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Today in Mailbox: Czech paratroopers Jozef Gabčík and Jan Kubiš and the presence of Czechoslovak troops in exile in Leamington Spa, UK, during WW2; the mysterious belly button of Czech supermodel Karolína Kurková. Listeners quoted: Alistair Pamphilon, David Brauchli.

You are tuned to Mailbox, Radio Prague’s letters programme.

Two weeks ago on Mailbox we spoke about an unusual bus shelter in England. It bears a plaque saying it was donated by Czechoslovak President Edvard Beneš to thank the people of Aston Abbotts and Wingrave for their hospitality whilst he and his cabinet were in exile there during World War II. We were told about it by our longtime listener David Eldridge who also kindly sent us photos of the bus shelter.

This week another listener, Alastair Pamphilon from the United Kingdom, sent us an e-mail referring to the Czech presence in England during WWII.

“Since living in Royal Leamington Spa, Warwickshire in the UK for over a year now I would love to share some information I have learned upon the wartime Czechoslovak government-in-exile in this beautiful Regency style town upon the River Leam.”

Reinhard Heydrich
Mr. Pamphilon goes on to quote from the book “Royal Leamington Spa” by Lyndon F. Cave:

“‘Housing schemes were halted during the last war when the town again became drastically overcrowded, accommodating many troops. These included members of Czech armies in exile. The Czechoslovak government-in-exile occupied part of the Compton Verney Estate and its fine house, not far from Leamington, while the officers were billeted in the town itself. A fountain in Jephson Gardens erected in 1968, now commemorates their stay in the town. It is a tribute to all Czechoslovak soldiers, airmen and patriots who fell in WW2.

“‘From Leamington Spa in 1941 volunteers from the free Czechoslovak Forces stationed in the town were parachuted into their homeland to rid it of the tyrant Protector SS General Heydrich. Two of them – Jan Kubiš and Jozef Gabčík –accomplished their mission in May 1942. They and their companions laid down their lives for freedom’...”

Jan Kubiš and Jozef Gabčík
A quote sent by Alistair Pamphilon from the UK, who adds that the account was so powerful to read that he would love to know if Radio Prague could tell him more about the soldiers stationed there, and any further information upon Jan Kubiš and Jozef Gabčík would be most appreciated.

First of all, thank you very much for sharing that information. While the town of Leamington Spa was only mentioned briefly on Radio Prague, reports on the Czechoslovak paratroopers do appear regularly. This year we reported on the unveiling of the first monument to the paratroopers on the actual site of the assassination (http://www.radio.cz/en/article/104465) and archive footage from the time of the assassination was featured in a March edition of From the Archives (http://www.radio.cz/en/article/102334). A year ago in Czech Books David Vaughan talked to Jiří Šulc, the author of the book “Two Against the Reich” which tells the story of Jan Kubiš and Jozef Gabčík, two of the Czechoslovak patriots parachuted to occupied Bohemia and Moravia from England with a mission to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich (http://www.radio.cz/en/article/97328 2007).

Karolína Kurková,  photo: CTK
Now onto a rather lighter topic. Last week’s Magazine– “the show that starts where the news ends” – featured a story about Czech supermodel Karolína Kurková’s belly button – or the lack thereof, to be precise. Somebody noticed during a fashion show that she just had a shallow indentation where her navel should be. (Even though, for example the BBC reports that “sometimes a tummy button is airbrushed onto her photos in post-production”.)

Ms Kurková’s representative was quoted as saying that Karolína underwent an operation when she was an infant. It was not specified what kind of operation it was – but apparently smooth navels can be the result of surgery to correct various abdominal problems, for example umbilical hernia.

David Brauchli who lives in the Czech Republic read the story in last week’s Magazine and this is his response:

“Give me a break, of COURSE Karolína Kurková has a belly button. Just because someone photoshopped it out doesn't mean she doesn't have one. Look at her website, plenty of belly button there. Please report responsibly, it's your JOB. Rumors, hearsay and innuendo are not the job of a responsible news organization.”


Please let us know what you think about Radio Prague’s reporting – all comments and opinions are appreciated. The address for is Radio Prague, 12099 Prague or english@radio.cz. Also, today is the deadline you to send us the answer to November’s competition question. You still have until midnight to click the SEND button answering this simple question:

Which Czech composer came to be known as “Il divino Boemo” or “the Divine Bohemian”?

Next week you will find out the name of the mystery person as well as the names of the four listeners who will receive small gifts from Radio Prague. Please, tune in again next Sunday if you can and, until then, take care.