Polish memorial unveiled in Brandon to honour those who suffered during Second World War
PUBLISHED: 17:17 24 September 2017
They were brave refugees, running from a tyrannical regime after suffering the ravages of war.
And yesterday a monument was unveiled to remember the Polish families who arrived in Norfolk after the Second World War.
Suffolk County Councillor Victor Lukaniuk has spearheaded the move to get a permanent monument at the cemetery in Brandon.
His Polish father Wiktor served with the British in the Eighth Army in North Africa – but when the war was finished he was unable to return home.
Mr Lukaniuk, grew up in Weeting Hall Camp, which housed approximately eighty families, during the 1950s.
He said: “It is an emotional day for me but I will hold it together.
“The Poles had a very rough time - they helped win the war but lost their homes.”
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.
One such person was 95-year-old Geneffa Swierdzewski who attended the event on Sunday held at the cemetery next to St Peter’s Church in Brandon.
She said: “For me it is a sad day because it reminds me of the troubles.”
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.
Mr Lukaniuk 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.
“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.
“As you go around Norfolk and Suffolk you see memorials to the US bomb groups and the Desert Rats at High Ash. 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.”