Colonel (ret.) František Tuček

* 1918  †︎ 2008

  • "My name is František Tuček, I was born on 6th August 1918 in the village of Lanžhot in Slovácko in southern Moravia. My father worked for the railways. I was raised in a rather large family - there were six of us children. In 1933 my father was transferred to a railway station in Zbehy near Nitra in Slovakia. It was there that I attended a high school – a commercial academy - and I graduated in 1938. I was brought up by my professors and my parents in Masaryk’s Republic - I was totally devoted to this country and was raised in the spirit of patriotism and responsibility. I still have to remember that 14th September 1937, I was in the 4th grade of business college. I can still remember the speech of President Benes, giving a farewell to Masaryk...”

  • “We were exposed to raids of the German Focke-Wulf. They were armed not only with machine guns, but also with cannons. We constructed an anti-aircraft defense and even girls were armed with cannons, but it wasn’t very effective. The Focke-Wulf fighter plane was very fast and was able to fly very low, close to the ground, so that it wasn’t detected by the radar. Had they flown just a few more meters above the sea level, they would be captured by the radar. So they were capable of flying without being observed and they could see our defensive positions. [This meant wires built into the water, wheels so-called “hedgehogs” against tanks. The hedgehogs were intended against landing tanks. Then there was us – the artillery battery with the task of destroying them already at the sea. We had shells exploding over the water, and not only when they hit the ground. This could be timed.] The Focke-Wulf observed that everything as he flew, he even saw the girls who were taking cover in sandbag-defences. He opened fire not only from the machine gun, but also from his cannon. He cut the target, it was terrible. He hit a pub we were in a tore away the whole corner of the pub. I then saw big dog lying dead on the street that appeared to be cut into two pieces.”

  • "When I arrived in the apartment in the evening, two undercover agents were waiting for me and said: ‘hands up, you’re under arrest’. ‘What are you doing? For what?’ I raised my hands and they searched me for weapons. I had my gun in the closet, it was triggered, but nothing happened. I said: ‘would you let me drink and have dinner?’ They said: ‘No way, you’re coming with us.’ They led me downstairs and in front of the villa. There was a car waiting. I sat in the car and they drove me to the Small Town. It was at the Defense Security Intelligence Command. They were interrogating me all night and all day. They were taking turns and checked the packages, but they did not tell me why. I also brought a package and a letter to Mr. Jestřábek’s sister (František Tuček was at that time living at Mr. Jestřábek’s place – note of the author). They did a search there, knowing that I had passed the package. Only afterwards did I learn the reason for my arrest – it was on the grounds of a suspicion of links with General Prchala from England, who was accused of smuggling subversive leaflets into Czechoslovakia in those packages.”

  • “I remember March 15, 1939. I was drafted for military service in 1938 and I was happy being a soldier. On that March 15, I was in the reserve-officers’ school in Prague-Vršovice. They woke us up at four o’clock in the morning, the commander came into the room and said: ‘get up quickly, dress, pack your things in your suitcases and most importantly submit your rifles’. So we handed over our rifles, packed our suitcases and then they took us away. We were living in Vršovice. We had to leave everything behind except for our personal belongings. They emptied a hangar for us and moved us into it. We were ordered to wait for our release documents. They let us go home in uniforms… Normally, the soldiers were leaving military service in their civilian clothes, leaving their uniforms behind but they dismissed us home in our uniforms. In the evening they said: ‘those who want to leave may do so, those who don’t have a connection, may stay here over the night’. They had the hay ready in the hangar.”

  • “Accommodation in France wasn’t really good. As soldiers, we had it bad there. We had 50 centimes pay which was not even 50 Czechoslovak cents. We didn’t even have soap or toothpaste. I had one toothbrush from home. I had the good luck to know some good officers at the sixth battery. They bought us some toothpaste or soap for washing. The anti-tank platoon leaders were also very nice guys - they were friends rather than commanders. The officers at the anti-tank batteries also had better food, because that was being taken care of by the management sergeant who supervised the cooks. We were there about 12 tanks, so they had a good cook. We even got a small cup of wine for lunch and dinner. French wine was incredibly cheap - a liter of decent wine was two francs and five francs a pint. We rolled our cigarettes ourselves... The officers did not give us any money for that, but we had a few spare francs for that.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha, 15.03.2004

    duration: 04:13:59
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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The English papers were writing: Czech fighters for freedom in prison!

in french foreigner legion in the uniform from the first world war
in french foreigner legion in the uniform from the first world war

František Tuček, a retired Colonel, was born on August 6, 1918, in the village of Lanžhot in southern Moravia. He’s the son of a railway worker. His father was transferred to Nitra in 1933. In Nitra František Tuček attended a business school and graduated in 1938. In the same year he was drafted for compulsory military service to Praha-Vršovice. After the occupation of the Republic on March 15, 1939, however, he was sent home. He tried to trespass the border to Poland but failed. Eventually he fled the country via the so-called “Balkan route” through Hungary, Yugoslavia, Greece, Turkey and Syria. He fled the Protectorate with fellow friends from Lanžhot. He joined the French Foreign Legion in Beirut and left on the ship Patria to the French port of Marseille. Upon his arrival in Agde he was assigned to the sixth battery of an artillery regiment. After the lost defense of France in 1940 he and other Czechoslovaks left France via Sète and Gibraltar to the English town of Plymouth. In England he went through artillery training in Cholmondeley Park, Moreton Morrell and Leamington. After he successfully passed the officer school he was assigned to the third artillery battery. In 1942 he was guarding the southern and the eastern defense perimeter against a possible German attack. By the end of 1943 the Czechoslovak soldiers were moved to Scotland for further training. They were then gradually transferred to the south of England during 1944. František Tuček was dispatched to Dunkirk after the June invasion of Normandy. His task was to monitor the separated German positions. In 1945 František Tuček was assigned with the transfer of Czechoslovak mail packages and military material to Czechoslovakia. One year later he was arrested and interrogated by the OBZ for fulfilling this task. He was accused of shipping anti-state leaflets from General Prchal to Czechoslovakia. He was imprisoned in “Domeček” in Pankrác prison together with other Czechoslovak soldiers. He was released from custody in 1947 and acquitted in 1948. He went to serve in Ruzyně under Colonel Rada but he resigned from military service the next year. He went through a long series of worker’s professions - he also worked as a cultural referent at a ministry. He retired in 1973 and was fully rehabilitated in 1989. He was the co-founder of the Association of foreign soldiers from the west. He died on April 6, 2008, in Prague.