This lovely picture is of my grandmother, Helena Łomnicka and my aunt, Alicja, taken after they were freed from Siberia and had recovered a little in Teheran before they were sent to the Lebanon in about 1944 or 5
Today is the 10th anniversary of my aunt’s death – I have written about her before as I miss her very much. She was also my godmother, and we were very close. I was looking through her photos today and found the one above very poignant. She looks so happy in her mother’s arms, but the last time I actually saw her with my grandmother was at her wedding, I think. My grandmother was not delighted with her son-i-law, and maybe she was vindicated, because Alice eventually left him after many years of unhappiness.
But I also found an old exercise book. When Alice was about eleven or twelve – 1947/8, she and her mother came to live in England. They could not go back to Poland o course because their part of Poland had been annexed by the USSR. My grandmother found work as a seamstress in a clothing factory and my aunt was sent to boarding school so that she could learn English. She attended the Ursuline Convent in Norwood Green, I think, and within a couple of years her English was as good as her Polish.
And looking through this exercise book – she was 14 in 1950, she had obviousy been asked to write about a holiday. Now her travels to the Soviet Union and the Middle East did not quite count as a holiday – she experienced the most horrendous things no child, or adult for that matter, should live through, but she was a good girl, and so having been told to write about a holiday she managed to transform her experience of being a prisoner, displaced person and refugee into a delightful tale. I think you can read it quite clearly in the photos below.
I have no idea where she learnt to write so beautifully.