Prague, May 2 (CTK) – Czechs from the western Domazlice district have marked 72 years from a unique military operation in which U.S. soldiers waged a cross-border attack against the Nazis from Bavaria to save 150 war prisoners along with hundreds of valuable horses, Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) wrote on Tuesday.
Unfortunately, the Communists, who came to power in Czechoslovakia in 1948, deleted successes of U.S. liberators from history textbooks, making them forgotten for four decades. This also applies to details of the Domazlice event at the end of World War Two, the paper writes.
Only 60 years after the war, the locals launched an enquiry into what happened near the now defunct village of Ruzov in late April 1945.
“Two Americans died there during an operation codenamed Cowboy,” Rudolf Bayer, from the Military Car Club in Plzen, who made the enquiry together with Jiri Picka, mayor of the Bela nad Radbuzou town, told the paper.
“We managed to contact Patrick Biddy, from the association of the U.S. military’s 2nd cavalry seated in Vilseck, Bavaria, who helped us with our research. It took us over one year to gather all information. We published advertisements in Ohio and other places in the USA from where the two [fallen] soldiers came, and we managed to find their offspring,” Bayer is quoted as saying.
The research showed that the U.S. army, on its way eastwards through Europe, reached Bavaria’s easternmost area bordering on the Domazlice district in the then Nazi Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, when the U.S. cavalry commander learnt that the Germans had gathered dozens of war prisoners from European countries and the USA on the Czech part of the border, MfD writes.
Members of the cavalry’s 2nd unit, led by Colonel Charles H. Reed, were tasked to liberate the prisoners and take them safely across the border into the liberated German territory.
Before launching the operation, the cavalrymen learnt that the Germans kept a priceless live treasure, the rarest horses from the whole Nazi-occupied areas, in the Czech stables in Hostoun, near the border.
Archive materials show that the military vet in Hostoun succeeded in informing Reed, the U.S. commander and a great fan of horses, that the Germans keep about 650 extremely valuable horses in the local stables.
The live treasure included 250 Lipizan horses from the imperial riding academy from Hofburg, Vienna, a stallion of Yugoslav King Petar and further dozens of horses of various breed, MfD writes.
In a military operation launched on April 28, the Americans saved not only the war prisoners but also the horses, the daily writes.
The Germans reacted to the U.S. operation two days later. A five-hour battle took place near the now defunct village of Ruzov, in which Corporal Raymond E. Manz died and technician Owen W. Sutton died of fatal injuries on the next day, the paper writes.
Manz was only 19, Sutton was ten years older. The present U.S. cavalrymen feel it is an honour to be a part of the same cavalry with which the two fought, Matthew Capps, a U.S. soldier who until recently headed the Vilseck-based unit whose origin dates back to 1836, said at a commemorative meeting on Sunday.
The transfer of the horses from Ruzov to the U.S.-controlled zone in Germany started only after the end of the war and the termination of all combat operations.
On May 12, 1945, the rare horse herd set out for Bavaria, protected by soldiers. The Lipizans were returned to Austria, and the remaining horses were taken to the USA. A part of them later returned to Czechoslovakia and Slovenia, the paper writes.