Incredible journey of Sheffield woman 'born in a Siberian forced labour camp' who has died aged 81

Money is being raised for the British Red Cross in memory of a Sheffield woman who arrived by an amazing route as a wartime refugee.

Monday, 8th November 2021, 9:28 am

Maria Platts, who died in September aged 81 after a short illness, was born in a forced labor camp in Archangel, Siberia in 1940. Her parents Edmund and Wanda Adamczyk were taken from east Poland by Stalin’s invading troops.

Wanda had to wrap the newborn in blankets to hide her in the snow before work to prevent Maria being discovered.

When Polish prisoners were given an amnesty in 1942, Maria, her mum, brother and aunt were sent to a Red Cross refugee camp in Tehran, Iran. Wanda and Edmund were briefly reunited but he died in action with the Polish brigade of the British army.

The late Maria Platts, a Polish wartime refugee whose family eventually settled in Sheffield, pictured on her 80th birthday last year

The family were moved to a camp in Tanzania, Africa, travelling to the UK in 1948.

They stayed on an RAF base in Cornwall and in 1951 Wanda met a Polish man, Florian, on a visit to her sister-in-law Stasia in Sheffield.

Maria arrived in the city aged 11 when her mum remarried and went to Notre Dame High School. The family lived in Thompson Road, Ecclesall.

She trained as a nurse and worked for the NHS, moving into medical research at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital and the University of Sheffield.

Maria met future husband Brian Platts in 1956. The couple wed in St Marie’s Cathedral and were married for 52 years.

Brian, who died in 2013, was a beloved pantomime dame for Manor Operatic Society.

Both were involved in the group for many years and Marie appeared in the chorus.

They lived in Southgrove Road, Ecclesall, where Maria remained.

She leaves daughter Gay, son Adam, grandchildren Stanley and Ava and stepsister Danuta.

Gay said her mum wanted to support the British Red Cross work with refugees: “Getting to that Red Cross staging post in Tehran was a main turning point in her life. She wanted to remind people that refugees are people they have known for their whole life.

"We’re very lucky in this country we can help people.”

Maria’s Just Giving page is at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mariaplatts