May06

An invisible thread

We had a lot of fun in early April 2015 when the BBC 'Inside Out' team and their lovely presenter, the historian Kate Williams, came to film at Bartons, Chilwell. 

They'd asked what the company might have in our archive relating to the state of the British public road transport industry on Victory in Europe day 1945 (it is the 70th anniversary on 8th May 2015), and how things progressed in the years immediately after the Second World War. We said our public transport archive, from the time Barton Transport Limited were major players on a national scale with even pre-war Continental holidays, has extensive written records, photos and films of that period, and even some vehicles and buildings. That 'Inside Out' episode is set to air on the evening of Monday 11th May at 19.30 on BBC1, and it promises to be interesting viewing.
 
It became clear the war years had been challenging in many ways; hundreds of Bartons staff were called up into the armed forces, and the best luxury vehicles taken, 21 being  commandeered immediately for use in armed forces transportation. Many male staff were replaced with female staff for the first time since Kate, Edith and Ruth Barton had made the national papers in the Edwardian period as the country's first female conductresses, with Kate even driving on occasion. During the Second World War fuel and vehicles were in short supply as were materials to repair them; novel motor engineering solutions abounded as they had from the Great War onwards in what was still a motor industry in its infancy.
 
The old Company has been recently encouraged by Mr Len Carpenter, a driver, inspector and veteran of the armed forces himself, to recognise once again the sacrifices made by staff in time of war, and this we are delighted to do now: by publishing several pages of our December 1945 WW2 'The Gasbag' staff newspaper showing where almost 230 men served, some never to return.
 
If people recognise the names of relatives or friends and wish to commemorate them in any way, we would be happy to put all correspondence received in our archive for posterity; the Company see it that around half our 1939 workforce took up the struggle against totalitarian tyranny in that period, and that what they fought for, namely the right of their country and fellow human beings to live in liberty, is cherished to this day, and will not be not forgotten. If the liberty they stood for is ever lost, either casually or in conflict, we have these people of character, and generations before them, to answer to.

gasbag-bus
 
One name not in The Gasbag  played a very meaningful part in the illustration of what was fought for.
 
That name is Mr Kazimiertz Budzik, who, as his name suggests, started in 1939, not with us, but with the Polish Air Force as an 18 year old cadet. His war and life could easily fill a book in itself, telling the story of how the war took away from him everything he perhaps thought he could rely upon. That story can be told more fully elsewhere, and the BBC will tell more of it, but it is hopefully interesting to relate the following in relation to war, to peace, to reconciliation and forgiveness.
 
'Ken' Kazimierz Budzik started his war as a young man from a respected family in Poland, and spent it fighting alongside the British and Allies as a Fighter Pilot (Spitfires/Mustangs) in the Polish Air Force. He died in November 2014 in his nineties.
 
Through a very moving connection, possessions of his have recently found their way into Bartons’ archive. One such possession is a print showing two WW2 Mark 1 Spitfires from Ken's 308 Squadron 'City of Krakow' PAF that hung in Ken's sitting room in Toton. It is entitled 'The Invisible Thread' and is by Leicestershire artist Mark Postlethwaite.
 
Through Ken's son, Zedge, comes a message:
 
'The family of Ken Budzik would like Bartons to accept books containing articles on a former employee into their archives.
 
Unknown to many, a Spitfire pilot from World War 2 was lucky to find employment with a progressive company. Bartons gave him the opportunity to build a new future in a strange land. He was eternally grateful for Bartons for accepting him into their fold without any discrimination. Their treatment of their staff earned lasting respect and loyalty of people like Ken Budzik.
 
Bartons has too earned a place in history and should not be forgotten. Their intuitive working practices enabled the local and then the country's economy to flourish securing the future for thousands of families and businesses.
 
Flight Lieutenant Kazimierz Budzik  Virtuti Militari. Cross of Valour
 
We contacted  Mark Postlethwaite to ask why the painting had been entitled 'The Invisible Thread' and he explained it was produced for a book of that title by Dilip Sarkar about a particular P.A.F Spitfire Ken had a connection to, and of the sacrifice of men like Ken Budzik.
 
Mark came to know Ken well, and commented that he had been taught the rudiments of some Polish by him. This had come in most handily when Mark met, then married, a Polish lady.
 
Mark Postlethwaite now lives in Poland.
 
Full Circle.
 
An invisible thread indeed.

 

Pages from a monthly Bartons newsletter from December 1945.


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