THE FIGHT is on to save a war memorial in Leamington honouring Czech soldiers who helped defeat Hitler.
The Free Czech Army made the town its home after the occupation of Czechoslovakia by the Nazis in 1940.
Some 4,000 military personnel were based in and around the town for two years.
Their headquarters were in the now demolished Harrington House, a large Victorian villa in Newbold Comyn – a stone’s throw from the gates of Jephson Gardens where the Czech Memorial Fountain is located.
The fountain was erected in 1968 to mark Leamington’s links with the Free Czech Army – and especially to honour the seven brave men who parachuted into Czechoslovakia in an assassination attempt on Nazi General Reinhard Heydrich.
But the fountain is now in desperate need of repair and on Sunday (June 14) representatives from the Czech and Slovak Embassies in London and dignitaries from Leamington, including mayor Amanda Stevens and Warwick District Council chairman Michael Doody, came together for a wreath laying ceremony to mark the launch of the Friends of the Czechoslovak Memorial Fountain, which has been formed to raise funds to secure the long‐term future of the important memorial.
Friends spokesman Alan Griffin said: “Nearly all of the old Czech soldiers who funded the erection of the fountain back in 1968 have now passed away but it is very important that those of our generation make every effort to ensure that such a significant international memorial doesn’t fall to pieces through lack of interest.
“It is an important piece of our local history but it has much greater significance in the context of the Second World War and the struggle against Nazism in occupied Europe.”
Quotes are still being sought to know exactly how much will be needed to carry out the repairs, but people can contribute
by picking up a specially produced illustrated leaflet telling the story of the fountain and the Free Czech Army in Leamington during the Second World War. Copies of this are available from the Aviary Cafe in the Jephson Gardens and the Tourist Information Centre in the Pump Rooms.