Ledec nad Sazavou, East Bohemia, Sept 12 (CTK) – A plaque commemorating Bohumir Fuerst-Firt, Czechoslovak war pilot who fought in the Battle of Britain and who was persecuted by the Communist regime after the war, was unveiled on a house in Ledec where he spent the end of his life, Saturday.

The ceremony was attended by Firt’s son Richard, and also Imrich Gablech, one of the last living Czech pilots who fought for the British Royal Air Force during World War Two.

Gablech will turn 100 this autumn, the event’s organiser, Bohdan Koumar, told CTK.

Bohumir Fuerst changed his German-like surname to Czech-like Firt in 1945.

Born in south Moravia on October 1, 1909, he was one of the military pilots who fled abroad after the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1939.

He joined the RAF, with which he shot down five German aircraft. He was presented with high awards for heroism.

About 2,500 Czechoslovak pilots fought in Britain at the time. Firt ranks about 89 of them who had the official status of a participant in the Battle of Britain, Koumar said.

In the battle, Firt was the third most successful of the Czechoslovak fighter pilots, and he became the 23rd most successful Czechoslovak fighter in World War Two, including both the Western and the Eastern fronts.

After returning home, Firt served with the air force until 1949, when he was taken off duty without any explanation.

The Communists seized power in the country before, in February 1948.

In January 1950, Firt was imprisoned, stripped of his rank of major and sentenced to two yeas in prison. In August 1951 he was released from jail early over his poor health condition.

His family, including two small children, were forced to leave Prague. They settled down in Ledec nad Sazavou where Firt got a job as a storeman in a factory.

He died on January 2, 1978. His family saw his full rehabilitation and promotion to colonel’s rank in memoriam only in 1991, after the fall of the communist regime.