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28 October 2014

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Training assassins for a Nazi attack

Training during World War Two
Secret training during World War Two
We investigate the Warwickshire training camp that prepared Czech assassins for a secret - and successful - Nazi attack.


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Report by Robin Punt, BBC Midlands Today reporter

It was one of the most daring operations of World War Two - the plot to assassinate one of Adolf Hitler's most trusted lieutenants - and it succeeded.

In 1942, secret agents ambushed and killed the deputy head of the SS - Reinhard Heydrich.

Reinhard Heydrich
 Reinhard Heydrich
Reinhard Heydrich
Heydrich was Hitler's right-hand man and was tipped to one day succeed the leader himself. He was ruler of the occupied Czech Republic and by 1942 he had killed hundreds and was ferociously stamping out resistance.

Paul Bock was one of 4,000 Czech soldiers who fled Hitler's blitzkrieg and who wound up in the relative safety of camps at Moreton Paddox near Leamington and at Cholomondeley Castle on the north Shropshire border.

With two of his closest comrades, Jan Kubis and Josef Gabchik, Paul trained in secret for a daring operation. But, unlike them, he's still alive to tell his tale.

Action in Prague
 Parrachute drop in World War Two
A parrachute drop during the war
It was Kubis and Gabchik that were selected to parachute into Prague and in May 1942 they left the Midlands to become heroes. In a carefully worked-out plan they attacked and fatally injured Heydrich as he drove to work.

Pursued by the Gestapo, Kubis, Gabchik and five other resistance fighters chose a crypt in an orthodox church as their hiding place after the ambush. But they didn't know they'd been betrayed.

Jan Kubis was killed in a gunfight in the main church while, Gabchik and three others were cornered in the crypt, desperately trying to find a way out. There was no escape, so the trapped fighters committed suicide.

Their sacrifice has never been forgotten and their ambush has made them heroes in their own homeland, as well as making people from Warwickshire very proud.

Watch, listen and explore
 Veteran from  World War Two
Paul Bock, war veteran, reminiscing in 2003
Press the video links on the left to watch the two BBC Midlands Today programmes by Robin Hunt.

Also linked on the left are audio clips of Coventry citizens talking about the air raids in November 1940 and links to photograph galleries, exploring Coventry through the years.

Coventry in World War Two
Press the images button below to launch a gallery of photographs showing scenes in Coventry in World War Two.

Some of the pictures are upsetting as they show the city's destruction. Others show events we can be proud of, as they demonstrate the hard work and courage of people in Coventry at that time.

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 Soldier in World War Two
A photograph of a soldier in World War Two
If you have old photographs of Coventry or Warwickshire you'd like to show online, please let us know.

Please use the message board if you would like to share your memories of the area or if you have any comments about our archive photographs and videos.

Our message board is for anyone to discuss Coventry and Warwickshire and to share their views and memories of the area.

We also welcome views from expats, who used to live in the area, so they can keep in touch with old friends and share information on the area they still think of as home.

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