There have been a few Polish shops popping up in Hereford in recent years. Apart from the unfamiliar products and packaging, the most notable thing about them to my mind is their penchant for cute signs.
Sarah Miriam Peale [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
With the advent of polytunnels the local farming industry is now more intensive with longer growing seasons. Eastern Europeans, particularly Poles, make up a large part of this agricultural labour force. Many Eastern European states joined the EU in 2004 which allows for the free movement of labour. Many also work in skilled jobs such as plumbing and carpentry. Many, many years ago I did a stint of fruit picking and the labour force was mostly made up of students, housewives and travelling folk. One of these travelling folk was sacked for putting rotten raspberries at the bottom of her punnets. She cursed the farm manager with rain that would ruin his crop. Sure enough, the next day torrential rain meant that the raspberries we picked were only good for jam making. I suspect she had been listening to the weather forecast on her transistor radio.
“126 Adolfs” – German aeroplanes shot down by No. 303 Squadron during the Battle of Britain. Painted on a Hurricane, via Wikimedia Commons
Hereford already had a significant Polish community. In 1939 Hitler invaded Poland bringing the UK into World War II. Many Polish servicemen managed to escape to Britain where they served in the Free Polish Forces. The Polish aircrews were the second largest contingent (after the British) to fight in the Battle of Britain, the decisive campaign that ended Hitler’s ambitions to invade Britain. After helping to liberate Europe from Nazi fascism, these Poles then saw their country consumed by Stalin’s brutal communism and many elected to settle in the UK. As well as there being an RAF (Royal Air Force) base in Hereford, there was also a resettlement camp set up in Foxly, Herefordshire for Polish military personnel and their families many of whom made new lives for themselves in Herefordshire.