Tributes paid to extraordinary St Albans man who fled the Hungarian Uprising of 1956
PUBLISHED: 12:04 23 January 2019 | UPDATED: 17:12 23 January 2019
An extraordinary man who fled Hungary during the 1956 revolution before settling in St Albans has passed away aged 83.
When Russian troops invaded Hungary in the 20th century, Ferenc Kaloczi was forced to leave his family home with his worldly belongings in a sheet and follow his blind grandfather up the mountains to a safer place.
The youngster had been bought up by his grandparents because his mother was unable to look after him. She died when he was eight from a terminal illness. Years later, after his grandparents had passed and he had lived in poverty with his aunt, the people rose up against Communist Russia in the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and Ferenc was forced to escape the country for good.
The now-21-year-old and his friend Imre managed to break curfew by pretending to be drunk - they fooled the guards and caught a train heading for Austria.
However, Russian troops had also boarded and Imre jumped from a moving carriage to escape their clutches. Ferenc was too worried about his thick rimmed glasses to attempt the same, instead bribing the guards with the little money on his person.
Despite this, the service stopped just short of Austria, and Ferenc was forced to navigate fields strewn with mines between the two countries.
From Austria, Ferenc reached Scotland and from there he wanted to move to London - but with little spoken English, Ferenc accidentally boarded a train to London Colney.
Meeting his wife Anne Thompson at a St Albans dance, in time they were married with four children called Elizabeth, Maria, Tomas, and David.
Over the years Ferenc worked numerous jobs, notably at Marconi Instruments and at Hawker Siddeley - the Hatfield Aerodrome. He helped build the parts for famous aircraft such as Trident and Concord.
Before Anne passed away from cancer in 2005, the couple were instrumental in twinning St Albans with Nyiregyhaza in Hungary.
Ferenc endured just one more evacuation in his life - he lived on Fontmell Close when the infamous sinkhole opened. He died in Fonthill House Nursing Home on January 14.
Ferenc’s son David said: “He was certainly very different and a character with strong opinions. He will be greatly missed by his children and grandchildren and anyone who knew him.”
His daughter, Maria, has set up a fundraising page for Barnardo’s in Ferenc’s memory. See it at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/maria-elward