Josef’s family reunited after Southern story

Janette, left, and Miera Hamilton
Janette, left, and Miera Hamilton

A Polish woman has told of her delight after being reconnected with her long-lost relations in the Borders.

Last week, we reported how Ewa Sochaka had been trying to find the family of Josef Ciechanowski, her great uncle.

Miera with her young children

Miera with her young children

Josef was a tank commander in the Polish army, who had, during the Second World War, been based in Belgium, England and finally Scotland, where he met and married a Galashiels woman, Agnes McLaren.

He changed his surname name to Hamilton, which was the family name of Agnes’s mother.

They had two daughters, Janette and Kazimiera, and both went to school in Galashiels. However, those two sections of the family lost contact after Josef’s death.

Ewa has spent years trying to trace Janette and Kazimiera but to no avail.

When she contacted the Southern, in a last-ditch attempt to find them, we published her story in the paper and online.

While several school friends of the two women commented to say they knew both girls well at the time, they too had lost contact.

However, we also shared our story on the Bygone Galashiels Facebook page, and within an hour, Kazimiera’s daughter Dawn Elliot was tagged and she got in touch.

Dawn told us: “Unfortunately, my mum, who was known as Miera, died in 1980 when she was 36.

“I had no idea we had any family over in Poland, so this has come as quite a shock.

“It will be interesting to hear more about my grandad from Ewa.”

We gave Ewa Dawn’s contact details and now the two are catching up via Facebook.

Ewa told us: “I cannot believe it, but this has really happened – you found my grand uncle’s relatives, and she wants to connect with me.

“I am so happy. I told this great news to my mum. She is happy and excited.

“Thank you so much for your help. You have done a great job.”