Fricek Orsten


Some quotes from Fricek’s story:

It was now about a week before the outbreak of war and I said goodbye to my parents in Brno. I can still see them in my mind's eye waving goodbye at the railway station in Brno but little did I know that it would be for the last time.

Life in a British officers mess was very different to that which we knew in the Czech army. One did not talk about ladies until the port was handed round clockwise, for instance. In the Czech army, one only talked about ladies all the time and a few more things like that.

We arrived at Fenchurch Street Station and I remember one of our colleagues saying goodbye to his girlfriend with a long long kiss and both had tears in their eyes. Later when we arrived in Poland, and he took up his post with his unit, he was the first to be killed. It was said that he kept his peaked cap with a golden cap badge on and the badge caught a ray of the sun and a German sniper got him just between the eyes.

Suddenly the German Artillery must have spotted us and started shooting at us with anti-aircraft guns. We ducked, of course, and one shell landed in the rear wall of the ditch between Sacher's behind and my head and failed to explode. I must say, that from that moment on, I assumed there must somewhere be a higher force that looked after me

On our way, we met a few British POWs and you can imagine their surprise to see some of us in British battledress and peaked caps. As a matter of fact, one chap was from Yorkshire and I gave him a message to a friend in Bradford which he duly delivered as I found out much later. The message was: I'm alive.

We have seen the fall of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, the end of Czechoslovakia, of the British Empire, of Soviet Russia and Communism and the birth of the Czech Republic what more can one ask of a lifetime?

From Brno to Bushey

As dictated in summer 1993

Fricek and Nini in their beloved garden in Bushey in 1995

Fricek and Nini on their wedding day in Bruno on June 21st 1947

This story was written by my father to give me and his grandchildren a better sense of how he came to live in Bushey after surviving the war in Europe.

My father was a very honourable man who led his life by example. In his own words: must be able to look back at your decisions without having to regret them or feel ashamed of what you have done.

He dedicated his life to his wife and child to the exclusion of his own well being. I remember him dearly as the kindest, gentlest and funniest man I ever met.

By the way, you may not fully understand many of the references to me and the family but if you wish to read his story and share his experiences then please feel free to click the PDF file above.

Anthony Orsten - 25th November 2007