"Those who applied for transfer from the telegraph operators to the air force had no problems. It was only I who applied but who didn’t go. (That was because of the stomach problems?) No, it was because of Píka. While we were still in France, my commander met Píka in Paris and he probably told him what they should and should not do, because when we then applied to join the air for in Cholmondeley Park, our commander Vastl, interviewed each of us who applied. I was the last one. And I was the only one who was not sent to the air force."
"Some of us (from the telegraph battalion) were sent to the units' commands. But that was just a handful of us, not many people. Most of us, who were supposed to stay with the command rather than in the individual units, didn't really get there anymore. The retreat was quite quick. We were supposed to go to the units, but when we were on our way, they told us: ´No, go south. Otherwise you will fall into the hands of the Germans.´"
"When the Protectorate was declared, our Czechoslovak Embassy in Bucharest was naturally closed. Or better to say, not closed but taken over by the Germans. Father had to return to Czechoslovakia the day after, but I stayed in Romania and did not return to Czechoslovakia. Before father left Romania, he had left me in the care of one very nice gentleman, general Píka. At that time, he was only a colonel, and he was a military attaché in Bucharest."
"The brigade heavy repair workshop was located far away from the command. They needed a lot of space. (You were assigned to work in the brigade heavy repair workshop while there?) I had been assigned to serve in the workshop even before we left for France. When everything was being prepared, the radio mechanics, who were working in the communications, were assigned to serve in the heavy repair workshops. (You thus arrived together with them?) That's correct. As for the heavy repair workshop, we were a small group which was more or less independent."
"When we arrived in Scotland – I'm now talking about our unit and the area where we were – the relations with the local people were very cold. Nothing special. It was a larger hotel, a nice healthcare centre. There was a nice dance hall, which looked awful when we arrived there. They received it from the Poles. Our guys decided to put it back in order. They did and we then held dances there."
Serving as a soldier under the protection of Heliodor Píka
Colonel in retirement František Kaplan was born November 9, 1921 in The Hague in the Netherlands. His father Josef Kaplan worked in the diplomatic service and little František thus often traveled with his parents. Before the outbreak of WWII he was in Marseille and was supposed to join the army. His father was working in Bucharest before the outbreak of war. After the German takeover of the Czechoslovak Second Republic he returned to his native Czechoslovakia, whereas František Kaplan remained in Bucharest. He went to Marseille in France via Istanbul and Beirut, and he joined the army there on March 4, 1940. He was trained in Agde, and was assigned to serve as a radio operator in the telegraph battalion. He did not take part in combat on the front. From Bordeaux he went to England, where he underwent paratrooper training. He was eventually assigned to the signal company, but even before their leaving for Dunkerque he was ordered to work in a heavy repair workshop. In 1944-1945 he took part in the siege of Dunkerque, but due to stomach problems he was ordered to withdraw in February 1945 and sent to hospital in St. Omer and later to Warwick and Hammersmith. After his recovery he joined a substitute group and became an instructor in the communication troop. Heliodor Píka, who was a good friend of his father’s, had been protecting him throughout the war. On May 15, 1945, shortly after the end of the war, he married in England, and with his wife Hillary they moved to Czechoslovakia, where he began working at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was reunited only with his mother in Prague; his father had died during the war. After the Communist Party’s takeover of power he decided to leave for England, where he llived in Warrington. Mr. František Kaplan died on 25th. October 2013