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Notes from an interview with Rachel Drage, 1st June 2009
Mrs Henryka Karabin
(formerly Koller)
Henryka was born in Poland on the 13th September 1925. Her mother died when she was 4 years old, so she was brought up by her father.

In WWII Henryka escaped from Poland when she heard the Russians were coming as she knew they were worse than the Germans. She travelled from one to another train for over a week, and didn’t eat, drink or wash during that time. She managed to get to Fellsburg in Germany where she got a job working for a tailor. She told him she could sew and he was very good to her and encouraged her and that enabled her to earn a little money.

When the Americans came to Germany she became displaced and managed to get to Paris. With the help of the Polish Embassy there, she was aided by the Polish Red Cross and was able to join the Women’s Royal Air Force with three other Polish girls, on the 1st December 1944. She did her training at R.A.F. Wilmslow and then trained as a telephonist at R.A.F. Scampton.

Later she met Zygmunt Koller, also a Polish refugee. They married and went to stay at a Polish Camp at Melton Mowbray, but this was not a family camp so they were moved to Podington Camp, just three miles from Rushden.

She was happy at Podington but wanted to move into Rushden, but the council would not accept foreigners as tenants. So both Henryka and Zygmunt became naturalised British citizens and were then able to get a council house in Windsor Road, Rushden. This was a very nice house and they brought up five children there. Later they bought their own house in St Margarets Avenue and later moved to Dean Close.

Mrs Karabin is very happy with her memories of Rushden; she felt at home as the people were always friendly to her and her (first) husband. Zygmunt was a qualified engineer and worked on the railways in Wellingborough. Later he worked at British Leyland works at Wellingborough. (He died in 1978). Mrs Karabin had worked at Chapman’s Box Factory in Cromwell Road and had some good times working there.

Three photographs taken by Canon Frost of St Peter's Roman Catholic Church. They are captioned "May 1982 showing all that remains of the once thriving Polish Camp at Podington".

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