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 :

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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 :

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.

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


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



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



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



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

The Dog Who Could Fly

The US market release of Damien Lewis’s ‘War Dog’ is now released.

Also available as a audio-book, narrated by Derek Perkins, which was released on 10 June 2014.

Details of ‘War Dog’ and a review are here and here.

Posted in 311 Sqd, Biography, Books | Leave a comment

The Other Side Of Brookwood

Na druhé straně Brookwoodu.

Many visitors to Brookwood cemetery are familiar with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission [CWGC] section where 5,072 Commonwealth fallen from the two World Wars are interred. Their headstones, all neatly laid out, are always a sobering sight for the visitors; the shape of the headstones identifying the service and nationality of the dead. Alongside these Commonwealth graves are nearly another 800 from countries including the USA, while others are from countries occupied by the Germans during WW2 like France, Belgium, Holland, Poland and Czechoslovakia. There is even Italian and German sections and a small Chinese section from WW1.

Návštěvníci na hřbitově Brookwood jsou Komisí Commonwealth War Graves (CWGC) seznámováni se sekcí, kde je pohřbeno 5072 Commonwealth, (příslušníků Společenství), padlých ve dvou světových válkách. Jejich základní kameny jsou úhledně rozloženy. S tvarem náhrobků, jménem, služebním zařazením a národností, vytvářejí střízlivý pohled pro návštěvníky. Vedle těchto hrobů společenství, je téměř 800 hrobů padlých z ostatních zemí, včetně USA. Zatímco jiní jsou ze zemí okupovaných Němci ve druhé světové válce, jako jsou Francie, Belgie, Holandsko, Polsko a Československo. Jsou tam také malé oddíly Italské a Německé a v čínské části, malý oddíl z 1. světové války.

But just outside the CWGC cemetery, by the RAF shelter building, there is also a very military looking area – the Czechoslovak ex-Servicemen’s plot, where now nearly 100 Czechoslovak military headstones are neatly laid out.

Mimo CWGC hřbitova a budování přístřešku RAF, je plocha podobná vojenskému hřbitovu, na níž je téměř 100 československých přehledně upravených vojenských pomníků zemřelých, bývalých československých válečných veteránů.

A closer look.
Bližší pohled.

An initial glance over this plot shows that they all have the distinctive Czechoslovak military headstones, but a closer look highlights some interesting points.

Na první pohled se zdá, že všichni mají výrazné československé vojenské pomníky. ale při bližším pohledu jsou vidět určité odlišnosti.

For example, some headstones show RAF ranks, whilst others show British Army ranks, some even show both a British rank and a Czechoslovak rank. Many of the ranks are high; G/Cpt [Group Captain], W/Cmdr [Wing Commander], and S/Ldr [Squadron Leader] are seen amongst the RAF airmen, and Lt/Col [Lieutenant Colonel] and Capt [Captain] amongst the Army graves. The Czechoslovak ranks show that there are many generálmajors [Major General; the 3rd highest Czech and Slovak military rank], a brigadiergeneral [Brigadier General; the 4th highest Czech and Slovak military] and numerous plk’s [plukovník] the 5th highest Czech and Slovak military rank].

Na příklad, některé náhrobky jsou stejné jako RAF, zatímco jiné jsou podobné britské armádě. Na některých jsou dokonce britské a československé hodnosti. mnohé z nich jsou vysoké: Mezi letci RAF: G/Cpt (Group Captain, W/Commander) (Wing Commander) a S/Ldr (Squdron Leader), a Lt/Col. (podplukovník) a Capt. (kapitán), mezi hroby armády. Podle československých řádů, jsou hodnosti, plk. (plukovník), generálmajor, generál poručík, generál plukovník a nejvyšší, generál armády (armádní generál).

Not only are there men interred here but women as well. Many of the headstones show a significant range of medals. On the RAF side there are two Distinguished Service Orders [DSO], eight Distinguished Flying Crosses [DFC], four Air Force Crosses [AFC] and two Distinguished Flying Medals [DFM] while on the Army side there is a further DSO and two Military Crosses [MC]. Some graves show that the person had been awarded the French Croix de Guerre, ten of which have been awarded to the airmen and soldiers here. Other graves show the British MBE, a civilian decoration awarded to two people.

Pohřbeni jsou zde muži i ženy. Na náhrobcích jsou uvedena různá vyznamenání. Na straně RAF jsou dvě vysoká vyznamenání za Zásluhy DSO Service Orders [DSO], a osm Distinguished Flying Cross [DFC], (Záslužný letecký kříž), a čtyři Force Kříže [AFC], Letecké kříže a dva Distinguished Flying medaile [DFM], (Záslužné letecké medaile).]. Na straně armády je DSO Řád za zásluhy a dva vojenské kříže. Na deseti hrobech je uvedeno francouzské vyznamenání Croix de Guerre, na dvou hrobech je uvedeno britské civilní vyznamenání MBE (Member of the British Empire), Člen britské říše.

A noticeable absence on these headstones is any mention of any Czechoslovak medals even though the majority of those interred here had been awarded them. In many cases these were valour medals awarded for the bravery by the recipient.

Na náhrobcích je nápadná absence zmínky a případných československých vyznamenáních, i když většině zde pohřbených, jim bylo uděleno. V mnoha případech se jednalo o medaile za statečnost.

Some of the headstones have a few words about the person such as ‘Parachutist’, ‘Designer of the Bren Gun’, ‘Hero of the Soviet Union’, ‘One of the Few’ or ‘Battle of Britain pilot’. On the subject of Battle of Britain pilots, eight of the 88 Czechoslovak Battle of Britain pilots are interred here, the largest number anywhere in the world. The symbolic grave of one other Czechoslovak Battle of Britain pilot is also here; Jaroslav Sterbacek has the dubious honour of being the first Czechoslovak to be killed in RAF service in WW2.

Na některých náhrobcích je několik slov o osobě, jako například “Parašutista”, designer Bren Gun”, “Hrdina Sovětského svazu”, jeden z mála, nebo ” Pilot Bitvy o Británii”. Osm z 88 československých pilotů, kteří se zúčastnili Bitvy o Británii. Uveden je zde také pilot Josef Štěrbáček, který jako první z československých pilotů, zemřel ve službě RAF za druhé světové války.

So why are there two Czechoslovak military cemeteries?
Tak proč jsou tam dva československé vojenské hřbitovy?

Within the CWGC cemetery are the graves of 48 Czechoslovak RAF airmen, 45 by the Czechoslovak Memorial, 3 others amongst other RAF graves opposite the RAF building. These 48 are Czechoslovaks who were killed during WW2 whilst in RAF service. Their graves are rightly cared for by the CWGC and an excellent job their gardeners do to maintain those graves.

Na CWGC hřbitově jsou hroby 48 československých letců v RAF. 45 u československého Památníku a 3 další mezi jinými hroby RAF, naproti budově RAF. Jedná se o Čechoslováky v RAF padlé ve druhé světové válce. O jejich hroby pečuje správa CWGC a práce na jejich údržbě a zachování vykonávají zahradníci.

For Europe, the Second World War ended on 8 May 1945, but the Czechoslovaks who had served in the RAF in WW2 were not permitted to return to their homeland by its Russian ‘liberators’ until mid-August 1945. Those Czechoslovaks serving in British Army experienced the same restriction. Initially, on their return to their homeland they were regarded as victors and heroes by the people of Czechoslovakia. Many now had British wives and children and, after some six years away, looked forward to rebuilding their lives in their liberated homeland.

V Evropě druhá světová válka skončila 8. května 1945, ale Čechoslovákům, kteří sloužili v RAF, bylo dovolen ruskými “osvoboditeli”, návrat až v polovině srpna 1945. Se stejným omezením návratu do vlasti se setkali Čechoslováci sloužící v britské armádě. Z počátku po svém návratu do vlasti, je lidé v Československu považovali za hrdiny a vítěze. Mnozí z nich po šesti letech pobytu ve Velké Británii založili rodiny a za manželky měli britské ženy a těšili se na nový život ve své osvobozené vlasti.

However, that was soon to change as the Russian ‘liberators’ were imposing Communist control of the country. A few of the returned Czechoslovak airmen and soldiers became uneasy about these political changes and decided that they should instead return to England and rebuild their lives there. Some experienced paperwork and administration difficulties from the Communists authorities before they were finally able to leave.

Tyto naděje se brzy rozplynuly, protože ruští “osvoboditelé”, nastolili u nás komunistickou moc. Několik československých letců a vojáků vrátivších se do vlasti bylo touto situací a změnami znepokojeno a rozhodli se i s rodinami k návratu do Anglie. Komunistické úřady jim v administrativními potížemi odchod znemožňovaly, ale nakonec jim povolily odejít.

The Communist putsch of February 1948 dramatically changed life for these ex-servicemen in Czechoslovakia, with many being degraded by being dismissed from the nation’s Army and Air Force, stripped of their Czechoslovak military rank and Czechoslovak medals and permitted to do only unskilled, manual work. To the Communists these men represented a capitalist and military threat and needed to be removed from Czechoslovak society. Many were arrested on triumped-up charges of ‘anti-state’ activities and sentenced to many years of imprisonment in hard-labour prisons like Mirov, Bory and Leopold or the uranium mines like Jachymov where conditions were severe. There was the additional irony that amongst their fellow prisoners were German military, including SS personnel – the very people that the Czechoslovak RAF and soldiers in the west had been fighting against for the freedom of their homeland during WW2.

Komunistický puč v únoru 1948 dramaticky změnil život bývalých Československých zahraničních letců a vojáků bojujících ve druhé světové válce v západních armádách. Stali se nepohodlnými a mnozí byli propuštění ze služby v armádě a u letectva. Byly jim odnímány vojenské hodnosti a vyznamenání z druhé světové války a povolena jim byla jen nekvalifikovaná, málo placená, ruční práce. Pro komunisty se tito mladí muži stali kapitalistickou a vojenskou hrozbou a proto byli odsunutí až na samý okraj společnosti. Mnozí z nich byli zatčeni a odsouzeni k mnoha letům vězení jako je Mírov, Bory a Leopoldov a do pracovních táborů v uranových dolech, Jáchymov, kde byly velmi těžké pracovní podmínky. Další ironii bylo, že ve věznicích a v uranových dolech byli vězněni spolu s příslušníky SS a Německé armády, proti nimž ve druhé světové válce v RAF a západních armádách bojovali.

Some, with their wives and children, managed to escape to the west; their second time of going into exile. As Josef Bernat, a F/Lt with 311 Sqn, was later to say when in exile: “we left our homeland in 1939 so that we could fight for its liberation from its enemy, the Nazi occupiers. After February 1948 we were now the enemy of our homeland!”. Many managed to cross the border to the American Zone of Germany; some were unsuccessful and were captured by Czechoslovak border guards. Their capture inevitably meant long harsh prison sentences for themselves and usually reprisals against their families.

Některým z nich, stejně jako Josefu Bernátovi F/Lt, 311 perutě se podařilo v rámci jejich druhého exilu s manželkami a dětmi uniknout na západ. Josef Bernát se v exilu později vyjádřil: ” V roce 1939 jsme odcházeli do exilu proto , abychom mohli bojovat za osvobození své vlasti od nepřítele, nacistických okupantů. Po únoru 1948 jsme se stali nepřítelem naší vlasti”. Mnoho se jich pokusilo o překročení státní hranice do americké zóny v Německu. Někteří však byli u státní hranice zachyceni československou pohraniční stráží a byli uvězněni a často s nimi i rodinní příslušníci, odsouzeni k dlouhodobým tvrdým trestům odnětí svobody.

Some of the airmen managed to escape by flying to the west, either taking a aircraft from a military airbase or hijacking one during a commercial flight. Once in the west they would claim political asylum and try and rebuild their lives yet again. Many of these exiled airmen and soldiers then re-settled in England or elsewhere in the world.

Některým letcům se podařilo s letadly z vojenských základem a nebo komerčními, uletět na západ, kde žádali o politický azyl a pokusili se znovu pracovat a žít na západě, případně založit rodinu. Mnozí z těchto exulantů bývalých zahraničních letců a vojáků se opět usadilo v Anglii nebo v jiných. nekomunistických zemích světa.

These exiled Czechoslovak airmen and soldiers were a close-knit community who shared their suffering and experience in the autumn years of their lives. By the early 1980s they were now in their fifties or sixties and had been unable to return to their homeland – and probably never would. This is why on some of the headstones there are some English surnames as some of the Czechoslovaks had adopted Anglicised surnames in their new homeland. An example is Viktor Kent’s headstone who served in the RAF as Stanislav Vydrář.

Od začátku roku 1980, mnozí z těch, kteří odešli na západ v padesátých a šedesátých letech – a již nebyli schopni se vrátit do vlasti přijali v nové vlasti poangličtění jména a příjmení a to je důvod, proč na některých náhrobcích jsou některé anglické příjmení. Například na náhrobku bývalého příslušníka RAF Stanislav Vydrář, je nápis Viktor Kent.

It was a time when things looked very different from today. The Prague Spring had passed into history and there seemed little chance of Czechoslovakia becoming a democratic State again.

Bylo to v období odlišném od současné doby. Pražské jaro bylo násilně potlačeno a vešlo do dějin a zdálo se, že je málo pravděpodobné, aby se Československo stalo opět demokratickým státem.

During that Communist era the Czechoslovak Memorial at Brookwood provided a dual symbolic role. One was the remembrance of the Czechoslovak airmen and soldiers who died for the liberation of their homeland during WW2. The second was to add irony to the official ceremonies, by the Czechoslovak Embassy in London and visiting Czechoslovak State dignitaries of its Communist regime that were held there. The commemorative wreaths they laid would be adorned with the Communist Red Star and the ‘Hammer and Sickle’ symbol! In their homeland the comrades of those airmen interred by that memorial were being persecuted by the Communist regime, yet at Brookwood the dignitaries of that same Communist regime was paying tribute to the Czechoslovak airmen and soldiers who had fallen during the war.

Během této éry komunismu československý Památník na hřbitově Brookwood měl dvojí symbolickou roli. Jednou z nich byla vzpomínka na československé letce a vojáky, kteří zemřeli za osvobození své vlasti ve druhé světové válce. A druhou ironickou, byly oficiální ceremonie, které zde pořádalo velvyslanectví v Londýně pro hostující československé státní hodnostáře komunistického režimu. Pokládané pamětní věnce zdobily symbolicky Rudé hvězdy se “srpem a kladivem”. V Československu však pod jejich vedením byli spolubojovníci těchto padlých letců a bojovníků pronásledováni komunistickým režimem. Na Brookwoodu pokrytecky vzdávali tito komunisté hold československým letcům a vojákům padlým ve druhé světové válce.

Ve jménu Československých vojáků, letců a dalších bojovníků za svobodu svého národa, protestujeme proti dalším barbarským činům páchaným stranou a vládou, kterou zastupujete.

Tresty uložené lidem, kteří nesouhlasí s některými vašimi ‘pokrokovými’ idejemi a mají odlišné názory, jako jsou Nechanský, Černý, armádní generál Janoušek a mnoho dalších, dokazují jak nejistým musí být režim který, aby se udržel u moci, musí používat síly a represe.

Pane Velvyslanče, nemůžeme Vám zabránit v oficiální návštěvě hrobů našich kamarádů, kteří položili své životy v boji proti nacistickému utlačiteli národních a lidských práv a jejich spolubojovníků, kteří uprchli z vlasti před pronásledováním vašim režimem.

Doufáme však, že až budete stát u jejich hrobů, uvědomíte si, jak velký je rozdíl mezi ideály socialismu a jejich uskutečňování v praxi, kterou zastupujete. Možná skloníte svou hlavu.

Wg. Cdr. T. Vybíral, DSO, DFC, předseda

This letter by W/Cmdr Tomas Vybiral DSO, DFC, Croix de Guerre, written during that time, illustrates the depth of feeling about this duplicity . Despite being exiled in the west there was still patriotic defiance – even if it was only limited to passive action – amongst the Czechoslovak airmen and soldiers who had fought against the Nazis in WW2 and were now facing the new enemy of Communism in their homeland.

Uvedený dopis W/Cmdr, velitele Wingu, Tomáše Vybírala DSO, DFC, CroisDe Guerre, který napsal v té době, ukazuje hloubku pocitu této dvojakosti. Přesto, že v exilu na západě mezi československými letci a vojáky z druhé světové války to byl ještě vlastenecký vzdor – i když omezený pouze na pasivní akci, čelící ve své vlasti novému nepříteli – komunismu.

Vladimír Soukup

One man in particular had a vision – the exiled Czechoslovak ex-servicemen should seek an opportunity to somehow perpetuate that patriotic and defiant spirit. That man was Vladimir ‘Šula’ Soukup, a former 312 Sqn pilot and, at that time, Chairman of the Free Czechoslovak Air Force Association.

Zvláště jeden muž měl vizi – jak udržovat mezi československými letci a vojáky z druhé světové války, vyhnanými z Československé republiky,- vzdorný a vlastenecký duch. Tímto mužem byl Vladimír “Šula” Soukup, bývalý pilot 312. Sqn., v té době předsda Svazu letců svobodného Československa.

At the time of the Czechoslovak ex-Servicemen’s plots inception, the current dividing fence between the CWGC and the civilian area of Brookwood had not been put in place and thus the civilian and military cemeteries appeared as one. The impact of the site at its inception was quite pronounced. The Czechoslovak Memorial on the military side had the insignia of the Czechoslovak Lion, the national symbol of Czechoslovakia, so the symbolic relationship between the two Czechoslovak areas stood out significantly.

V té době českoslovenští veteráni zakoupili parcelu k založení pohřebního místa pro zemřelé. Aktuální dělící plot mezi CVGC (vojenskou částí) a civilní částí, na hřbitově Brookwood, nebyl zaveden a civilní i vojenská část hřbitova se jevily jako jeden hřbitov. Při svém vzniku, zakoupená pohřební část pro zemřelé československé veterány, ovlivnila výrazně tuto část hřbitova. Národní symbol Československa, Československý památník na vojenské straně měl odznak československého lva a tak symbolický vztah mezi těmito dvěma částmi, Československé oblasti vystupoval zvlášť výrazně.

Karel Vrdlovec

At that time all Czechoslovak memorial ceremonies held at Brookwood, organised by the Czechoslovak Embassy, London, who represented the Czechoslovak Communist authorities in their homeland, took place by the Czechoslovak Memorial in the CWGC section. The new and expanding Czechoslovak ex-Servicemen’s cemetery, a mere 100 metres away, was ignored by them.

V té době všechny československé pamětní ceremonie organizované československým velvyslanectvím, které zastupovalo orgány KSČ se konaly u Památníku v Československé sekci CWGC Brookwood. Nově rozšířený hřbitov pro zemřelé bojovníky letce a vojáky, kteří bojovali ve druhé světové válce za osvobození své vlasti, je vzdálen pouhých 100 m od sekce padlých letců a vojáků. Komunističtí účastníci ceremónii u Památníku padlých Československých letců, sekci zemřelých letců a vojáků ignorovali.

Ironically this new Czechoslovak cemetery had become in a sense the last monument, in long line of monuments, that the exiled Czechoslovak airmen and soldiers, men and women had actually raised money for around the country to ensure that the memory of the soldiers and airmen did not disappear. Notable memorials were the Memorial plaque, at the Czech Club in London, to commemorate the Czechoslovak airmen who were killed in WW2. Also in 1968 the parachute fountain at Leamington Spa to commemorate the town’s links with the Czechoslovak Army parachutists some of whom were later members of Operation Anthropoid; the assassination in Prague of Nazi General Reinhard Heydrich – ‘The Butcher of Prague’.

Paradoxně se tento nový československý hřbitov stal v jistém smyslu v dlouhé řadě památek, poslední památkou československých exilových letců, vojáků, mužů a žen, kteří sháněli peníze, po celé zemi, aby zajistili, že letci a vojáci z paměti nezmizí. Pozoruhodnými památníky byla pamětní deska na památku československých letců, kteří byli zabití ve druhé světové válce na českém klubu v Londýně. V roce 1968 to byl padák na fontáně v Leamington Spa na památku československých parašutistů, z nichž se později někteří stali členy operace atentátu Anthropoid v Praze na nacistického říšského protektora Reinharda Heydricha – “Řezník z Prahy.”

Miloslav Kašpár

The issue was particularly important on the military side where the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia had expunged much of their exploits from the nation’s history books.

Tato otázka byla zvlášť důležitá po stránce vojenské, kde komunistický režim z učebnic dějepisu vymazal z dějin Československa hodně svých činů.

Soukup received support for his vision from Miloslav Kašpár, a former Czechoslovak Army Intelligence Staff Officer and now President of the Association of Czechoslovak Legionnaires Abroad, and also Karel Vrdlovec the secretary of that Association. For others within the exile Czechoslovak military community their initial response to the proposed vision was slightly skeptical. However, once the project started to take shape that initial reaction soon diminished.

Soukup získal pro svou vizi podporu od Miroslava Kašpara, bývalého československého armádního štábního zpravodajského důstojníka, nyní prezidenta Svazu československých legionářů a Karla Vrdlovce, tajemníka této asociace. Ostatní části exilového vojenského společenství byly k navrhované vizi mírně skeptické. Když se však projekt začal rýsovat, jejich počáteční skeptická reakce se snížila.

Soukup was very much the driving force within the project; he lived in nearby Wokingham and had found the site at Brookwood cemetery. At the time the site was just derelict rough ground covered in overgrown brambles.

Soukup byl v rámci projektu důležitou hybnou silou. Žil v nedalekém Wokinghamu a našel na hřbitově Brookwood vhodný, v té době opuštěný a neudržovaný pozemek, zarostlý ostružiním.

Jiři George Šnabl-Scott

He subsequently became involved in the various legal steps to secure a long term lease for the site. The purchase of this was funded by collections made at the annual general meeting at the Czech Club and donations solicited from the exiled Czechoslovak communities around the world. Vladimir Šponář and Viktor Kent, both former RAF airmen and now successful businessmen, significantly assisted on this aspect of the project.

Později provedl různé potřebné právní kroky k zajištění dlouhodobé nájemní smlouvy tohoto pozemku. Finanční prostředky kzajištění pozemku byly získány rozhodnutím z fondu Českého klubu a dary výroční valné hromady získané od exilových československých komunit na celém světě. Vladimír Šponar a Viktor Kent, aby bývalí letci RAF se stali úspěšnými podnikateli, a výrazně finančními prostředky pomohli realizovat projekt.

The Brookwood ex-Servicemen’s Trust was formed and four Trustees appointed: Vladimir Soukup and Miloslav Kašpár, representing airmen and soldiers respectively; Fr. Jan Lang, padre to the Czechoslovak exile community, at Velehrad, London and himself also a victim of communist persecution; and Dr George Scott the son of Jiři Šnabl, now anglicised as Jiři George Šnabl-Scott, a ex-Czechoslovak soldier and parachutist.

Pro hřbitov veteránu v Brookwoodu byla veterány jmenována správní rada, která má čtyři členy. Za letce a vojáky pilota Vladimíra Soukupa a vojáka Miloslava Kašpara. V uvedeném pořadí. Za československou exilovou komunitu na Velehradě v Londýně, Fr. Josefa Langa, oběť komunistické persekuce. a Dr. George Skotta, syna Jiřího Šnábla, nyní s poangličtěným jménem as Jiiří George Šnábl- Scott a bývalého československého vojáka a parašutistu.

Soukup and Jiři George Šnabl-Scott, aided by other Czechoslovak veterans, would go to Brookwood each weekend to clear and level the site, finally laying it to grass. The first interment was early in 1982 for G/Cpt Alexander Hess DFC, who had died in Florida, USA. Others soon followed, bringing the number commemorated to its current number of 96.

Soukup a Jří George Šnábl-Scott, spolu s dalšími československými veterány, každý víkend čistili a vyrovnávali terén a potom jej zatravnili. První pohřeb byl na začátku roku 1982 pro G/Cpt Alexandra Hesse DFC, který zemřel na Floridě, USA. Brzy jej následovali další do stávajícího počtu 96.

The presentation of the new Czechoslovak graves followed the same style as that used in the adjacent CWGC section, neatly and formally laid out, clean headstones, well maintained, colourful flower borders between the headstones and the grass within the area kept neatly trimmed. The headstones used for each grave conformed to the same style as the Czechoslovak CWGC headstones used by the Czechoslovak Memorial.

Prezentace nových československých hrobů,, se přizpůsobuje stejnému stylu, který se používá v přilehlé části GWGC, elegantně a formálně upravené, čisté náhrobní ozdoby, dobře udržovaná květinová úprava hranic mezi náhrobky a tráva v oblasti průběžně zdobené. Dbá se na to, aby náhrobek každého hrobu odpovídal stejnému stylu jako u náhrobků československého CWGC vojenského hřbitova, používaných u československého Památníku.

The style of Czechoslovak headstone used at Brookwood is quite unique and differs from all other CWGC Czechoslovak headstones used in Britain and around the world. which have the Czechoslovak lion, the national symbol of Czechoslovakia. When the Czechoslovak Memorial was built at Brookwood in 1953, it was decided that because that Memorial already contained a sculpture, by František Bělský, of the Czechoslovak lion, it was not necessary to also include this symbol on the new stone headstones which were to replace the temporary wooden crosses used during WW2.

Styl Československé náhrobního kamene použitého na Brookwood je zcela unikátní a liší se od všech ostatních náhrobků CWGC československých používaných ve Velké Británii a po celém světě, Když památník na Brookwoodu od Františka Bělského v roce 1953 obsahoval sochu lva, národní symbol Československa, bylo rozhodnuto, že tento symbol bude na každém náhrobku, které nahradily dočasné dřevěné kříže používané během druhé světové války.

So who are they? – a random selection of some who chose to be interred here:
Takže, kdo jsou oni? – náhodný výběr těch, kteří se rozhodli, aby zde byli pohřbeni:


Kauders Vilem, MC

Served with the Czechoslovak Army in the Middle East were he was awarded his MC. Later volunteered to join the RAF and served as a navigator with 311 Sqn. Died in USA, aged 100, making him the oldest Czechoslovak WW2 RAF veteran.

Byl příslušníkem československé armády na Středním východě, kde mu bylo uděleno vyznamenání MC Military Cross – Vojenský kříž. Později byl zařazen do RAF, jako navigátor u 311. Sqdn. Zemřel v USA, ve věku 100 let, jako nejstarší veterán československé armády z druhé větové války.

Ludikar Marcel

311 Sqn wireless operator in Oldřich Doležal’s crew when the blockade runner ‘Alsterufer’ was sunk in December 1943. After February 1948 escaped to the American Zone of Germany by skiing over the border. In England, rejoined the RAF after his escape and retired with the rank of S/Ldr.

Bezdrátový operátor u 311. Sqdn., byl zařazen v posádce Oldřicha Doležala, která při blokádě v prosinci 1943 potopila unikající loď “Alsterufer”. Po únoru 1943 uprchl na lyžích přes hranice do Německa. V Anglii se vrátil k RAF, v hodnosti S/Ldr.

Mansfeld Miroslav DSO, DFC, AFC :

Pre-WW2 pilot with the Czechoslovak Air Force, escaped to Poland after the German occupation. Veteran of the Battle of France with l’Arme d’Air and later a RAF Battle of Britain pilot. Later became a successful night-fighter pilot with 68 Sqn. Was the 3rd most successful Czechoslovak fighter pilot in the RAF during WW2. After the Communist take-over in February ’48, escaped and rejoined the RAF, retiring as S/Ldr.

Před druhou světovou válkou, pilot československého letectva. Po německé okupaci odešel do Polska. Jako pilot se účastnil se bojů o Francii a bitvy o Velkou Británii. Později se stal úspěšným nočním stíhacím pilotem v 68. Sqdn. RAF. Byl třetím nejúspěšnějším československým stíhacím pilotem ve druhé světové válce. Po komunistickém převratu 1948 emigroval na západ a vrátil se k RAF. Do důchodu odešel v hodnosti S/Ldr.

Muzika Jaroslav, AFC:

313 Sqn pilot, who, with other former RAF airmen and their families escaped after the Communist take-over by taking a Czechoslovak Air Force aircraft at night on 22 April 1949 and flying to the west. Rejoined the RAF and retired with the rank of S/Ldr.

Pilot 313. Sqdn., který po komunistickém převzetí moci, spolu s dalšími bývalými letci RAF a jejich rodinami,v noci dne 22. dubna 1949, letadlem československé armády, uletěl na západ. Vrátil se k RAF a odešel v hodnosti S/Ldr.

Šmolik Vojtech, DFC, Croix de Guirre:

Battle of Britain pilot, also served in l’Arme d’Air during the Battle of France where he was awarded the Croix de Guire. After the Comunist take-over in February ’48 he escaped over the border to Germany and re-joined the RAF. In his later life he suffered from Altzheimers and died in a Care Home.

Účastnil se bitvy o Francii a byl mu udělen Croix de Guire. Po komunistickém převzetí moci v únoru 1948 uprchl přes hranice do Německa a opět se připojil k RAF. Ve svém pozdějším životě trpěl Altzeimerovou chorobou a zemřel v domácí péči.

Vybíral Tomáš, DSO, DFC, Legion d’ Honneur, Croix de Guerre:

Fought in the Battle of France with l’Arme d’Air, fought in the Battle of Britain with the RAF, commanded the Czechoslovak Fighter Wing during WW2.

Bojoval v bitvě o Francii a s RAF a v bitvě o Británii. V průběhu druhé světové války, velel československé stíhací peruti v RAF.


Buršík Josef:

Tank Commander and veteran of the 1st Czechoslovak Independent Armoured Brigade in the USSR, and Red Army fighting in the Dukla Pass, for which he was decorated with the gold star of a hero of the Soviet Union. He was decorated ‘Hero of the Soviet Union’ for his actions during the Battle of liberation of Kiev in Nov 1943!

Velitel tanku a veterán z 1. československé obrněné brigády v Rudé armádě, SSSR. Bojoval na Dukle a za bojovou činnost při osvobozování města Kijev v listopadu 1943, byl vyznamenaný Rudou hvězdou hrdiny Sovětského svazu.

Josten Josef, MBE:

Pre-war professional journalist. Served in a Telegraph Battalion in France. In England served with the Czechoslovak Infantry and then the 2nd Czechoslovak Tank battalion at Dunkirk after D-Day. Escaped to the west after February 1948, where he was involved with anti-Communist resistance. Later continued this resistance when he founded the anti-Communist ‘Free Czechoslovak Information Service’.

Předválečný profesionální novinář. Ve Francii byl u telegrafního praporu. V Anglii sloužil u československého pěšího pluku a 2. československého tankového praporu u Dunkergue po D-den, konce války. Po únoru 1948 byl zapojen do protikomunistického odboje a utekl na západ. Později pokračoval v boji proti komunismu, když založil antikomunistickou “zdarma československou informační službu”.

Kašpár Miloslav, Croix de Guire:

Served in Military Intelligence in the pre-WW2 Czechoslovak Army. Following the German occupation in March 1939, escaped to Poland where he worked for Polish Military intelligence and also returned to Prague to gather intelligence. Returned to Poland and was captured by the Soviets after the Germans and Soviets invaded Poland. After a time in various Soviet prisons, was released and reached France. There he served in the Czechoslovak Army where, after the German invasion he was decorated with the Croix de Guire. In Britain again served in Czechoslovak Military Intelligence and was one of the Czechoslovak intelligence team who planned the assassination of Reinhart Heidrich undertaken in Prague in 1942. After February 1948 escaped to the west and worked for French intelligence and later MI5 as an intelligence officer during the Cold War.

Před druhou světovou válkou sloužil ve vojenském zpravodajství československé armády. Po německé okupaci v březnu 1939 uprchl do Polska, kde pracoval ve prospěch polské zpravodajské služby a také se vrátil do Prahy. Po návratu do Polska byl zajat Sověty. Po nějaké době v různých sovětských věznicích byl propuštěn a dostal se do Francie, kde byl v československé armádě. Po německé invazi byl vyznamenán Croix de Guire V Británii opět sloužil u československé vojenské rozvědky byl v jednom československém zpravodajském týmu, který plánoval atentát na Reinharta Heidricha v roce 1942 v Praze. Po únoru 1948 uprchl na západ a ve studené válce, pracoval jako zpravodajský důstojník pro francouzskou tajnou službu a později MI5.

Polivková Helena:

Escaped after the German occupation of Czechoslovakia to Palestine, via Yugoslavia, where she joined the ATS, where she was active 1943-1946 as a driver. Returned home after the war, but left the country under dramatic circumstances again in 1948. Lived in the UK, worked for CIC and was active in the 3rd Resistance movement.

Po okupaci Československa utekla přes Jugoslavii do Palestiny. Tam se připojila k ATS, kde od roku 1943 do roku 1946 byla řidičkou. Poté se vrátila domu a po únoru v roce 1948 za dramatických okolností opět opustila svou zem a žila ve Velké Británii, kde pracovala v CIC a byla zapojena v 3. odboji.

Šnabl-Scott Jiři George:

Escaped after the German occupation in 1939, to Poland, on arrival in France was required to join the French Foreign Legion. After ww2 was declared transferred to the 1st Czechoslovak Infantry Regiment and fought in France. After evacuation to England volunteered for SOE training in Scotland when, whilst undergoing parachute training Ringway, was seriously injured during a parachute jump in high winds. After recovering from his injuries was with the 1st Czechoslovak Independent Armoured Brigade at Dunkirk after D-Day.

Po německé okupaci 1939 odešel do Polska, po příjezdu do Francie musel vstoupit do francouzské Cizinecké legie. Po rozpoutání druhé světové války, byl převeden do československého pěšího pluku, který bojoval ve Francii. Po evakuaci do Anglie dobrovolně absolvoval výcvik v SOE ve Skotsku. Při parašutistickém výcviku v Ringway se v důsledku silného větru vážně zranil. Po uzdravení byl zařazen do první československé samostatné obrněné brigády, kde sloužil až do konce války po D-den.

Staller Karel:

Designed the Bren gun, considered to be the deadliest machine-gun the British Army had during WW2.

Navrhl zbraň Bren, který byl považován, za nejnebezpečnější kulomet britské armády ve druhé světové válce.

And the position today?
A jaká je současná situace?

Since the ‘Velvet Revolution’ of 1989 and also the subsequent ‘Velvet Divorce’ of 1993, when Czechoslovakia divided to become the separate States of the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic, the Brookwood site has been visited by many Czech and Slovak dignitaries, but the most poignant must be by the first post-Communist Czechoslovak President, Václav Havel, in 1990. The then British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, included in her speech at the official dinner for President Havel at 10 Downing Street; “other Czechoslovaks – airmen and soldiers – also came here and fought valiantly alongside British Forces throughout the Second World War. We honour their memory and you, Sir, will be paying your own respects to them at Brookwood on Friday. They fought for a freedom which Communism then denied to Czechoslovakia after the war.”

Od sametové revoluce 1989 a následně sametového rozvodu 1993, kdy se Československo rozdělilo a vznikly dva samostatné státy Česká republika a Slovenská republika, bylo pohřební místo v Bookwood navštěvováno Českými i Slovenskými hodnostáři. Nejvíce dojemná návštěva byla návštěva, prezidenta první postkomunistické republiky, Václava Havla, v roce 1990 pak britské premiérky Margaret Thatcherové, která ve svém projevu při oficiální večeři na Downing Street 10, ocenila naše letce a vojáky, ” Ostatní, Čechoslováci – letci a vojáci – sem také přišli a ve druhé světové válce bojovali statečně po boku britských sil. Čest jejich památce a pane prezidente chováme k nim na Brookwoodu úctu. Oni bojovali za svobodu, kterou pak komunismus po válce v Československu popíral”.

President Vaclav Havel’s visit to Brookwood 1990.

Currently the Brookwood Czechoslovak ex-Servicemen’s plot holds the graves of 96 former Czechoslovak servicemen and women, from the humble British ranks of Private and AC1 to the highest of Colonels and Group Captains. Following the ‘Velvet Revolution’ the exiled former Czechoslovak Army and RAF personnel were ‘rehabilitated’ back into Czechoslovak society by the new post-Communist government. Although no longer serving within the Czechoslovak military, the former Czechoslovak Army and RAF personnel were awarded significant promotions – some ‘in memorium’ – in military rank during this ‘rehabilitation’ process. For some further promotions were also to be awarded in the following years.

V souřasné době je na v části hřbitova Bookwood, zemřelých československých veteránů z druhé světové války, pohřbeno 96 býbalých československých vojáků a žen. Od skromných britských hodností AC1, až po nejvyšší hodností, plukovníků a skupiny kapitánů. Po “sametové revoluci” exulanti bývalé československé armády a RAF byli v rámci “rehabilitace” posmrtně (in memoriam), novou postkomunistickou vládou, “rehabilitovaní” zpět do československé společnosti a byli povýšeni do vysokých vojenských hodností. V některých dalších případech byli povyšováni do vysokých vojenských hodností v následujících letech.

For those who were interred in the cemetery after the ‘Velvet Revolution’ it was not uncommon to also include the person’s new Czechoslovak rank on the headstone as well as their RAF or British Army rank. Unlike British military ranks, Czechoslovak – and after the ‘Velvet Divorce’ Czech military and Slovak military ranks are not specific to which military service the person actual served. Thus the numerous headstones marked generálmajor [abbreviation genMaj, and in English; Major General] or plukovník [abbreviation plk, and in English; Colonel] could be either an airman or a soldier.

Pro pohřbené na hřbitově po “sametové revoluci” již není neobvyklé, aby na náhrobku pohřbeného byla uvedena hodnost československá a hodnost britská RAF, nebo armádní. Na rozdíl od britských vojenských hodností, československé, po rozdělení Československa, a České republiky a Slovenské republiky, nejsou specifické pro různé vojenské služby u níž zemřelý sloužil. Proto na četných náhrobních kamenech jsou označeny Generálmajor zkratkou v češtině Genmjr.. a v angličtině Major Generál, nebo Plukovník v češtině zkratka plk. může být voják, nebo letec. Plukovník voják (pozemní armády) se rovná Anglické hodnosti letce Group Captain, zkratka G/Cpt.

This unassuming and unpretentious site is now the final resting place of 13 post-1989 promoted generálmajor’s, the largest number anywhere at a single location anywhere in the world. As previously mentioned, this site is also the final resting place of the largest number of Czechoslovak Battle of Britain pilots at a single location anywhere in the world.

Tato skromná a neročná část hřbitova je nyní od roku 1989 místem posledního odpočinku, 13 povýšených plukovníků do hodnosti Generálmajor. Je to největší počet povýšených na jednom místě, kdekoliv na světě. Jak již bylo zmíněno tato, část hřbitova je na světě místem posledního odpočinku největšího počtu pilotů, kteří se účastnili bitvy o Británii.

For many, including those from many other countries from around the world, , their wish was that their final resting place was to be with former RAF or Army comrades at this Brookwood plot. Some examples are Miroslav Sigut from Switzerland, Robert Kellner, William Kauders, Eduard Prchal, his WAAF wife Dolores Prchalova and Alexander Hess all from various parts of the USA, and Josef Bilek from Canada.

Mnoho Čechoslováků, i z mnoha dalších zemí celého světa si přeje, aby konečné místo jejich odpočinku bylo s bývalými letci RAF a s československými vojáky, kteří ve druhé světové válce bojovali ve spojeneckých armádách, na civilním hřbitově, pro československé veterány Bookwood. Například se zde nechali pochovat Miroslav Šigut ze Švýcarska a Robert Kellner, Wiiliam Kauders, Eduard Prchal, jeho žena WAAF Dolores Prchalová a Alexander Hess, všichni z různých koutů USA a Josef Bílek z Kanady.


But the pristine presentation of the site in its early years has, in recent years been allowed to substantially decline to a shadow of its former self. The neatly laid out flower borders are now no more.

Ale původní prezentace pohřebního místa od počátečních let, je v posledních letech poněkud odlišná. Podstatně se snížilo zastínění a úhledně upravené květiny na hranicích a nic víc.

What was neatly kept grass alongside the headstones, has now been allowed to deteriorate, its neat well maintained appearance has been left to degenerate to merely patchy grass and moss.

Dříve pečlivě udržovaná tráva vedle náhrobků, byla upravena tak, že se nechala degenerovat na zatravněný povrch s mechem.

The headstones themselves visibly show many years of neglect.

Na samotných náhrobních kamenech lze nalézt zanedbání po mnoho let.

A poor way
for these valiant and patriotic Czechoslovak airmen and soldiers to be remembered!

Špatná cesta
Měla by se věnovat větší pozornost její údržbě, neboť, stateční českoslovenští vlastenci, letci a vojáci si to zaslouží.


The assistance of Dr George Scott with this article is much appreciated.

Děkujeme za pomoc s tímto článkem Dr. Gerge Scottovi, jeho pomoci si velice ceníme.

Posted in 310 Sqd, 311 Sqd, 312 Sqd, 313 Sqd, 68 Sqd, Cemetries | Leave a comment

Narrow Escapes – Review

Narrow Escapes!


Miloslav Bitton

Narrow Escapes! covers the period of Miloslav Bitton’s life from 1919 to 1949. The book begins with family life on the farm in the Ukraine where he was born on 14th October 1919, and later in Czechoslovakia where the family lived from 1926. At age 14 Miloslav began an apprenticeship – and later employment – in the grocery business in Bratislava, and in 1938 committed to four years’ study at the Commercial Academy in Bratislava to improve his prospects. By the end of his first year at college, however, Slovakia had become a puppet state of Germany and World War II had begun.

In September 1939 Miloslav was approached to organise a clandestine escape route into Hungary for Czech military personnel trying to get to France via Yugoslavia; in the evenings after college he would accompany parties of up to 8 people – by train and on foot – to within 400 metres of the Hungarian border where he instructed them where to cross and how to purchase train tickets for Budapest. By January 1940, however, Miloslav’s illegal underground activities had come to the attention of the border guards and on 19th February he had to make his own escape.

Following his safe arrival in Budapest, Miloslav continued his activities helping escapees reach Yugoslavia until arrested by the Hungarian Secret Police. Although severely beaten he gave nothing away, and in April was returned to Slovakia. Undaunted Miloslav journeyed again to Budapest and this time managed to reach Yugoslavia. His onward journey took him through Greece, Turkey and Syria to Beirut. By this time, however, France had capitulated and the Lebanese border was closing. Miloslav found his way into Palestine where he saw action in the Middle East with the Czechoslovak Infantry Battalion No. 11 – East and the 200th Czechoslovak Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment – East.

In June 1942 Miloslav answered an appeal from the Czechoslovak Air Ministry in London for volunteers to join the Royal Air Force, and on New Years’ Day 1943 Miloslav landed on English soil. He was sent to Calgary in Canada to train as a fighter pilot, and in January 1945 received his posting to 310 (Czechoslovak) Fighter Squadron. His first assignment took place on 7th February when the Czechoslovak fighter squadrons provided top cover to one hundred and fifty Lancaster bombers during a raid on Dortmund.

Returning from an aborted operational sortie on 2nd May, Miloslav experienced engine problems and crashed in Surrey. Pulled out of the plane by a local farmer and his farmhands shortly before the plane burnt out, in hospital he was found to have dislocated his neck and was put into a plaster which covered most of his upper body. It was not until 12th September that Miloslav had his final medical check and was classified fit for full flying and ground duties again.

Miloslav returned to Czechoslovakia with his English sweetheart, Joan Bitton, who he had married on 3rd April. They set up home in Prague where Miloslav continued with his service in the Czechoslovak Air Force at Kbely Air Force Base, and on a part-time basis completed the course at the Commercial Academy in Prague which had been interrupted by the war. Their circle of friends grew, particularly amongst the Air Force personnel who had English wives, but at Kbely life became more strained with the introduction of new regulations and a political culture began to permeate the military establishments. Matters came to a head early in 1948 when all ex-RAF flying personnel were denied access to the airport area at Kbely being classified as “unreliable elements”, particularly those who had married British or other foreign girls.

Miloslav and Joan decided they had to leave Czechoslovakia; Joan and their young son would have no difficulties but Miloslav was still serving in the armed forces and could only leave illegally. His luck held and on 26th March he crossed the border safely; for 2 months he was a “displaced person” in Germany until his British visa was granted on 4th June – following intervention by Joan with the Home Office!

An intriguing and interesting book with narrative enlivened by vivid descriptions which give a fascinating insight into Miloslav’s childhood in the Ukraine and Czechoslovakia, and of his daily life whether conducting clandestine operations, undertaking war-time service in the Czechoslovak Army and the Royal Air Force, or of his life in post-war Prague until the communist coup in 1948 and his subsequent escape.

Publisher: Melandrium Books
Published: January 2014
ISBN: 0-9537853-5-1
Cover: Paperback
Language: English
Pages: 183
Price: £12.00

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Pavel Chlapik


* 26/04/16, Melčice-Lieskové, Trenčín, Czechoslovakia.
† 15/04/14, England.


With sadness we must advise that


CHLAPÍK Pavel, 787386

WW2 310 Sqn Electrician I


15 April 2014, England.


15. dubna 2014 v Anglie


CHLAPÍK Pavel, 787386

2. světové války 310 perutě Elektrikář I


Rest in Peace

Čest jeho památce


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