RAF Veteran and Honorary Citizen of Brno Emil Bocek Turned 97 Yesterday
Retired Army General Emil Bocek turned 97 yesterday. Emil Bocek served in the Royal Air Force from 1940 to 1946, and has received many honors and medals for his service, including the Order of the White Lion. Photo credit: Lukáš Žentel / Post Bellum Collection.
Brno, Feb 26 (BD) – Retired Army General Emil Bocek was born in Brno-Tuřany in 1923. In 1939, at the age of sixteen, he resolved to leave the Czech Republic to fight for the Allies. He secretly left the country in December 1939, and after several attempts managed to reach Beirut, from where he travelled on to France.
Bocek started fighting in the war as a soldier of the Infantry Regiment in France in the summer of 1940. By September, he had reached Britain and joined the Air Force, where he would remain until his retirement. He served as a mechanic until he was accepted for pilot training in October 1942. He started his service as a fighter pilot in 1944, aged 21, one of the youngest Czechoslovak operational fighter pilots of World War II. During his time in the Czechoslovak 310th Squadron, he completed 26 operational flights and put in almost 74 hours of flight time. He is the last surviving Royal Air Force pilot in the Czech Republic.
General Bocek has received many honors for his time in the war, including several Czech and British war medals and stars. In 2010, he was awarded the Order of the White Lion, the highest honor of the Czech Republic. Bocek was promoted several times by President Milos Zeman, his latest and current title being Retired Army General, to which he was appointed in 2019. Having lived his whole peacetime life in Brno, and in honor of his service, he received the title of Honorary Citizen of the City of Brno in 2017.