September 1945 was only one month after the official cessation of WWII. While the Forces from America and the Dominion territories were evacuating from the United Kingdom to other points of the compass, personnel from the Polish Forces who fought under Western command were focussing their sights on Britain. Some of them were medically unfit and, having landed in the UK, required hospital treatment. No. 49 Station Hospital became one of many Polish hospitals in Britain that would care for the infirm Polish troops. Additionally, the barracks in Diddington Camp were used to accommodate Category 'A' personnel, the vast majority of whom would have been taken on strength by the Polish Resettlement Corps (PRC) after September 1946 when it was formed. By this time the 49th Station Hospital was renamed No. 6 Polish Field Hospital.
Two of the Polish soldiers who were being cared for at Diddington Hospital, Sergeant Antoni Dziegielewski (1st Survey Regiment) and Warrant Officer 1st Class W Gura, died there and are buried in St Lawrence church cemetery, Diddington. You can read more about these two Polish soldiers by accessing the PDF file under Current Projects in the right column.
St Lawrence is a beautiful village church that dates back to 1086 when it belonged to the Bishop of Lincoln's manor. Its small cemetery could not accommodate many burials of those who died in Diddington Hospital. Only Dziegielewski and Gura were interred there. Other Polish soldiers and, it should be added, Polish civilians who passed away in Diddington Hospital were buried in St Neots cemetery.
Photographs in Slide Show 2 (see turquoise box in the right hand column) show the graves of some of the Polish citizens who had died in Diddington Hospital after the war.
The general cross-section of PRC personnel in the UK in 1946 included men and women. Whereas the male troops comprised mainly army units who had fought at, for example, Monte Cassino, the female units included personnel from, for instance, the Polish Women Auxiliary Service. The PRC also included Royal Air Force and Polish Navy personnel.
Arriving with this group of individuals were civilians, comprising in the main women (some of whom were the wives of the Polish troops), children who were born in Poland before September 1939, and grandparents who had survived the ordeals of war. For the British government the uncertain number of personnel in the PRC prompted questions in the House of Commons (HC). On 8 Ocotober 1946, for example, Mr William Warbey, Member of Parliament (MP) for Luton at the time, asked to be informed as to "how many Polish soldiers had enrolled." Mr. Bellenger, MP for Bassetlaw, replied that "up to 5th October, 17,480, which represents a high proportion of those to whom offers have so far been made."
(Hansard Report. HC Debate 8 October 1946 vol 427 cc12-3W)
A small percentage of these people did return to their families in Poland. A larger number emigrated to Australia, Canada, and the United States of America. But the largest proportion of WWII Polish personnel remained in the UK.