Miloslav Jirsa

* 1910  †︎ 2004

  • "As far as I know from my friends talking, Tobruque was a great port under British supervision. All around the port were operating the Italian army troops which occupied Libya. Only Tobruque was under English control. The Englishmen were defending Tobruque as best as they could in order to keep at least ´one finger´ inside of Libya. They have built a circle of forts around Tobruque, so they were able to defend it at all circumstances. The camp meter was about thirty kilometers. Our troop was responsible for one part of the territory. And because there were Italians on the other side of the port, it never came to the war. Both sides have been looking at each other from their positions distance. Our friends were just guiding the certain part of the perimeter and were waiting what will happen next."

  • "It lasted for about three days. Then all of a sudden a car came. ´Where is Jirsa! ´ I came immediately. ´You have to go to Košice town immediately. The uprising in Prague has started and there (in Prague) is some captain Nechanský - he is a parachutist- and he is sending the English codes about what is going on in Prague.´ The East coders, even though they new the have had the codes, they couldn’t read it . There was some Col. Paleček in Košice who remembered me. And it was a peace of cake for me to uncipher the message. I was a hero all of a sudden. I have been promoted to captain honor. I was given several medals. Among those were Distinguished Service Medal I. and II. They are both signed by president Beneš and General Svoboda."

  • "It’s very interesting what the cannons look like. There are four of them tide up together with the electric wire. In the middle of them there is a gun-layer. Two soldiers are standing by reading the screen. One of them is checking for airplanes in vertically direction and the other one horizontally so you actually see the plain diagonally. As you turn the gun-layer, the cannons are turning too. When you aim the plane, the four cannons are quite a power. Plus it’s a fast canon shooting bang, bang, and bang. Four bullets, then you load up another four bullets, so it really is quite a gun power."

  • "The communists executed also captain Nechanský. Those three were all my friends - Nechanský, Skokan and General Píka. Their court trials have been stage-managed. Nobody argued about it. It was a pure luck that they didn’t remember me too. As president Gottwald got the government to his side, the communists began to tide up the positions. They wanted to have their own members at the Ministry, not just some fellow Jirsa, who has been in the English army. Therefore they kicked me out of the Ministry of nutrition immediatelly and told me I can find myself some manual work. But I didn’t know any manual work. I spoke several languages and I also knew the tobacco business. I tried all kinds of different things. I repaired tractors, I was cutting the metal plates and then at last Praga factory employed me and I became a body repair man."

  • "If I should express my message, it would be that it is not worth while to fight for your nation. If I would have stayed in Turkey I would have made lots of money and I wouldn’t have to go to war. Just like my boss who sold everything there and moved to Monte Carlo and lived nice and rich life there until he died. He was spending his millions on the roulette."

  • "When it was decided that the antiaircraft battery will be closed and that I will go to England, my combat mission got shorter too. Only one coder was supposed to remain there instead of two. And it was me, probably because I proved myself as reliable, but also because my wife was there too. General Píka needed his officers in Russia. So everybody went there (to Russia) and I was supposed to take over the coding department here after somebody. My poor friend Skokan- the captain, went to Russia and has been then executed together with General Píka. If they would have sent me instead of him there it could have been the other way around. That is the war luck."

  • "Everything has been done in ciphers during the war. The spoken language changes into numbers according to certain code. So all you can hear or see are the numbers. Sometimes it was a pure miracle to encipher it all."

  • Full recordings
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    Praha, 16.08.2004

    duration: 01:45:27
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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“I could have made a fortune. Instead I jeopardized my life at war.”

Miloslav Jirsa
Miloslav Jirsa

Mr. Miloslav Jirsa was born on January 14th, 1910 in a town called Tábor to a family of tobacco sellers. He attended a grammar school in Kostelec nad Orlicí town. After his military draft ended he started a tobacco business with his father. During the 30´s he made a business trip to then Turkish Constantinople. After the occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1939, he and his wife immigrated to Turkey. In Palestine, he joined the newly established troops of the Mid-East Czechoslovak army forces led by General Klapálek. He served in the infantry in Alexandria as a lieutenant. He participated in the occupation of Syria in 1941; he did not participate in the Tubruq battle. He underwent another Archie operator training and then was put in command of four Archie’s in Haifa town. After the army corps left for England he was sent off to Jerusalem where he was once again re-trained, this time as a coder. After the Normandy invasion, he was transported to the exile government HQ in London, where he worked as a coder for the news department commanded by General Moravec. Together with the exile government he came to Košice (in Slovakia) and later to a liberated Prague. After the war, he worked at the Ministry of Defense as a commander of the ciphered department, soon after he became a chief secretary of the Ministry of nutrition - the tobacco supply. After 1948, he was dismissed from the Ministry and was only allowed to do manual labor. He worked as a body man at the Praga factory until he retired. By the end of the war he had captain’s honor, today he is retired as Lt.-Colonel. Miloslav Jirsa was awarded several honors during his service: War Cross, Allied medal, Distinguished Service Medal of I. and II. Degree, Gallantry Medal and the Africa Star Medal.