Memorial service for Czech and Slovak airmen who flew wartime raids from Suffolk

Watch a video report by ITV News Anglia's Kate Prout


Members of the Czech and Slovakian air force have been special guests at a memorial service in Suffolk.

It is 80 years since airmen from their countries served at RAF Honington as part of the allied forces in World War Two. 

The Czech and Slovakian airmen formed 311 Squadron - part of the first Bomber Command made up of allies from outside of the British Empire.

Four Czech and Slovak squadrons were established during the Second World War and 500 lives were lost Credit: ITV News Anglia

With the coronavirus crisis, there were many months when it seemed the ceremony would be unable to go ahead.

The Commander of RAF Honington, Group Captain Matt Radnall said: "It's been a little more complicated than we would have otherwise liked, such an event and to meet socially distanced requirement delivered in a safe manner but it just shows that it is possible."

With the right will, we've used a few imaginative ways of transporting people, of meeting people and conducting a ceremony, marking the ground out to ensure people are suitably separated.

Group Captain Matt Radnall, Commander, RAF Honington

The ceremony included a flypast by a Puma helicopter for the forgotten heroes from Eastern Europe.

A contingent from the Czech AF 22 Helicopter Air Base Namest were in attendance.

The visitors travelled to the churchyards at Honington and East Wretham to pay respects to the graves of Czechoslovakian airmen.

A wreath of poppies was laid to commemorate the 500 airman Czech and Slovak airman who lost their lives and are buried in Britain. Credit: ITV News Anglia

There was a poignant commemoration ceremony that included a tree planting and plaque in the RAF station memorial garden.

The Czech Deputy Ambassador Ales Opatrny said: "Altogether, four Czech and Slovak squadrons were established during the Second World War from the United Kingdom.

"About 500 lost their lives and are buried in British soil in the UK"

Seven of those men are buried in the village graveyard alongside British, Canadian, New Zealand and Polish airmen who all died while operating out of Honington.

A reminder that victory in Europe was very much a joint effort.