During the period of 1939 - 1945, about five hundred members of the Czechoslovak foreign military units were killed in action, died of war injuries, died while on duty or otherwise, or became the victims of various diseases in the West, in North Africa and the Middle East.
In August 1940, the 1st Czechoslovak Mixed Brigade was formed 1. in England. The vast majority were the men who, in the spring of 1940, formed the 1st Czechoslovak Division in France. 3,500 men out of the total number of the division members managed to escape to England after the fights in France ended. In July 1941, the 1st Czechoslovak Mixed Brigade in the UK was reorganized to form the 1st Czechoslovak Independent Brigade. When fighting in the Middle East finally ended, the Czechoslovak 200th Light Anti-aircraft Regiment – the Eastern – was moved to England where it arrived in August 1943. The soldiers who had gone through fights against Rommel’s Africa Corps were subsequently incorporated into the ranks of the Czechoslovak Independent Brigade, which was also transformed into the Czechoslovak Independent Armoured Brigade. Colonel Alois Liška, later promoted to General, became its commander. The Cromwell tanks became its striking force.
Shortly after the opening of the second front, it was decided that the Czechoslovak Armoured Brigade would be deployed on the front in France. Given that, unfortunately, sufficiently numerous reserves were not available, it was decided that the brigade would be deployed near the French port town of Dunkirk, where numerous German garrison was fortified. Here the Czechoslovaks fought many a battle, the most famous of which took place on 28 October 1944. A total of 182 Czechoslovaks were killed and 461 ones were injured on the "lone front", as the fights for the perimeter around the port were called, from October 1944 to May 1945.
In fact, just a few hours after the tanks of the American 16th Armored Division penetrated to Pilsen, a small military unit with Czechoslovaks in battle-dresses appeared in the city too. They were the members of the Combined Detachment of the Czechoslovak Independent Armoured Brigade who advanced behind the American first line units and participated symbolically in the liberation of the West Bohemian borderlands. The soldiers of Lieutenant Colonel Sítek, who commanded the unit, were ready to go to help Prague; however, they did not receive an official permission to cross the demarcation the line.
Immediately after the end of hostilities in Europe in May 1945, the whole brigade set out on a journey to Czechoslovakia, where it arrived after 18 May. Up to 6,200 men, 300 tanks, 1,300 lorries and 230 armoured vehicles were deployed at many places south of Plzeň and Klatovy on the so-called Demarcation Line. In the summer 1945, the men of General Liška participated in a number of military parades held in Pilsen and at many other places in the Czech west. As early as June 1945, the Czechoslovak Independent Armoured Brigade was transformed to the 1st Czechoslovak Tank Corps and the unit, whose source was already formed during defensive battles in France and which was strengthened by a number of men fighting at Tobruk, disappeared.
The members of the land forces fighting on the side of France and Great Britain has never been given as much attention as Czechoslovak airmen in the RAF. The memorial, which will stand in the Pilsen centre, is just a small thank you for everything these men had to endure on their journey for the restoration of Czechoslovakia. We must not forget the social pressure to which these "Westerners" exposed after the communist coup in February 1948. Many of those who fought in the war for the freedom of their homeland were persecuted, imprisoned or even executed three years after the victory over fascism. The memorial will also commemorate the famous battle sites where the Czechoslovaks proven themselves as fearless fighters for democracy and freedom of the oppressed.