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D - Day Anniversary Celebrations

On 5 June 2019, an international celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Allied invasion to occupied Normandy, so called D-Day, took place in Portsmouth. The commemorative act was attended by Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, British Prime Minister Theresa May, and Heads of 15 states, including Prime Minister of the Czech Republic.

The top representatives of the following countries were present together with the Czech Republic: Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, Canada, Luxembourg, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Poland, Greece, Slovakia and the USA.

World War II veterans and many other honorable guests were also among the most significant participants in the ceremony.

After the event, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, together with Ambassador Libor Sečka, visited a military cemetery in nearby Chichester, where 82 fallen from the Second World War, including 7 Czechoslovaks, are buried. Mr. Babiš paid tribute to these heroes by laying a wreath and flowers at their graves.

Brief History of Czechoslovaks Participation in Operation Overlord:

All three Czechoslovak fighter squadrons of the RAF (310th, 312th and 313rd) entered preparations for the invasion already on 8 November 1943, when the formation was designated the 134th Czechoslovak Airfield composed of these squadrons, of which the 134th Czechoslovak Wing was formed later. The commander of the Czechoslovak  Wing was during the operation W/Cdr Tomáš Vybíral.

All the while before the Allied troops landed, the Czechoslovaks flew operationally over France, whether in accompanying or offensive actions.

In less than a month of Operation Overlord the members of the Czechoslovak  Wing shot down 5 enemy planes surely, 1 destroyed probably and 7 damaged. The most successful was Otto Smik with 2.5 victories. On earth, among other things, they destroyed 50 vehicles, including several armored vehicles. It was a dearly purchased victory, Miroslav Moravec, Vilém Nosek and Jiří Bauer did not return from these acts. František Truhlář was badly injured.

Even the fourth Czechoslovak squadron, the 311th Bomber, operating under the command of RAF Coastal Command at the time, ensured a successful invasion. Crews of heavy four-engine Liberators patrolled the air on the access to the English Channel and were ready to attack every discovered German submarine or war-level vessel.

The Czechoslovak Independent Armored Brigade did not participate in direct fights during the invasion. From August 1944, it operated in the strength of 4259 men at the French ports of Arromanches and Courseulles-sur-Mer. In October 1944 the brigade moved to the French port of Dunkerque, where it was supposed to block the German garrison (about 11,000 men) and prevent them from attempting a breakthrough into the Allied rear. Although the Germans were in a great numerical advantage, Czechoslovak soldiers were not satisfied with the passive order and attacked them several times.


The 75th D-Day anniversary commemoration in Portsmouth