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Rally backing memorial to Czechoslovak RAF pilots held in Prague

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Prague, Aug 14 (CTK) – A commemorative event for Czechoslovak RAF pilots on Monday also became a rally against the efforts to remove or relocate a monument to them in Prague, Jiri Hynek, head of the Defence and Security Industry Association, has told journalists.

By contrast, the proponents of the memorial want to finish the monument in Prague’s Klarov park, which means that the names of all Czechoslovak war-time pilots in Britain and four benches, reflecting the number of Czechoslovak RAF squadrons, should be installed there, Hynek said.

Homage was paid to the Czechoslovak fighters by the last two surviving RAF pilots, living in the Czech Republic, Major General Emil Bocek and Brigadier General Pavel Vransky.

There was also Hana Fajtlova, widow of the legendary RAF pilot, Frantisek Fajtl.

Czech Air Force Commander Jaromir Sebesta spoke to the rally, attended by tens of current air force members. There were also members of veteran associations, scouts and Scottish bagpipers.

The ceremony, which included wreath-laying and a moment of silence, was finished by the Czechoslovak and British national anthems.

The two-metre bronze statue of a winged lion, made by British sculptor Colin Spofforth, stands on a concrete plinth covered by Czech granite. It was unveiled in June 2014.

If seen from above, the circular plinth looks like the emblem of the Czech air force. The cladding and riveting on its side resemble an aircraft skin.

The monument is opposed by Prague heritage protectors who resent both its size and location.

Some 2,500 Czechoslovak pilots served with RAF during World War Two. A total of 493 of them died in action.

The ceremony commemorated the 72nd anniversary of the return of Czechoslovak RAF pilots to Prague. Under the Communist regime, which took over in 1948, they were often persecuted by the authorities.

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