Upstairs, up in the loft, I’ve got all Mum and Dad’s original citizenship papers, all their official documents. Even though my dad was mainly over here, he was part of the British army, as part of the ancillary forces. He was in Montecassino, in Italy, for a little while, as a support function. There is a slight clattering. “That’s the cookies just coming in” Chris says to the tape as Maria passes him one. He was trained to fight, but he was in the background. Auxiliary, doing the support.
So because my father fought for the British army, and my mother did some work for the UK, they were made British citizens by Winston Churchill as a thank you for all their help and support during the Second World War. Even though they’d had to move from Poland and come over here, they contributed: maybe making bombs, or doing whatever. They were helping the country get back on its feet. And as a thank you to those first-generation, mass exodus Poles in the late forties/early fifties, Mr Churchill said ‘guys, you helped us out’.
Without all these hundreds of thousands of people, the UK would have struggled. It would have got there eventually, but it needed workforce. It wasn’t just Poles, it was a lot of the Eastern block countries as you might call it now. For example, that’s why you’ve got a lot of Italians in the UK, because they came over to Wales.
You’ve got all these pockets of different nationalities that, due to the Second World War, relocated to the UK and other parts of the world because they were given options at the end of the war: either going back to your birthplace, or, taking a chance, and going to the ‘States, Canada, Australia, the UK. Hence the reason why you have lots of Polish people in the UK now. Even more so now, but that’s a different story.