Wladzia Pogoda and the Polish Resettlement Camp at Hodgemoor Woods
In 1945 16-year-old Wladzia Tanska, née Pogoda had not yet arrived in Amersham. She was in a temporary refugee camp in the Middle East, probably in the Lebanon, and had suffered unimaginable hardship. Wladzia was a homeless refugee for 8 years before arriving in Liverpool on 12 September 1948. She was offered a temporary home at the Polish resettlement camp at Hodgemoor Woods near Amersham and stayed here for 10 years!
This was not the life that Wladzia’s parents had imagined for her when she was born 9 February 1929 on the family’s prosperous, large farm near Lwów in Eastern Poland. 11 years later the Pogoda family lost everything when Russian soldiers forced them at gun point to leave their home. With her parents, 4-year-old sister, Irena, and elderly grandparents, Wladzia was locked in a cattle wagon for 3 weeks and transported to Siberia.
In Siberia food was very scarce. They lived in primitive wooden sheds in Soviet work camps with only a hole in the ground for a toilet shared between many huts. There was deep snow and temperatures often fell to -40 degrees. A year later the family were transported to a Polish refugee camp in Uzbekistan, where it was very hot, and they slept on the floor of a mud hut. Wladzia was sent to an orphanage when her family contracted typhoid. She remembered masked soldiers wearing long white gloves and bodies loaded onto lorries like logs. Irena sadly died but their parents survived. Some time later they were reunited in the Lebanon, and a little sister, Zosia was born.
When the war ended Wladzia’s uncle and cousin were already in England after liberating Italy with the Polish army. They immediately started proceedings to bring all the family over. At Hodgemoor Wladzia met a young soldier, Jan Tanski, and got married.
Hodgemoor Camp provided a safe home to over 150 Polish families after the war in temporary buildings, barracks and Nissen huts. Conditions were basic but it was a proper community, a Polish village with a Church, with its own priest, an infant school, a post office, a shop and an entertainment hall used for meetings, plays, and celebrations. Many Polish families emigrated all over the world but Wladzia and Jan settled in Amersham bringing up their 3 children here.