Czechoslovak forces in the Near East were organised into
the Czechoslovak Infantry Battalion No 11 East on 1st November 1940 at Gedera camp, near
Tel Aviv in Palestine. Lt.-Col. Karel Klapalek was appointed commander of
the battalion, which consisted of battalion headquarters, four rifle companies
(each of three platoons) and a support company (machine-gun, signal, sapper,
repair and transport platoons). In early December 1940, the battalion
underwent 11 weeks of acclimatisation in the Judean desert. Following
this, the battalion moved to Jericho and then to Egypt, to Sidi Bishr and Agami
Camps. Here the battalion undertook guard duties and was made up to full
The battalion moved to the
Western Desert with British 23rd Infantry Brigade (with which it served from
30th May 1941 to
6th October 1941) on 31st May 1941 but was held in reserve near Matruh during Operation
Battleaxe. The Czechs and Slovaks then moved to the Levant with 23rd Brigade to participate
in Operation Exporter, following which they remained on duty in Syria until October.
In August 1941, the Czechoslovak Ministry of
National Defence had repeated its request for the battalion to be transferred to
the Czechoslovak forces in Great Britain. The British commander-in-chief
rejected the request and, after a meeting with Lt.-Col. Klapalek, agreed to
transfer the Battalion to the besieged Libyan port of Tobruk. On 20th
October the battalion was shipped into Tobruk where it served for the remainder of the
siege under the Polish Carpathian Brigade, until around 13th December 1941.
During the siege the battalion lost 14 soldiers killed and 81 wounded.
Following the siege, the battalion stayed
in the Tobruk area, first under XIII Corps, then 38th Indian Infantry Brigade until that
brigade departed for Egypt on 27th March 1942. On 7th April 1942, the battalion departed
for Palestine for conversion to 200th Light Anti-Aircraft East Regiment in May. In 1943, there
being no further need for its services, the regiment was sent to England and disbanded
there. Its troops eventually served with the Motor Battalion of the Czechoslovak 1st Armoured Brigade in
France, 1944 to 1945.
Infantry Battalion No 11 East
Formed at Gedera, nr Tel Aviv,
Palestine, from former officers and men of the depot of the Czechoslovak
Army in France, reinforced by
men from Russia.
Transferred to Jericho for
To Sidi Bishr Camp, Egypt,
where reinforced by further arrivals from Russia.
Spring of 1942, disbanded in
Palestine, the effectives immediately included in the newly raised 200th