Photo Hunt: Card(s)

This week’s Photo Hunt challenge is “Card(s)”.

The obvious choice for me is two Christmas cards sent to my grandparents and my mother during WWII. They were sent by a young Polish airman that they met during a seaside vacation near Blackpool. The airman’s name was Alojzy Dreja. He was billeted at the same hotel my grandparents were staying at, near Blackpool for his training. Since my grandparents and mother spoke no Polish and Dreja spoke little English, they had to find a common language to converse in. In those days, Latin was still taught in most schools in Europe and even my mother could hold her own in Latin… So, they all spoke Latin!

The cards are hand painted by a fellow airman and included a letter and a folded paper envelope containing a Polish Christmas wafer. The only thing missing is the envelope that everything arrived in. Although the wafer is now completely crushed, it is entirely there. They were mailed December 27, 1940 which makes them 71 years old this Christmas!

Even more interesting, Alojzy, it turns out, survived the war, remained in Britain, married, and had a family. His son is Chris Dreja of the British band, The Yardbirds. Chris was able to confirm to me that Alojza was his father and I was recently contacted by Chris’ daughter, Alojzy’s grand-daughter, for information.

Alojza Dreja on his wedding day.

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17 Comments

  1. January 26, 2016 at 7:21 pm

    Hello, I am so pleased that this important and lovely piece of family history is kept alive. I am married to Stefan Dreja, the oldest son of Alozy Dreja, and the family would be so please to have these documents for safe keeping to a museum in England or to Alozys family for their family album. Can you let me know if they are stil exist? Thank you

    • mudhooks said,

      January 27, 2016 at 2:57 am

      Yes. They still exist. They are in perfect condition, with the exception of the New Year wafer which is just crumbs within the original folded paper. I haven’t decided what to do with them, whether to keep them in my family or to send them to a museum. It would be nice to add them to a collection which deals with WWII Allied forces.

      I contacted Chris Dreja when I discovered the link to the family. He was kind enough to fill me in a little on Alojzy’s post-war life.

      His daughter was hoping to translate the book that Alojzy wrote about his war experiences.

  2. Wojciech said,

    January 18, 2014 at 5:00 am

    My name is Wojciech Polak. I am a grant son of the Alojzy sister, Berta. I am living in Gliwice , a few kilometers from Przyszowoce – the place of birth of Alojzy. It is very nice to read all of this comments. I do not know who is the author of this information but i have preciate the effort . I have met Alojzy only once, but I do not remember it becouse I was very young this time, My grand mother Tusia has visited him in London couple times. He was her lovely brother and every time She could She was telling me a story about him. Till this time we (my mother) have in our home in Gliwice a pice of Virtuti Militari – the greatest Polish honour medal which was given to the Polish soldiers . Alojzy – you are still present in our memories!

    • mudhooks said,

      January 18, 2014 at 10:42 am

      How wonderful to hear from you, Wojciech! I really appreciate your commenting! I wish I had met him. But he was very present in my life simply because of the cards and letters, and from my mother’s memories. I was pleased to find out about the fact that Alojzy was the father of Chris Drejza and to receive an email from Chris giving me some details of Alojzy’s post-war life. And to have the added information about your mother is lovely. I assume from your comment that your mother is still alive. Please pass along my greetings to her from my mother and myself, if this is the case. I will mention your comment to my mother in the morning. She will be very pleased. At the age of 89 and with her memory problems, she may mot remember my having mentioned this but her memories of the war and your uncle are fairly clear (in many ways, more vivid than her memories of recent years).

      Thank you, again, Wojciech!

      Anneke

  3. azahar said,

    June 25, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    Wow, that is so cool.

    • mudhooks said,

      June 25, 2011 at 11:25 pm

      It is! I was stunned when I made the connection between Alojzy Dreja and Chris Dreja. I sent an email to his agent and doubted that I would hear anything. I was surprised to receive an email from Chris the next morning confirming it.

  4. Mar said,

    June 25, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    Unique and precious. A true surprise in today’s photohunt, how wonderful!!

  5. June 25, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    Lovely post!!!

    The Florida Furkids and Angel Sniffie

  6. Luna Miranda said,

    June 25, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    oh wow! what a treasure you shared with us. and keeping in touch the Mr. Dreja’s family is simply amazing. i love your post!

    • mudhooks said,

      June 25, 2011 at 11:42 pm

      The story had always fascinated me from when I was little. The family lost touch with Alojzy Dreja at the end of the war and we didn’t even know he had survived. I was so pleased when I was able to make the connecting a few years ago and to be able to give them a glimpse of Alojzy’s life during the war.

  7. Marites said,

    June 25, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    wow! that is so amazing! the cards are really beautiful! it’s awesome that your family was able to restore it.

    • mudhooks said,

      June 25, 2011 at 11:40 pm

      It is a shame that the wafer became crushed. I can recall it being intact when I was a teenager, circa late 1970s. At least we still have it and the paper it was wrapped in.

  8. magiceye said,

    June 25, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    this is so beautiful

  9. June 25, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    This is a truly wonderful example of the theme — Cherishing and keeping ephemera is a nice way to honor the past. The paintings are quite good, aren’t they?

    • mudhooks said,

      June 25, 2011 at 11:39 pm

      They are! And so vibrant even all these years later. Sadly, I have no idea who the artist is. I know that he was one of the airmen but that’s all I know.

  10. June 25, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    This is so precious. And to think it is still cherished, after 71 years. Wow. Would you donate to a museum?

    • mudhooks said,

      June 25, 2011 at 11:37 pm

      I hadn’t thought about it but it would make sense to donate it to the Imperial War Museum or the Royal Air Force Museum. I would rather they were maintained as a document rather than sitting in a drawer, of no interest to anyone but myself.


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