Childhood and Friendships

Children playing at Church Farm, near Site 12

For the adults, many of whom had experienced often dreadful conditions in the last few years, along with anxiety, the death of close family members and gruelling journeys, life at the Hostel was a time of looking forward but still with its trials as they sought to come to terms with a new country, new language, new jobs.


Children also had to learn a new language when they started school in Marsworth.


Click here to learn about their experiences of schooldays 


However, the years in Marsworth for children were extremely happy ones, making friends and playing in a safe and delightful part of the country.


This is told below in their own words.




I remember a boy I played with who lived in the lock keeper's cottage at the bottom of our camp, Lock 4. He was in our group attending Marsworth School, and his name was David.

I also made friends with the family of Marsworth Great Farm, by walking across the field which backed onto our camp. I played with their son Jet in the farm house, I watched the cows being milked and had many adventures on the farm.


I had very few toys; games we played were mainly in the wooded area by the stream in Site 8, climbing trees and making camps out of branches. 

Jan Baliszewski


Ross Miller and Stanislaw Jakubas at Church Farm

I remember Ross Miller from Church Farm, the nephew of Mrs Pinder, the owner of the farm. He was exactly my age. We had fun and we played various pranks together. I remember how we got hold of a crate of beer that the drayman left in the yard by the door. The backyard was paved with stones and we started to roll bottles on these stones. The bottles smashed with a loud "boom" against the wall enclosing the yard. We broke all the bottles in the crate like that.


Another time, we went into Mrs Pinder’s bedroom and there I found a red lipstick on the dresser. I really liked that. I painted my face and the walls of the bedroom. It was my first artistic work. Many years later I became a graphic artist and painter. Father, on the other hand, had to paint Mrs Pinder's room.

Stan Jakubas​

I have very fond memories of my childhood in the Polish camp in Marsworth. The people of Marsworth village were very friendly and helped in any way they could. 
Jan Baliszewski


Krystina Glinska with her doll's pram near her hut.


Although I think life was quite tough for the adults, for us children Marsworth was a wonderful place to grow up, a carefree, special existence, almost magical, which has very special memories for all those who grew up at the Polish camp. We loved it and often come back to visit. 

Krystina Gabrys (Oleszkiewicz)


I remember playing on Cheddington airfield where some of the huts contained old vehicles. 

Ted Lyjak


Barbara Winnik (R) and friend outside her hut.

A lot of the children used to fish in the canal with a stick pole, line and hook. They caught many small fish.


The children used to play at the sewage works near Site 12, riding on the spray arms which went round and round.


A friend and I once found a dead fox in a stream, and pulled it out. We had the idea to use it as a fox fur collar, so hung it up on a tree by its tail to dry. A couple of days later it had disappeared. 

Barbara Winnik


Approaching the bridge over the canal, on the left there was a shop where we bought chewing gum. Sometimes my father gave me a sixpence and that was enough for gum.
The gum was in the form of coloured balls.


Under no circumstances was I allowed to get down from the bridge over the canal.
Of course this ban was broken, especially when we were returning from school, but somehow I instinctively stayed away from the water.


The walk home from school was full of adventures. We did not hurry home and we did everything that was not allowed on the way, like going down to the canal, throwing stones into the water, climbing trees, and back at the camp sliding down the shelter, especially after the rain where there was slippery clay. It ended with falls and muddy clothes. There would be a row when we got home. 


Stanislaw Jakubas



The kantyna (social club) was just over the (Red Lion) bridge where you could go and play billiards.

It also had their first communal television where the children watched “Bill & Ben”.

There was a big water tower near the kantyna that the children used to climb. Near the magazyny (warehouses) there was a pond where you could catch newts. 


Lutek Foremniak


Stanislaw Jakubas on his father's motorbike
A great experience was to sneak into the garage where the farmer’s car was. I got into the car and just sat there admiring the various handles, buttons and dials. My father's tools were my favourite toys, especially the bicycle pump. 


From Site 8, I remember Staszek Antoniak, who lived in the last barrack near the football pitch. Jurek Ruszel also lived on Site 8 in the barrack near the bathhouse. We also played with friends from site 12. I went there with Jurek and ran around the air-raid shelters treating them like hills. There were not many toys, so every item found, or part of it, was a toy. Sometimes I came back from these games with cut knees. 

Stanislaw Jakubas


Children playing at Site 3

Stanislaw Jakubas and Jerzy Ruszel on the steps of the Nursery School
Little girls playing outside their hut

Krystyna Oleszkiewicz & Irena Wesolowski - Site 3

Danuta Winnik on the swing at Site 12
Barbara Winnik and Nina Baliszewska at Site 12
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