WORK is to start restoring the Czechoslovak Freedom Fountain in Leamington’s Jephson Gardens.
The parachute-shaped fountain was erected 50 years ago as a memorial to to Czechoslovakian troops who were based in Leamington during the Second World War.
The Friends of the Czechoslovakian Memorial Fountain have in recent years been tirelessly fund-raising to secure £25,000 in donations to carry out much-needed repairs.
And thanks to their efforts and the support of Warwick District Council, work is now about to begin to renovate the fountain,
which was commissioned and funded by Czech and Slovak Legionnaires from across the world at the end of the war, and the area around it
The fountain itself will be restored to full working order. The hedges will be replaced and the landscaping around it will be up-graded. The few remaining Lidice roses which were planted when the fountain was initially erected will be preserved, and new roses brought from Lidice in the Czech Republic will be added.
Friends chairman Stephen Loquens said: “The Friends of the Czechoslovak Memorial Fountain are indebted to those private, charitable and public bodies who have so generously contributed funds for the restoration of the fountain. The co-operation and support of Warwick District Council at all levels in this endeavour is greatly appreciated.”
Warwick District Council spokeswoman Coun Moira-Ann Grainger added: “We are happy to support this wonderful scheme and I am looking forward to seeing progress of this restoration, which when complete will inform local people and visitors of the important history behind the fountain. I would like to pay tribute to the Friends of the fountain for their dedication and commitment.”
The fountain features the names of seven paratroopers who lost their lives in ‘Operation Anthropoid’ – the daring mission to assassinate Rheinhard Heydrich. Hitler’s right-hand man – known as the architect of the ‘Final Solution’ – was the only senior Nazi to be assassinated during the war.
The mission was the subject of Hollywood film Anthropoid released in 2016.
More than 4,000 Free Czechoslovak Army soldiers were based in Leamington in the years after 1941. While staying in town, a small number were selected to be trained as paratroopers by the British special forces, and after rigorous training, were regularly parachuted back into Czechoslovakia to carry out sabotage missions and support resistance movements.
The Czechoslovak Freedom Fountain is to get some much-needed TLC.