Colonel (ret.) Zdeněk Neruda

* 1920  †︎ 2018

  • "They placed us in Kronbühl in a sanatorium for the elderly and there was a forest, some meadows, orchards and fields to it. In this way, they could raise the money to run the place. So I, Zelený and another guy who wasn't in our group – I don't even know his name – worked there as helpers and we collected apples, because they also had a cider house there."

  • "It was at the time of the reprisals that followed the assassination of Heydrich. I left the barracks because I played at a championship match, and when I returned, I was punished – they locked me up for ten or fourteen days - I don't remember exactly anymore - with a blanket [laughing]. They taught me to blow the trumpet – the lights-out and the wake-up signals. I learned it quickly - after just two hours, I knew how to blow it. I always blew the wake-up signal in the morning and the lights-out signal in the evening at my cell."

  • "In a short period of time, after about two months, I was in control of sixty percent of English. So I had an advantage. I made it to the final exams and we were supposed to fly to Miami or to Canada." [The Bahamas, right?] "To Canada. [To Canada, to Canada.] This wasn't going to happen anymore because our navigator training ended in late July or early August and by then Beneš ordered the pilots in England to return home."

  • "We boarded a ship in Naples and we sailed to Algiers, from Algiers to Gibraltar and by the time we got to Gibraltar, suddenly there was an alarm – everybody had to be absolutely quiet. Then we were told that they had spotted some German submarines and therefore the whole ship had to be silent to prevent them from finding out about us. We escaped unharmed."

  • "My family took some of the best clothes, a few suitcases, got on a train and went to Benešov. On the outskirts of Benešov, there was a farm and the farmers were very nice people. I stayed in Jablonec nad Nisou because there was work for me and they told me: 'you can stay here, don't worry, what could possibly happen to you? Nothing will happen to you'. Well, that's why I staid here and they left. They went to a place called Sedmpány."

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    Jablonec nad Nisou, 22.12.2012

    duration: 02:42:54
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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Mrázek, Šikola, Fajtl, Peřina – these guys were heroes, but I didn’t fire a single shot

Zdeněk Neruda
Zdeněk Neruda
photo: archiv Zdeňka Nerudy

Zdeněk Neruda, a retired Colonel, was born on 12 July, 1920, in Brno, in what was then Czechoslovakia. After the creation of the First Czechoslovak Republic, his father was sent to Slovakia and Zdeněk Neruda thus attended elementary school in Nové Město and grammar school in Spišská Nová Ves. The family returned to Bohemia in 1935 and settled in Jablonec nad Nisou, where Zdeněk Neruda decided that he would start working instead of completing his grammar-school studies. He got a job at the Baťa shoe-making and textile company in Ústí nad Orlicí and then in Jablonec. In 1938, the Czech population was forced to leave the borderlands and the family moved to Sedmpán and then to Uhlířské Janovicw in the Benešovsko region. After joining the government army, Zdeněk Neruda was assigned to the 1st Company of cyclists of the 12th Battalion in Přerov, where he also completed his secondary education. The government troops were then sent to Italy to guard the local railways which frequently became a target for the guerrillas. However, the soldiers of the government army used their contact with the guerrillas for deserting their units and indeed, a portion of them changed sides and joined the guerillas. With the guerrillas, they got to the Swiss border, where they managed to persuade the local border guard to let them enter the country. They were placed in internment camps in Brig, Olten and Kronbühl. By the end of 1944, the former soldiers of the government army were incorporated into the foreign army after they had been transferred via Switzerland, France, Italy, Algeria, Gibraltar and the Bay of Biscay to Glasgow, from where they were subsequently moved to Southend-on-Sea in England. After a medical examination in London, they were assigned to various military units. Zdeněk Neruda was selected as a navigator by the RAF but by the time he had completed his military training, the war was already over and Mr. Neruda thus only took his first flight in a Liberator as he flew back to Czechoslovakia in August 1945. In Czechoslovakia, he was demobilized, got married and started to work for an export company in Jablonec nad Nisou. He subsequently worked for a company manufacturing glass jewelry and then in the ironworks. After vetting, he worked as a workman, then as a dispatcher and eventually ended up back in the export company. Currently, Zdeněk Neruda passed away on October , the 5th, 2018