‘The Army of Lords’: The Independent Czechoslovak Brigade 1940–45
The Czechoslovak land forces that reorganized in Britain during the desperate summer of 1940 were in part the remnants of the Czechoslovak Army eliminated by the diplomatic vandalism at Munich. The few who rejected defeat managed to escape first to Poland, where they were gently but firmly urged to continue their travels; and then to Romania, Yugoslavia, Hungary or the Soviet Union. Others headed west to France, but yet again they were to be disappointed. France, like Poland, had no desire to provoke the Germans by openly accepting military refugees from the Protectorate, for Berlin had declared all former citizens of the Czech lands to be subjects of the Reich. The French, therefore, felt inclined to keep everything Czechoslovak at arm’s length even as the battle of France began in 1940. The air force contingent, numbering about a thousand men, were held back until the last desperate hours when only a very small percentage saw action. Similarly, the army group – nearly 11,000 strong – was hastily set into action. As France moved towards defeat, so the exiled groups, including Czechoslovak soldiers, converged on western ports in the hope of escaping to Britain.
KeywordsTotal Strength Inspector General British Authority Czech Land Fighting Spirit
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