On 14 August 2019, a ceremony was held at the Winged Lion monument, Klárov, Prague, to commemorate the 74th anniversary of the return of the Czechoslovak airmen who had served in the RAF during WW2.
The well-attended ceremony included RAF veterans Tomáš Lom and Jiří Kafka, both former 311 Sqn Wireless Operators, Hana Fajtlová, widow of 313 Sqn’s General František Fajtl, Senate Vice President Jiří Oberfalzer, representing the Parliament of the Czech Republic, Chair of the Chamber of Deputies for Security Jana Černochová, Major General Petr Hromek, Commander of the Czech Air Force, Lieutenant General Jaromír Zůna, deputy chief of the General Staff of the Army of the Czech Republic, Defence Attache from the British Embassy, Prague, Cardinal Dominik Duka, Archbishop of Prague, RNDr Jiří Hynek, representing the Defence and Security Industry Association of the Czech Republic, Jessica Horváthová representing the Endowment Fund of Air Marshal RAF Karel Janoušek, numerous relatives of CzRAF airmen including from the UK, USA and Australia, Czech military personnel including representatives of Československý legionář – SPIA Czech, z.s, the Muzeum RAF Police, the Silesia region of the Czech Republic, Muzeum genpor Františka Peřiny, British Community of the Czech and Slovak Republic, Ceska Mincovna, Leteckýy club Generál Janouška, Město Dobruška gen. M. Štanderovi, CzRAF enthusiasts and well-wishers. Music was provided by the band of the Czech Army.
The ceremony opened with a large number of wreaths being laid, followed by speeches.
Senate Vice President Jiří Oberfalzer said ““We have done a lot in the last 30 years of our modern freedom, but the debt is not yet fully repaid. Since 2014, a memorial has been placed in Klárov, where today we commemorate history. In the British Royal Air Force served to 2500 Czechs and Slovaks. One fifth of them did not see the end of the war. Few survived the fall of communism and the well-deserved social appreciation at the highest level. Let us be true to their legacy, let’s not forget them. These RAF airmen are a role model for us today”
Jana Černochová, Chair of the Chamber of Deputies for Security, said “Every single story of a Czechoslovak RAF member is a story of endless courage, bravery, love for the homeland and willingness to defend the values of freedom and democracy. And each of them deserves our great thanks. ”
Whilst Maj. Gen Petr Hromek, in his speech, emphasised that “The wartime performances and bravery of the Czechoslovak airmen, were watched with recognition by the whole world. Even after the Battle of Britain, they did not cease to fight. As part of the RAF, our airmen took part in many other major battles. For their military endeavours, true patriotism and loyalty to democratic ideals, they remain a model for the current members of the Czech Air Force. ”
The ceremony concluded with a prayer led by Cardinal Dominik Duka, followed by the Army band playing the Nationals Anthems of the Czech Republic, United Kingdom and the Slovak Republic.
From amongst those attending further wreaths and bouquets were laid by relatives, wellwishers.
Sgt Julz Kling, a CzRAF granddaughter from Australia, and Cpl. Martina Tredgett laid our wreath on behalf of CzRAF relatives. Their reflections of the ceremony:
Sgt Julz Kling
I appreciated the opportunity to be invited to such a humble ceremony. It made me appreciate greatly the sacrifices that not only my grandfather made but all his comrades in arms. I loved hearing the terrifying escape stories of other descendants and meeting members who currently serve to protect what our forefathers believed so strongly for during the war. Again from the bottom of my heart and those of my family…thank you!
Cpl. Martina Tredgett
It was a humbling experience for me and I’m ever so grateful to be given the honour and lay a wreath at the ceremony. The stories I have heard or read about and people (veterans present & past and their descendants) I have met are incredible and so it was my pleasure and duty to pay respect to all those brave airmen/airwomen and their families. Their bravery and sacrifice should never be forgotten. Thank you.
The Winged Lion commemoration ceremony was jointly organised by Ministerstvo obrany ČR (Ministry of Defense of the Czech Republic), the Headquarters of the Air Force of the Czech Republic and Nadační fond Air Maršála RAF Karla Janouška (Endowment Fund of Air Marshal RAF Karel Janoušek).