War badges sold to help restore Czechoslovak memorial in Leamington
A film about Leamington's '¨key role in the attempted '¨assassination of a Nazi tyrant inspired a curio collector to dig out three war badges '¨related to that operation.
And now in a fitting tribute, he is has decided to sell them to help restore the war memorial dedicated to the men who gave their lives in the daring raid.
The Czechoslovak memorial fountain, which is located in Jephson Gardens, commemorates seven men who died after taking part in an operation to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich in 1942.
The men were part of the 4,000-strong Czechoslovak forces in Leamington and the district.
The fountain memorial was installed in the gardens in 1968 - but in 2015 the Friends of the Czechoslovak Memorial Fountain was founded to help raise money to repair the fountain.
The friends group are currently trying to raise £25,000 and has so far managed to raise £5,000.
John Airey, who formerly owned Mortimers Curios in Regent Street, decided to sell three Czechoslovak Free Army lapel badges he had come to own. Two were lapel badges and one was a Warrant Officer’s cap badge.
He said: “I came to own these badges but I forgot about them until I went to go see ‘Anthropoid’ last year at The Spa Centre.
“Before we entered the Spa Cinema we saw an exhibition in the foyer detailing these World War Two memorable events, the display had been produced by ‘Friends of the Czechoslovak Memorial Fountain’ and by Alan Griffin a local author who wrote the book ‘Leamington’s Czech Patriots and the Heydrich Assassination’.
“They were raising funds for the needy restoration of the Jephson Garden memorial, the significance of which is unknown to so many Leamington residents and visitors alike.
After finding his badges Mr Airey decided to sell them to raise money for the restoration fund. He said: “I decided to put them up for sale on eBay with all profits to go to the Memorial fund, to my amazement I raised over £160.
If anyone has any Czechoslovak memorabilia they would like to donate for the restoration fund send them and any donations to Mrs Georgina Pavel at 5 Severn Close, Lillington, CV32 7BZ.
Alternatively donations can be given to Josie James at the Woodland Tavern on Regent Street, Leamington.
Michael Kalas, chairman of friends of the Czechoslovak memorial fountain, said: “We have been working tirelessly with Warwick District Council to establish a realistic cost for the refurbishment of the fountain, which has been realistically set at £25,000.
“We would like to raise the necessary funds for the restoration so that the fountain could be restore re-dedicated on June 18, which is the 75th anniversary of the ultimate sacrifice made by the seven paratroopers named on the circumference of the bowl on the fountain.”
The friends group are currently trying to gain charity status and creating a website.