Łucja “Luna” Golińska – memories of a Polish Émigré girl scout and activist in Great Britain and co-founder of the Polish Scouts’ Union in Exile.
Scoutmaster Łucja Golińska (de domo Boniewicz) – remembered as “Mum” or “Luna” by us -was a great Polish patriot and social activist, devoted to scouting and building of Polish ties and community in post-war emigration in London. It is worth bringing her character to a wider audience today as she was tireless in her love of Poland and Scouting.
Who was she?
Polka, Kresowianka (born in 1927 in Krzemieniec, Volhynia), who in 1942 escaped ZSRR – the “inhuman land” with the Anders’s Army, was the so-called “Anders child” who passed through Persia and Africa to the UK.
Luna loved scouting from the beginning – this is how she remembered her scouting activity in August 1996 in the scouting letter published in scouting magazine “Węzełek” (year 36, No. 203): “I swallowed the scout bug in 1939 whilst on vacation at the uncle’s house in the Vilnius region, near the eastern border. Uncle, scoutmaster Stanisław Zawadzki, was at that time a scout camp inspector and often took me with him. And then scouting caught me forever. The camps were located on the lakes (Narocz, Wigry) or on the Neris. Beautiful forests, unforgettable surroundings. Chapels, gates, earth tables, “refrigerators” and other camp equipment delighted me. I was captivated by bonfires – the spell of fire, sparks shooting up, the sky dotted with stars. And then I knew that I had to become a girl scout”.
Łucja “Luna” Golińska, after the outbreak of the war in 1939 – at the age of only 12 – was arrested with her family and deported deep into Soviet Russia. Before the Sikorski-Majski agreement in July 1941, after which it was possible for Poles to leave the labour camps and create the Polish Army in the USSR, led by General Władysław Anders, she stayed in Altai on
the Kazakh-Mongolian border.
Luna describes these tragic moments in her memories: “War broke out. I returned to Brest on the Bug, from where we were deported a few hours before the outbreak of the German-Russian war on June 22, 1941 to Barnaul, the capital of Altai Krai (Region in Altai Mountains belonging to USRR). After the amnesty, we went south, around Tashkent. In the autumn of 1942 I left Russia with the Junaks (Youth Solders)”.
After regaining freedom at the end of 1941 as “Anders’ child” along with the Polish Army in the USSR through Kazakhstan she manages to get out of hell of “inhuman land”. Together with “Anders’ Army” she managed to get to Persia in 1942. She passes through Tehran and Isfahan to the African refugee camp in the north-eastern part of the British Tanganyika colony, located near Arusha. There, she joined the Scouts for good in 1942, which was not given to her in Poland in 1939. She stayed in Africa in 1942-1948.
Luna recalls this moment: “In Tehran, my mother took me from the “army” and we immediately left for Africa – to Tenger” (then East Tanganyika was a British colony, today it is part of the Republic of Tanzania).
In Africa, Luna found shelter from the war, but she could also vent her interests and passions, i.e. scouting – despite the poverty and illness (Luna suffered from cerebral malaria during her stay in Africa and lay in a coma for a long time – she was close to death).
Luna wrote: “It was only then, in Tenger, my dream could come true. I joined the scouts’ team and soon swore alliance to become the scout to the Banner Commandant, scoutmaster Zdzisława Wójcik. And the scout life began, full of adventures, experience struggles with difficulties, achievements, joy, work on oneself. Scouting got into my blood, it became a lifestyle … The period of my stay in Africa (1942-48) gave me a training, an opportunity to acquire certain skills, and above all to make many friendships”.
In this hot African period, Luna was also with her homeland in her thoughts, and despite the distance and all the exotics around her – then an adolescent girl – Poland was always deeply rooted in her heart.
She wrote: “All this time I was longing for my home country. When taking scouts from the Grey Ranks (Szare Szeregi) were struggling with the invaders in Poland, I was lamenting that I am not with them, I do not fight, I do not suffer – I live safely in an enchanted world full of exoticism and adventure”.
After the war, she lived with her family in Great Britain, where she married the scout Stanisław Goliński. Here they started a family and a long period of their joint activity in London began – which resulted in the creation of Polish scouts in exile here.
In 1996, Luna wrote: “What I wrote – it is ME. Of course, during such a long period of work in scouting, I fulfilled various functions – from the most important ones: a Zastępowa (Commander of the Zastęp – smaller scouting formations), to Hufcowa (Commander of Hufiec – larger scouting formation), Commandant of the Banner, a member of various scouting banners and commands, head of training courses, etc. I have always tried to be useful and I continue to do so as long as I do enough strength and health. I am currently the Chief of the European Banner, which includes Sweden, Denmark, Austria, Germany and Belgium”.
At the time she also was working at the Scout Headquarters in London, she was Hufcowa of Tatry and Bałtyk Hufiecs. She was also Commandant of the Scouts’ Banner in Great Britain and Europe. In May 1969 she participated in the First World Scouts Rally at Monte Cassino on the 25th anniversary of the battle, during which General Władysław Anders handed over the duty of care over the graves of soldiers of the Polish Armed Forces in the West and Polish memorial sites, as well as the relay in the further fight for Poland’s independence, to young generation of Poles.
In the 1980s, Luna was appointed a deputy chairman of the ZHP in exile by Commander inChief if all Polish Scouting organisations in Exile – Ryszard Kaczorowski – later President of the Republic of Poland in Exile (in 1989-1990). She was also the main co-organizer of the Third World Scouting Rally in 1982 at Comblain-la-Tour near Liège in Belgium.
At that time, she also went to her beloved Poland for the first time, and the culmination of78this trip was the meeting with the Holy Father – The Polish Pope John Paul II in Częstochowa. This is how he describes this long-awaited moment: “And finally, the time came when I went with the scouts from the London Hufiec “Baltic” to the rally by the Baltic Sea in Poland. It was the first ZHP rally in free Poland. The Baltic Sea was wonderful – emerald, with foaming waves, glistening in the sun. And then we travelled through Poland – Toruń (my husband’s town, also a boy scout), Warsaw, Kraków, Wieliczka, Oświęcim, a scout rally and a meeting with the Holy Father in Częstochowa; at the end the Polish mountains, Zakopane. This rally, like no other, gave me unforgettable moments – it was not sightseeing – it was experiencing Poland – my country”.
In addition to scouting, Luna and her husband Stanisław undertook organic work at the foundations of the “White Eagle” club and the Polish parish at Balham. Stanisław also came to England with a patriotic family – his father Feliks was a member of the ground crew of the RAF Polish Squadrons and was stationed with Polish Airmen at RAF military airfield in Northolt.
Together with her husband, Luna was a co-founder and animator of many organisations of Polish life in exile. She was, among others, an active member of the Catholic parish dedicated to Christ the King in London’s Balham, as well as the Polish Saturday School named after Tomasz Arciszewski (where for many years the director was a distinguished archivist Ludwik Maik), teaching Polish and religion.
She was also a co-founder and guardian of Polish culture at the Polish White Eagle Club at Balham and an activist of many charity organisations – including The Guderstar Foundation and the “Medical Aid for Poland” foundation as well as Sue Ryder, whom she knew personally.
At the age of 84, Luna became a grandmother – and despite the already advanced age – she decided that her only and beloved grandson Joseph, should familiarise himself with scouting from an early age. Her dream was that he would become a scout and grow up as a Polish patriot.
Luna Golińska performed many functions, among others:
• Zastępowa (Commander of the Zastęp – smaller scouting formations), Hufcowa (Commander of Hufiec – larger scouting formation)
• Szczepowa (Commander of the Szczep), Szczep Świętokrzyski in Balham, London
• Guardian of the Karpaty’ Corps
• Hufcowa of Hufiec “Tatry” in Pitsford
• Hufcowa of Hufiec “Baltic” in London: 1968-74
• Commander of the Scouts’ Banner in Great Britain: 1957-60, 1963-68, 1976-78, 1988-90
• Commander of Scouts’ Banner in Europe: 1991-2001
• Vice President of the UK District Board of ZHP in Exile
• Several times a member of the Headquarters and the Headquarters of Scouts
• Secretary of the ZHP twice
• Commandant of many training courses in Hufce, Banner and Scouting Headquarters
Our mother Luna left us for eternity in the Lord on the first day of Easter, April 17, 2017 at 17.00 at the age of 89.
Honour her memory!
Author and pictures: Iwona Golińska
Bez kategorii Poles in UK