World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

                      Lydia Herrington 

Born In A Labour Camp

By Actiondesk Sheffield

People in story: Lidya Herrington
Location of story: Worsborough, Barnsley
Background to story: Civilian


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Bill Ross of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Lydia Herrington.

I was born in a Labour camp in 1944, in Siegburg which is near Cologne Germany. My parents were from East Ukraine. We came to England in 1948; dad came first in order to get a job and lodgings. We settled in a one room accommodation in Highgate, near Goldthorpe. My dad worked as an electrician in the coal mines. My parents’ names are Katrina and Michael, surname Cieslik. I am the oldest of 6. When I was about 10, dad was sent into a mental home, after trying to commit suicide, an act that was illegal in those days. Because of this, my mother had to bring six of us up on her own. Mum’s house was bombed in Ukraine, her first husband being killed and was buried in the garden where he lies to this day.

My mother was a servant in the factories; dad was an electrician during the war. Dad was sent to a concentration camp. However, my mum went to the commander who said that when I was born, dad could be released into the labour camp. After the war, in the displaced persons camp (which was Polish but located in Germany), we were living in a room with bunk beds and a pile of wood in corner. One day, all the logs fell and mice ran out.

We moved to England, initially, we lived in Darfield. We spoke Ukrainian at home. I was actually stateless for a long part of my life, but I acquired British nationality eventually. My mum received compensation that was designated for people who had worked in the labour camp. My dad’s dad, got out of Russia and joined the Polish Air Force; rumour has it that his name was in Lincoln Cathedral and we asked them to look it up one time; and it was there.