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The last Czechoslovak WWII veteran passed away

We are deeply sad to announce that on December 14, 2020, the last Czechoslovak World War II veteran living in the United Kingdom, Mr. Benjamin / Bedřich Abeles, passed away. Mr. Abeles was a member of the 311th bomber squadron ground technical personnel.

Mr. Abeles was visited in August this year by Ambassador Libor Sečka and our military attaché Col. Jiří Niedoba. Together they presented him with the Commemorative Medal of the Ministry of Defence of the Czech Republic. Mr. Abeles is remembered by the Ambassador as a friend and a most warm and cordial man who, at the age of 95, enchanted him with his incredible vigour.

Our thoughts are with his wife Helen and his loved ones.


Benjamin (Bedřich) Abeles *1925, ✞2020

Private first class in retirement Bedřich Abeles, Ph.D., was born June 23, 1925 in Vienna in a Czech-Austrian family. The Abeles family lived in the town of Bielsko-Biała in Poland until Bedřich’s eighth birthday, and in 1933 they moved to Prague. Bedřich had grown up in Poland and he had to learn Czech when they arrived to Czechoslovakia. He attended elementary school and grammar school in Prague, from which he was however later expelled for his Jewish origin. The family was already aware of the Nazi threat and in July 1939 they thus sent their son from Prague to England in the so-called Winston transport. A relative took care of him in England and Bedřich was to study the Grammar School in Maidenhead, but he left the school soon after and began working in London. He was earning his living by washing dishes and as a cook and waiter. He rented a room and he has been fully independent since he was fourteen years old. He began to realize he needed more education, and later he thus completed his secondary school leaving exams. On May 11, 1943 he joined the Czechoslovak army in England and later the 311th Bomber Squadron of the Royal air Force, where he served as a ground engineer. His family was murdered in concentration camps during the war. After the liberation he went to Prague and studied physics at the Faculty of Science at Charles University. In 1949 he emigrated to Israel, where he again worked as a waiter, and after receiving his doctoral degree in physics he found employment as a mathematics teacher in the meteorological institute. Later he began working in the Weizmann Institute of Science. In 1956 he moved to the USA where he worked in the company Radio Corporation of America and in Exxon Mobil. He was renowned as a physicist; among other, he invented a thermoelectrical generator for use in space flights. Two years ago he moved to England and now he lives in Leicester.


Benjamin Abeles in RAF, 1944

Benjamin Abeles in RAF, 1944