A short history of the Czechoslovak Air Force in WW2 and the Post-War Period


by Marcel Ludikar

In 1938 the Czechoslovak Army Air Force was one of the most modern Air Forces of Europe, determined to fight in the threatened conflict for the freedom and integrity of its country. However, the morale of its personnel sank from the highest peak to the deepest depression when, by the Munich agreement, the great powers, Great Britain, France, Germany and Italy crippled Czechoslovakia and rendered it defenceless. Six months later, on l5tn March 1939, the remainder of the country was occupied by Hitler’s forces without a shot being fired.

On the last day of March the former Czechoslovak airmen left their stations and airfields for the last time to disperse to their homes. On one of the fighter stations, Major Alexander Hess bid his airmen farewell ending “… and I trust, as I know you and see you here in front of me, that we shall all meet again soon to fight our enemy as we have sworn on oath. I believe that we, airmen, have not yet lost our hope.” Many unit commanders spoke to their airmen in similar terms.

A few months later the first Czechoslovak airmen were crossing the borders into Poland, the next target for Hitler’s expansion. Soon there were a few hundred soldiers and airmen assembled in a camp for Czechoslovak refugees. They and many young men of military age, who came out of Czechoslovakia in order to fight the Germans, considered themselves from the beginning as military personnel and accepted the military organisation and command of senior Czechoslovak officers. Simply, they considered this a continuation of the Czechoslovak Army before its dissolution by the occupying German forces . As before the occupation, the Czechoslovak forces were apolitical but permeated with patriotism, sager to fight for the renewal of an independent Czechoslovakia. As before the occupation, the forces accspted the existing political leadership of the last president of free Czechoslovakia and other political leaders, and what was left of the Czechoslovak administration, i.e. the legations of the Republic (nowadays known as Embassies) which remained in France, Great Britain, Poland and the United States, who refused to recognise the German occupation of the country.

After Stalin and Hitler signed their non-agression pact, the Czechoslovak legation in Moscow was closed. The USSR recognised the so called Slovak Free State and the Czechoslovak ambassador had to hand over the Embassy and leave.

In the meantime the Czechoslovak Ambassador in France negotiated with the French government to transfer Czechoslovak soldiers from Poland to France and their service in the French Foreign Legion on condition that they would all be released from the Foreign Legion at the outbreak of war in order to form a Czechoslovak Army in exile. This had actually happened, the majority of Czechoslovak soldiers left Poland before the outbreak of the war and only those who arrived later remained in the camp under the command of Lt Col Svoboda, who later became General and finally President.

Except for a small number of airmen who were enrolled in the Polish Air Force, the rest of the military group withdrew before the advancing German armies eastward, split in two main sections. One managed to escape between the Russians and the Germans and reach Romania and eventually France. The other, under the command of Col Svoboda, fell into Russian captivity and its personnel remained POW’s until Hitler’s invasion of USSR in June 1941.

The Soviet government refused at first to allow them to leave the USSR but later permitted small parties, including airmen, to leave. Sir Stafford Crips, HM Ambassador in Moscow, reported to his government in this matter that there were financial difficulties as the Soviet government insisted on payment in US dollars only; (whether this was payment for their release or for their transport etc. is not disclosed in his message).

Meanwhile, in France after the outbreak of the war, the Czechoslovak ‘volunteers’ in the Foreign Legion were being formed. The airmen were however, sent to France squadrons and Air Force establishments pending the formation of Czechoslovak Air Force under an agreement between the French Government and the Czechoslovak National Committee dated 17th November 1939. Independent fighter, battle and bomber units were to be formed under the overall command of the French Air Force. Until the realisation of this agreement, Czechoslovak Air Force personnel were given at the disposal of the French Air Force authorities and the Czechs served in small groups in French squadrons. The establishment of Czechoslovak Air Force units was overtaken by events when the ‘real’ war started on 10th May 1939 and 110 Czechoslovak pilots in French units fought the Luftwaffe with outstanding success. They shot down 158 enemy aircraft, 19 were killed and 19 were injured . Six pilots serving with the French ‘battle’ formations took part in 70 operational sorties of a total 155 hours duration. Eight pilots serving with bomber units undertook 64 night operational flights of 255 hours duration. The remainder of the Czechoslovak Air Force personnel waited in the Czechoslovak Army depot at Agde, to be transferred to new Czech squadrons when Petain asked Hitler for an Armistice on 17th June 1940.

On the same day, 17th June 1940 at 11.50pm the following ‘Most Immediate’signal was sent by the Foreign Office to Sir R Campbell at Bordeaux: “Please pass the following message to General Ingr in command of the Czech Air Force (note: General Ingr was commanding the Czech Arrny in France) He is believed to be at Beziers. Message begins:

“Dr Beneš wishes you to instruct all Czech Air Force personnel to make for England as soon as possible. They should bring every single aeroplane possible. Pilots should fly to Andover where they are expected. They should avoid the defended areas of Southampton and Portsmouth. Those unable to come by aeroplane should proceed to port as advised by British Military Attache for evacuation ship. If possible, all stores that cannot be brought to England should be destroyed or rendered unserviceable. Ends.”

In view of the chaotic situation in France and the dispersal of Czech airmen not many, if any, received the above instructions, nevertheless it was clear to all that Britain was the natural sanctuary provided it was going to remain at war and willing to fight.

By the end of June the negotiations for the status of the Czechoslovak Forces in Britain were well advanced. President Beneš in his memoranda gave the strength of the Air Force in France as:

Czechoslovak Air Force Personnel:
Fighter pilots 208
Bomber pilots 90
Army co-op pilots 45
Observers 73
Gunners and Wireless Operators 27
Mechanics/inc fitters and
other ground personnel
281
Total 724
(of which 175 are officers)

The pressure of events of the summer of 1939 and the eagerness of both the Provisional Czechoslovak Government and the individual airmen to participate in the critical stages of the war disposed of a formal treaty between the British and Czech governments about the status and use of Czechoslovak Forces before their engagement in the war effort. All Czechoslovak airmen were enrolled in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, officers commissioned in the rank of Pilot Officer’and higher acting rank to fill established posts. The first Czechoslovak Fighter Squadron was formed at Duxford as early as 12 July 1940 and the second Fighter Squadron No 312 on 12 September 1940. No 311 Czechoslovak Bomber Squadron was formed at Honington on 29 July 1940. The third Fighter Squadron No 313 was formed on 27th July 1941 Pilots surplus to the establishment of the first three squadrons numbering about 100 were allocated to various RAF squadrons. A considerable number of volunteers from the Czechoslovak Army (ground forces) begun to be transferred to the Air Force, both as trainee aircrew and ground staff, as it was the Air Force that was to bear the brunt of fighting – and losses – in the foreseeable future.

AVM Karel Janoušek

The official Agreement between the Government of the United Kingdom and the Provisional Czechoslovak Government, signed on 25 October 1940, confirmed the employment of the Czechoslovak Air Force with Royal Air Force, the personnel being members of both the RAFVR and the Czechoslovak Forces, subject to the laws of both countries and disciplinary regulations of both forces. Any cost of maintaining the Czechoslovak Government came from credits granted by HM government. What mattered most to the Czechoslovak airmen was that the Czechoslovak flag was to fly, together with the RAF ensign, on all stations where a Czechoslovak Air Force in the RAF was established. The Czechoslovak Inspectorate was to be based in London, responsible to both the Air Ministry and the Czech Ministry of National Defence. General Air Commodore (late AVM and Air Marshal) Karel Janoušek was appointed Inspector. Operational control was vested in Royal Air Force operational Commands.

The three Czech Fighter Squadrons, 310, 312 and 313, first operating independently, then from lst May 1942 as a Wing, completed 28,335 operational flights of a total of 461,905 hours were credited with 68⅙ shot down enemy aircraft, 37 probable and 59.6 damaged and 4 V1’s destroyed. A Czechoslovak Flight of No 68 Squadron of Night Fighters flew 1,905 missions and was credited with 18½ enemy a/c destroyed, 5 probables, 7 damaged and 2 Vl’s shot down. Individual Czech pilots serving with other RAF squadrons were credited with 68 a/c destroyed, 14 probables and 45⅓ damaged. For operation “Overlord” the invasion of the continent of Europe starting with Normandy landing on 6th June 1944, the Czech Fighter Wing was allocated to the Tactical Air Force. The Wing maintained a maximum effort over enemy territory, flying 4 two hourly sorties on “D” day.The Wing moved to B-10 landing strip North of Caen three weeks after “D” day, to continue operations against the Germans.

Personnel for the Czechoslovak Bomber Squadron were at first assembled at RAF Cosford where they were sorted out according to their qualifications and their numbers were augmented by volunteers transferred from the Czech Army. They were then sent to RAF Honington for the formation of the Squadron, retraining and familiarisation with a new aircraft – the Wellington. The 311 Czechoslovak Bomber Squadron flew its first operation, a raid on the marshalling yards at Brussels, on 10th September 1940 from a satellite airfield of Honington, East Wretham where it remained until June 1942. During these two years in Bomber Command the Squadron flew 1,011 operational sorties over enemy territory of a total of 5,192 hours and dropped 1,218.375 kg of HE bombs and 52,925 kg of incendiary bombs*. Unfortunately the losses of life were considerable and, except for volunteers from the Czech Arrny and a few young men just finishing schooling in England, there were no areas from which to replace the losses. At the same time the situation especially that of Great Britain, became precarious by the mounting losses of shipping due to an increased activity of German U-boats. No 311 Squadron, together with othor British and allied squadrons, was transferred from Bomber to Coastal Command and allocated to No 19 group for anti-submarine and anti-shipping patrols in the Bay of Biscay.

After “D” Day and the clearing of French ports of the Germans, the Squadron was transferred to No 18 Group for the same task in the North Sea, patrolling the area from lceland to the Norwegian fiords and the Baltic Sea, where the Germans had their “U-Boat” training bases. During the Squadron’s allocation to Coastal Command it completed 2,102 operational flights of a total of 21,527 hours and was credited with 4 enemy a/c destroyed, 3 probables, attacked 35 U-Boats and 4 surface vessels.

Of the total of 511 Czechoslovak airmen who lost their lives in World War II in Poland, France and Great Britain, 273 were lost in 311 Czechoslovak Squadron. Of those 122 in Bomber Command, 126 in Coastal Command and 25 in operational training. Of 51 airmen taken POW, 34 were from 311 Squadron, amongst whom was F/Off A. Valenta, one of the 50 allied airmen shot on orders of Goering after the ‘Great Escape’.

Czechoslovak airmen also served and flew in other roles, mostly after completing or in between operations tours, e.g. in ‘Transport Command’and’Ferry Command’, Photo Reconnaissance, Air-Sea Rescue and last, but not least in No 138 ‘special Squadron’ dropping agents into enemy territory, including those into occupied Czechoslovakia.

Czechoslovak Airmen’s Memorial, Dejvice, Prague.

A group of 21 pilots released from the Royal Air Force left the UK on 2lst February 1944, under the command of Staff Captain S/Ldr F Fajtl, DFC to form the first Czechoslovak Air Force regiment in the USSR. This regiment fought in the Slovak uprising from primitive grass airfields and without the sophisticated aids to navigation and control they were used to in England. They fought bravely until the bitter end when the unit flew back behind Soviet lines with all serviceable machines. Those who could not be taken back joined the partisans in the mountains.

The end of the war found all the Czechoslovak Squadrons in readiness to move to their liberated country but a few days later Air Marshall Janoušek visited all Squadrons personally to explain that the move could not take place “for technical reasons”. Earlier in 1945 President Beneš and most members of the Czechoslovak Govemment in London left England for home via the USSR and a new government was formed in the Eastern part of Czechoslovakia liberated by the Soviet armies. This government included for the first time members of the Czechoslovak Communist Party.

Except for a quick visit to Prague by Air Marshal Janoušek, to discuss the return of the Czechoslovak Air Force, the first two aircraft allowed to return were two new Ansons required by the Czechoslovak Government for internal flights. The members of the two crews, all former members of 311 Squadron had strict orders to change their uniforms – the insignias, from the RAF to Czechoslovak – before embarking on the flight back to their home country on 10th June 1945, a whole month after the end of hostilities in Europe.

Crossing the Czech borders, both crews called Prague airfield on the known international frequency but no reply was received. Fortunately, the weather was clear and both landed safely to a traditional welcome of bread and salt after an absence of six years of war. The operator of the Prague MF/DF was in the welcoming crowd. He confirmed that the calls were heard clearly but stated that the Russians did not allow him to answer them. The crews brushed this incident aside as a minor one. They were happy to be home again but perhaps this was a foretaste of things to come.

Liberator aircraft of No 311 Squadron began ferrying personnel and stores of the Czechoslovak Government from London to Prague sometime in July, but Squadrons Nos 310, 311, 312 and 313 did not return home officially until August 1945.

311 Sqn return to Prague-Ruzýně on 18 August 1945.

Despite the fact that a triumphal march through Prague was arranged for the homecoming Air Force on a working Thursday afternoon, the inhabitants of Prague welcomed their airmen with real enthusiasm and love. It was clear however, that ‘Western’ Air Force was not a favourite of one part of the government of the new ‘People’s Democracy’. There was no animosity against the Russians amongst the airmen returning from England, on the contrary, the Russians were welcomed as liberators from the worst tyranny the Czechs and Slovaks had ever known. Many excesses of the Red Army were overlooked because of the feeling of gratitude and sympathy for their enormous losses during the war. For several months the CPCz [Czechoslovak Communist Party] benefited from the admiration of the people for the Russian war effort. However, it soon became apparent that the official Soviet and CPCz crude propaganda was not only denying the war effort of the other allies including that of the Czechoslovak Forces in the West but was gradually turning against them.

Nevertheless, for two and a half years following the war Czechoslovakia remained a multi-party limited democracy and the former RAF members and Army personnel from ‘the West’ were treated well. The war-time airmen were, after all, the only available specialists with up-to-date experience in flying and able to train new personnel. Those who were not demobilised and remained in the service were also eager to see their country and its forces back amongst the most modern and efficient in existence. It was, therefore fully accepted that they were dispersed and allocated to Military schools, Staff Colleges and units which could not function without their expertise. It was not in the regular airmen’s nature to question the absence of their war-time leaders in the posts of real power and command. Their war-time commander, Air Marshal, now again, General K Janoušek, KCB became the Inspector of the Air Force, a post not in the chain of command.

By a general agreement between the permitted political parties, the Ministry of National Defence was to be in the hands of an officer of no-party allegiance and that was officially General Sovoboda who returned to Czechoslovakia at the head of the Czechoslovak Forces from the USSR. However two very important new branches were created in the Czech forces and these were the ‘Enlightenment Branch’ and ‘Defensive Security Branch’ both almost entirely manned by known members of the CPCz. The ‘Enlightenment Branch’ was not an Education Branch as known to the former RAF members, but very thinly disguised Agitprop – or political commisars, as they were known in the Red Army. The other branch was much more sinister but, to their later regret, not taken very seriously by former members of the Air Force and Army who had not come across anything of that kind in their services either at home, or in the West during the war.

Those officers, NCO’s and airmen who did not spend the war abroad but had survived it under the Nazi occupation, some in concentration camps, were much more careful in expressing their views than their ex-RAF colleagues, However, nothing happened to anyone who argued with the ‘Enlightenment’ officer during a daily political education period. That is, not until February 1948, when General Svoboda joined the Communist party.

The Communist takeover of power in the coup of February 1948 was immediately followed by a direct assault on former members of the Czechoslovak wartime forces, first the ex-RAF, then the members of the Czechoslovak army in the West, as they were considered to have been influenced far too much by their surroundings and experiences during the war, and finally non-Communist members of the Czechoslovaks from the USSR who had seen too much during their service there. Within days of the coup, scores of officers and NCOs were dismissed as politically unreliable, either because of their known anti-communist views or because they were married to English girls.

Many of these started fleeing the country when they saw the writing on the wall. Some fled on foot across the borders to Germany, unfortunately were caught and jailed. Others left some with their families, in ‘borrowed’ aircraft and landed in Germany, Belgium, France and some made it directly to England. To the Czechs Great Britain was a natural refuge, not only because of the recent common fight against Germans but also primarily, because its ideals of democracy and humane approach to all problems were the same for which they themselves had fought and for which many had given their lives. Of those airmen who came to Britain, and there were several hundred, many were accepted back into the Royal Air Force. Others dispersed all over the world with the result that the ‘Free Czechoslovak Airforce Association Abroad’ had members not only in Europe but also in the USA, Australia, Brazil and South Africa.

Those who for various reasons did not or couldn’t go into exile for the second time paid dearly for their wartime past. They were considered unreliable, a threat to the revolution, many were arrested, sent to prison, to labour camps (mainly into mines) or so called rehabilitation centres. Even Colonel Fajtl, the Commander of the Czechoslovak fighter regiment in the USSR and other members of his unit were incarcerated in the ’50’s. In these years of terror and darkness, monster trials took place in which many officers were sentenced to death or life imprisonment. Among them General H Pika and Air Marshal Janoušek, the former was executed, the latter’s sentence was commuted to life of which he served 13 years.

Even though this bloody era eased off after a few years, no former member of the Czechoslovak Air Force was allowed to obtain employment in any other capacity than as a manual worker on the lowest pay. The authorities made their lives as difficult as they could. The veterans were not allowed to meet their wartime comrades. It happened, for instance, that the restaurant where they had arranged to meet closed at the last minute ‘due to an extra holiday for the staff’. And so they would meet at funerals or mainly on the occasions of the traditional commutation of the Battle of Britain at the British Embassy. Some of them would bring their old wartime uniforms in a suitcase, change on the premises and spend an hour or two in a surrounding where they were treated with respect and where their past was appreciated and not maligned.

Considering this iniquitous treatment of war heroes in their own country, it is quite unbelievable that Czechoslovakia was not ashamed to send her Ambassador annually with a wreath to the war memorial of Czechoslovak airmen in Brookwood in England, which they had the audacity to ‘adorn’with a red star and hammer and sickle.

Fortunately, these bad times are behind us. After the Velvet Revolution a reunion of Czechoslovak airmen was realised in England in 1990 and the following year airmen as well as soldiers from WW2 received ‘moral and political rehabilitation’ – a pity that many of them only in memoriam!

© Marcel Ludikar

Written in l988, updated in 2002

* Most statistics are taken from a Czech book “On the Western Front by Brod and Cejka who has access to documents of the Czechoslovak Air Force Inspectorate transferred from London to Prague in 1945. Messages, telegrams etc. were accessed from Public Records Office, Kew.




Posted in 310 Sqd, 311 Sqd, 312 Sqd, 313 Sqd, 68 Sqd, France, Information, Poland, Victim of Communism | Leave a comment

Josef Frantisek – 100th Anniversary



Obecní úřad Otaslavice připravil u příležitosti výročí narození plk. i.m. Josefa Františka vzpomínkové setkání, které se uskuteční v sobotu 4. října 2014.

The Municipal Authority of Otaslavice will commemorate the anniversary of the birth of Col.Joseph František on Saturday 4 October 2014.

8.30 – 09.00….Prezentace Hostů

Presentation of Guests

09:00 – 09:50….Bohoslužba v kostele, doprovodný program v mistě setkávání,

9:00 to 9:50 ….Church service and accompanying program,

10:00 – 11:00 ….Zahajovací program v místě setkávání průlet letounú,

10:00 to 11:00 ….Opening program including an aircraft flypast,

12:30 – 13:00 ….Pochod obcí k domu Josefa Františka,

12:30 to 13:00….Proceed to the the house of Josef František,

13:00……………Vzpomínka na Josefa Františka,

13:00……………Remembrance of Josef František,

14:00 …………..Prohlídka muzea Josefa Františka, doprovodný program – Sokolovna.

14:00 …………..Visit to the Museum of Josef František, continuing program at Sokol Hall.

Jménen všech organizátorů srdečně zve starosta obce Otaslavice

Ing. Rostislav Drnovský

On behalf of the organisers, Ing. Rostislav Drnobský, Mayor of Otaslavice, cordially invites you to attend.




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Tomas Vybiral medals finally presented


In November 2008 Generalmajor Tomáš Výbiral DSO, DFC, Croix de Guerre was awarded the Kříž obrany státu – Cross of National Defence by the Ministerstvo obrany České republiky [Ministry of Defence of the Czech republic] of the Czech Republic.

V listopadu 2008 Generálmajorovi Tomáši Vybíralovi DSO, DFC, Croix de Guerre, Ministerstvo obrany České republiky udělilo KŘÍŽ OBRANY STÁTU Ministerstva obrany České republiky.

On 2 July 2009 he was also awarded the Pamětní medaili k 90. výročí vzniku československé republiky – Medal to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Czechoslovak republic – again by the Ministerstvo obrany České republiky.

Dne 2. července 2009 Ministerstvo obrany České republiky, mu udělilo Pamětní medaili k 90. výročí vzniku Ćeskoslovenské republiky.

Sadly Tomáš Výbiral had passed away in 1981 and since that time his wife Gita Denise the opera-singer, and daughter Rosanna had also passed away in England. Thus there was no known family members of his for the medals to be presented to.

Bohužel, Tomáš Vybíral zemřel v roce 1981 a od té doby zemřelly, jeho manželka, operní zpěvačka i dcera v Anglii, Tak se nenašli žádní rodinní příslučníci, kteří by převzali udělená vyznamenání.

This was how the situation remained until January 2014 when finally after extensive searching his great-nephew, Gianfranco Barone, was found in Sicily.

Tato situace trvala až do ledna 2014, kdy byl po rozsáhlém a úsilovném pátrání nalezen na Sicilii jeho prasynovec, Giafranco Barone.

The logistics of presenting the medals to Gianfranco where coordinated between the Czech authorities in London and Prague and himself.

Logistika předání medailí Gianfrancovi , byla koordinovaná mezi příslušnými orgány České republiky v Londýně a v Praze, a jím samotným.

In June Gianfranco travelled to Prague for a family visit and also to received be presented with these medals on behalf of the Vybiral family. A warm welcome was received from Ing. Bacha and Colonel Stehlik at the Ministerstvo obrany České republiky, at Hradčany, Prague, where the medals, in an informal ceremony, were presented to him on behalf of the Tomáš Výbiral family.

V červnu Gianfranco přijel do Preahy na rodinnoui návštěvu a současně mu byla předána jako zástupci Vybíralovi rodiny, vyznamenání. Dostalo se mu vřelého přivítání od ing. Bacha a plukovníka Stehlíka na Ministerstvu národní obrany. České republiky. v Praze na Hradčanech, kde mu byly medaile v neformálním obřadu předány jako zástupci rodiny Tomáše Vybírala.

Gianfranco commenting, on behalf of the family:

Gianfranco jménem rodiny poděkoval:

“We would thank to all to made it possible, with a special mention to Lt/Col René Klapáč, at the Defence Office at the Embassy of the Czech Republic, London for his initiative to achieve this. We acknowledge it was not an easy task to find relatives to Gen. Výbiral, and very much appreciate the effort involved in this task, considering that it was something that could easily have been given up on. For the Výbiral family it is clearly evident that all the people involved where driven by passion and loyalty to an idea.”

“Chtěli bychom poděkovat všem, kteří pomáhali v hledání, zvláště Lt/Col René Klepáčovi na úřadu obrany velvyslenctví České republiky v Londýně. Jsme si vědomi toho, že to nebyl lehký úkolol, najít příbuzné generála Vybírala a velmi oceňujeme projevevenou snahu, když bylo tak lehké to vzdát. Pro Vybíralovu rodinu je jasné, že to byli lidé s vášní a věrností myšlence “.

Two days earlier he had attended the unveiling ceremony of the Winged Lion memorial in Prague and was thrilled to see the Spitfire flypast; an unknown sight in his native Sicily.

Před dvěma dny se zúčastnil slevnostního odhalení památníku Winged Lion v Praze a byl nadšený, když viděl průlet Spitfire, neznámý to pohled v jeho rodné Sicilii.




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Arnost Honzek


Sgt Arnošt HONZEK

* 14/11/20, Radvanice, Ostrava, Czechoslovakia.
† 15/05/14, England.

_______________________________________________________________

With sadness we must advise that

.

HONZEK Arnošt, 787968

WW2 312 Sqn Electrician I

died

15 May 2014, England.

_______________________________________________________________

15. května 2014 v Anglie

zemřel

HONZEK Arnošt, 787968

2. světové války 312 perutě Elektrikář I

_______________________________________________________________

Rest in Peace

Čest jeho památce

_______________________________________________________________




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Why I like the Czechs……


An British observation by F/Lt E.R. Wood who served as Education Officer, sometimes Intelligence Officer and and sometimes Adjutant with 312 Sqn during 1942/43 :

Britský pozorovatel F/Lt Er Wood, který sloužil jako školící důstojník, zpravodajský důstojník a v roce 1942-1943, pobočník velitele 312. perutě. a píše :

After nearly two years in a Czechoslovak Squadron I find myself wondering how we have put up with each other for so long and I have no wish to leave the Czechs. There is something likeable about them, and I’m not quite sure what it is.

Po téměř dvouleté službě v československé 312. peruti jsem se nevzájem seznámil s jejími příslušníky a nemám nejmenší přání opustit Čechy. Pozoroval, že je u nich něco sympatického a nebyl jsem si jistý, co to je.

It can’t be because they laugh so much more than the English – although they do – for I only rarely know what they are laughing at, so I cannot enjoy the fun. It isn’t because they sing so much better in their cups – though they do – for the Welsh sing still better sober, and yet I do not like the Welsh. It isn’t because they are such good chess players: that is rather a matter of grief and humiliation to me. It isn’t because we agree to despise English institutions as beef and two vegetables or apple and custard, because I find their own concoctions still worse and I pray that I may never see another “knedlik” as long as I live!. It isn’t because I admire their composers and writers – though I do – for most care no more about Dvořak and Čapek than we English care about Purcell and Shakespeare. I don’t like their language, which is a torment to me, nor do they care for mine, which they misuse so cruelly.

Nebylo to tím, že se smějí mnohem více, než umožňuje angličtina, i když, já jen málokdy vím proč se smějí, takže z toho nemám žádnou zábavu. Není to proto, že zpívají mnohem lépe při jejich pohárech – i když to – že Velšan zpívá lépe střízlivý, přesto se mi Velština nelíbí..Není to proto, že jsou tak dobří šachisté, to je spíš záležitost mého smutku z ponížení. Není to proto, že jsme se dohodli na opovrhování s anglickým jídlem, jako je hovězí se zeleninou, či jablky a pudingem, protože jsem našel své vlastní oblíbené jídlo a stále se modlím, abych mohl jíst “knedlíky”, až do konce života.. Není to proto, že se obdivuji jejich skladetelům a spisovatelům . i když jmne více oslovil Dvořák a Karel Čapek, než Angličané Purcell a Shakespeára. Nelíbí se mi jejich jazyk, který svojí složitostí mi způsobuje muka, což jim nevadí a krutě toho zneužívají.

They have round, genial faces and good teeth, and they are so strongly built and well-developed by Sokol exercise than I wonder why they play a girls’ game like volley-ball instead of a man’s game like Rugby and Football…… Many are alert and intelligent, well informed about international affairs, and some, but by no means all, are good democrats and fine recommendations for the land of Masaryk. It is obvious that the Czechoslovak republic had a high standard of education, physical, mental and social, and will that standard again.

Mají kulaté blahodárné tváře a dobré zuby. Sokolské cvičení přispělo k jejich dobré stavbě těla a vývinu svalů.. Zajímalo by mne, proč hrají dívčí hru, jako je volejbal, místo mužné hry, jako rugby a fotbal….. . Mnozí z nich jsou pozorní a inteligentní, dobře informovaní o mezinárodní politické situaci, a někteří, ne však všichni, jsou dobnří demokraté, z Masarykovi země. Je zřejmé, že v Československé republice je vysoká úroveń vzdělání, duševní a sociální a tělesné výchovy, což bude opět standartní.

But they are likeable for something deeper than this. Perhaps it is because they have such vigorous individuality. They have not been educated into one mould. The are not emasculated by gentility. They are not too well-bred to laugh uproariously, talk excitedly, show enthusiasm, expostulate, argue, jeer and wave their arms – in fact to be themselves. So they show up well beside the cautious English, who rarely let themselves go unless they are drunk, when they let themselves go too far.

Ale v jejich sympatické přitažlivosti je ještě něco hlubšího. Možná je to jejich energická osobnost. Jejich vzdělání není úzce zaměřeno jedním směrem v jedné formě. Nejsou to žádné oslabené noblesy.. Nejsou příliš dobře vychovaní, hlasitě se smějí, mluví vzrušeně, při domlouvání nezakrývají nadšení, dovedou argumentovat, vysmívají se a mávají rukama – ve skutečnosti jsou sami sebou. Tak se projevují i v opatrné angličtině. Zřídka nechají dojít k tomu, pokud se opijí, aby nezašli příliš daleko.

They show up well, too, besides their neighbours in Europe. They cultivate none of that musical-comedy, heel-clicking punctilio which please the female cinema-goer and befits a dancing-master. Nor do they show that theatrical arrogance which is counted virtue in some countries. The Czechs have too much solid commonsense, too strong a sense of ridicule for that.

Ukazují se v lepším světle, než jejich sousedé v Evropě. Přebírají výstupy z hudeních komedii a srážením podpatků jako taneční mistři, zaujmou a potěší ženy, v kinech. Ani jim není zatěžko používat divadelní zvyky, které se v některých zemích považují za cnost. Češi mají příliš zdravý rozum a dovedou si dělat legraci sami ze sebe.

Among the Czechs I have known many men of whom I shall never forget; some because they have been my friends and others because they were men of outstanding personality. I can think of no enemies. So it is not surprising that after nearly two years I have no wish to leave the Squadron.

Z Čechů jsem poznal hodně mužů, na které nikdy nezapomenu. Na některé, protože byli mými přáteli a na jiné, protože to byli muži, vynikajících osobnosti. Neměl jsem a ani si nedovedu přrdstavit, .že bych mezi nimi měl nepřátel, takže není divu, že téměř po dvou rocích nemám v úmyslu Squqdronu opustit.

Some time I will write an article about what I dislike about the Czechs, but it will be a much shorter article than this.

Před nějakým časem jsem se rozhodl napsat článek o tom, co se mi na Češích nelíbí, ale bude mnohem kratší než tento článek.

Alan Davie also a British member of 312 Sqn where he formed strong ties with the Czechoslovak airmen. Post WW2 he maintained his affinity to them and until his death was a respected authority on all Czechoslovak RAF matters.
His own observations :

Alan Davie, britský člen 312. perutě. si ve druhé světové válce vytvořil silné vazby s československými letci a udržoval s nimi přízeň až do své smrti. Pro své pozorování, byl uznávanou autoritou ve všech otázkách čechoslováků v RAF :

We admired them for their resource and adaptability and easy method of settling soon to new situations – borne, no doubt of their experiences in various other countries and war operational conditions prior to coming to Britain – to be regarded as the last bastion. Their creative instincts and manual faculties kept them busy and invariably cheerful. If found silent they would be invariably cooking up some new move.

Obdivovali jsme se jejich zdrojům přizpůsobivosti a snadnému přizpúsobení se nové situaci – a není pochyb o tom, co v různých zemích ve válečných podmínkách prožili, než přišli do Velké Británie – kterou považovali za poslední baštu. Jejich tvůrčí instinkty a manuální schopnosti je stále zaneprazdňovali.a vždy byli veselí. Pokud jsou potichu,, vždy se vaří nějaký nový pohyb.




Posted in 312 Sqd, Information | 3 Comments

RAF Memorial, Isle of Tiree



At precisely 1:25 pm 16 August 2014, exactly 70 years after the accident, a memorial was unveiled at Tiree airport to commemorate the 16 RAF airmen who were killed in a tragic accident involving the collision of two Halifax aircraft – ”M’ LL186 and ‘S’ LL296 – both of 518 Sqn over the airfield at 1:25 pm 16 August 1944.

Dne 16. srpna 2014, přesně 70 let po nehodě. byl na letišti Tiree, odhalen pomník na památku 16 letců RAF, kteří přišli o život při tragické nehodě, kolizi dvou letounů Halifax -“M” LL 186 a “S” LL 296 – a od 518 perutě, na letišti 16. srpna 1944 v 13.26 hod.

The instigator of memorial was Ken Organ, the son of F/O Kenneth William Organ, the Captain of Halifax ‘M’ LL186. Local doctor Dr John Holliday and Mike Hughes, the co-authors of ‘Tiree War among the Barley and Brine’ provided invaluable assistance in during the two years of research and planning for the memorial whilst Colin Woodcock of Tiree based Blue Beyond, dealt with its project management. G/Capt Bob Kemp RAF (ret’d) provided help with the military protocol aspects of the memorial.

Podnět k stavbě památníku dal Ken Organ, syn F/O Keneth William Organa, kapitána Halifaxu “M” LL186. Místní lékař Dr. John Holliday a Mike Hughes se spoluautory ´Tiree war among the Barley and Brine´ kteří, poskytli neocenitelnou pomoc v průběhu dvouletého výzkumu a plánování stavby památníku. Colin Woodcock z Tiree ´Blue Beyond, se zabýval přípravou a vedením projektu a G/Kapitán Bob Kemp RAF, poskytoval pomoc s vojenským protokolem, povolení stavby.

Attending the ceremony was Antonín Hradilek Deputy Ambassador of the Embassy of the Czech Republic, London, families of the fallen airmen, local dignitaries, representatives of the Air Forces of Australia, Canada and the UK, the memorials project team and many Tiree residents.

Slavnostního shromáždění se zúčastnili náměstek velvyslance Velvyslanectví České republiky v Londýně, rodiny padlých letců, místní hodnostáři, představitelé vzdušných sil Austrálie, Kanady a Velké Británie. projektový tým památníku a mnoho obyvatel Tiree.

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The poignant ceremony was opened with a speech by Ken Organ who then unveiled the memorial. Following a short remembrance service, wreaths were then laid by Antonín Hradilek, representing the Czech Republic, representatives of the Lord Lieutenant of Argyle and Bute, representatives of Canada, Australia, families of the sixteen airmen and local dignitaries and well wishers.

Dojemnou ceremónii zahájil svým projevem Bob Organ, který pak odhalil památník. Po krátkém vzpomínkovém tichu, pak položili věnce Antonín Hradílek, zastupující Českou republiku, reprezentantů Lordu, nadporučíci Argyle a Bute, zástupci Kanady, Austrálie, rodin 16 letců a místních hodnostářů.

Many of those attended then stopped at nearby Island House, where Halifaxe ‘S’ LL296 had crashed and a minutes silence was observed.

Mnozí z účastníků se zastavili v nedalekém v domě Island House, kde Halifaxe ‘S’ LL296 havaroval a památku zemřelých letců poctili minutou ticha.

They then continued to the Soroby Burial Ground, where the six members of the two aircrews are interred, for a short service and further wreaths were layed.

Potom se skupina odebrala na hřbitov Soroby, kde je pochováno šest členů obou posádek a po krátké vzpomínce, byly položeny na jejich hroby další věnce.

The group then returned to the airport where refreshments were served. The days events concluded in the evening when many attended the Community Hall for a social gathering, refreshments culminating in a musical performance by three Tiree musicians and singer.

Potom se vrátili na letiště, kde bylo připravené pohoštění. Celá akce byla ukončena ve večerních hodinách, kdy se mnozí zúčastnili společenského setkání v sále “Společenství pro společenská setkání, kde bylo připraveno občerstvení a společenská akce kulminovala hudebním vystoupením tří hudebníků a zpěvačky z Tiree.

So what is the Czechoslovak connection with this memorial?

Co spojuje Československo s tímto památníkem?

The airmen with the very unCzech sounding name – Léonard Revilliod – is the connection.

Co velmi spojuje Leonarda Ravillioda s letci s názvem un Czech.

He was actually a Swiss citizen, but whose mother Olga Garrigue Masaryk was the daughter of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, the first President of the newly formed Republic of Czechoslovakia in 1918. He was re-elected again in 1920, 1927 and 1934, resigning from office, at the age of 85 on 14 December 1935 on the grounds of old age and poor health. Tomáš Masaryk was amongst the first political leaders in Europe to voice concern about the rise to power of Hitler in Germany.

Byl to vlastně švýcarský občan, jehož matka Olga Garrigue Masaryk byla dcerou prezidenta Tomáše Garriguea Masaryka, prvního prezidenta nově vzniklé Československé republiky 1918 a byl opětně zvolen prezidentem v roce 1920, 1927 a 1934. Ve věku 85 let, 14. prosince 1935, z důvodu stáří a zhoršeného zdravotního stavu se vzdal prezidentského úřadu. Tomáš Masaryk byl jedním z prvních politických vůdců v Evropě, který vyjádřil znepokojení nad zvyšujícím se vlivem a silou Hitlera v Německu.

Shortly after her father became President, Olga met the eminent Swiss physician Dr Henri Revilliod, they married and lived in Geneva. Léonard, their second son, was born 26 July 1922 at Montreux, Switzerland, his brother Hubert born a year earlier. Both sons were were sent to the Collège Calvin a prestigious public school in Geneva for their secondary education, with Hubert commencing his final year when war was declared in September 1939. When Germany invaded France on 10 May 1940, their rapid advance caused concern to Olga as Czechoslovakia was now a Reich Protectorate. She contacted the Philipp Etter, President of the Swiss Council, the Federal Government of Switzerland, to ensure that her sons would be regarded as Swiss citizens in the event of a German invasion of Switzerland. The President advised her that if Hitler invaded Switzerland, he could not guarantee anything. On the advise of her elder brother Jan Masaryk, now Foreign Minister for the Czechoslovak Government-in-Exile, in London, Olga quickly left Geneva by train on 19 May 1940 and managed to travel through a chaotic war-torn France to reach England.

Krátce poté, co se její otec stal prezidentem, Olga se seznámila s vyznačným švýcarským lékařem Dr. Henri Revilliod, uzavřeli manželství a žili v Ženevě. Jejich druhý syn Léonard se narodil 26. července 1922 v Montreux ve Švýcarsku. Jeho starší bratr Hubert se narodil o rok dříve. Oba synové byly vysláni ke studiu na Collége Calvin, prestižní veřejné škole v Ženevě, aby získali středoškolské vzdělání. Hubert studoval posledním rokem, když v září 1939 byla vyhlášena válka a 10. května 1940 Německo napadlo Francii. Okupace Československa a vytvoření Protektorátu Čechy a Morava, a rychlý postup německých vojsk Olgu znepokojil a proto se obrátila na předsedu Rady Švýcarské spolkové vlády se žádostí, aby její synové v případě německé invaze do Švýcarska, byli považováni za švýcarské občany. Prezident ji sdělil, že pokud Hitler napadne Švýcarsko, nemůže nic zaručit. Na radu svého staršího bratra Jana Masaryka, v té době ministra zahraničí československé exilové vlády v Londýně, Olga rychle opustila Ženevu a vlakem dne 19. května 1940, v chaotické situaci ve Francii, odjela do Anglie.

Léonard, passed his entrance exams to Edinburgh University where he studied Economics, International Law and Political Science and graduated in June 1942. Now aged 20, he wanted to join the RAF. Being a Swiss citizen he contacted the Swiss Embassy, London regarding this intention, who refused to give him permission on the grounds of Swiss neutrality and advised him that if he did join the RAF and survived the war that he would face charges and be brought to justice if he returned to Switzerland.

Leonard složil přijímací zkoušky na Universitu v Edingburgu, kde studoval ekonomii, mezinárodní právo a politologii. Absolvoval roce 1942 a ve věku 20 let chtěl vstoupit do RAF. Protože byl švýcarským občanem, obrátil se na Švýcarské velvyslanectví v Londýně se žádostí o povolení tohoto záměru. Švýcarské velvyslanectví mu na základě švýcarské neutrality jeho žádost zamítlo a upozornilo jej, že v případě, že by vstoupil do RAF, přežil válku a vrátil se do Švýcarska, bude v zájmu spravedlnosti čelit obvinění.

Despite this disturbing news, it did not deter Léonard; he joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve and initially underwent his basic training. He was selected for pilot-training and posted to 26 EFTS [Elementary Flying Training School] at Theale, he passed his basic flying training course on 23 October 1942. He was then posted to Canada for further training; initially to 33 EFTS at Caronport, completing on 20 March 1943, then to 32 SFTS [Service Flying Training School] at Moose Jaw, graduating on 15 May 1943 and then to 31 GRS [General Reconnaissance School] at Charlottetown completing the training in September 1943. Léonard was then posted to Nassau, Bahamas for operational training, on course 17, with 111 OTU which he completed on 19 March 1944.

Ani tato znepokojivá zpráva Leonarda neodradila, vstoupil do RAF Volunteer Reserve a zpočátku vykonal základní výcvik. Po ukončení základního výcviku byl vybrán pro pilotní výcvik a vyslán do 26EFTS (Elementáry Flying Training School) na Theale. Po ukončení základního kurzu výcviku v létání 23. října 1942, byl vyslán do Kanady pro další vzdělávání. Původně k 33 EFTS na Caronport a dne 20. března 1943, pak do 32 SFTS (Service Flying School) v Moose Jaw, kterou absolvoval 15. května 1943 a poté nastoupil do 31. GRS (General Reconnaissace školy) v Charlottetown, kterou absolvoval v září 1943 a potom byl vyslán do Nassau, na Bahamách k 17. a 111. OTU, na provozní výcvik, který ukončil 19. března 1944 a vrátil se do Británie v hodnosti P/O s předpokládaným vysláním do (československé) 311. perutě RAF.

Halifax V

He returned to Britain at the rank of P/O, and anticipated being posted to 311 Sqn (Czechoslovak) RAF. However he was posted to 1674 HCU [Heavy Conversion Unit] at Longtown, Northern Ireland where he trained to fly four-engined Halifax aircraft. He successfully completed his this training on 30 June 1944 and again anticipated a posting to 311 Sqn.

Byl však vyslán do 1674 HCU (Heavy Conversion Unit) na Longtown, v Severním Irsku, kde absolvoval letecký výcvik na čtyřmotorovém letadle typu Halifax. Výcvik a školení ukončil 3. června 1944 a očekával vyslání do 311. perutě RAF.

Instead he was posted to 518 Sqn, a meteorological squadron, based at the Isle of Tiree, in western Scotland and equipped with four-engined Halifax Mk V aircraft, one of its crew would be a meteorological observer. Their role was to fly reconnaissance flights, usually 8 to 10 hours long, some 700 miles out into the North Atlantic and north-west to Iceland during which the meteorological observer would taking readings, at pre-set locations and altitude; measurements such as temperature and barometric pressure, these readings were vital weather forecasting aids in planning the strategic air offensive over enemy and enemy occupied territory. in June 1944, D-Day – the Allied invasion of Europe – was postponed for 24 hours as a small improvement in an incoming weather front had been observed by 518 Sqn aircraft.

Místo toho byl zařazen do 518. perutě, meteorologické letky, založené na ostrově Tiree v západním Skotsku, vybavené čtyřmotorovými letadly typu Halifax MK V. Jeden z členů posádky byl meteorologickým pozorovatelem. Jejich úkolem bylo, provádět průzkumné lety počasí, obvykle v délce trvání letu 8 až 10 hodin, asi 700 mil do severního Atlantiku a severozápadně Islandu. Během kterého meteorologický pozorovatel by při měření ve stanovené výšce prováděl odběr, měření teploty a barometrického tlaku, což byly velmi důležité hodnoty pro stanovení předpovědi počasí, důležitého pro plánování strategické letecké ofenzivy na okupované území nepřítelem. V červnu 1944, to bylo upřesnění D-Day – zahájení spojenecké invaze do Evropy- který byl odložen o 24 hodin, na základě pozorování malého zlepšení v nastávajícím počasí, zjištěného pozorováním letadla 518. perutě.

Léonard’s role, in the aircrafts eight man crew, was co-pilot flying these patrols but, in correspondence to his family, it was evident that he was frustrated and deeply disappointed at what he saw as a non-active role. On three separate occasions he requested to be posted to a Czechoslovak RAF squadron where he considered that he could have a more active participation in the Allied war effort. Unfortunately however before his requested posting was approved he died in a tragic accident; he was 22 years old.

Leonard jako co-pilot létal na hlídky v letadlech s osmičlennou posádkou. Z korespondence s rodinou bylo zřejmé, že byl frustrovaný a velice zklamaný tím, že může hrát ve válce jenom neaktivní roli. Při třech oddělených příležitostech, žádal, aby byl vyslán k 311. československé peruti RAF, kde se domníval, že by se mohl více aktivněji zapojit do spojeneckého válečného úsilí. Bohužel ještě dříve, než byla jeho žádost kladně vyřízena, zemřel při tragické nehodě ve věku 22 let.

So what happened?

Tak co se stalo?

On 16 August 1944 Léonard, now at the rank of F/O and with 136 flying hours to his record, was co-pilot of Halifax ‘S’, serial number LL296, for a flight test prior to an operational patrol, ironically he was standing-in for the usual co-pilot of that crew who was sick. The Halifax took-off at 13:04 and was Captained by P/O Turner and had achieved 554 flying hours experience. His was an experienced crew of several nationalities consisting of 4 Britons, 2 Australians a Canadian and 1 Swiss.

16. srpna 1944, Leonard v hodnosti F/O, co-pilot Halifaxu “S”, pořadové číslo LL 296, prováděl letovou zkoušku před operační hlídkou. V záznamu o letecké činnosti měl 136 nalétaných hodin. Ironii je, že bylo obvyklé, aby letovou zkoušku prováděli oba piloti ze stejné posádky, ale pilot Halifaxu byl nemocný a proto byl letoun řídil P/O Turner, který byl zkušený a měl celkem nalétáno 554 hodin. Osádka letounu se skládala ze 4 Britů, Australana, 2 Kanaďanů a Švýcara.

Another 518 Sqn Halifax ‘M’, serial number LL186, had taken-off from RAF Tiree at 13.04 also for an air test prior to a night operational patrol. Captained by P/O K W Organ, a very experienced pilot with had 685 flying hours experience, and a newly assembled crew, comprising of 6 Britons and 2 Canadians.

Jiný Halifax “M” 518 perutě, pořadové číslo LL 186, dostal od RAF v Tiree, ve 13.04 hod., povolení vzletu pro zkoušku před noční hlídkou. Letoun řídil zkušený P/O K. W. Organ, který již měl 685 letových hodin, s nově sestavenou posádkou, skládající se z 6 Britů a 2 Kanaďanů.

Weather conditions at that time were that the cloud base was down to 300 feet with a visibility of about 7 miles and a 10 mph south westerly wind.

V té době byly povětrnostní podmínky: spodní základna oblačnosti 300 stop a dohlednost asi 7 mil, vítr směr od západu k jihu a síla 10 Mph.

A miscommunication by Flying Control resulted in both aircraft entering the airspace, over the airfield, at the same time. There had been no radio contact contact with Halifax ‘M’ for 10 minutes and when contact was received, the aircraft position given was assumed to be a mistake. Halifax ‘S’ had been given permission to land and was flying along the line of the runway at an altitude of 400 feet. At 13:25 pm, about half a mile from the end of the runway Halifax ‘M’ broke through the patchy clouds heading directly towards Halifax ‘S’. P/O K W Organ desperately attempted evasive action by throwing ‘M’ violently to starboard. But was too late and a head-on collision was unavoidable; its starboard wing hit the port wing of Halifax ‘S’, causing both aircraft to burst into flames and partially disintegrate prior to crashing to the ground, LL296 by Island House and the surrounding Loch An Eilean and LL186 at Crossapol beach. On impact, both aircraft were immersed in flames with aircraft debris being scattered over a large area. All aboard being killed.

Nedorozumění s letovou kontrolou mělo za následek vlétnutí obou letadel do vzdušného prostoru nad letištěm ve stejnou dobu. S Halifaxem “M”, letištní kontrola neměla rádiové spojení 10 minut a když bylo navázané rádiové spojení, tak se předpokládalo že udání polohy letadla je chybné. Halifaxu “S” bylo uděleno povolení k přistání a letěl podél RWY vzletové a přistávací dráhy v nadmořské výšce 400 metrů. V 13.25 hodin, asi půl míle od konce dráhy Halifax “M” vylétl z nejednotných mraků a směřoval k Halifaxu “S”. P/O K. W. Organa, který se zoufale pokoušel o úhybný manévr prudkým náklonem Halifaxu “M” na pravobok. Ale bylo již příliš pozdě a čelní srážka byla nevyhnutelná. Jeho křídlo narazilo do plochy křídla Halifaxu “S”, LL296, který začal hořet a v okolí ostrovních domů a okolí Loch An Eilean uvolněné trosky letadla padaly na zem, a z Halifaxu LL186, na pláž Crossapol. Při nárazu byly oba letouny v plamenech a jejich trosky byly roztroušeny na velké ploše. Všichni na palubách obou letadel přišli o život.

Initially all 16 airmen were buried at Soroby Burial ground on 30 August 1944, but after the war nine were reinterred to other burial grounds at the request of the airmen’s families.

Původně bylo všech šestnáct letců 30. srpna 1944 pohřbeno na hřbitově Soroby, ale po válce, na žádost rodin letců, u devíti byla provedena exhumace a byli převezeni na jiná pohřebiště.

The subsequent RAF Court of Inquiry into the accident cleared both pilots for the accident and recommended flying procedural changes to be undertaken at RAF Tiree.

Při následném vyšetřování nehody a soudu bylo zjištěno, že oba piloti nehodu nezavinili a bylo doporučeno provést změny v řízení letového provozu RAF na letišti Tiree.

The assistance of Antonín Hradilek Deputy Ambassador of the Embassy of the Czech Republic, London, Alan Millar and Ken Organ with this article is much appreciated.

Velice si ceníme pomoci při přípravě tohoto článku, zástupce Velvyslanectví České Republiky v Londýně, Antonína Hradílka, Alana Millara a Kena Organa.




Posted in Biography, Ceremony, Memorial, Not Forgotton | Leave a comment

Congratulations to Miroslav Liskutin



Many congratulations to

Moc gratulujeme

Miroslav Liškutín

Miroslavu Liškutínovi

who celebrates his 95th birthday on 23rd August 2014.

k 95. narozeninám, kterých se dožívá 23. srpna 2014.

Miroslav served as a pilot in 312 Sqn during WW2.

Miroslav byl ve druhé světové válce pilotem 312. perutě.

At 95 years young, Miroslav is in reasonable health despite the demands of being a grandfather and great-grandfather – much easier being in a Spitfire!

V devadesáti pěti letech je stále svěží a těší se dobrému zdraví, je dědečkem a pradědečkem – což je hodně jednodušší, než být ve Spitfire!




Posted in 312 Sqd, Congratulations | 6 Comments

Ladislav Zadrobilek – Debden Burning aircraft



W/O Ladislav Zadrobílek recalls his fatefull flight on 14 March 1942 with 111 Sqn, when his Spitfire Mk Vb R7192, JU-Y crashed into Spitfire BL429 JU-E flown by his squadron C/O S/Ldr Brotchie :

It was a lovely spring day. Debden airbase was very busy as usual during the war, I would not suspect, that this particular day would will be fatal for me. The whole day was devoted to practise flying in the squadron. This time I was appointed to lead the last section. Squadron Commander S/Ldr Brotchie was always normally leading the first section, but this time was leading the section before me. First section got airbourne, followed by the second one and the third section started to roll. I prepared for take-off and waited for my two numbers to format on me on the runway. When I checked their position, no. 2 Sgt Boyle signalled to me with a thumb, that everything is alright and I may take-off.

S/Ldr Brotchie

Number 2 could see further along the runway than myself, because view ahead from stationary Spitfire is obstructed. That is the procedure done always before, do far there was not a starter on airfields who would give clearance for take-off. I have decided to take-off. When I began to accelerate and the tail was raised, I could see ahead of me and to my horror I realised, that the section in front of me for unknown reason has stopped on the runway ahead. There was not other possibility than to use full power and try to jump over the aircraft ahead. My number 2 and 3 realised from their side positions the obstruction earlier and turned off the runway on the grass.

My aircraft left the ground – actually I pulled it off the ground, but it was not enough to clear the aircraft ahead, so with full power I hit the aircraft. There was a terrible crash and in a moment I was in the middle of a fire-wall. Both aircraft became entangled and my aircraft finished in a vertical position above the number in front. I was lucky, that I was always properly fastened in my seat. I was not therefore thrown ahead and injured. I quickly loosened the straps, opened the cabin and jumped through the flames from the aircraft on the ground an rolled away from the aircraft. My clothing was burning but quickly arrived mechanics extinguishing this fire. I suffered burns on face and neck, but the leader S/Ldr Brotchie in the crash was burned to death. Even now I still see it in fron of me. It was terrible. It was all happening in parts of a seconds. Despite my obvious shock I have managed to action quickly, what was necessary. So I managed to get out of the aircraft probably in two seconds. This was the only possibility in the circumstances to save the life. During these exciting moments and with and with all routine activities I imagined in front of my eyes my own funeral.

After the crash I was immediately transferred to base sick quarters for first aid. Karel Zouhar came to see me there. After first aid treatment I was moved to hospital in Cambridge, where I was treated until 24th March 1942. I was mainly burnt on face around the left eye and partly around the right eye. I was obviously trying to avoid the flames by turning head to right and this resulted in burns even on the neck around the flying helmet. The helmet covered the forehead, ears and hair. Microphone covered the nose, mouth and other parts of the face. Otherwise my burns could have been much worse. Due to heat the helmet tightened on the head and it was difficult to remove it. An English Intelligence Officer visited me in hospital and sadly commented on my bad luck. Czechoslovaks had a good name at 111 squadron.

They cared for me in the hospital very well and smeared me continuously with some yellow ointment. I did not know myself how badly I am burned and how I look. In the next bed was an injured Canadian and after a few days in the hospital I asked him to lend me a mirror. At first he refuse, but later he lent it to me. The burns looked very nasty and the injured parts were oozing. At the airbase, immediately after the crash I could still see, but later I was worried that my eye-sight might be damaged. Three days later small gaps opened between the eye-lids, through which I could see the light again and later even the surroundings. The burns have caused initially heavy swelling, which caused reduced vision, but swelling was slowly disappearing.

On 24th March 1942 I was transferred to the RAF hospital Ely, about 24 km from Cambridge, to a special department for the burnt people. They used for the treatment also a special bath with salted water. They even washed me with this salted water before every treatment. Then followed the treatment with yellow ointment and the new bandage. They apparently experienced, that the airmen burned before jumping by parachute into the sea, have healed earlier.

In the bed next to me was treated for burns Bohous Vavererka, from 311 Czech bomber squadron, who was saved from the burning aircraft and survived the war, only to burn to death with the whole crew of Liberator, which crashed on 5 October 1945 on return to the homeland. Another example of cruel fate of the wartime man, surviving the war but dying tragically on return home. One of his visitors in the hospital was my friend from my Czech village, Franta Buliš, who later on 18 October 1942, burned with 13 members of the crew of Wellington near Northolt airfield.

I stayed in hospital nearly 6 weeks, during which time I saw many patients suffering from light to very complicated burns. Many boys did not survive their burns. A fire in the aircraft was the worst possible experience of the airmen. The burns may be painful, but could be survived. Much worse are usually their consequences.

I was released from the hospital on 27 April 1942. I returned to 111 squadron to a hearty welcome. They were very happy that I have survived and can fly again.

I started flying on 1 May 1942. My first take-offs were rather difficult. I had visions of the terrible crash, which I experienced. Before my eyes was a fire-ball, in which I was. It is very difficult to describe my feelings. During my initial take-off’s, when I was already lined-up for take-off, I turned slightly my aircraft to confirm that runway was clear.

At this time there was still no starter controller at this airfield, who would give permission to take-off on request.

After a few flights I regained my self-confidence, security and internal peace-of-mind. So I continued normal flying with the squadron as necessary. My last flight at 111 squadron was on 8 May 1942.

In May 1942 I was invited to RAF Hornchurch, where I was decorated by President Dr E Beneš with my second War Cross. I met there also my friends from other Czech squadrons – Karel Zouhar, Karel Čap, Ota Hrubý and Stanislav Fejfar, who soon afterwards was missing from a sweep over France.

I was then transferred to 313 squadron at Fairlop near London. Squadron Commander was S/Ldr Karel Mrázek. There I was involved in 5 flights, two of them operational. One was the escort of Hurri-bombers to St Omer and second was a convoy escort. My last flight was on 20 May, a weather test arranged by F/Lt František Vancl.




Posted in 313 Sqd, Autobiography | 1 Comment

Not Forgotten – Midlands


Map key: Cemetery: Town:
1 West Bromwich, (All Saints Churchyard Extension) West Bromwich
2 Penn Fields (St Philip) Wolverhampton
3 Donnington (St. Cuthbert Churchyard) Donnington
4 Wellington General Cemetery Wellington
5 Stoke-upon-Tern (St Peter Church Cemetery) Stoke-upn-Tern
6 Market Drayton Cemetery Market Drayton
7 Scropton (St Paul Churchyard) Scropton
8 Cranwell (St. Andrew Churchyard) Cranwell


Staffordshire

1. West Bromwich, (All Saints Churchyard Extension), West Bromwich.

Historical Information:

No dedicated CWGC section at this cemetery but scattered amongst the civilian graves are 6 RAF graves from WW2 and 19 Army graves from WW1 and WW2.

_______________________________________________________________

MAŇÁSEK Miloslav Bedřich, 21, Sgt, 311 Sqn, Flight Engineer.


* 01/11/22, Slavonský Kobaš,Yugoslavia .

† 13/07/44, nr Bold Head, Devon.

Liberator crashed into hill in fog on return from submarine patrol in Western approach to English Channel.

Grave ref: Jubilee Extn. Grave 1895.

A symbolic urn was returned to Prague Olšanský, 1945.


_______________________________________________________________

Location Information:

Address: West Bromwich (All Saints Churchyard Extension), Newton Rd, West Bromwich, West Midlands B71 1RU‎.
GPS Location: 52°32’1.56″N 01°58’58.92″W
Map Location: View

_______________________________________________________________

2. Penn Fields (St Philip), Wolverhampton.

Historical Information:

The cemetery has 39 military graves scattered within its grounds from all three services from both WW1 and WW2. Six of the graves are for RAF airmen from WW2.

_______________________________________________________________

HAŇKA Václav, 22, F/Lt, 311 Sqn, Navigator.


* 07/11/19, Sokolnice, Brno.

† 18/10/42, Uxbridge, Middx.

Accident on transit flight from Northolt to Talbenny, Wellington T2564 crashed ½ mile east of Northolt, all onboard killed.

Grave ref: Jubilee Extn. Grave 1895.

A symbolic urn, no. 170 was returned to Prostějov, 1945.


_______________________________________________________________

Location Information:

Address: Penn Fields (St Philip), 130 Church Rd, Wolverhampton, West Midlands WV3 7EJ.
GPS Location: 52°34’14” N 2°9’29” W
Map Location: View

_______________________________________________________________

Shropshire

3. Donnington (St. Cuthbert Churchyard), Donnington.

Historical Information:

Donington (St Cuthbert) Churchyard contains only two First World War burials but during the Second World War, there was a Royal Air Force Station at Cosford, Albrighton, and most of the 23 war burials from this period are of airmen and women. Four Polish and two Czechoslovak airmen are also buried here.

The churchyard also contains 43 post war service burials, most of them RAF.

_______________________________________________________________

DRNEK Miroslav, 23, LAC, 2 SFTS, Pilot Trainee.


* 26/10/17, Blovice, Plzeň.

† 21/07/41, Wolverhampton.

Training flight in Oxford Mk1, on returning to Brize Norton, crashed into houses in Pousen Avenue, Wolverhampton.

Grave ref: Row 13. Grave 6.

A symbolic urn was returned to Plzeň, 1945.


_______________________________________________________________

MELENA Josef, 23, LAC, 2 SFTS, Pilot Trainee.


* 09/02/18, Prague.

† 21/07/41, Wolverhampton.

Training flight in Oxford Mk1, on returning to Brize Norton, crashed into houses in Pousen Avenue, Wolverhampton.

Grave ref: Row 13. Grave 6.

A symbolic urn was returned to Prague Olšanský, 1945.


_______________________________________________________________

Location Information:

Address: Donnington (St. Cuthbert Churchyard), Rectory Rd, Albrighton, Wolverhampton, Shropshire WV7.
GPS Location: 52°38’22.17″N 02°17’1.85″W
Map Location: View

_______________________________________________________________

4. Wellington General Cemetery, Wellington.

Historical Information:

Wellington General Cemetery was begun in 1875, and belongs to the Wellington (Salop) Burial Joint Committee. It contains twelve War Graves.

_______________________________________________________________

KLOBOUČNÍK Josef, 30, F/O, 68 Sqn, Pilot.


* 10/03/11, Vienna, Austria.

† 22/10/41, High Ercal, Wellington.

Killed when Beaufighter R2029 crashed at Poynton Green, Shropshire for reasons unknown.

Grave ref: Grave 0713 B.

A symbolic urn was returned to Prague, 1945.


_______________________________________________________________

KLVÁČEK Josef, 30, Sgt, 68 Sqn, Navigator/Radar Operator.


* 01/03/16, Hodolany, Olomouc.

† 22/10/41, High Ercal, Wellington.

Killed when Beaufighter R2029 crashed at Poynton Green, Shropshire for reasons unknown.

Grave ref: Grave 0728 B..

A symbolic urn was returned to Ostrava, 1945.


_______________________________________________________________

Location Information:

Address: Wellington General Cemetery), Linden Ave, Wellington, Telford, TF1.
GPS Location: 52°41’47.78″N 02°31’25.95″W
Map Location: View

_______________________________________________________________

5. Stoke-upon-Tern (St Peter Church Cemetery), Stoke-upn-Tern.

Historical Information:

The cemetery has 36 military graves from both world wars all of which are connected to the nearby RAF Ternhill airfield. Nine of the graves are RFC from WW1. The WW2 graves include airmen from Britain, the Commonwealth as well as Czechoslovakia, France and Poland.

_______________________________________________________________

ČÁP Miroslav, 24, Sgt, 6 OTU, Pilot.


* 03/06/19, Humpolec, Pelhřimov.

† 17/06/43, Kelsall, Cheshire.

Accident during a training flight.

Grave ref: Row J. Grave 307.

A symbolic urn, no. 188 was returned to Prostějov, 1945.


_______________________________________________________________

Location Information:

Address: Stoke-upon-Tern (St Peter Church Cemetery), Warrant Rd, Market Drayton, Shropshire TF9.
GPS Location: 52°51’1″ N 2°32’7″ W
Map Location: View

_______________________________________________________________

6. Market Drayton Cemetery, Market Drayton.

Historical Information:

No dedicated CWGC section at this cemetery but scattered amongst the civilian graves are 28 WW1 and WW2 graves.

_______________________________________________________________

KESTLER Oldřich, 28, Sgt, 605 Sqn, Pilot.


* 18/03/13, Čižice, Klatovy.

† 07/04/41, Ternhill.

Killed in collision with Sgt Josef Martinec during a training flight in Hurricane IIa Z2318.

Grave ref: Sec. A.F. Grave 103.

A symbolic urn, no. 203 was returned to Prostějov, 1945.


_______________________________________________________________

MARTINEC Josef, 25, Sgt, 24 MU, Pilot.


* 19/07/15, Rychnov nad Kňežnou.

† 07/04/41, Ternhill.

Killed in collision with Sgt Oldřich Kestler during a training flight.

Grave ref: Sec. A.F. Grave 104.

A symbolic urn was returned to Hradec Králové, 1945.


_______________________________________________________________

Location Information:

Address: Market Drayton Cemetery, Cemetery Rd, Market Drayton, Shropshire TF9 3BD.
GPS Location: 52°54’16.29″N 02°29’29.86″W
Map Location: View

_______________________________________________________________

Derbyshire

7. Scropton (St Paul Churchyard), Scropton.

Historical Information:

The cemetery holds 17 WW2 graves in its CWGC section. All are airmen who had been undergoing flight training with 27 OTU at nearby RAF Church Broughton.

_______________________________________________________________

FANTA František, 27, F/Lt, 27 OTU, Pilot.


* 10/11/14, Chlum, Kutná Hora.

† 13/10/42, Church Broughton, Derby.

Grave ref: Extn. Grave 101.

A symbolic urn, no. 240 was returned to Prostějov, 1945.


_______________________________________________________________

HRALA Jozef, 27, F/Sgt, 27 OTU, Pilot.


* 21/02/15, Bánovská Kesa, Nové Zámky.

† 13/10/42, Church Broughton, Derby.

Grave ref: Extn. Grave 103.


_______________________________________________________________

JELÍNEK Rudolf, 27, Sgt, 27 OTU, Air Gunner.


* 09/04/15, Lomnice nad Popelkou, Semily.

† 13/10/42, Church Broughton, Derby.

Grave ref: Extn. Grave 102.

A symbolic urn, no. 207 was returned to Prostějov, 1945.


_______________________________________________________________

MUCHA Miroslav, 22, Sgt, 27 OTU, Navigator.


* 31/01/20, Ivančice, Brno.

† 13/10/42, Church Broughton, Derby.

Grave ref: Extn. Grave 102.

A symbolic urn was returned to Brno, 1945.


_______________________________________________________________

OBŠIL Václav, 27, P/O, 27 OTU, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner.


* 28/09/15, Pňovice, Olomouc.

† 13/10/42, Church Broughton, Derby.

Grave ref: Extn. Grave 104.

A symbolic urn was returned to Ostrava, 1945.


_______________________________________________________________

TÜRKL Emil, 20, Sgt, 27 OTU, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner.


* 24/08/22, Děčín.

† 13/10/42, Church Broughton, Derby.

Grave ref: Extn. Grave 105.

A symbolic urn, no. 211 was returned to Prostějov, 1945.


_______________________________________________________________

Location Information:

Address: Scropton (St Paul Churchyard), 165 Scropton Rd, Scropton, Derby, Derbyshire DE65 5PS.
GPS Location: 52°52’7″ N 1°42’49” W
Map Location: View

_______________________________________________________________

Lincolnshire

8. Cranwell (St. Andrew Churchyard), Cranwell.

Historical Information:

Cranwell has been a flying training centre since the First World War when the Admiralty requisitioned 2500 acres of the Earl of Bristol’s estate in November 1915, to create the Royal Naval Air Service Central Training Depot. Since then the aerodrome has been taken over by the Royal Air Force and the RAF Staff College is at Cranwell.

The graves of 25 First World War airmen will be found on the northern side of the church. The churchyard was used between the wars for RAF burials and during the Second World War the RAF plot, in the eastern part of the churchyard, was used for service burials not only from Cranwell RAF station but from others also, including Finningley and Binbrook.

Cranwell (St Andrew) Churchyard contains 25 Commonwealth burials of the First World War and 58 from the Second. There are also four Polish and three Czechoslovak war graves.

_______________________________________________________________

KAŠPAR Antonín, 26, P/O, 1 SS, Pilot.


* 14/01/15, Velké Svatoňovice, Trutnov.

† 10/07/41, Cranwell, Lincs.

Killed in a training flight accident at Cranwell.

Grave ref: Plot 2. Row C. Grave 18.

A symbolic urn, no. 159 was returned to Prostějov, 1945.


_______________________________________________________________

KRAJINA Emanuel, 25, F/O, 1 SS, Pilot.


* 01/06/15, Třebíč.

† 23/02/41, Sleaford, Lincs.

?? .

Grave ref: Plot 2. Row C. Grave 16.

A symbolic urn was returned to Brno, 1945.


_______________________________________________________________

VOCETKA František, 27, F/O, 1 SS, Pilot.


* 11/04/13, Prague.

† 07/02/411, Cranwell, Lincs.

?? .

Grave ref: Plot 2. Row B. Grave 16.

A symbolic urn was returned to Prague, 1945.


_______________________________________________________________

Location Information:

Cranwell is a village three miles north-west of Sleaford, west of the A15 to Lincoln along the B1429. The churchyard is on the north side of this main road through the village.

Address: Cranwell (St. Andrew Churchyard), Sleaford Rd, Cranwell Village, Sleaford, Lincolnshire NG34 8DD.
GPS Location: 53°2’13” N 0°27’40” W
Map Location: View

_______________________________________________________________




Posted in Cemetries, Not Forgotton, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Polish Air Force Memorial Ceremony 2014

The Annual Commemoration of Fallen Polish Airmen will take place
on Saturday, 13th September, 2014, at 12.00,
at the Polish Air Force Memorial, Northolt.

To mark the 70th Anniversary of the Warsaw Rising, for the first time wreaths will be laid by the descendants of airmen who lost their lives flying supplies to the Home Army during the Rising. Wreaths will also be laid by representatives of the Polish and British governments, local authorities, the Polish Air Force and the Royal Air Force. Veterans of individual squadrons or their descendants will lay wreaths for each Polish squadron that flew alongside the Royal Air Force from 1940 to 1945.

The replica of the wartime Standard of the Polish Air Force will be paraded and the ceremony will also feature a fly-past by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, a detachment of Officer Cadets from the Polish Air Force Academy, Dęblin, trumpeter and drummer from the Central Band of the RAF, and the band of the Middlesex Wing of the Air Training Corps. Young people from the various Polish schools in London, in addition to the Polish Scouts and Guides, will also take part.

On Sunday 14th September at 12.00 Holy Mass will be offered at the Garrison Church of St Andrew Bobola, 1 Leysfield Rd, W12 9JF.

The Memorial is situated at the junction of the A40 and the West End Rd., Ruislip. The nearest Underground is South Ruislip. The ceremony will be conducted in both English and Polish and everyone is welcome to attend.

Dress: uniform, lounge suit or equivalent; descendants are encouraged to wear inherited medals on the right side of the jacket.

_______________________________________________________________

Czechoslovak pilots Josef FRANTIŠEK, Matěj PAVLOVIČ, Wilhelm KOSARZ [[Vilém Košař] and Wladyslaw UHER [Vladislav Uher], who has no known grave, are commemorated on this Memorial.

.

.

František, Pavlovič and Kosarz flew with 303 Polish Fighter Squadron “Kościuszko” which was the highest scoring RAF Sqn in the Battle of Britain. This squadron became the most famous of the 16 Polish Squadrons in the RAF in WW2.

Josef František, Matěj Pavlovič and Wilhelm Kosarz were three of the infamous ‘Český čtyřlístek’ – the Czech cloverleaf – from the short Polish campaign of September 1939. Of this quartet, only Josef Balejka was to survive the war. All four had been awarded the Krzyż Walecznych – the Polish Cross of valour, Poland’s highest military decoration, during this campaign.

Pavlovič was awarded his Polish War Cross on 19 September 1939 and is believed to be the first medal awarded to a Czechoslovak airmen in WW2. For his remarkable achievements in the Battle of Britain, František was awarded three more Krzyż Walecznych.

'Český čtyřlístek'
The Czech cloverleaf

Top left – Pavlovič, top right – Košař, bottom left – Balejka and bottom right – František.

_______________________________________________________________




Posted in Ceremony, Events, Poland | Leave a comment