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Spitfire model unveiled in remembrance of Czech RAF pilots

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Prague, Aug 14 (CTK) – A life-size model of Spitfire, a legendary fighter plane and a symbol of the WWII Battle of Britain, was unveiled in Prague today to mark the 70th anniversary of the post-war return of Czechoslovak pilots from the British Royal Airforce (RAF) to their homeland.

The unveiling ceremony at a square near Prague Castle was attended by Prague Archbishop Cardinal Dominik Duka, representatives of the military, war veterans and dozens of people who remembered the heroism of the 2,500 Czechs and Slovaks who joined the RAF during the war.

The pilots in Britain did not leave for Czechoslovakia immediately after the war ended in Europe in May 1945, but only in August.

Fifty-four Spitfire planes left Britain on August 7, 1945 and were expected to land in Prague later on the same day.

However, their stopover in Germany had to be prolonged to several days due to fog and adverse weather. Finally, they landed in Prague in the late hours of August 13.

Remembering the times after their return, one of the pilots, colonel Pavel Vransky, said they found the Czech nation rejoicing at the end of the war and eager to build their homeland.

However, people’s enthusiasm dwindled out after the communists seized power in February 1948, he said.

The communist takeover strongly afflicted many of the Czechoslovak heroes from the Battle of Britain, who were jailed or sent to forced labour camps for many years.

The shameful communist persecution of the war veterans was condemned by Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky (ANO) in a message sent to them today.

He expressed his deep respect for and admiration of all Czechs and Slovaks who were members of the RAF.

Duka, on his part, said the pilots “fought for us to stand here as we are standing now, for our country to be free, independent, and for people to be able to openly express their opinions.”

The Spitfire model will remain on display at the Hradcanske Square until Saturday, 14:00.

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