Remains of Czechoslovak Pilots Buried in the Netherlands after 81 Years

Defence Minister Jaroslav Nad (stock photo by TASR)

Amsterdam, June 23 (TASR) – The remains of Czechoslovak pilots who fought in the British Royal Air Force were buried in the Netherlands on Thursday with all military honours, with Slovak Defence Minister Jaroslav Nad also taking part in the mourning ceremony at the Bergen op Zoom military cemetery, TASR was told by ministry spokeswoman Martina Koval Kakascikova.

“I believe that the story of this crew will live permanently in our historical memory and will continue to be a shining example of patriotism, heroism and military virtues for the successors of their legacy serving in the Czech and Slovak Armed Forces,” said Nad. On this occasion, he thanked the Dutch citizens and the authorities, without whose efforts the life story of the five Czechoslovak pilots couldn’t have been definitively closed.

Vickers Wellington Mk. IC T2990 with a crew from the 311 Czechoslovak Bomber Squadron of the British Royal Air Force was shot down in the early morning hours of June 23, 1941 near the Dutch village of Nieuwe Niedorp. The plane was shot down by a German night-fighter as the British machine was on its return from a bombing raid on the German city of Bremen. The only surviving member of the crew was the commander of the aircraft, Vilem Bufka, who was captured by the Germans. He survived the end of the war in German captivity. The missing crew members Alois Rozum, Leonhard Smrcek, Vilem Konstacky, Jan Hejna and Karel Valach were among the war pilots who haven’t yet had a dignified final resting place. Their remains were found only during last year’s examination of the wreckage of the shot-down bomber.