A 94-YEAR-OLD army veteran who helped liberate a town in the Czech Republic has been made an honorary citizen by the town’s mayor – 76 years on.
Charles Strasser, who lives in St Martin, was 18 and serving as an Army despatch rider when he led a convoy of 50 vehicles into Kasejovice in what was then Czechoslovakia, at the end of the Second World War. He was the first Allied soldier to enter the town.
The mayor of Kasejovice, Maria Capova, informed Mr Strasser of the award.
He said: ‘It came completely out of the blue. It’s 76 years after the event. It’s crazy really.’
Due to Covid restrictions the official ceremony has been postponed but he added: ‘They’ve sent me a very nice certificate and medallion.’
Mr Strasser plans to travel there when the restrictions are lifted, and said that up until last year he would have flown there in his own plane. He held a pilot’s licence until the age of 93, and has often flown back to the Czech Republic.
He was born in what was then Czechoslovakia and moved to Britain in 1938 shortly before the Germans occupied his home country.
‘They had named it “The Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia”,’ he said. ‘They considered it part of the German Reich.’
Mr Strasser joined the Czech Army in exile, known as the Czech Independent Armoured Brigade, which formed part of the British forces.
He served with them in surrounding the German-held enclave of Dunkirk in north-eastern France before crossing Europe and arriving in Kasejovice.
He said: ‘I remember it very well – it was the highlight of my life. It had been occupied by the Germans for six years, just as Jersey had been occupied. Everybody was celebrating. I’m looking forward to going back there and meeting the mayor.’