Tweedsmuir Camp as Temporary Accommodation for Polish Resettlement Corps in Transit (1947 to 1948)

Between 1947 and 1948 Tweedsmuir Camp was a War Office (WO) facility, accommodating PRC personnel in transit. As such it was administered by the WO. In 1948 Tweedsmuir Camp became a place of refuge for ex-Polish Resettlement Corps (PRC) personnel, their families and their dependents. It then became the responsibility of the National Assistance Board (NAB). But the camp's transition from a WO facility for Polish soldiers to a refuge for Polish ex-soldiers and their families and dependents was anything but smooth.

The 55 Brigade Group PRC and the 501 Basic Unit PRC

Holy Mass at Casarano, Southern Italy before Polish troops transfer to Great Britain
As a Polish refugee resettlement camp Tweedsmuir’s history is unique because in 1947 it was the only WO camp in the United Kingdom that accommodated the extra numbers of Polish army personnel employed by the WO as administrators at the PRC Demobilisig Depot, Witley Camp, where the central core of the administartors were housed. In this respect, Tweedsmuir Camp continued to be referred to by the WO after the war as a service camp.

The administrators were responsible for demobilising personnel from the Polish Armed Forces under the following criteria:

"Reckonable service will include only that service rendered with the Polish Forces under British Command, ie within the period 1 July 1940 to 15 August 1946. NO service is reckonable in the case of Poles who entered the Polish Forces after 31 May 1945."
Their initial job at Witley Camp was to prepare for the arrival of Polish II Corps personnel to Great Britain from Italy and subsequently to demobilise them and their naval and airforce compatriots.

Before transferring Polish servicemen and women to Britain, the WO put into place logistics systems that would ease the management of the 114,037 individuals who had decided to enlist in the PRC. The systems included human resources such as dentists, doctors, quartermasters and chefs. They also included hardware equipment such as, typewriters with Polish alphabet strikers, rubber stamps for administrative purposes (see above), and surgical instruments. It would seem that the logistics systems were prepared in Britain between June 1946 and September 1946, and that PRC staff had been assigned to where they were required before the larger numbers of Polish Army personnel were transferred to the United Kingdom. For instance, some of the surgeons and their equipment were sent to No. 6 Polish Hospital, Diddington Camp in Eastern England, and typewriters to Witley Camp, Surrey.

While enrolment into the PRC began with the Polish II Corps from Italy on 13 September 1946, the final group of Polish soldiers were transferred from the Middle East to Britain in April 1948. But the first Polish soldiers to arrive at Tweedsmuir were the men of the 55 Brigade Group PRC who entered Tweedsmuir Camp on 7 July 1947, five months after the evacuation of the last Canadian soldier. Four days later, on 11 July, personnel of the 501 Basic Unit were accommodated at the camp under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Berendt.

The 55 Brigade Group comprised volunteers from the Polish Land Forces of the Second Corps in transit for the newly created Placement in Employment in the Merchant Navy scheme, and were in transit to either Portsmouth or Southampton.

The 501 Basic Unit PRC comprised Polish personnel responsible for demobilising Polish soldiers who had fought alongside the British Army under British operational command. 501 personnel were staff employed by the WO at the PRC Pay and Record Office, Witley Camp.

While the 55 Brigade Group left Tweedsmuir on 12 December 1947, some individuals of the 501 unit occupied barracks as civilians at the camp into the early 1960s.

There were no Polish Air Force units or Polish Naval units accommodated at Tweedsmuir Camp after the Second World War.