Vitezslav Rosik remembered in Ethiopia



Group Captain Vítězslav Josef Rosík was born 23 December 1895 in Bzová, near Bojkovice, Czechoslovakia. His schooling commenced with two years at Uherske Hradiste, then at High School at Uherský Brod and then onto the Technical College at Brno where he studied engineering.

In March 1915 he enlisted in the 3rd Infantry Regiment of the Austro-Hungarian army who were stationed at Brno. By November of that year, he was fighting on the Russian front as a machine-gunner. By November 1917, now an officer, he was on the Italian front when he was captured on 28 October 1918 and remained a prisoner of war until February 1919. On his return to the newly formed state of Czechoslovakia, he initially served with the border unit at Náchod and in November 1919, because of his engineering qualification, he was posted to the Defense Department of the Ministry of Defense, as a technical officer. In August 1920, now at the rank of poručík (lieutenant), he was transferred to the regimental workshop of the 2nd “Dr. Edvard Beneš Air Regiment in Olomouc where he was the regimental adjutant.At the end of November 1920, he was posted to the 3rd “General M.R.Stefánik” Air Regiment at Košice as a trainee observer. He was sent to the air observers course at the Military Aviation Academy at Cheb, from where he successfully graduated and was appointed regimental adjutant of that Aviation Academy. In February 1923 he was posted to Prague which was followed by a three-month internship with l’Arme d’Air in France. On returning from France, he returned to the Academy at Chleb for pilot training and then onto the War College in Prague from which he successfully graduated. On 1 October 1927, now at the rank of štábního kapitána (Staff Captain), he achieved becoming an operational pilot.In the years that followed he was assigned numerous including, in 1929, being appointed Commander of the 3rd Regiment of the 11th Air Division based at Košice, being seconded to the Italian Air Force in April 1932 and in August 1932 he was appointed Military and Air Attaché at the Czechoslovak Embassy in Rome. On returning to Prague he became Professor at the War College, where his subject was tactical aviation. In September 1937, he returned to work at the Czechoslovak Ministry of Defence in Prague as Head of the Air Force Chief Operating Division.

After the outbreak of World War II, he left Czechoslovakia, on 16 November 1939, via the Balkan route to France where he was assigned to the Czechoslovak Air Force Command in Paris. When France capitulated, he was evacuated on 19 June 1940, to England, initially, he was in command of the Czechoslovak airmen at Cholmondeley, the tented camp where the evacuated Czechoslovak military personnel were initially based on their arrival in the UK. Later he was appointed Commander of the Czechoslovak airmen at RAF Cosford. In June 1941 he was assigned to the Czechoslovak Inspectorate in London and by December 1944 he had achieved the RAF rank of Group Captain and Czechoslovak Air Force rank of plukovník (Colonel). In March 1945 he was transferred to the Czechoslovak Military Mission at the Supreme Allied Expeditionary Force Command, initially as Head of Mission, and from 1 May to the end of September 1945 as its Commanding Officer.

From mid-October 1945, he was posted, as deputy commander of the Czechoslovak Military Mission in Berlin whilst at the same time having the dual role of being Commander of the Czechoslovak Military Mission, in Frankfurt, in the American Zone of Germany. Unfortunately this appointment was short lived as in July 1946, however, he suffered a very severe car accident in Germany. After treatment and a long recuperation in Prague, he was able to return to active service at the beginning of 1947. He successfully completed a course for senior commanders. However, his new Commander status was short-lived, as following the Communist coup d’état in Czechoslovakia in February 1948, he was dismissed from the Czechoslovak Air Force and placed on ‘waiting leave’. Aware that this invariably would lead to his being arrested by the StB – Státní bezpečnost, the state secret service – he escaped over the border to the American Zone of Germany and returned to the UK.

Here, via a mutal friend, he received an offer from Haile Selassie, emperor of Ethiopia to become, because of his previous aviation and diplomatic experience, to help develop the Ethiopian Air Force. This offer was accepted and in September 1949 he arrived in Addis Ababa to commence this task which he undertook till his death on 9 May 1955. He was buried at Ferenji Cemetery at Gulele in Addis Ababa.

Sadly, over the years, his grave gradually was allowed to fall into disrepair.

This was the situation for many years until 2018 when the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Addis Ababa, took the initiative to restore the grave. On 12 March 2018, a ceremony was held by the renovated grave in remembrance of Group Captain Vítězslav Rosík.

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The service was led by HE Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel, Archbishop of Addis Abeba, and attending were HE Karel Hejč, Czech Ambassador for Ethiopia, HE Susanna Moorehead, British Ambassador for Ethiopia, a representative from the Slovak Embassy for Ethiopia, and Defence Attachés from the Czech and British Embassies.

The refurbished grave, March 2018.




This entry was posted in Cemetries, Ceremony, Events, Not Forgotton, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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