Calls made to save memorial fountain installed in memory of Leamington-based Czech soldiers

The memorial fountain
The memorial fountain

Calls have been made for action to protect a stone memorial to seven “very brave men” who died after taking part in a daring operation to assassinate the Nazi tyrant Reinhard Heydrich in 1942.

The men were part of the 4,000-strong Czechoslovak forces in Leamington and district.

The fountain memorial to their courage, bearing seven names, was installed in 1968 in Jephson Gardens.

But concern is mounting over the state of the memorial, which has structural problems, and the condition of the Czechoslovak symbol of a lion with a cross on it.

Warwick District Council has been in talks with residents and members of the Leamington History Group about its future.

Alan Griffin, a local historian, author and member of the history group, who wrote Leamington’s Czech Patriots and the Heydrich Assassination, set up a friends of the fountain group in a bid to preserve it.

Barry Franklin, chairman of the history group, said: “It should be a proud part of Leamington’s heritage and we should show that we are proud of it.

“When we take people on tours of Jephson Gardens people are taken aback about the role of Leamington with the Free Czechoslovak forces and their assassination of the Nazi tyrant.”

A council spokeswoman said: “Warwick District Council and local residents are working together to look at undertaking a full survey of the memorial to see what condition it is in and whether it requires any further repairs beyond what was done two years ago.”

One person who contacted the Courier about it is Doreen Devis, of Leam Street, a regular park user who often walks past it.

She said: “It just does not look cared for. We’ve got the monument and we should keep it nice. These men were very, very brave and it cost them their lives.

“They could have sat it out in Leamington and around the district until the war was over but they wanted to defend our liberty and they died for it.”

Now a widow and retired, along with her husband Peter, they ran the Bath Fancy Bakery and had shops in Church Walk and Warwick Street.

Her interest in it was sparked by a talk she attended on a cruise last month by author John Martin, whose book The Mirror Caught the Sun, told the tale of the assassination of Heydrich. She added: “He was passionate about it and talked for ages without notes about these courageous men. I didn’t know of the fountain’s significance until then.”