MAJOR GENERAL Ivan Schwarz, a veteran of the RAF and president of the Association of Pilots of the Free Czechoslovakia, residing in London, was one of the privileged few received by Queen Elizabeth II during her recent visit to Bratislava.
Ľubomír Bulík, the head of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Slovakia, received Schwarz on October 30.
They talked together about the role of Slovakia’s anti-Fascist history and their message for the current armed forces, Pavol Vitko, a spokesperson for the Defence Ministry, told The Slovak Spectator.
Major General Schwarz was born in Bratislava and grew up in Bytča.
Before the Second World War, he travelled to Great Britain as a secondary school student, where, after the war broke out, he volunteered for the Czechoslovak troops that were being formed there.
He began his service with the 311th Czechoslovak bombing unit of the British Royal Air Force (RAF).
His most important operations during the war included the sinking of the German ship MV Alsterufer in the Bay of Biscay, which the Czechoslovak crew of the Liberator GR.Mk. V BZ796 (H) under the command of Oldřich Doležal sank on December 27, 1943.
The ship was transporting cargo of especially strategic raw materials from the Japanese port of Kóbe to the French port of Bordeaux.
During the war, Doležal was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), and other members of the mission were awarded the Czechoslovak War Cross 1939 on February 7, 1944, at Beaulieu airbase.
Later, Schwarz was deployed to the Coastal Command, where he logged 1,200 flight hours.
After the war, Schwarz served as an Air Force officer in Prague, but due to growing mistrust towards the participants in the Western Front, he returned to Great Britain before 1948.
President Ivan Gašparovič, who serves as commander-in-chief the Slovak armed forces, awarded Schwarz with the Order of White Lorraine Cross of the III Grade on May 8, 2005, for “extraordinary merit in the fight against fascism during WWII, and for meritorious service to the Slovak Republic”.