Czech Medal for Gallantry : Sergeant Frantisek (Frank) Kocyan, 2nd Czechoslovak Paradesant Brigade

Accession Number REL44197.004
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Award
Physical description Bronze
Maker Unknown
Date made c 1940
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Czechoslovakian Medal for Gallantry. Obverse shows lion's head behind upturned sword. A Patriarchal cross is to the left of the lion's face. Across the tip of the sword, over the head of the lion is scrolled lettering 'ZA CHRABROST' [For gallantry]. Two sprays of lindel leaves create the suspender. Another two sprays of lindel leaves frame the cross, lion and sword.

History / Summary

Medal awarded to Frank Kocyan who was born on 14 October 1923 at Cesky Tesin, Czechoslovakia, where his parents had a farm. Kocyan was educated here then worked on the family farm until the occupation of Czechoslovakia by the Germans in 1939. Sent to Germany as a forced labourer, he escaped back home but was rearrested and sent to the German Eastern Front as a labourer digging trenches. Kocyan succeeded in crossing to the Russian lines and was taken to the Training Centre in Buzuluk before being transferred to the Czechoslovak forces in exile. After 8 months of training with the 2nd Czechoslovak Parachute Battalion under the command of General Prikryl (recently arrived from England) they fought their first battle against German forces at Dukla, on the border with Poland, in September 1944, suffering significant losses.
Pulled from the fighting, the Battalion was parachuted behind enemy lines near Banska Bystrica in Slovakia to participate in the National Revolt. The Germans invaded and crushed the Revolt, capturing thousands of fighters. However many rebels and survivors of the battalion retreated to the mountains where they endured hunger, extreme cold and shortage of arms and ammunition in the winter of 1944-45. Kocyan’s battalion were still in action when the German Army retreated before the advancing Soviets in 1945.
In 1950 he migrated to Australia where he met Jozefa, whom he married in 1953.