Freedom In The Air

Hamish Ross

Freedom in the Air is the inspiring story of a Czech airman, Václav Robert Bozdech, and the Alsatian dog, Antis, that flew with him in Bomber Command during WWII. Field Marshall Wavell later pinned the ribbon of the PDSA's Dickin Medal, the animals' Victoria Cross, to Antis' collar for courage and outstanding service.

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'May I say how much I enjoyed this particular title, the story is most engaging. Also, although I have been proofing military history books for several years, this one was the first to reduce me to tears! I have found it extremely moving, and a great pleasure to work on.'

Pamela Covey

'The dog and his owner, part of a six-man crew, flew more than 30 bombing missions over occupied Europe and Nazi Germany. Flying with the dog was, of course, strictly against regulations. Nevertheless, Antis took part in missions, bringing inspiration to his crew. Twice, he was injured by flak. Nevertheless, the animal's nature and training saw him behave exceptionally.

As the bombing raids continued, rumours of Antis' existence began to spread. They were of course denied, even though the dog's story became something of an open secret. Eventually the truth came out. But rather than being an embarrassment for the RAF, Antis with Bomber Command became an inspiration for many.'

Jan Velinger Radio Prague

After the war, both airman and dog returned to Czechoslovakia, but following the communist coup in 1948, Bozdech was forced to flee, to avoid persecution, and he took Antis with him.

'The interdependence of this man and his dog appears again in an account of their perilous journey to reach the US Zone of Occupation in Germany. Reliance on Antis' intuition and courage saved Bozdech's life during the journey.'

Dr Tony Mansell, Royal Air Force Historical Society

'The author Hamish Ross has used interviews, private papers, archive material and Bozdech's own writings to craft an inspiring story. It deals with a little known aspect of the war, the Czechoslovakian contribution to the RAF, and weaves together the events in Czechoslovakia alongside the moving story of one man's relationship with a very special animal. The timeless themes of loyalty, separation, and ultimately, loss, are dealt with in a dignified and sincere manner without undue sentimentalism. Nonetheless, although Bozdech's life, and the events in Czechoslovakia, are interesting, the star is most definitely Antis.'

Sqn Ldr Paul Scott, RAF Spirit of the Air

'He was the most wonderful, staunch, courageous dog and the love between him and his master is truly awesome. And I defy anybody not to be moved by this story.'

Jilly Cooper

'Hamish Ross's narrative brings those timeless themes of loyalty, separation and loss to exciting, absorbing, poignant life.'

Companions - The Magazine of the PDSA

Antis and Bozdech after a training flight.

Aircrew comrades in arms.

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