A plaque bearing the names of over 2,500 Czechoslovaks who served with Britain’s RAF has just been unveiled on the Winged Lion monument in Prague.
The monument is to the Czechoslovaks who served in Britain’s RAF during WWII and the plaque lists the 2,507 individuals known to have done so in alphabetical order.
One of two veterans to cut the ribbon on the new addition was Emil Boček, who is today 94 years old. He briefly addressed the hundreds in attendance.
“It’s a great honour to me that I can greet so many people who have come to pay tribute to the memory of the heroes who fought for our homeland.”
The Winged Lion memorial was unveiled in 2014. It was mainly funded by the UK community in the Czech Republic and was erected on the initiative of Englishman Euan Edworthy, whose own father served in the RAF.
“It was always our intention to put the names around the plinth.
"Stage one was to get the monument erected and once we had done that General Dvorák and the AOBP [in English the Defence and Security Industry Association of the Czech Republic] very kindly contacted us and said they would be very happy to finance the plinth inscription.
"So of course we were delighted, and now I think it’s become a great symbol of both our countries.”
Among the names now adorning the Winged Lion monument is that of Alois Šiška, who was a pilot with the Czechoslovak 311 Bomber Squadron. His daughter Dagmar Johnson was one of many descendants of Czechoslovak RAF members at Monday’s ceremony.
“I have seen his name in other places: his birthplace, the memorial to his crew which we erected five years ago with the boys from our squadron in Petten in Holland.
“But seeing them all together here is yet another different story, because it’s not just that crew, which of course I went to say hello to privately, but it’s also the others who were part of the same squadron, the 311 Czechoslovak Squadron. And that is very important.”
Earlier when you spoke you mentioned the Czechoslovak women who were involved [in the RAF]. Were there many?
“Yes, there were. About 150 or thereabouts. But the figure actually is not exact, because the search is still continuing.
“For various reasons the records have been misplaced or incomplete or moved too far away. Some of those women moved to the Middle East, so of course their records stayed somewhere there.
“So that search is still continuing but we’ve got the majority of them here today, which is wonderful.”
Is there room [on the monument] to add more names?
“Yes, there is. That has been planned. If you look at the very end of the panel on this side there is still space to put more names. And that is the intention.”