Cannon Hall and the Polish Resettlement Corps Presentation

8th July 2024

On 21st June, Cannon Hall hosted a fabulous get together for people who either had parents or family in the Polish armed forces during the Second World War or those who live in Barnsley and have Polish heritage. The event was initiated by Janis Helliwell, whose father had lived at the settlement camp there, and who got in touch with Steven Skelley (Community Engagement Officer at Barnsley Museums) who helped to make it happen.  

In 1940, Cannon Hall was requisitioned by the War Office to house a camp for the armed forces. Over the period 1940 to 1949, the Cannon Hall Camp was home to different units of the British, Canadian and Polish armies and housed around 1,000 troops at a time. Polish troops stationed at Cannon Hall were part of the resettlement campaign and some of them settled in Barnsley permanently after the war. 

On the day, we learned about the fascinating history of Cannon Hall and its role during the war from curator, Melissa Gallimore. Katy and Helena from Barnsley Archives had created a fabulous display of photos and documents, some of which had been donated by people attending on the day, and were on hand to ask any questions.     

Author Julie Fearn shared memories and read extracts from her book ‘The Suitcase of Secrets’ and talked about her father’s journey from Poland in World War II. We heard many interesting and emotional stories from the audience during the discussion sessions afterwards. 

Tamara Fieldsend from the Polska Biblioteka in Francis Jordan House on Pall Mall introduced us to the services offered by her and colleague, Hanka. They are able to translate and interpret documents, offer advice to those new to the community, or you can even just drop in for a chat. Many of us had seen the sign, but not realised that we could actually make use of Tamara’s and Hanka’s expertise.  To find out more about what the library can help with and its opening times, visit Home | Polska Biblioteka The Polish Library ( 

There was time to connect and chat before we headed to the parkland for a group photograph and a short walk to the site of the resettlement camp. It was rather poignant and emotional standing where so many family members had laid down their first roots in Barnsley, and remembering the stories and experiences that had brought them there. 

I am sure many firm friendships were created that day.      

Cannon Hall and the Polish Resettlement Corps Presentation