This book could have included ‘a man and his dog’ in its title. The subject of this absorbing account of flying in WWII is based on the inseparable bound between man and dog. It is a moving story with humour and sadness. A Great Read that is Highly Recommended.
NAME: Freedom in the Air, a Czech Flyer and His Aircrew Dog
AUTHOR: Hamish Ross
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: soft back
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: World War Two, WWII, Second World War, Czech escapees, RAF, Bomber Command, Dickin Medal, animal VC, Field Marshall Wavell, Antis
DESCRIPTION: This book could have included ‘a man and his dog’ in its title. The subject of this absorbing account of flying in WWII is based on the inseparable bound between man and dog. It is a moving story with humour and sadness. A Great Read that is Highly Recommended.
Vaclav Robert Bozdech was one of those brave Czech troops who escaped the Nazi invasion of their country and fought on in France and then from Great Britain. Less then 10,000 Czech soldiers and airmen fought from the British Isles but their contribution was far in excess of their numbers. During the Battle of Britain, Czech and Polish fighter pilots joined the Battle at a critical moment when the RAF was running out of pilots. The Battle of Britain Ace of Aces was a Czech. That heroic contribution of Czech pilots somewhat over-shadowed the equally brave and vital Czech bomber pilots. It is therefore particularly welcome to have a book that recounts the story of Bozdech.
Bozdech eventually made his way to Gibraltar and from there travelled to Britain. What was all the more remarkable was that he had been accompanied by his dog, Antis, and he was able to smuggle Antis into Britain. From there, Bozdech became a bomber pilot and Antis joined him as aircrew, being twice wounded.
Most books that record the stories of Czech airmen cover the war period, but this book is in a different category because it continues on after 1945. Like many Czechs, Bozdech returned to his native country still with his faithful Antis, but the communist seizure of power meant that man and dog were once more forced to flee. Once more they made their way to Britain and Bozdech rejoined the RAF.
Antis was to be awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal, the Animal’s VC, and remained with Bozdech to the end of his days. This is a very human story against the back drop of war and it will appeal to a very wide readership because it covers several strong stories beyond the direct boundaries of air warfare. The author has made a very good job of presenting the story in all its unusual facets. It is difficult to pull out any single facet for comment because it is a story that binds the threads together, but readers will find the story particularly interesting in recording Bozdech’s return to the new Czech Air Force, the events resulting from the communist take-over, and his second escape with Antis to return once more to the RAF. This is something that has received almost no attention before