London, June 16 (CTK special correspondent) – President Milos Zeman gave medals to several Czech and Slovak veterans who served in the RAF during World War Two at the Czech embassy in London today.
Zeman also laid wreaths at a monument to the Battle of Britain, ending his one-day visit to London during which he met British Queen Elizabeth II.
In the afternoon, he gave medals for bravery to five Czech and Slovak war veterans who served with the RAF during World War Two.
He also gave a diploma on the promotion to the rank of general to Miroslav Liskutin, 97.
Zeman conveyed the congratulations by British Queen Elizabeth II to them.
She granted an audience to him this afternoon.
“I tremendously esteem the Czech soldiers who fought in the British military and I decorated many of them today,” Zeman said.
“I would like to express my joy at being able to do this on the occasion of the audience with Her Majesty today,” Zeman said at the brief ceremony.
Czech RAF pilot Ivan Schwarz, 94, was one of those decorated.
“I feel fantastic. I am starting to have such a collection of medals that Hermann Goring is turning in his grave,” Schwarz said, adding that he was definitely set to live over 100 years.
Zeman stressed that medals were given to those who had actively stood up against the Nazi regime.
He said he would not decorate the people who had suffered under the Nazi terror.
“Suffering deserves compassion, suffering deserves empathy, but medals are not given for suffering,” Zeman said.
“State decoration is for the services to the homeland and also for the struggle for its freedom,” Zeman said, adding that suffering itself would have never ensured independence of the state.
Czechoslovak pilots in the RAF shot down or strongly damaged 365 hostile planes, six V1 flying bombs and destroyed a number of industrial, armament and other targets during World War Two.
In all, 531 members of the Czechoslovak air force lost their lives during the war.
The 2,500 Czechoslovak members of the RAF included some 1300 members of the ground personnel.
Czechs and Slovaks served in the 310th, 312th and 313th Czechoslovak fighter squadrons and the 311th Czechoslovak bomber squadron.