Winged Lion Memorial

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Winged Lion Memorial
Winged.lion.Prague.2014.right.side.JPG
Winged Lion Memorial, Prague
Winged Lion Memorial is located in Central Prague
Winged Lion Memorial
Winged Lion Memorial
Location in Prague
Location Prague, Czech Republic
Coordinates 50°05′27″N 14°24′37″E / 50.09083°N 14.41028°E / 50.09083; 14.41028Coordinates: 50°05′27″N 14°24′37″E / 50.09083°N 14.41028°E / 50.09083; 14.41028

The Winged Lion Memorial (in Czech: Památník Okřídleného lva) was unveiled on 17 June 2014 at Klárov in Prague by the British Member of Parliament, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Soames MP, grandson of Sir Winston Churchill.[1] It is dedicated to the Czechoslovak airmen who served in the Royal Air Force (RAF) during World War II and who achieved acclaim for their contribution to the Battle of Britain.

Description[edit]

Winged Lion Memorial, left side

The two metre high Winged Lion is the work of the contemporary British sculptor Colin Spofforth.[1] The Lion was cast in bronze at the artistic foundry in Horní Kalná, Hradec Králové Region.[2] The Lion is placed on a concrete plinth covered by Czech granite.[1] When viewed from above, the circular pedestal resembles the insignia of the Czech Air Force. The plinth side coverings with rivets replicate the fuselage surface of aircraft of the day.

Inscribed on the monument is in Czech and English language: This monument is an expression of the British Community’s lasting gratitude to the 2,500 Czechoslovak airmen who served with the Royal Air Force between 1940 and 1945 for the freedom of Europe. Many were subsequently persecuted by the communist regime in Czechoslovakia. It was unveiled by the right honourable Sir Nicholas Soames MP on 17th June 2014. It is a gift to the Czech and Slovak peoples from the British community living and working in the Czech and Slovak Republics.[3][4]

History[edit]

During World War II, some 2460 Czech and Slovak men and women served in the British Royal Air Force.[5] About a fifth of them did not survive the war. Not all of them were pilots. In addition to the well-known men in blue, there was the ground crew. Other men worked in administrative positions such as liaison officers in the Royal Air Force or in the training units. Among the RAF pilots there were also airmen from many other countries. Czechoslovaks, like their Polish comrades, earned a great reputation in the RAF.

After February 1948 these Czechoslovaks who had served in the RAF became victims of the communist regime.[2] Having lived in the West, and many of them married Englishwomen.

The installation of the monument met with the criticism of Prague's conservationists, who protested against its location. The protest was not upheld.[5]

Funding and unveiling[edit]

Unveiling of the memorial

About 99% of the funds raised (about three million Czech crowns)[6] were donated by the British community in the Czech and Slovak Republics.[1] Donations from Czech citizens, businesses and individuals were also received. The origins of the monument are credited to Mr. Euan Edworthy, who has lived in the Czech Republic for many years and whose father served in the Royal Air Force and Colonel Andrew Shepherd, UK Defence Attache.[6]

The unveiling ceremony at Klárov was accompanied by music performed by the Royal Air Force College band and by the Pipes and Drums of the Queen’s Royal Hussars.[2] The event was attended by nine former Czechoslovak RAF members.[2] Sir Nicholas Soames (the grandson of Sir Winston Churchill) had before the unveiling a speech; he called a memorial the symbol of courage of 2500 Czechoslovak airmen and reminded the famous phrase of his grandfather Churchill, who said to address pilots from the Battle of Britain, that Never was so much owed by so many to so few. Immediately following the unveiling of the memorial a legendary aircraft Spitfire, in the livery of Squadron Leader Otto Smik DFC, made a flypast over Prague.[6]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "V Praze odhalili památník válečným letcům, památkáři jeho umístění odmítli" (in Czech). novinky.cz. 17 June 2014. Retrieved 2 July 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d Skalický, Jaroslav (17 June 2014). "Na pražském Klárově odhalili památník československým letcům ve službách RAF" (in Czech). Czech Radio. Retrieved 2 July 2014. 
  3. ^ Jůn, Dominik (18 June 2014). "Winged lion statue honours Czech RAF pilots". Czech Radio. Retrieved 2 July 2014. 
  4. ^ Spolek pro vojenská pietní místa
  5. ^ a b "Na Klárově byl odhalen památník letcům, památkáři jej kritizují". ČTK (in Czech). České noviny. 17 June 2014. Retrieved 2 July 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c "Churchillův vnuk odhalí v Praze okřídleného lva na počest letcům RAF". Mladá fronta DNES (in Czech). iDNES. 11 March 2014. Retrieved 2 July 2014. 

External links[edit]