We Owe Them Our Freedom
The names of 88 Czech and Slovak RAF pilots were engraved among other names on the bronze monument erected and unveiled by Prince Charles in September, 2005 at a spot by the Thames, opposite the London Eye and next to Parliament, to pay tribute to the heroes of the Battle of Britain. Our compatriots shot down 56 hostile aircraft and hit 20 more.
In one day - September 7, 1940 - London alone was attacked by 1,000 German aircrart. Standing in their way were 2,936 pilots. Although mainly British, one in six flyers were volunteers from other countries. In their Hurricanes and Spitfires, they fought off the German onslaught so bravely and relentlessly that by mid-September Hitler had abandoned his invasion plans.
Winston Churchil enshrined the achievement with the eternal phrase: "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few." (The official Czech translation: "Na poli lidských konfliktů nikdy tak velké množství nevděčilo za tak mnoho tak nepatrné hrstce." Of those ‘few’, 544 were killed in the battle and another 795 did not survive the war.
Lining the outer walls of the two eight-ton blocks of the monument carved by sculptor Paul Day are the names of every Allied pilot who fought the battle, plus two far-sighted if unsung heroes: R. J. Mitchell, the designer of the Spitfire, and Sydney Camm, designer of the Hurricane. The names of the pilots are divided by country, highlighting the remarkable number of non-British heroes - Poles, Czechs, South Africans, Canadians and so on.
The 1,8 million pounds needed for the project was raised through private donations. The Daily Mail and Lidové noviny praised the Czech government for contributing the sum of 52,000 pounds, or 2,5 million Czech crowns.Bohuslav Hynek
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