Forgotten Force - Polish Women in the Second World War

Forgotten Force - Polish Women in the Second World War Forgotten Force is an oral history project aiming to give first-hand evidence of the past by audio and video recording stories of Polish women survivors of the Second World War who have been residing in the UK for the past seventy years.

Operating as usual

Please join us for Heritage Open Days this September. We are asking for your submissions to add to Forgotten Force. Art ...
12/08/2020
Events | Heritage Open Days

Please join us for Heritage Open Days this September. We are asking for your submissions to add to Forgotten Force. Art an Memory project. We would be honoured to present your family wartime stories to commemorate all courageous women - British and Polish - who lived through the Second World War either caring for their families at home or being on the frontline of events. If you think you have a story to tell and would like to see it on Art and Memory please get in touch.
We will be talking about our project during an online discussion panel that will take place on 19th of September at 3 PM. You are invited to watch a video of #ForgottenForce project by Magdalena Paczocha that will premiere during HOD. We have asked @Michael Daniel Sagatis to present his multimedia project ‘Jozefa’s Letters’ about his great-grandmother. Magdalena Paczocha, Olga Topol and Zofia Wyszomirska Noga will join the discussion to talk about Forgotten Force and your submissions. Message us if you would like to be a part of this event.

The Forgotten Force project is kindly supported by the Polish Embassy UK and the National Lottery Heritage Fund

https://www.heritageopendays.org.uk/visiting/event/forgotten-force.-art-and-memory

◄  Back to previous page Forgotten Force. Art and Memory. London, Greater London Join us for an online talk: artists Zofia Wyszomirska-Noga and Michael Daniel Sagatis, researcher/videographer Magdalena Paczocha and curator Olga Topol discuss Forgotten Force. Art and Memory project. Send your own...

Find below a story shared kindly by Nuna Staniaszek of her extraordinary mother who took part in the Italian Campaign an...
02/06/2020

Find below a story shared kindly by Nuna Staniaszek of her extraordinary mother who took part in the Italian Campaign and celebrates today her 98th birthday. We send her our best wishes - happy birthday Tola! ❤️
'My mother Teodora (Tola) Turska, nee Styraniec, celebrates her 98th birthday on 2 June 2020. Tola was born and lived near Ustrzyki Dolne in Poland with her parents Stefan and Maria and her 2 brothers and 3 sisters. They were deported to Siberia in February 1940 where my mother worked in a saw mill. After the amnesty in 1941 the family travelled South and ended up in Uzbekistan, and from there my mother joined “Szkola Junaczek” created by General Anders which evacuated young people first to Iran and then moved to Palestine. Tola had to take 2 years off her age in order to join the school and so she is actually 2 years older than her “official” birth date. Tola and a friend eventually decided they were bored of studying while others were joining the army, so they joined up and trained with Kampania 102 to do a driving course and became an “Ochotniczka Pomocniczej Sluzby Kobiet” (PSK) in the 2nd Corps of the Polish Army in 1944. Driving Ford trucks with troops and supplies in the desert in Egypt, they reached Italy in November 1944 to support the Polish troops fighting at Monte Cassino and elsewhere on the Italian front.
Towards the end of the war, schools were set up for soldiers and volunteers of the 2nd Corps who had had their education interrupted by the war, so that they could complete their education. Tola attended the Gimnazjum in Porto San Giorgio where she was among the best pupils. Tola met Jurek Turski, an officer in the 25th Uhlans, when they were both on leave after the end of the war in September 1945, very romantically at lake Como. They were married in February 1946 in the cathedral at Cesena and spent their honeymoon in Rome. My mother fell pregnant shortly after and was in a maternity home while preparing to be transported to the UK. She and my father travelled separately to England – Tola in November 1946 in the hospital ship HMS Atlantis where my sister was born somewhere in the Bay of Biscay. When they were reunited, they lived in various camps including Wallingford and Howberry Park in the south of England until they were demobilised. My father studied accountancy and got a job in a commodities firm in the city, so they moved to London, eventually to the house in Acton in 1959, just before I was born. Tola lives there still.'

We are very excited that our new virtual exhibition Art & Memory has finally launched! The new website is part of the Fo...
15/05/2020
Forgotten Force: Art & Memory

We are very excited that our new virtual exhibition Art & Memory has finally launched! The new website is part of the Forgotten Force project and presents artworks by Zosia Noga that were inspired by our heroines' stories. The exhibition is our way to contribute to the virtual Polish Heritage Days and was kindly supported by Polish Embassy UK and National Lottery Heritage Fund.
https://artandmemory.uk/

Yesterday, on the eve of the 75th anniversary of VE Day, one of our extraordinary ladies, Irena Godyń, turned 95! On thi...
08/05/2020

Yesterday, on the eve of the 75th anniversary of VE Day, one of our extraordinary ladies, Irena Godyń, turned 95! On this day when we remember those who lost their lives in the conflict let us not forget about all exceptional people who experienced the tragedy of war and are still among us. When we called Mrs Godyń yesterday she sounded as optimistic, full of life and joyful as ever, being a true example to all of us in these difficult times. We would like to wish a happy #VEDay to our entire #ForgottenForce and to all of you ❤️

Our catalogue 'Forgotten Force. A Journey of Memory' is finally out. It was supposed to be launched during our event at ...
25/03/2020

Our catalogue 'Forgotten Force. A Journey of Memory' is finally out. It was supposed to be launched during our event at the Polish Embassy on the 20th of March, but due to the current situation we were unable to hold a meeting. We hope to celebrate our wonderful and courageous interviewees and our project later this year when, hopefully, all is back to normality.
We would like to give our heartfelt thanks to all off the amazing people that made our project and the book possible:
Irena Godyń, Danuta Gradosielska, Danuta Pniewska, Marzenna Schejbal, Irena Słomnicka and Maria Wylot. Thank you for giving us the privilege of listening to your stories. It was a life changing experience.
A big thank you to Zosia Noga - your illustrations made the book beautiful - and Clare Mulley for the heartwarming foreword and constant support. ❤️
Last but not least we would like to acknowledge National Lottery Heritage Fund for backing our project and giving us wings.
We still have plenty to do. We are working on a virtual exhibition featuring Zosia's works and on our documentary which was filmed and is currently being edited by Magdalena Paczocha. So please stay in touch and watch this space.

California 1918 - Red Cross sisters taking care of patients infected with Spanish flu.https://www.facebook.com/169301163...
13/03/2020

California 1918 - Red Cross sisters taking care of patients infected with Spanish flu.

https://www.facebook.com/169301163525421/posts/922848834837313/

1918, Kalifornia, siostry wolontariuszki z Czerwonego Krzyża opiekują się chorymi na „hiszpankę” w zaaranżowanej na tymczasowy szpital miejskiej hali. Pandemia grypy obejmie 1/3 ludności świata i będzie kosztować życie kilkudziesięciu milionów osób, głównie w sile wieku – wielokrotnie więcej niż liczba ofiar krwawej I wojny światowej. Na ziemiach polskich choroba pojawia się stosunkowo późno i nie budzi większego zainteresowania organów rodzącego się państwa. Komisja dla Zdrowia Publicznego wydaje uspokajający komunikat o potrzebie mycia rąk i unikania skupisk ludzi, wyjaśniając zarazem, że „innych środków ochronnych nie znamy i też ich pewnie szybko nie poznamy”. Podobny spokój panuje w mediach – krakowski Ilustrowany Kuryer Codzienny donosi co prawda o „epidemii influezy w coraz groźniejszej postaci”, ale dopiero na piątej stronie, wykorzystując przy tym notkę do uderzenia we władze miasta, które tolerują „zbiorowiska gnoju po pryncypalnych nawet ulicach”. Tymczasem hiszpanka w samej tylko Warszawie zabije przynajmniej 1200 osób (zarejestrowanych) i wielokrotnie więcej na prowincji (bez jakiejkolwiek ewidencji), doprowadzi też do zdziesiątkowania jeńców wojny polsko-bolszewickiej po obu stronach granicy. W obliczu rangi biegnących równolegle wydarzeń politycznych, epidemia nigdy nie zapisze się jednak szerzej w historiografii naszego kraju. Zdjęcie: Edward A. "Doc" Rogers/Oakland Public Library/domena publiczna

Still drawing for Forgotten Force :-) What can help one survive? Wedding rings? Prayer book? Fur coat? What to pack in a...
11/02/2020

Still drawing for Forgotten Force :-) What can help one survive? Wedding rings? Prayer book? Fur coat? What to pack in a suitcase one is allowed to take? A big ham? Sawing machine? What would I take?

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our followers! This is a picture of a drama group in a secondary school in I...
24/12/2019

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our followers!
This is a picture of a drama group in a secondary school in Isfahan given to us by Irena Godyń.

Zosia Wyszomirska-Noga at the Institute talking about #PolishForgottenForce and her inspirations. #ForceForgotten. ❤
17/10/2019

Zosia Wyszomirska-Noga at the Institute talking about #PolishForgottenForce and her inspirations. #ForceForgotten. ❤

Today to celebrate our #ForceForgotten we are posting some pictures courtesy of Jenny Grant of her extraordinary brave B...
16/10/2019

Today to celebrate our #ForceForgotten we are posting some pictures courtesy of Jenny Grant of her extraordinary brave Babcia - Halina Wanda Seligman née Dolinska - who, like Danuta Gradosielska, drove trucks full of troops and ammunition. Jenny’s Babcia could not have been stopped even by acute appendicitis. Yes! World belongs to tough women – thanks to their sacrifice we can exercise our freedom today. #PolishForgottenForce #WWII #WomenatWar

On the day of the death anniversary of one of the most famous women wartime spies, Mata Hari, let us not forget about al...
15/10/2019

On the day of the death anniversary of one of the most famous women wartime spies, Mata Hari, let us not forget about all women who participated in military conflicts. Here you can see our ‘Forgotten Force’ serving bravely all across the Europe ❤️ #PolishFogottenForce #WWII #WomenatWar

Wonderful Mrs Irena Godyń at Rosary Roman Catholic Primary school in Camden. Thank you to amazing Year  5 and 6 children...
10/10/2019

Wonderful Mrs Irena Godyń at Rosary Roman Catholic Primary school in Camden. Thank you to amazing Year 5 and 6 children who listened transfixed to Irena's story. Big thanks to Polish Embassy UK for making it possible for us to be there. #PolishForgottenForce #WWII

Only two weeks to go until Zosia Noga talk on the 17th October. Join us at 7 PM to see great art inspired by our project...
01/10/2019

Only two weeks to go until Zosia Noga talk on the 17th October. Join us at 7 PM to see great art inspired by our project and ask Zosia about her inspiration - please let us know if you want to come. #PolishForgottenForce #WWII

We learned that a commemoration post in memory of Polish families who were given refuge in Valivade during Second World ...
14/09/2019
Memorial to Polish refugees to be unveiled in Kolhapur

We learned that a commemoration post in memory of Polish families who were given refuge in Valivade during Second World War was unveiled today at Kolhapur (Maharashtra). There are plans to set up a permanent museum which will keep the story alive.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/memorial-to-polish-refugees-to-be-unveiled-in-kolhapur/article29412737.ece

Commemorative pillar put up in Valivade, where WW-II refugees arrived from Germany and Russia

Forgotten Force - Polish Women in the Second World War's cover photo
12/09/2019

Forgotten Force - Polish Women in the Second World War's cover photo

We are proud to announce that our project has received the official patronage of the Ambassador of the Republic of Polan...
12/09/2019

We are proud to announce that our project has received the official patronage of the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to the United Kingdom Arkady Rzegocki Polish Embassy UK . We are delighted that our mission to unearth and share the stories of unsung heroes has been recognised. #PolishForgottenForce #wwII #womenofwar

Found on Hansard and in our archive: Tribute to Polish WomenINTERNATIONAL LABOUR FORCE ORDER (POLISH WOMEN)HC Deb 03 May...
05/09/2019

Found on Hansard and in our archive: Tribute to Polish Women

INTERNATIONAL LABOUR FORCE ORDER (POLISH WOMEN)

HC Deb 03 May 1944 vol 399 c1328W 1328W

§Sir P. Hannon asked the Minister of Labour if he will indicate the opportunities afforded to Polish women refugees in this country to contribute to the United Nations war effort; and in what organisations and on what particular activities are these women engaged.

§Mr. McCorquodale Polish women between the ages of 16 and 50 are subject to registration with the Ministry of Labour and National Service under the International Labour Force (Registration of Polish Nationals) Order, 1941, and so far as is practicable are dealt with similarly to British women of the same age and in similar domestic circumstances. A considerable number have enlisted in the Auxiliary Services or are employed in Polish Government Departments or in hospital or Red Cross services, and many are also employed in industries of importance to the war effort. In common with women of other Allied Nations residing in this country the women of Poland are playing an essential part in the total Allied war effort and I am glad to have this opportunity of paying tribute to their services.

Another day, another page from a diary. We keep being impressed by the young women's keen eye for observation and their ...
05/09/2019

Another day, another page from a diary. We keep being impressed by the young women's keen eye for observation and their drawing skills. It seems that writing and sketching was therapeutic and helped to bring some sort of order in the world of chaos and uncertainty. Isn't paper an amazing medium?

03/09/2019
Story of 700 Polish Children (1966)

https://youtu.be/9NO3FC2NB0o

Stumbled upon an interesting video today about Polish children invited to stay in New Zealand during the Second World War. The short documentary was made in 1966 and is very much in the sixties style. It is also not very subtle in the way it describes the assimilation process as an apparent success. However, this film is interesting to watch. It not only allows us to see another chapter from the Polish refugees’ story, but it also provides an opportunity to see how our culture has changed since the sixties. It clearly hints on what it meant to be a successful woman/man in New Zealand in the 60s. Have a go at it if you have 18 minutes to spare. #PolishForgottenForce

New Zealand National Film Unit presents Story of 700 Polish Children (1966) In 1943 the New Zealand Prime Minister Peter Fraser, influenced by the Polish Con...

Extracts from chronicles of Valivade ‘Wedrowniczki’ scouting team. The girls are describing their impressions of what se...
27/08/2019

Extracts from chronicles of Valivade ‘Wedrowniczki’ scouting team. The girls are describing their impressions of what seem to be the Ganesh Chaturthi Hindu Festival which they witnessed during their stay in India. They are trying very hard to understand and process the customs of a different religion and get to the bottom of Ganesh’s story.

While we remember about our own history we often forget that the Second World War was not only a European tragedy. South...
15/08/2019
1400th weekly 'comfort women' rally draws thousands in Seoul

While we remember about our own history we often forget that the Second World War was not only a European tragedy. South Korean 'comfort women', made to be sex slaves by Japanese soldiers during the war, are still fighting for justice. Let's not forget them.
https://m.koreatimes.co.kr/pages/article.asp?newsIdx=273944

The 1,400th weekly protest against Japan's wartime sex slavery drew thousands of protesters to the "comfort woman" peace statue in Seoul, Wednesday, amid heightened Tokyo-Seoul tensions over trade and wartime forced labor of Koreans during the 1910-45 Japanese occupation. Amid scorching heat that ro...

Hi everyone. Just to let you know that we have not disappeared. I am currently in Seoul (!) for a month, but in the even...
21/07/2019

Hi everyone. Just to let you know that we have not disappeared. I am currently in Seoul (!) for a month, but in the evenings, as you can see, I'm working hard on transcripts from our interviews - a bit of behind the scenes photo for you 😀 Magda is putting everything together for our documentary spending her time labouring in London. Talk to you soon!

Ian Clark, son in law of Irena Słomnicka, sent us these two photographs of a so called ‘Polish Church’ in Irkutsk. It wa...
16/07/2019

Ian Clark, son in law of Irena Słomnicka, sent us these two photographs of a so called ‘Polish Church’ in Irkutsk. It was built after a wooden church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary burned down. Majority of this church’s parishioners were Poles exiled to Siberia after the November Uprising. In 1884 thanks to efforts of the Polish community a new stone church was built. A Polish priest, Krzysztof Szwermicki, a 19th century independence activist exiled to Siberia, together with a Polish architect Jan Tamulewicz were responsible for the construction of the new temple. In the Soviet times the church was used for various purposes. In 1978 it was re-purposed as organ Philharmonic Hall of the Irkutsk Philharmonic. It currently does not serve as a temple, but still is a place of pilgrimage for those who come back to visit the land of their former exile.

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Forgotten Force - Polish Women in the Second World War

Forgotten Force is an oral history project by Pilsudski Institute of London aiming to give first-hand evidence of the past by audio and video recording stories of Polish women survivors of the Second World War who have been residing in the UK for the past seventy years. Gathered stories will be archived, interpreted and presented to public by various means: a multimedia display at the Institute, talks, social media and radio broadcast. The subject is particularly important on the eve of the 80-tieth anniversary of the world war outbreak as we are at risk of losing living heritage. Women’s contribution to society, often overlooked, was paradoxically made more visible by wars usually perceived as a masculine domain. Once they left the confinements of domesticity, women became increasingly involved in struggle for freedom on the fronts of all wars but they also kept protecting their families on home fronts. Blurring the lines of gender divisions the unsung heroes served wherever required from hospitals and driving ambulances to serving in kitchens and shedding blood in trenches. We wish to reveal a host of fascinating and inspirational stories to help remember the bravery of those long forgotten. Due to the living history aspect the project is of utmost urgency. We believe that the stories we want to tell are universal and will help to piece together missing parts of wartime story and secure it for the future. The aim of this multimedia project is first and foremost to give voice to those who feel underrepresented in history, but also to create an easy available resource to support research into women, refugees and war.

The project is kindly supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

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Comments

really pleased to know this project is happening - it's important and time-sensitive!