News story

Polish war heroes reunited in Veterans UK care home

Two Polish war veterans who helped drive Nazi forces out of Poland during World War 2 have been reunited at Veterans UK’s Ilford Park Polish Home

Andrew Borowiec and Ted Stopczynski were teenagers when they fought together in Warsaw as part of the Polish resistance movement opposing the Nazi occupation. After the war, both settled in the UK after Poland fell to the Soviet Union and had no knowledge of each other’s whereabouts for over 70 years.

But by co-incidence, both recently became residents of IPPH, run by Veterans UK, and were reunited.

Mr Borowiec said:

Someone had to tell me who he was, but once I realised who he was I remembered him. It is an enormous coincidence, mind you, it’s not so impossible for Poles to meet in England because this was our rescue place.

Mr Stopczynski added:

We were very young, but a lot of older people were either locked up, abroad or whatever. We were, to some extent, an exception.

Affectionately known as ‘Little Poland’ by residents and locals, IPPH is the last remaining home run by the MOD under the Polish Resettlement Act 1947. Clare Thomas is the home’s manager and recalls the moment the 2 residents met:

It was amazing when Mr Borowiec and Mr Stopczynski made a connection that they had both served together more than 70 years ago, and it was great to see that spark of recognition after all these years. IPPH is unique in providing residential and nursing care for members of the Polish community who helped the UK’s war effort and everyone is delighted these 2 old friends have been reunited” said Clare.

She added:

Mr Borowiec published his memoirs in 2014 and told the story of his childhood in wartime Poland. They were just 16 when they fought the Nazis and saw many areas of Warsaw destroyed by the fighting. I’m so pleased we have been able to bring them together again.

IPPH first opened in 1948 at Stover Camp, the site of a hospital built for expected D-Day casualties amongst American troops. The Home’s initial purpose was to resettle members of the Polish forces, who had fought with the British during World War 2. It met a promise made by Winston Churchill to repay the debt of gratitude owed to the Poles who had supported our war effort.

IPPH in Stover, Devon. (Crown Copyright)
IPPH in Stover, Devon. (Crown Copyright)

Over the years it has evolved from a resettlement camp into a residential care and nursing home for older Polish people, but that ‘Churchill Promise’ is still being met today.

For information on IPPH and the criteria for entry see Ilford Park Polish Home