20 years ago, on June 18th 1992, Bridgwater became the first UK town to twin with a Czechoslovakian town after the Velvet Revolution.
On June 18th 2012 , secretary and founder Cllr Brian Smedley, made a special visit to the Spean Bridge Commando monument in the foothills of Ben Nevis with a group of Czechs to remember why
"In 1938 Bridgwater was in the history books following a famous by-election victory by Independent Progressive Vernon Bartlett in the town which sent a message of hope to the Czechs and Slovaks of those prewar years that not everyone in Britain agreed with the Munich Treaty which had let them down so badly in the face of Hitler's Nazi expansionism. Bridgwater people can be rightly proud of that moment. The full story can be found at our website www.vernonbartlett.co.uk. "
"a place in history"
"In 1992 Bridgwater signed a formal twinning agreement with the town of Uherske Hradiste carving another place in history as the first British - Czech twinning after the Velvet Revolution which had seen the collapse of Communism in Czechoslovakia."
|Jan Kubis & Josef Gabcik d.18.6.1942 fighting Fascism|
"When we set up that twinning the date we chose for the signing was crucial. June 18th , 50 years beforehand, was the date of the battle in the Crypt of the Cyril & Methodius church in Prague when Czech and Slovak Paratroopers, trained in Scotland and dropped behind enemy lines, fought to the death in a pitched battle against overwhelming Nazi SS forces. The dead resistance fighters included Jan Kubis and Josef Gabcik who had taken part in the assassination of Nazi leader Heydrich who had been the designer in chief of the 'Final Solution'."
"an example across the world"
"On 18th June 1942 Europe was under total Nazi occupation and no-one could be sure that Fascism would be overthrown and that democracy would survive. The decision taken by those brave Czechs and Slovaks in those circumstances to continue to resist was an example across the World and remains as such today.
"inspiring resistance to Fascism"
|The Crypt on Resslova street in Prague today|
"This is the reason why on June 18th 2012 as we remember the 20 years of our Bridgwater-Czech Slovak link that we also remember the struggles and sacrifices of 70 years ago. This is why it's important that we remember that in the place where the British , Czech and Slovak special forces trained together with the purpose of inspiring resistance across Europe and uniting to fight Fascism wherever it raises it's head."
June 1942 also saw the Massacre at Lidice, where an entire Czech village was destroyed by the Nazis, the men shot, the women taken to concentration camps and suitable children 'Aryanised'. A recent Czech film 'Lidice' has brought the subject matter to the big screen. In the 1970's a British made film about the Heydrich assasination 'Operation Daybreak' was filmed on location in Prague.