On Friday 30th October 2020, Ambassador HE Ľubomír Rehák, and Col. Vladimír Stolárik, the new Defence Attaché at the Slovak Embassy came to Kent to visit two significant Battle of Britain locations.
The Kent Battle of Britain Museum:
First stop was at the Kent Battle of Britain Museum at Hawkinge, the world’s premier Battle of Britain Museum where artifacts from over 700 aircraft from that battle are on display.
Some 2938 Allied airmen flew in the Battle of Britain, of whom 88 were Czechoslovak some of whom have artefacts in the Museum. Of particular interest for visitors from the Czech and Slovak Republics is the display of some of the remains of Hurricane Mk I, V7437, in which Sgt Josef Koukal was badly burnt when he was shot down on 7 September 1940. His aircraft crashed on farmland at Capel Fleet, Harty Marshes on the Isle of Sheppey. Kent and was recovered, buried some 10 metres deep, in 1972.
Other Czechoslovak artefacts include items from František Hradil’s Spitfire P7545, Josef František, Raimund Půda also visited the Museum to see remains of his Hurricane V6619, František Marek‘s Spitfire, Václav Bergman’s Hurricane P3960, Josef Hubáček’s Hurricane R4087, as well as from Vilém Göth, Josef Jaške and Svatopluk Janouch. Artefacts for George Blackwood, Gordon Sinclair and John Boulton, who were British instructors to 310 Sqn at Duxford, are also displayed in the Museum.
Museum Chairmman Dave Brocklehurst MBE took the opportunity to show our honoured guests some of the artefacts of a Heinkel He 111H that he and some of the Museum Volunteers had excavated from the former Woolwich Arsenal back in 1986. This is the Heinkel that is represented in the colour scheme we chose for our very own example. One of the airmen that claimed the destruction of this Heinkel on 15th September 1940, later known as Battle of Britain Day, was Sgt Bohumír Fürst of No.310 (Czechoslovak) Squadron who was born in Opatovice, Moravia, Czechoslovakia.
Before they left they laid a Slovak flag at the Hawkinge Airfield Memorial.
National Battle of Britain Memorial:
Then it was onto the National Battle of Britain Memorial at nearby Capel-le-Ferne – the Ambassador’s 2nd visit here in 2020. Here, inside the Wing Building, they engaged with the interactive information panel to read biographical information about P/O Ján Ambruš and F/Sgt Jozef Kaňa, the two Slovaks of the 88 Czechoslovak Battle of Britain pilots.
The Memorials Manager, Maj. Jules Gomez, gave them a conducted tour of ‘The Scramble Experience’ for a memorable audiovisual experience of the Battle of Britain on large screens.
A wreath, on behalf of the Slovak Republic was then laid at the airman’s memorial.
At the Foxley-Norris Memorial Wall where the names of 2938 Allied airmen who fought in the Battle of Britain, are engraved. Eighty-eight of those airmen where Czechoslovaks, two of whom, Ján AMBRUŠ and Jozef KAŇA, were from the Slovakia region of the country.
AMBRUŠ, Ján P/O312 Sqn
KAŇA [Kania], Jozef F/Sgt303 Sqn