Jaroslav Chejstovský

* 1921  †︎ 2008

  • The governmental army had four troops. Pedestrian troop, cyclistic, sappers and dragoons. Because I knew everything, I used to be by the water, could ride a bike but not a horse, I entered the dragoons. And I learnt to ride so well that I even rode horses for the troop officer.

  • From distance we saw that it was a similar uniform to the German one. Just the caps were a bit different but we couldn’t recognize at the distance so we were worried they were Germans. But when we got closer we found out they were the Swiss. So we would immediately hide the grenade. And then we handed it over to them. All in all the Swiss were quite nice. They only took the soldiers captive, not at all the political people.

  • I counted on being able to stay in the army. For that reason we sent a request already from England so that we could finish our aircraft training. When we then arrived here we went, five or six of us, to the generality, where we should get to know our further fate. When we came there, the officers, who stayed here (-during the war-) and whom we called ‚naphtalines‘ said they don’t make allowances for us in the aircraft academy concerning finishing our aircraft training. They said: ‚You are too old‘ and so on. I was twenty-four and half years old and that was too old for them. So I demobilized and got fired from the army in 1951.

  • We didn’t have any contact with the Germans, and we also didn’t salute them. They actually rather saluted us because as dragoons we had red riding-breeches and they thought we were some sort of generals. We had nothing at all in common with them, we had barracks of our own, own command and didn’t take the Germans in account.

  • There weren’t the English, there were the Americans and then they took us on their boats away. We travelled on boats for sixteen days. From Napoli we travelled to Algiers. There we had to wait because suddenly some German U-boats appeared in the Mediterranean. So they put us in a harbour and not before the U-boats were liquidated – or driven out, I don’t know – and there was calm we drove in a convoy around Gibraltar up to Scotland.

  • Then I refused to sign the application to the Communist Party so I was given available to the mines where I spent four and a half years. I drove every day to Kladno to a mine. Then in the ‘52nd I got to the bakeries in Karlín and there it was quite fine.

  • It wasn’t my initiative but rather we made a deal altogether, at the same time. There was one technical sergeant who went over the hill to the partisans and who talked it all over with them. To us they announced that they were going to come at this and that time, also secretly, because the Germans mustn’t have known. Therefore we got some sort of message that they were coming for us so that we’d be ready. So we were and then they lead us away, so we left with the horses and everything.

  • I was later joined the airforces with them. I was then reassigned to Cossford. Although I didn’t want to join the air forces, I wanted to go to Dunquerque or just any armored division. That’s why I ran away – to take part in some fight. I used to say – when I join the air force, it’s all lost because I won‘t get nowhere.

  • They drove us there and we got to the places where our legions used to be. Therefore the older people remembered our Czechoslovak legionaries from the times of the First World War. They also showed us pictures where they were photographed with them and so on. So we had a pretty decent time and didn’t suffer from them shooting at us or such at all.

  • So we arrayed against the Germans straight away. We took about four Germans captive the first time, the second time we captured a whole small panzer and which means some five Germans. Thus we were fairly active at the guerrilla. But as I say – we had to walk on the roads only, because we didn’t know the mountains.

  • My swear took place at the English army and there I swore to Bible and the king. Geogre VI., at that time. Apart from that, I didn’t swear at all in the Czechoslovak army. I swore only to the king, that is my exception. That happened somewhere in February 1945.

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    Praha, 23.09.2002

    duration: 01:01:13
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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“I joined the governmental army because I believed that we would stay in the Protectorate”

Chejstovský after the return from England, 1945
Chejstovský after the return from England, 1945

  Mr. Jaroslav Chejstovský was born as the oldest of three children in Prague in 1921. As a young he played hockey, swam and attended Sokol. After the declaration of the Protectorat he was supposed to go to Germany for convict labour. To avoid it he entered the Government army. He went through the basic training and then joined the dragoons. As such, he, by his own words, didn’t come to contact with the Germans at all. In 1943 he was reassigned to Italy, to the places where the Czechoslovak legionaries fought during the WW I. Eventually the whole troop of 35 men decided to desert to the mountains to the guerrilla. Later it was decided to pass to neutral Switzerland where they got voluntarily arrested. For about six months they lived and worked in San Galen before they decided to run away. Mr. Chejstovský has undergone a challenging route through France, Italy (already liberated by the Americans) and Algiers to Scotland. In Britain he was reassigned to an air force division and went through a training which he didn’t finish because of the end of the war. After the war, as he refused to sign an application to the Communist Party, he was fired from the army and worked among others at a coal mine. Later he became a secretary of the Legionaries organization.