Britons donate Czech RAF pilots monument to Prague


11.03.2014 16:03

Prague - The British community in the Czech Republic will donate a two-metre long statue of a winged lion to the country as a tribute to the Czech pilots who fought in the British Royal Air Force (RAF) during World War Two, British ambassador to the Czech Republic Jan Thompson said today.


Dvoumetrovou sochu okřídleného lva jako poctu českým pilotům bojujícím v RAF za druhé světové války věnuje Česku britská komunita žijící v ČR. Autorem bronzového památníku je britský sochař Colin Spofforth. Na snímku je model sochy. ČTK British Embassy Prague

The bronze monument has been designed by British sculptor Colin Spofforth. It will be cast in the Czech Republic and unveiled in Prague on June 17.

Thompson said the embassy and Prague are currently choosing a place for the statue.

She said World War Two, during which soldiers from Czechoslovakia were fighting along with the British armed forces, was a significant milestone in building good relations between Britain and the Czech Republic.

The motive of a winged lion was chosen because the king of animals is an important heraldic symbol of both Czechs and Britons. The wings symbolise pilots.

Thompson said firms and individuals have donated 100,000 pounds for the monument.

It was initiated by Euan Edworthy who has lived and worked in the Czech Republic for 17 years. He said his father, an RAF officer, often spoke about the heroism of the Czechoslovak pilots.

The winged bronze lion will be unveiled in a ceremony to be held at sunset. The event will be opened by a concert given by the RAF College Band after which a group of royal drummers and bagpipers will play.

The monument will be unveiled by Nicholas Soames, grandson of British wartime prime minister Winston Churchill. A Spitfire fighter plane will fly over the Vltava River in remembrance of the planes which Czechoslovak pilots flew during the war.

A similar event, in which a commemorative plaque will be unveiled, will be held in Bratislava one day later.

Czech and Slovak pilots came down in history mainly with their participation in the Battle of Britain, in which the Nazis suffered the first big defeat in World War Two.

According to the RAF Museum, 2917 pilots participated in the battle in the summer and autumn of 1940. One fifth of them came from abroad, including 145 Poles and 88 men from Czechoslovakia. A total of more than 2500 Czechoslovak pilots operated in the RAF during the war, 493 of whom died in the fighting.

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