City Secret – Polish Connection

Photo Credits: Glenn Garrelts’ India / Kresy-Siberia Memorial Gallery 

During early 40′s Karachi had a significant population of Polish refugees which fled Nazi occupation in their native land. It was precisely during August 1942 and December 1944, when more than 30,000 Polish travelled to Karachi by Sea. They were accomodated in Malir by British Army. After restoration of Peace in Poland most of them moved back to Poland. Some 58 Polish nationals are buried in the Karachi Christian Cemetery Board (Gora Qabristan).

The pictures here show the activities of these refugees inside the camp on a Christmas day. Most of the pictures have been taken by a nurse in the camp. Also check the adventures of Glenn Garrelts, an american soldier, who served as Chief Clerk in the Registrars and Sick & Wounded Office of the 181st General Hospital, Karachi, from September 20, 1944 to April 13, 1945.

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21 Comments on “City Secret – Polish Connection”

  1. September 6, 2011 at 6:08 am #

    Amazing photos. Where’d you dig them up? Please take me with you next time you go on one of your expeditions!

  2. Tariq Khan
    September 6, 2011 at 1:53 pm #

    Great job. Thank you. I hope people of Karachi were hospitable to them instead of British Army only. If only we could have invited them to stay in Pakistan, what a diverse city Karachi would have become.

    • September 7, 2011 at 6:53 am #

      Indeed. Although few of them did stay back. will be posting some information on it soon.

  3. September 6, 2011 at 3:49 pm #


  4. Dewispelaere Eddy
    October 25, 2011 at 7:14 pm #

    I had an Posish aunt (Irene ?) who came in 1944 from Siberia to India, she marrie there a british soldier (John Collier) they came back to London and lived there till theu died. Is there any possibility to find a mariage contract to retrace her family name. Please response on
    Thanks for helping me
    Eddy Dewispelaere

  5. October 29, 2011 at 10:48 am #

    please can you take me too with your expeditions???
    just give me a tXt

  6. nikhat
    December 13, 2011 at 9:05 pm #

    very informative as ihad no idea that Polish once lived in Karachi. i will share it with my Polish friends.

    • Witek
      August 23, 2012 at 6:22 pm #

      We, Polish refuges, only went through Karachi on the way to Africa, in 1942.
      It was a short stay, under tents, in very spartan condition, for there was a vicious war raging all over in Europe and all over the world.
      I was only eight years of age, but do remember locals offering boiled eggs, shouting: “jajca waroni, jajca waroni!
      Sadly, not many had any money, so there weren’t many takers.
      From Karachi, we sailed along the eastern coast of Africa, aboard a British ship, on the way to Mombasa.

      • December 29, 2013 at 2:58 am #

        my mother and grandmother were in Karachi at the same time you were. They eventually end up in Masindi Uganda. My mother was 9 at the time.

  7. Dolores Taylor
    January 12, 2012 at 4:24 pm #

    This is very interesting. It has cleared up a question I had a long time ago. There is a polish national buried next to my mother in the cemetry in Karachi. I always wondered what this polish national was doing in Karachi during WWII.


  8. Karo
    March 24, 2012 at 8:52 pm #

    oh my god i got so excited! I’m from poland and currently looking for a good subject for my bachelors dissertation (abt Pakistan of course :)) Maybe this will come in handy!

  9. yasmeen bawa
    May 5, 2012 at 1:25 pm #


  10. Anuradha Bhattacharjee
    May 9, 2012 at 3:00 pm #

    Dear karachiwalla,

    About 20,000 Polish people transited karachi in 1942-44. This is the figure given by Late Kieth Sword. There were two camps for the Polish people in Karachi- Malir and Country Club. This is the subject is my Phd dissertation ” Polish Refugees in India 1942-48″. Some children also transited Quetta during an overland movement of the Polish civilians.
    Am looking for a Pakistani research associate for this subject. Want to help ??

    Anuradha bhattacharjee, India

    • May 21, 2012 at 6:50 pm #

      Great pictures!!! And great website. I am a cultural anthropologist, I have been living in Karachi for already 3 years, but it ll take me life to know this city really :) Your website is really a good source :) I know the history of my people in Karachi quite well, we go with my husband quite often to Gora Qabristan to light candles on these 58 graves. I am very curious about these people who stayed in Karachi. Have you contacted Mrs Anna Ahmat and her daughters?

      • Anuradha Bhattacharjee
        May 21, 2012 at 8:14 pm #

        Hey Joanna ! this subject has been my PhD thesis and please connect with me at anubhattacharjee2000@ I am looking for experiences of Polish people who stayed back in India and would love to ‘meet people from Pakistan as well. I want to hear all about your family. Please! are you connected with the association of Poles in India, London ? I am looking for all the Polish names from St Joseph’s convent Karachi. I could go on and on but need to stop here today. Looking forward to hearing from you soon. : ) Good Luck Dzien Dobry !!! Please do connect me to Mrs Anna ahmat. : )

  11. Anonymous
    July 14, 2012 at 8:56 pm #

    I also want to join you

    • ali
      September 4, 2012 at 2:06 pm #


  12. August 23, 2012 at 7:16 pm #

    I am searching for my Grandfathers diary . My aunt let her teacher read and did not have it returned. Czeslaw Celinski who was in Anders Army. It means much to family as it has personal thoughts.


  1. City Secret – Polish Connection | Tea Break - September 7, 2011

    [...] City Secret – Polish Connection [...]

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