Keeping the Memory Alive

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From the 2011 travels of a UK based descendant of a Czechoslovak RAF airmen:

“Wings of Victory” Exhibition Plumlov Castle

We had planned a visit to Modell Brno 2011 (highly recommended to those with interest in scale modelling and next to be held in June 2013) and to see family in Prostejov. We had seen the articles about the “Wings of Victory” Exhibition at Plumlov Castle on the Free Czechoslovak Air Force website and having determined its close proximity, pre-arranged a visit.

Originally built in the 13th Century, Plumlov Castle was severely damaged during the Thirty Years War (1618-1648). The existing castle was built in the 17th Century by the third owner, Jan Adam of the Liechtenstein dynasty. It stands on a hill overlooking a small lake, and is 6 stories high with a beautiful facade incorporating massive columns and stucco decorations. Originally designed as a 4 wing castle, the building was never finished with only 1 wing built. Confiscated after World War II by the communist government, the Castle has been the property of the village of Plumlov since 1994.

“Wings of Victory”, owned by Svazu letců České Republiky (The Airmens’ Association of the Czech Republic), was opened in 2001 with the help of the Mayor of Plumlov, Mr Ladislav Otruba, and the Town Council who continue to support the exhibition. It is primarily a photographic display commemorating the participation of the Czechoslovak Air Force during World War II in all theatres of the war, with in excess of 1000 photographs.

There are also exhibits including models of aircraft flown in the war, books about the Czechoslovak airmen who fought in the war, and a display of documents and photographs from Henry Prokop illustrating the route taken by many of the airmen through the French Foreign Legion to the French Air Force, before escape to England and service with the Royal Air Force.

2 displays are dedicated to Alois Dvořák from Plumlov who served as a pilot in 310 Czechoslovak Fighter Squadron. He saw action in the Battle of Britain and was killed in his Hurricane on 24th September 1941 whilst flying from Dyce to Montrose in Scotland. He is buried in the Old Churchyard at Dyce, near Aberdeen.

Displays illustrating various aspects of aviation history since the formation of Czechoslovakia in 1919 to the present day are also included.

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The exhibition is part of the Castle’s “Wings of Victory” tour, is open all year round, and entry is free of charge.

We were extremely privileged to be shown around the exhibition by retired Czech Air Force Colonel Mgr. Boleslav Povolný (centre) and Ing. Josef Pinoš (right), officials of the Svazu letců in Prostějov, together with Mr Vladimír Pacl, Guide to the Castle Museum (left).

The Czechoslovak Airmen’s Memorial, Prostějov Cemetery

In 1945 samples of earth from the graves of 302 Czechoslovak airmen who had served in the west were placed in wooden urns and returned to Czechoslovakia where it was planned that they would be interred. Overtaken by the Communist takeover in 1948 and the subsequent persecution of those who had fought in the west, the urns remained in temporary storage until after the Velvet Revolution in 1989. When re-discovered, the wooden urns were damaged, and the soil samples were identified and placed into new urns.

In 1998 a Memorial to commemorate the Czechoslovakian airmen who had served in the Royal Air Force was erected in Prostějov Cemetery with 157 of the urns interred in the cemetery. The Memorial was unveiled on the 58th Anniversary of the arrival of the first Czechoslovak airmen in Falmouth Cornwall on 26th June 1940 following the fall of France.

A future aim of Svazu letců, Prostějov is for the names of the Czechoslovak airmen who sacrificed their lives to be recorded on the Memorial.

Inscribed on the memorial are the legendary words of Winston Churchill “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few”.

Vyškov Aviation Museum

Located at the airport in Vyškov, the museum has an extensive collection of primarily cold/post war Russian fighter, bomber, transport and reconnaissance aircraft, helicopters, engines, military combat and transport vehicles and artillery.

The exhibits also include the remains of World War 2 aircraft excavated in the surrounding district including parts of Me-109s, Fw-190s, B-17s, B-26s, Jak-9s, Il-2s, and a Wellington Bomber. The group is actively engaged in searching for crash sites, identifying and recording the history of the aircraft discovered, and ultimately excavating the debris.

The museum collection is maintained by members of the local Association of Aviation History. Run entirely by volunteers, it is open between April to October at the weekends only. All income received supports the conservation of the aircraft on display and the exploration of crash sites.

The museum also has a small photographic display and a memorial which include commemorations to the Czechoslovak airmen who served in the west.

We travelled by car which was a distance of 846 miles (1360 km) from Calais to Prostějov. Plumlov is situated 5 miles (8 km) west of Prostějov, with Vyškov 16 miles (26 km) south in the direction of Brno. There are flights from England to Brno which is located 38 miles (60 km) to the south.

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This entry was posted in 310 Sqd, 311 Sqd, 312 Sqd, 313 Sqd, 68 Sqd, Exhibitions, Information, Memorial, Museum. Bookmark the permalink.

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