29 Jun 2024

A Sad Story

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Via FB:

Lest We Forget . . . . . .

This man lived in the alcove of the old Finlay’s tobacconist kiosk, in Camden Town Underground Station and although he had been living there since the early 1970’s, nobody knew anything about him. He didn’t beg, he refused to accept money, he never drank alcohol, he didn’t smoke and for me, he was as much a part of Camden Town as the tube station itself. He only spoke to me once and it was on the day that I took this photograph. He’d seen me walking around with my camera loads of times but on this particular occasion he stopped me and said, “photographs are important, because people soon forget”. I always knew that there was a lot more to him than the image he presented to the world but I was stunned, when I read his story in the Camden Journal, the week after he passed away in 1988. He was born in Poland and when the Germans invaded in 1939, he made his way to England. He fought in the battle of Britain, flying a Spitfire in one of the Polish squadrons, married an English girl and worked as a printer after the war. When his wife died in 1969, he was so devastated that after the funeral, he never went home and instead, he moved into the alcove of the tube station. It is to Churchill’s detriment that he and other Polish pilots were not allowed to participate in the victory celebrations, because it was felt that the presence of the Polish contingent might upset the Russians. This man really was, one of the forgotten few, who spent the last 20 years of his life, living in a kiosk, mourning his wife.

2 Feedbacks on "A Sad Story"


Not only were the Poles kept out of the victory parade—most of them were forcibly sent back to Poland, against their wishes. Poland was ruled by the Russians, so nobody wanted to go back.


I wonder how that was even possible to live 20 years like that. Especially now that I’m old and better understand the frailties of old age.


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