The Northwick Park Grotto has been restored and a new memorial erected
The camp in Northwick Park, near Blockley in Gloucestershire, was built in 1943 as an American Field Hospital. In 1944 the International Red Cross took over the running of the Station Hospital. After the Second World War the camp was abandoned until 1947-8 when it was handed over by the War Department for occupation by the Polish Resettlement Corps.
Picture 1 above shows Mavis Lady Dunrossil – Chair Gloucestershire CC, H.E. Barbara Tuge-Erecińska Polish Amassador, Children in national costume who presented them with flowers and Mr. C. Maryszczak Chairman of the Polish Ex-Combatants Association. Photo (c) northwickparkpolishdpcamp.co.uk
World War II displaced thousands of people from Eastern Europe. Many Poles made their way to England with General Ander’s army and settled in disused army and air force camps scattered throughout the UK. Northwick Park was one of those Displaced Persons (DP) camps and held over 800 poles.
The Grotto was built in the early 1950’s and was designed by Fr. S. S. Potoczny. It was dedicated to our Lady of Lourdes and was used daily for private contemplation and prayer by the people of the camp.
In the 1950’s General Anders, leader of all Poles in exile, visited all the Polish DP camps in the UK and in July 1952 he visited Northwick Park and over 3000 people, with Poles from other camps – Springhill, Long Marston and Daglingworth – coming to hear him deliver a message of hope and encouragement.
In 1968 Northwick Park was closed and lay neglected for some years before it was resurrected as a business park with many of the old nissen huts homes now becoming business premises.
The Polish Ex-Combatants Association of Cheltenham decided to restore the grotto and dedicate a new memorial as part of Poland’s year dedicated to war hero General Anders.
A special dedication ceremony was held at Northwick Park on Saturday 20th October when the ceremony in English and Polish was carried out by the Polish Ambassador Her Excellency Barbara Tuge-Erecinska. The restored grotto and the new memorial are now called “The Monument”.