Penley Polish Heritage Project

A project focusing on the unique history of Penley from WW2.

About the project

The Rainbow Foundation started in one of the original Polish hospitals wards and now has secured funding from Sharded Prosperity Leveling Up Agenda to bring awareness of the history of Penley.

The Penley Polish Heritage project will focus on the unique history of Penley from WW2. Specifically, the arrival and resettlement of the Polish soldiers and their families. The project will capture the arrival for the first evacuees to the Madras School from Merseyside, and the activity of the American troops. Including how they built the camp and hospitals in preparation for D-Day.

Outcomes will include:

  • The creation of a garden
  • Establishing a history group
  • Documenting and sharing peoples stories
  • The creation of a digital archive available to all

The Polish Story

The Polish II Corps soldiers – were part of the Allied Forces Act 1940 and they fought on the Italian Campaign, which included the Battle of Monte Cassino. After WW2 most polish soldiers were unable to return to Poland. A propaganda campaign was started by the new communist rulers of the country. Returning soldiers were branded as traitors and other soldiers had no home to go back to, due to Russia and Germany moving their borders into what was Poland. Because of this the first ever mass immigration law was passed in Britain –The Polish Resettlement Act 1947.

Polish resettlement camps were created across Britain. This temporary accommodation was often found in former military hospitals as well as former army and air force camps. The American Army camp in Penley was one of the sites used.

Where there was once a large and thriving Polish community now stands new housing estates. Part of the project will engage with the community to celebrate and promote the unique history of this village.

Read more: What was the Polish 2nd Corps?

The Evacuation Story

Evacuation in Britain during the Second World War amounted to the biggest mass movement of people in British history.

Evacuation took place in several waves. The first came on 1st September 1939 Additional rounds of official evacuation occurred nationwide in the summer and autumn of 1940.

The Scheme was developed Under the name “Operation Pied Piper”. Evacuation was the biggest cause of disruption to children’s lives. Many children didn’t know where they would end up, who they would live with or when they would see their parents again.

Evacuation was a huge logistical exercise which required thousands of volunteer helpers. The evacuation period officially came to an end in March 1946.

The US Story

The project will include the origins of the American Army camp and hospitals. We know they were built in preparation for D-Day, but we would like to find out more information about the activities of the American troops at this time in Penley.  POW were also held in the Penley camp.  Local land girls Queensbridge Overton-On-Dee  and local land army attended dances with the American troops in Penley

Do you have any information you can share about: The building of the camp and hospitals? The US Army activities in the area at this time? There interactions with local land army ? There interactions with local land girls? US Troops hosting dances? Or any other information?

How you can help

history

community

storytelling

social interaction

Volunteering

This  is a community project and therefore, for it to succeed with need your help. Perhaps the personal history of your family is connected to Penley, or maybe you live in the area today and would like to know more about it’s heritage. 

No matter your skills or background, there are many different ways for you to get involved and bring the history of Penley to life.

If you would like to volunteer, we need support with:

  • Researching the history of Penley
  • Help to support a walking tour
  • Collecting stories
  • Suggestions and ideas to develop the project
  • Unloading information to Peoples Collection Wales
  • Entertainers
  • Gardeners
  • Translators 
  • And more………

Share your story

The Penley Polish Heritage project aims to bring together peoples memories and stories about life at that time and beyond.

The project will include the origins American Army camp and hospitals and the activities of the American troops at this time.

  • Do you have any information you can share about:
  • The building of the camp and hospitals?
  • The activities of the US Army in the area at this time?
  • Troops interactions with local land army and land girls?
  • US Troops hosting dances?
  • Or any other information?

The project will also capture the arrival for the first evacuees to the Madras School from Merseyside.

  • Do you or anyone you know have any information you can share?
  • Maybe you have knowledge about evacuees during this time?
  • The war effort in Penley?
  • Or something else?
  • Any information is useful!

The Project Team

Rebecca Griffiths

Project Officer

Rebecca is third generation Polish and grew up in Penley within a Polish/Welsh family. She will be taking the lead on the project and ensuring all the objectives are delivered.

“I feel very privileged to have grown up in such a unique community, ‌‌‌‍‌‌‌‌‌‍‌‌‌‌‍‌‌‌‌‍‌‌‌‌‌‍‌‌‌‌‍‌‌‌‍‌‌‌‌‌‌‍‌‌‌‌‍‌‌‌‌‍‌‌‌‌‌‍‌‌That’s why I’m so excited to be delivering this project, to ensure the history of this amazing community is remembered and celebrated.”

rebecca.griffiths@therainbowfoundation.org.uk
01948 830730 / 07918 326844

Contact us today to find out more or get involved

Join our mailing list to find out more about the Penley Polish Heritage Project, to share your story or to get involved