Approximately 150 people attended the unveiling of a commemorative board in Marsworth on Saturday to mark the site where a hostel was established for displaced people from Poland after the Second World War.
Among the attendees were three members of the Polish consulate in London, including Military Attaché Colonel Malec, and the Polish ex-combatants standard bearer Milec Bemucha.
Some at the ceremony had spent their early years at the camp and shared memories of what life was like.
Afterward the unveiling an exhibition was held in All Saints Church which included photographs, items of clothing, medals and other memorabilia. Much of the information had been supplied by the Polish people attending the event.
During the war, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) requisitioned farmland in Marsworth in Tring to build an airfield for military use both by British and American forces.
In 1948, the empty Nissen huts became home to around 500 Polish refugees. The camp was run by the National Assistance Board before it closed in 1960/61.
A report from The Daily Telegraph in 1959 describes the living conditions for the Polish refugees in the huts as “primitive” with toilets “a distance from the living quarters,” and having “damp creeping through the brick wall.”
At the Yalta Conference in February 1945, Winston Churchill agreed that Poland should remain under Soviet Union control after the war. As a consequence, most Poles felt betrayed by their wartime ally.
Though the British Government initially tried to persuade Polish troops who had fought in the war to leave Britain, most refused due to the Soviet Union’s ongoing repression of Polish people.
Ultimately this led to the Polish Resettlement Act 1947, Britain’s first mass immigration law.