EFFORTS are being stepped up to preserve a Leamington monument honouring war heroes.
The Friends of the Czechoslovakian Memorial Fountain are tirelessly fund-raising to try and secure £25,000 in donations to carry out much-needed repairs.
The Jephson Gardens fountain is a memorial to Czechoslovak troops who were based in Leamington during the Second World War.
It 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.
One of those working to raise funds for the fountain is 54 year-old Carrie Terry.
She told the Observer: “As a citizen of the town and as a Jew I feel very connected to this cause.
“After almost 50 years, the fountain is in urgent need of restoration to ensure it reminds future generations of the heroism of those who gave their lives for freedom in the fight against the evils of Nazism.
“I strongly feel that everyone in the town should be an ambassador for the fountain.
“It represents a hugely important episode in history and as such is a monument with relevance locally, nationally and internationally.
“The brave men remembered on our fountain were the only soldiers to assassinate a senior Nazi officer during the war.”
The parachute-shaped fountain was commissioned and funded by Czech and Slovak Legionnaires from across the world at the end of the war.
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.
New Hollywood film Anthropoid tells the story of the assassination. It features Peaky Blinders star Cillian Murphy and Fifty Shades of Grey’s Jamie Dornan, playing Jozef Gabčík and Jan Kubiš, who were members of the Free Czechoslovak Army exiled in Leamington following the Nazi occupation of their homeland.
They led a seven-strong team of paratroopers flown to Czechoslovakia in converted RAF Halifax bombers in the winter of 1941. With the help of resistance fighters in the country they caught up with Heydrich, who was being driven in an open top car, just outside of Prague on May 27 of the following year.
They attempted to shoot him but the gun jammed, so threw two grenades at the car. Heydrich was seriously injured and died a week later in hospital of blood infection septicemia.
Visit www.gofundme.com/freedomfountain to donate to the fountain fund.
Those wanting to find out more about Operation Anthropoid are invited to an exhibition at Leamington Library which will run until the end of November.
It will include pictures along with copies of military documents.