How the war film Anthropoid has its origins in Cheshire
PUBLISHED: 17:44 14 January 2016 | UPDATED: 17:44 14 January 2016
From Czechoslovakia to Cholmondeley
Hollywood film, Anthropoid, is due to be released in 2016. Starring Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan, the film tells the story of the assassination of the German SS General, Reinhard Heydrich - one of the architects behind Hitler’s Final Solution and head of the Gestapo and Secret Police. But did you know that this gripping tale has origins in Cheshire?
‘The Free Czechoslovak army was actually based at Cholmondeley Castle in the summer of 1940, and it was from these men that two were chosen to be sent back to Czechoslovakia to carry out this incredible mission,’ said amateur historian and comedian John Martin, who wrote a book on Operation Anthropoid, The Mirror Caught the Sun, and has had a great interest in the story of the soldiers since hearing about them as a young boy.
The two men were Warrant officers, Jan Kubis and Jozef Gabcik. Best friends who always had each others back, Jan and Jozef spend a year within the grounds of Cholmondeley, getting to know the local residents and spending time within Cheshire.
‘We’ve launched a campaign to have a plaque erected in a small village outside of Whitchurch, Ightfield, where the men befriended the Ellison family,’ said fellow amateur historian Aidan Casey, who got to know John after reading his book. ‘It’s here where they spent all their free time, with the two Ellison sisters Lorna and Edna. The plaque would commemorate Jan and Jozef, as well as the kind family that befriended them.’
On May 27, 1942, the soldiers were parachuted into Czechoslovakia and carried out Operation Anthropoid, ambushing Heydrich’s car on the streets of Prague. Although their guns proved to be mostly useless, a grenade explosion fatally injured Heydrich and he died one week later. Kubis and Gabcik escaped the scene of the attack, but tragically were later killed when their hideout was surrounded by the S.S. after they were betrayed by a fellow parachutist that was based at Cholmondeley.