My mum, Eugenia Dziadura was the eldest daughter of Karol and Katarzyna Dziadura. Karol was a blacksmith and tool maker, who also taught the local young men these trades. Katarzyna was the local seamstress/tailoress, again teaching young people how to draw patterns, cut and sew material to make clothing. In Poland they had a house they lived in in the summer and another on the same land they owned for the winter. The family also kept a smallholding and were largely self-sufficient.
When the deportations, at rifle point, began, Eugenia’s older brother, Wladziu, went to fight in the Polish Army; her younger brother Bronek eventually lied about his age to get into the Army too. Eugenia would have been about 13 years old and her younger sister Rozalia about six.
They were only allowed to take with them what they could carry but no documents. They were packed into overcrowded cattle trains and transported to Siberia, where they were forced to endure hard labour, starvation, mis-treatment and severe cold. They were housed in wooden barracks and fed only black bread and water. Many there suffered illnesses such as typhus fever and malaria and died.
In 1941 a treaty was signed to give Polish people in Siberia ‘amnesty’ (as the Soviets called it), and people were able to leave, but again on overcrowded cattle trains, heading to Kazakhstan. Karol was seriously ill by then and died during this transportation. The people asked for the train to be stopped so they could bury him. They wrapped his body in a sheet and with their bare hands dug a grave into the stony ground. We have no photos of Karol.
They faced more hard labour, disease and starvation in Kazakhstan.
It was at this point the starving Bronek lied about his age to get into the Army.
A further move took those left to Mongolia to work in cotton fields and more harsh treatment.
Eventually they heard of transport heading to Iran. They caught this cattle train, but as Katarzyna was climbing up a crate used as a step up to the train, she tripped, fell on the edge of the train floor and suffered a cut and broke three ribs.
In Iran they were treated more humanely, washed, de-loused and given clean clothing. They were housed in tents and the climate was warmer. Katarzyna, my grandmother, had developed a wound through her fall that wouldn't heal and urgently needed medical assistance.
She, Eugenia and her sister Rozalia were then put under the care of the
Red Cross and taken to India where Katarzyna was hospitalised and Eugenia and Rozalia were given English lessons, clothing and were generally well looked after.
However, this was only a temporary stop, and the Polish in India were informed there was a ship going to England and one to the USA where they would be permanently resettled - the choice was theirs.
Eugenia, now aged 21, chose England, as Katarzyna still required hospitalisation, and this was the closest country.
Katarzyna, Rozalia and Eugenia were put onto a ship and arrived in the UK in 1947, then sent to a camp in Surrey where there were other Poles waiting for allocation to other camps.
Katarzyna went into hospital and Eugenia had to be treated for
By then the brothers, Wladziu and Bronek, had returned from war and the family were reunited, but sadly Katarzyna was extremely unwell and not expected to survive, meaning the family would be split up and sent to orphanages.
By then Eugenia had met Kazimierz Buczak, and she introduced him to her mother in hospital. Sadly, Katarzyna passed away before their wedding in 1948.
Katarzyna died on 23 September 1948, and is buried in a military cemetery in Wiltshire.
Her death certificate states that she was born on 25th October 1898 in Stolpien, Radziechow, in the province of Lwow, (now Lviv in the Ukraine, then in Poland prior to the deportations).
Her parents were Andzej and Maria, who was a widow.
She died of bronchial pneumonia at the military hospital and was buried in the military cemetery in East Everleigh, Tidworth, Wilts.
The priest who officiated at her funeral was Fr. Ludwik Zmikowski, the priest of Marsworth Polish Hostel.
Her parents were moved to the Marsworth Camp with their respective families.
Eugenia went to work for Gossard, in Leighton Buzzard and Kazimierz drove lorries for a company in Hemel Hempstead.
They, like other families in Marsworth, worked hard and saved hard for a deposit to buy their own homes. Rarely were council houses allocated.