Szczepan, Katarzyna, Kazimierz, Stefania, Edward and Zofia
Our thanks to Lilian Buczak, daughter of Edward, for supplying this information and a great many photographs.
The Buczak family came from a village called Medyka on the Polish/Ukrainian border, south east Poland where Szczepan and Katarzyna had a farm with cattle and land. Edward remembered the River Bug which flowed nearby and how he would go to the town of Przemysl to auction cattle.
In 1939 he was nine years old when he and the family were transported from their home in Poland like others in cattle trains to Siberia, where they were imprisoned for two years.
When war broke out Szczepan and Edward’s elder brother Kazimierz joined the army to fight against the Germans. Szczepan was in the 2nd Polish Corps and was part of the British 8th Army. In 1942 after the Russians joined the Allies the army went to Palestine and Iraq to be trained by the Allies, mainly British, and then took part in the fighting in Italy at Monte Cassino, Bologna and Ancona.
Meanwhile the families and dependants of the soldiers and others released from imprisonment by the Russians were sent on to East Africa, India, Lebanon and Palestine, wherever there were places offered by those countries.
Edward travelled with his mother and sisters Zofia and Stefania from Siberia to Uzbekistan, then to a port on the Caspian Sea to board a ship for the port Pahlavi in Persia (now Iran). They then boarded a bus to Teheran, where Edward stayed in a tent and received schooling organised by the Polish authorities in London. From there on to India; after arriving in Karachi they sailed to Bombay. In Karachi Zofia became lost among the orphan children, who were to sail out on the next ship bound for Australia. Thanks to the fact that my dad found her in the orphans’ camp and stole her out of it so she could return to her family. After Karachi they travelled to Mombasa, through Nairobi. There they lived in one of the camps set up by the Red Cross where Edward went to a school organised for the children in Africa.
At the end of the war these families and dependants were brought to England to join the soldiers returning from duty in Europe or ending their service in the Army.
The Buczak family took the ship Carnarvon Castle to Southampton and arrived in the UK on 4th May 1948. Registering at Pulborough, West Chiltington camp, West Sussex they were allocated to Marsworth Camp near Tring.
Edward was 16 years old on arrival at Marsworth.
Arriving in England
Szczepan and Kazimierz were already in England. Szczepan and other officers had been given the choice either to return to Poland - which was not an option as it was now under communist rule - or for their families to travel to England, America or Canada.
Edward and his family would probably have been reunited in May 1948.
Edward demonstrating more musical talent at a family gathering
Edward on motorbike
Edward played in the football team. He loved cycling, fishing by the reservoir, sunbathing, walking by the canal, watching films in the hall, dances at the Hostel hall and socialising with friends and family at home. He occasionally went to the cinema in Tring and would go with his father and brother to the Red Lion pub in Marsworth for a pint of beer and to date girls. He attended church and festivals or feast days associated with his country and the religious calendar.
He used to talk about the dances that took place at the Hostel hall. He learnt to play the piano accordion and played in a band, which not only played in Marsworth but travelled to Polish church halls in Slough, Reading, Derby etc. for New Year's Eve and other occasions. The English national anthem was always played first at the start of a dance, then the Polish anthem.
At first Edward was not old enough to work in a factory, so did odd jobs – he worked at Grove Farm near Ivinghoe and cycled there; after work he would climb Ivinghoe Beacon and sunbathe. He also painted the white exterior of what used to be The Pheasant pub in New Mill, Tring.
When he turned 17 he went to Betta Manufacturing Co. in Eaton Bray where he worked for 32 years. A bus took the workers to Moor End, Eaton Bray, and brought them home.
The years Edward spent in Marsworth were happy years. The photos capture his youth in Marsworth and speak of his freedom in this country.