Rhe­bus group sees Pahiatua Mu­seum

Bush Telegraph - - NEWS - By STEVE CARLE´

Pahiatua & Dis­tricts Mu­seum was vis­ited by around 20 mem­bers from Palmer­ston North Rhe­bus group last Wednes­day to see the Pol­ish Army League dis­play on loan from Te Manawa Mu­seum.

The or­gan­iser was Val Swan, who has been in­stru­men­tal in get­ting the story of the Pol­ish Army League told, and worked as sec­re­tary for Anne Jaques who spear­headed the op­er­a­tion, also look­ing after her un­til she died at 101.

She re­calls her as­so­ci­a­tion with Mrs Jac­ques.

“On our visit to the Pahiatua Mu­seum this week with our Re­bus Club of the Manawatu¯ I was thrilled to see an ex­hi­bi­tion about the Pol­ish Chil­dren’s Camp. It re­minded me of my as­so­ci­a­tion with Ann J K Jac­ques (“Nan”) which be­gan many years ago. As a very com­pas­sion­ate per­son she was so im­pressed about the story that she heard from the Pol­ish Am­bas­sador’s wife who had trav­elled to Palmer­ston North to speak about the plight of the very lonely Pol­ish ser­vice­men. Mrs Jac­ques was so moved, that she and oth­ers set up an or­gan­i­sa­tion called the Pol­ish Army League.

“Their first job was to form a group of vol­un­teers who met reg­u­larly to pro­vide com­fort parcels to send off to these sol­diers dur­ing World War II. She told me that one of the things that they did was to meet reg­u­larly to spin and knit woollen socks. As well, she wanted to help in­di­vid­ual sol­diers who had lost con­tact with their fam­i­lies and were not re­ceiv­ing let­ters from home. They were fight­ing along­side New Zealand sol­diers and other al­lied Armies in the Mid­dle East and Italy who were re­ceiv­ing piles of mail.

“She re­cruited the help of the New Zealand women to “adopt” them and cor­re­spond with them in­di­vid­u­ally.

“More than 8000 peo­ple con­trib­uted to the league from all over New Zealand.

Then came the Pol­ish Chil­dren’s Camp which she played a very im­por­tant role in es­tab­lish­ing. She her­self fos­tered three of the Holen­der fam­ily of which she was ex­tremely fond of and she ac­tively sup­ported the wel­fare of the chil­dren in the camp. My fam­ily lived in Pahiatua at the time and I can re­mem­ber that my fa­ther who was the man­ager of the Re­gent The­atre ar­ranged for a spe­cial show­ing or two for films that he thought the chil­dren would en­joy,” she said.

Re­gent The­atre: In 1942 Mr Ker­ridge ap­proached Ge­orge Cur­tis who was a pro­jec­tion­ist at the Re­gent The­atre in Tau­ranga to be pro­jec­tion­ist/man­ager at the newly built Pahiatua Re­gent The­atre. He re­mained there un­til around 1947. Mr Cur­tis took the op­por­tu­nity on a to or­gan­ise spe­cial screen­ings on a Sun­day of movies he thought chil­dren from the Pol­ish Chil­dren’s Camp might en­joy.

Rhe­bus mem­bers in the Pol­ish Room at Pahiatua & Dis­tricts Mu­seum.

Jean Ed­die, life mem­ber of Pahiatua & Dis­tricts Mu­seum So­ci­ety with Val Swan.

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