Czechoslovak veteran of Tobruk, Dunkirk battles dies aged 101

War veteran Bernard Papánek has died at the age of 101, Czech Television reports. He was among the last living Czechoslovak participants in the World War II battles of Tobruk and Dunkirk. After emigrating from communist Czechoslovakia in the 1960s, he settled in Israel but spent the final years of his life in Slovakia.

Papánek, who took the name Benjamin Palgi after moving to Israel, was born in Vienna. In his early years, he lived with his mother’s parents in Vracov na Moravě, rejoining his parents in Vienna when he turned six. After Nazi Germany annexed in 1938, he left for Brno.

In 1939, he emigrated to Palestine, where he joined Czechoslovak armed forces serving under British command. He fought at Tobruk serving in an anti-aircraft battery. In 1943, he was transferred to the UK with other Czechoslovak troops. He joined the siege of Dunkerque and was gravely wounded in December 1944.

Author: Brian Kenety