Bratislava/London, Jan 4 (CTK) – Ivan Otto Schwarz, one of the last surviving Czechoslovak WWII veterans who served with RAF, died in London Thursday morning at the age of 94, Sme.sk server has written, citing Slovak ambassador to Britain Lubomir Rehak.
Schwarz flew as a shooter aboard the Liberator bomber, a part of the 311th squadron commanded by Czech captain Oldrich Dolezal, which sank the German Alsterufer supply ship in December 1943, thereby preventing it from breaking the naval blockade and shipping valuable wolfram to German armament plants.
Schwarz was among the five Czech and Slovak war veterans whom Czech President Milos Zeman awarded during his visit to Britain last June.
Schwarz was born in Bratislava on December 11, 1923 and spent childhood in northwest Slovakia. In 1938, he was sent to Wales for higher education. When the war broke out, he applied for admission to the military. He spent over 1,200 hours aboard RAF aircraft.
After the war, Schwarz served in the Czechoslovak military, but the then regime considered him unreliable and he faced the threat of persecution, which is why he returned to Britain, Sme.sk wrote.
In 2005, then Slovak president Ivan Gasparovic bestowed the Order of the White Double Cross on Schwarz for his extraordinary contribution to the fight against fascism.
“I always said I am Slovak and will remain Slovak,” Schwarz, previously promoted to the rank of major-general, said on that occasion, and added that the award went not only to him but all his fellow RAF members.
In 2010, former Slovak PM Iveta Radicova decorated Schwarz with a commemorative medal.