World War II Captive Celebrates 100th Birthday

George Durkai, a resident at Argentum Lodge Care Home in Nailsea, near Bristol, celebrates his 100th Birthday with a card from the King and Queen

George Durkal, who was held captive in an internment camp in Germany during World War II, marked his 100th Birthday with a celebration at Argentum Lodge Care Home in Nailsea, near Bristol, where his birthday card from King Charles and the Queen took pride of place.

Born in Poland in 1925, where George was one of six siblings, the outbreak of the Second World War and Germany’s invasion of Poland in 1939 shattered his happy childhood. Aged 15, he returned from school one day to find his house burnt to the ground and surrounded by German soldiers.

Living in occupied Poland was extremely tough and in 1945 the Gestapo demanded that one member of his family went to work in Germany.  George, who was only 21 at the time, volunteered and was sent by cattle truck across the border to work as a carpenter fixing farmers’ carts.  Later he was sent to an internment camp where he was forced to labour building underground bunkers


Following the war, George joined the Polish Army and was stationed in Italy for two years.  As Poland was now under Russian occupation, George emigrated to England where he swiftly learnt English and used his carpentry skills to find work making furniture.  He later worked for British Cellophane in Bridgwater for many years. 

George married his wife Joyce in 1955 and they had a son, Neil.  After Joyce’s death in 2023, George moved to Argentum Lodge in Nailsea to be near his great nieces and nephews.

Commenting on his 100th birthday, George says: “I’ve certainly led an eventful life, which is perhaps the secret to a long life.  I was blessed with a wonderful marriage of over 68 years to my soulmate Joyce, which brought me great joy.

“I had a really lovely birthday and the staff at Argentum Lodge went out of their way to help me celebrate my century.”

Jessica Hawker, care home manager, Argentum Lodge adds: “It has been a privilege for us to join George in marking this incredible milestone.  As the country marks the 80th anniversary of the D-Day Landings this year, the remarkable first-hand stories of people like George, who lived through that terrible conflict, become increasingly rare – and thus all the more important for us to hear.

“George is a much-loved member of our Argentum Lodge family and he still manages to take a full and active part in life at the home.”

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