Winged Lion Memorial Unveiled in Prague Honors World War II Czechoslovaks for Courage

Winged Lion Memorial Unveiled in Prague Honors World War II Czechoslovaks for Courage

Source: Royal Air Force
Source: Royal Air Force

One of Charles Novacek’s assignments in the Czech resistance during World War II was to greet and find shelter for RAF-trained Czechoslovak paratroopers who were dropped into the Moravian hills to bring supplies and information from the Czech government in exile in England to their homeland resistance.  

Yesterday, June 17, 2014, a monument was unveiled in Prague honoring the courage of the 2,500 Czechoslovaks who fought against Nazi Germany in Great Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF).  These brave young men and women escaped from their homeland to Great Britain for training as Royal Air Force (RAF) pilots and paratroopers. Like Charles’ family, they risked their lives to fight alongside their friends to free Europe from Nazi oppression.

The monument, called the “Winged Lion”, is a gift from Prague’s British expatriate community in gratitude for the airmen’s contribution during World War II. British Sculptor Colin Spofforth was commissioned to build the two meter memorial which was cast in bronze at a foundry in Horni Kalna (Trutnov region), Czech Republic.

Veterans were on hand for the event, which was followed by a Spitfire plane flying down the Vltava River. Sir Nicholas Soames, a member of British Parliament, a former defense minister and the grandson of Winston Churchill, gave the main speech at the unveiling. He stated that “freedom is often only appreciated by those who don’t have it” and remarked that “A cruel irony was to follow in that the freedom and sovereignty for which they fought would be lost as they suffered the unforgivable persecution by the communist regime just a few years later.”

Expatriate leader Euan Edworthy remarked about the idea for the memorial, “‘We were thinking about World War II and how admirable it was that volunteers from Czechoslovakia had surmounted incredible obstacles to join the RAF and join the aerial battle against the Nazis. They were very good: many of the aces in the Battle of Britain were Czechs and Slovaks. We realized that there was no memorial in the Czech Republic from the British to the sacrifice that these men made, and we decided to put that right. . . We Brits have enjoyed centuries of freedom: free speech, free association, free thought. Czechs and Slovaks were entitled to the same freedoms until 1938 and were then denied them for a further 48 years.”

He added, “Our Winged Lion is a tribute to the Czechoslovaks who simply wouldn’t allow themselves to be oppressed. Many paid for their beliefs with their lives. We should not forget the debt that we free Europeans owe to these warriors who paid with ‘blood, sweat, tears and toil’ for the liberty which is our birth right today. Freedom cannot be taken for granted.”

You can read about Charles Novacek’s interactions with RAF-trained Czechoslovakian paratroopers in the award-winning Border Crossings: Coming of Age in the Czech Resistance, 1021 Press, 2012.

4 Replies to “Winged Lion Memorial Unveiled in Prague Honors World War II Czechoslovaks for Courage”

  1. My Dad’s name, Jan Roubik, is included but I have not seen it yet (I live in USA). Reading the above brought tears of gratitude to all the British expatriates.
    Thank you,
    Jana Roubikova – Svehlova
    PS: My Dad was a political prisoner in Czechoslovakia for ten years (1949-1959)

    1. Dear Jana, Thank you so much for writing and visiting this website. I recall reading about you and your father’s arrest in an issue of the NCSML’s “Slovo.” He was a courageous man and I know you must be very proud of him. Hopefully, you will be able to visit the memorial someday!
      Sandra Novacek

      1. Thank you, Sandra. I did visit the wonderful memorial and touched my Dad’s name on it. Regards, Jana Roubikova Svehlova

        1. Dear Jana, I apologize for not responding sooner. This is fantastic news! I am so happy for you that you were able to visit and touch your Dad’s name on the memorial. All the best, Sandra Novacek

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