, who had been captured by the Russians, were systematically shot in the head then buried in a mass grave.

Mr Lukaniuk said the monument has received a great response from people in the area.

“I have got to thank the people of Brandon for being so hospitable towards it,” he said. “They have shown compassion and an understanding.

The Weeting Hall Displacement Camp. Picture: V LukaniukThe Weeting Hall Displacement Camp. Picture: V Lukaniuk

He added: “As you go around Norfolk and Suffolk you see memorials to the US bomb groups and the Desert Rats at High Ash. And I thought to myself it would be nice to have a memorial to the Polish men, women and children who suffered immensely during the Second World War.”

The memorial will be unveiled at a ceremony on Sunday, September 24. All are welcome and people are asked to arrive at 1.30pm at the cemetery for a 2pm start.

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