A commemorative medal for Vee’s father Karel Kuttelwascher

In 1985, my biography of Vee’s father was published. It was called “Night Hawk” and told the story of Karel Kuttelwascher, a Czech pilot with the wartime Royal Air Force who was the RAF’s most successful night intruder ace. At the time, we assumed that would be the end of the story – but again and again matters have come back to Vee to remind her of her father.

A lot of these events flow from the collapse of Communism in Central and Eastern Europe in 1989. The people of what was then Czechoslovakia – now the Czech and Slovak Republics – wanted to rediscover a history which had been denied to them, notably the contribution of the Czechoslovaks to the wartime Western allies as well as the Soviet Union. So my book was published in Czech in 1993.

So many things have happened since then – all sorts of commemorations and awards and even a television programme. And today we were at the Czech Embassy in London for the latest episode in this amazing story.

Our hosts were the Defence Attaché Colonel Roman Siwek and the Military Attaché Lieutenant Colonel René Klapáč. They presented Vee with a medal and certificate from the Czech Ministry of Defence and a bouquet of flowers from themselves and served us with coffee and becherovka. The medal was specially produced in 2008 to mark the 90th anniversary of the founding what was then Czechoslovakia and Vee was given a numbered copy to mark her father’s wartime exploits.

It is remarkable really. It was 1942 when Karel Kuttelwascher shot down 18 German aircraft and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross twice. He could never have imagined that, over 70 years later, people would still be remembering him and that a daughter in London would be representing him at  a medal ceremony.

Vee with Roman Siwek (L) and René Klapáč (R)
plus medal and certificate


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