Plzen remembers its fallen RAF Airmen


At 16:00, 28 April, a remembrance ceremony was held in Habrmannově náměstí, Plzeň in remembrance of Alois Záleský 34, 312 Sqn pilot († 09. 02. 45.), Karel Pavlík 23, 313 Sqn pilot († 05. 05. 42.) and Václav Šindelář 24, 57 OTU pilot († 19. 04. 43.). All of whom had been been pre-ww2 citizens from the Doubravka district of Plzeň and sports pilots with the Západočeského aeroklubu v Plzni (Aero Club, West Bohemia).

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Despite the freezing conditions, the ceremony was well attended by relatives of the three airmen, local dignitaries, military and veteran associations and well wishers with the local school band playing WW 2 themed music. Then followed speeches including Michal Chalupný, Mayor of Doubravka, Milena Kolaříková, Václav Toman, of the Letecký historiký klub Plzeň and others praised the patriotism and gallantry of the three fallen airmen who had fought and died for the liberation of Czechoslovakia during WW2.

The school band then played the national anthems of Czechoslovakia and Great Britain. Wreaths and floral tributes were then placed by the memorial plaque for the three airmen in Habrmannově náměstí with the local Scout group providing the Guard of Honour.

Speeches praised the gallantry and patriotism of the three young men, who fought and died for our country and our freedom.

The local school band played WW II music, and the historical Czechoslovak anthem as well as the UK anthem at the end of the ceremony. Wreaths and floral tributes were then laid at the commemorative plaque to these fallen airmen, in Habrmannově náměstí, Guard of Honour was by members the local Scout group.




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Circus 157 – Remembrance 2016



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Oldrich Kestler remembered


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V sobotu 9. dubna proběhl ve Štěnovicích u Památníku válečných obětí pietní vzpomínkový akt, konaný při příležitosti 75. výročí od tragické smrti pilota 111. a 605. perutě RAF Oldřicha Kestlera.

On Saturday, 9 April a commemoration ceremony was held at the war memorial at Štěnovice to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Oldřich Kestler who served as a pilot in 111 Sqn and 605 Sqn of the RAF during WW2.

Vzpomínku zahájil v půl jedenácté dopoledne úvodním slovem moderátor a hlavní organizátor celé akce Martin Marek, který přivítal početné zastoupení hostů, kteří přijeli uctít památku tohoto odvážného muže a také zástupce rodiny pilota. Následně zazněly státní hymny Velké Británie a České republiky.

Remembrance began at 11:30 with an introduction by Martin Marek, the main organiser of the event, who welcomed family members of the pilot and guests who came to honour the memory of this courageous pilot. The national anthems of Great Britain and the Czech Republic were then played.

Poté se ujal slova starosta obce Petr Slavík, který vyzdvihl jeho obrovskou statečnost.

The Mayor of Štěnovice, Petr Slavík, in his speech spoke of the bravery of the pilot.

Místní historik Kamil Kosnar seznámil všechny zúčastněné se životem Oldřicha Kestlera. „Pilot vstoupil před začátkem druhé světové války do polského letectva. Po kapitulaci Polska odchází přes Rumunsko balkánskou cestou do Francie. Odtud se dostává do Anglie. Tam létal u 111. a posléze u 605. perutě RAF. U té se zúčastnil slavné bitvy o Británii. Osudný se pro něj stal cvičný let 7. dubna 1941, ve kterém se jeho Hurricane srazil s letounem Spitfire svého kolegy Josefa Martince. Oba piloti zahynuli,“ dokončil své povídání Kamil Kosnar.

In his speech Kamil Kosnar, a local historian, gave a brief apraisal of the life of the pilot ” The pilot went joined the Polish Air Force before the start of WW2, when Poland surrendered he escaped through Romania using the Balkan route to get to France. From there he subsequently reached England and with 111 Sqn he fought in the Battle of Britain, later serving with 605 Sqn. Tragically on a training flight on 7 April 1941 he was killed when the Hurricanes of Josef Martinec and his collided; both pilots were killed.

Po něm vystoupili další řečníci. Všichni se ve svých proslovech shodli na statečnosti mladých mužů. Odešli v poměrně mladém věku od svých rodin bojovat za svobodu naší vlasti a mnozí z nich se domů, již nikdy nevrátili. Položili své životy za náš mír. Na závěr celé vzpomínky došlo k položení květin a věnců k Památníku válečných obětí.

Other speeches followed, all highlighting the bravery of the young men. At a relatively young age, they left their families to fight for the freedom of Czechoslovakia, many of whom did not return. They sacrificed their lives for our peace. The ceremony concluded with wreaths and flowers being laid by the war memorial.

© Jaroslav Kreisinger




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Eduard Prchal remembrance – Dolni Brezany 7 May 2016




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Ludvik Kosek Memorial Plaque unveiled



A memorial plaque was unveiled on 2 April 2016 for 311 Sqn pilot Ludvík Košek in his home town of Turnov.

Unveiling took place by the entrance to the Turnov Ice Rink; an appropriate location as he was noted as a good ice-hockey player in pre-WW2 Czechoslovakia.

The ceremony was well attended and included relatives of Ludvík Košek, Gen. Emil Boček, local dignitaries, representatives from the Czech Army, Defense Department regional military administration, various reenactment groups including Rotou Nazdar, and well wishers.

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The ceremony commenced at 14:00 with speeches followed by the memorial plaque unveiling with wreaths and flowers then being placed by the plaque. The ceremony was concluded with a flypast by a American Piper Cub L4, with D-Day stripes, and a Russian Yak-3.

On display at the ceremony was a display of WW2 military vehicles, equipment and an exhibition about 311 Sqn.




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No. 313 (Czech) Squadron 1941 – 1945





No. 313 (Czech) Squadron
1941 – 1945


compiled by

Phil H. Listermann




A 44 page study of this unit which includes history, the men who flew with it, details on losses, claims, statistics with 53 photos – including two in colour – and seven colour profiles.

Publisher: Philedition
ISBN: 9 782918 590750
Format: Softback
Language: English
Published: June 2015
Price: £9.95




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Recollections of Czech pilots of WW2





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Oldrich Kestler – remembered Stenovice 9. 4. 2016.








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Chocenice remembers Václav Vaněček



V sobotu 12. března ve 14 hodin zahájil starosta obce Chocenice Bohuslav Heřman pietní akt přivítáním hostů z řad armády, Leteckého historického klubu Plzeň, Letců Plzeň z. s. a Československé obce legionářské, kteří přišli vzpomenout 100. výročí od narození navigátora 311. čs. perutě britského Královského letectva RAF Václava Vaněčka, rodáka z této obce.

At 14:00, 12 March 2016, began the ceremony to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Vaclav Vaněček, a native of Chocenice, who served as a navigator with the RAF during WW2. Bohuslav Heřman, Mayor of Chocenice, opened the ceremony and welcomed guests from the Army, local dignitaries, the Plzeň Air Historic Club, Letců Plzeň primary school, representatives of Československé obce legionářské and well wishers.

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Zároveň na budově obecního úřadu byla odhalena deska tomuto statečnému muži. Po úvodním slovu představitele obce vystoupil se svým proslovem Daniel Švec, který seznámil všechny přítomné se životem Václava Vaněčka. Poté zazněly státní hymny České republiky a Velké Británie.

Following opening speeches by local dignitaries, Daniel Švec gave a biographical speech about Vaclav Vaněček. The national anthems of the Czech Republic and Great Britain were then played.

Následně došlo k odhalení pamětní desky, které požehnal biskup František Radkovský. Vzpomínka byla zakončena položením květin.

The memorial plaque, mounted on the Municipal building, was unveiled and then unveiled by Bishop František Radkovský. Wreaths and commemorative flowers were then laid.




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So why are there two?


Vistitors to the Czechoslovak National House – more usually known as the Czech Club – in West Hampstead, London, will see in one of the dining rooms there a memorial plaque with the names of the Czechoslovak airmen killed while in RAF service during WW2. The plaque, in addition to these RAF airmen are also the names of 28 Czechoslovak airmen who died whilst serving with Armée de l’air in France in 1940 and also four of Czechoslovak airmen who died in Poland in September 1939.

Likewise, vistors to the Military Museum, at Žižkov, Prague will see the an identical memorial plaque there.

So why are there two?

Firstly some background information regarding the origins to this plaque.

WW2

During WW2, the Czech Club was very much the spiritual home for Czechoslovaks serving in British military forces and originally at Bedford Place, London which was a short distance from Russell Square where the Czechoslovak Inspectorate where based. For these young men, far from home it was somewhere in London where they could dine on their national foods, drinks and meet other comrades on leave or passing through London between postings.

After the war

In August 1945, the Czechoslovak RAF returned to their ‘liberated’ homeland, – despite the Russians being in occupation – and look forward to carrying on with their peacetime lives, some remaining in the Czechoslovak Air Force, whilst others, once demobbed returned to their civilian lives. Sadly the heroes welcome the received on their return was to be short-lived. In February 1948, following a putsch by the Communists, Czechoslovakia was now under Communist control and its destiny dictated to by Moscow. The Communists sought to ensure that any possible opposition to them was eliminated and those who had fought for the Allies during the war were considered as a danger. In many cases they were dismissed from the Czechoslovak Air Force, many being arrested by the StB, imprisoned or further persecution. However there were many who did not wait for this fate – they had escaped in 1939 to Poland or later through Slovakia to Romania, Yugoslavia and from there to France – so now they would escape again; some by taking aircraft and flying west either to the American Zone in Germany, or England, or by covertly crossing the border at night in the American Zone of German. Once they had been security vetted they usually made there way to England to start rebuilding their lives in the West. Some re-joined the RAF, others obtaining some civilian employment; often well below their trained skills. This was post war Britain, times were hard for all, food and clothing still rationed, cities and towns still with building destroyed by Luftwaffe wartime bombing and the new Cold War threat just beginning.

Remembrance

It therefore became inevitable that for these exiled Czechoslovak former RAF airmen that there former wartime spiritual home -which in 1946 moved to its current location at West Hampstead – would resume its former role for them. Aware that back in Czechoslovakia, the Communists were actively trying to expunge the wartime Czechoslovak RAF airmen from their history books, these exiled airmen sought to ensure that there fallen would not be forgotten. This resulted in a brass memorial plaque being made listing, in alphabetical, rank-descending order, those fallen airmen and the most appropriate location was the Czech Club. Over subsequent years, by some of the names had hand etched ranks added adjacent to them. The plaque was to be for many years the only memorial in the world to the fallen Czechoslovak RAF airmen of WW2. At the time of its origins, it was very much in agreement between the exiled airmen that the rightful home of the plaque should be Czechoslovakia if and when the right circumstances arose.

It was to be some 50 years before that became possible; in November 1989 the Velvet Revolution took place in Czechoslovakia, the Communist regime collapsed and a new democratic regime, with Václav Havel as its President was now in power. Finally the right circumstances had now arisen, but for the exiled airmen, now elderly and many of them having passed away, it was now a period of heart-searching as what should be done. There were very mixed feeling amongst them; some believed that they should respect and honour the original agreed intention; while others, did not want to see it go.

What to do now?

A suggestion was made by Ben Chamberlain, a British schoolteacher. Whilst not related to a Czechoslovak airmen he had a very personal connection to them, in particular 310 Sqn; his uncle was John Boulton, a pre-War RAF flying instructor, who was initially seconded to 310 Sqn at Duxford when the Czechoslovak pilots began arriving on 12 July 1940. His role was to rapidly retrain Czechoslovak fighter pilots who had recently escaped from France to England, after the French capitulation, and these pilots were urgently needed as the Battle of Britain was just starting. Despite only a few of the Czechoslovaks speaking a few words of English and John (initially) not knowing any Czech the retraining was achieved and 310 Sqn declared operational on 17 August 1940. During this time John developed an admiration and affinity to these Czechoslovak airmen and requested to remain with them operationally. The RAF agreed to this request but sadly John was to be killed in a mid-air collision on 9 September 1940.

However that Czechoslovak affinity was taken up post WW2 by his nephew Ben who became a well known and respected figure in the exile Czechoslovak RAF community. Ben’s suggestion to the plaque dilema was – ‘why not make a casting to keep in the club; the original can go back to Czechoslovakia, thus honouring the original understanding. This suggestion was met with approval by Marcel Ludikar, John Sigmund, Mirek Mirtl and Oldrich ‘Sula’ Soukup who had been delegated the role regarding the future of the plaque.

Ben now continues with the story: ‘ The suggestion was agreed and I started looking for someone to do it. It very quickly became apparent that having a brass cast made would have been prohibitively expensive. I started asking about a resin casting and found a young man called Steve Cole who had a small one-man company called Articole in Hitchin. He agreed to do what was wanted and at a affordable price.

Greatly daring I arrived at the Czech Club when it was shut, armed with screwdrivers and spanners. The plaque was in three vertical sections, bolted to a complicated strap iron framework which was, in turn, bolted to the wall. Thank god nothing was rusty and all the screws and nuts undid quite easily. I left the frame on the wall for the time being and drove the three brass plates up to Hitchin.

A few weeks later Steve Cole rang to say all was ready. I collected the brass plates and the copies. I ought to say that the castings were made of a brass coloured resin – which had a rather greenish tinge.

I took the original plates and also the iron framework to the Czechoslovak Embassy, LOndon, and brought the copies back to the Club. There were minor problems to do with slight distortions in the castings, so there was a certain amount of ‘fettling’ to do to get them to fit together.

Now how to put them onto the wall? I deceided the best way to do it was to mount the three sections onto a sheet of ¾” plywood [it may have been ½”] which could then be fitted to the wall with many rawlplugs as it was quite heavy and I couldn’t risk it falling off onto someone eating.

So, plywood obtained and cut to the right size and shape. The three sections were then offered up and the seven holes drilled in the plate and also the plywood.
I then went to the Club on a Sunday afternoon [I think], fixed the plywood sheet to the wall securely and then screwed the panels onto the plywood. And there they have been since then.

The only things left off from the original plates, as being too difficult to do and also not really being necessary, were two small model aeroplanes which stuck out on a stand from the top of the memorial.

The only ‘adventure’ that the plaque had after I put it up was that Miro Mirtl took exception to the greenish tinge of the brass version and attacked it with a pot of gold paint – which spoilt it!’

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At the time the plaque was originally produced, resources available to research and identify the fallen Czechoslovak RAF airmen was limited when compared to resources available today, and so it was inevitable that some errors would occur. Some of these were due to naming errors held on the files at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission archive others are due to incomplete records being available at that time and simple human errors.

A listing of these errors and omissions:

Corrections :
On plaque: Correct Details:
RAF :
BEROUNSKÝ, J. A/Cmd BEROUNSKÝ, J. G/Cpt
BLATNÝ, B. F/O BLATNÝ, B. F/Lt
BÖNISCH, F. W/O BÖNISCH, F. Sgt
BROCHARD, B. BROCHARD, D
BODLÁK, O. BODLÁK, M.
BABAČEK, Z. BABÍČEK, Z.
BITTNER, J. BITNER, J.
ČÍŽEK, E. A/Cmd ČÍŽEK, E G/Cpt
CÍEGLER, M. CÍGLER, M.
DIETRICH, F, DITTRICH, F.
EICHLER, B. EICHLER, P.
ELBOGEN, A. Sgt ELBOGEN, A. F/Sgt
FUCHS, F. FUCHS, P.
FUCHS, A. FUKSA, A.
FAJTL, L. FAJT, L.
GLOUDER, F. GLAUDER, F.
GÜSSÜBE,L B. GISSÜBEL, B.
HÁJEK, F. HÁJEK, K.
HÁJEK, F. HÁJEK, B.
HECHT, V. HECHT, W.
JIRSIK, O. JIRSÁK, O.
JINORA, M. JINDRA, M.
KOSÁK, T. KOZÁK, T.
KOTERA, Z. KOTHERA, Z.
KRÁL, S. KRÁL, C.
LIŠKA, J. F/Lt unknown
LANC, K. LANG, K.
LENZ, J. LENC, J.
LANČ, R. LANŽ, R.
LYSICKÝ, V. LISICKY, V.
MEYER, A. MEIER, A.
MAREK, M. MAREK, F,
MATINOVIČ, L. MARTINOVIČ, L.
MELEN, J. MELENA, J.
NÝVLT, T. NÝVLT, J.
NASVETER, A. NASSWETER, A.
POSLUŠNÝ, O. POSLUŽNÝ, O.
POLITZER, E. POLITZE, F.
PETER, M. PETR, M.
PALMA, Z. PALME, Z.
PLZÁK, S. Sgt PLZÁK, S. P/O
PERNÍČEK, J. PEPRNÍČEK, J.
POLITZER, A. POLITZER, M.
ROHÁČEK, K. ROHÁČEK, R.
ROLENZ, Z. ROLENC, Z.
SMIK, O. F/Lt SMIK, O. S/Ldr
STEFAN, B. F/O STEFAN, B. F/Lt
ŠTEPEK, J. ŠTEFEK, J.
ŠKACH, A. W/O ŠKACH, A. P/O
ŠPINKA, P. ŠPINKA, D.
SVOBODA, P. not killed
STANĚK, J. STANĚK, A.
ŠIMEK, O. ŠIMEK, A.
STYS, J. STIESS, J.
SVARZ, T. SCHWARZ, T.
TESÁREK, R. F/Sgt TESÁREK, R. Sgt
UVÍZL, A. P/O UVÍZL, A. F/Lt
VESELÝ, J. F/Lt VESELÝ, J. S/Ldr
VALENTA, A. Sgt VALENTA, A. F/Lt
VELA, J. VELLA, J.
VAITL, F. VEITL, F.
VOKURKA, J. VOKURKA, R.
VALEŠ, J. VALEŠ, V.
ZAORAL, F. ZAORAL, V.
ZEINERT, V. ZEINERT, S.
ŽEROVNICKÝ, J. F/O ŽEROVNICKÝ, J. P/O
FRANCE :
DECASTELO, J. DEKASTELLO, J.
ŽEROVNICKÝ, J. ŽEROVNICKÝ, J.[killed in RAF]
DÝMA, E. DÝMA, F.
BENDA, J. BEND,L J.
VYŠEK, V. VAŠEK, V.
Missing Names on Plaque :
BABER, J. D., F/Lt 12/03/42
BLÁHA, O., F/O 02/01/44
BONK, F., W/O 27/07/45
BOROVEC, R., F/Lt 09/11/44
BROŽ, A., W/O 05/10/45
BUREŠ, P., Sgt 02/12/42
FRIEDL, K., LAC 25/06/42
HAYEK, A., F/Sgt 10/04/45
HORKÝ, F., P/O 03/11/42
HRDINA, J., F/Sgt 11/04/42
HUDEC, J. F/O 15/01/41
JELÍNEK, S., Sgt 29/08/43
KOJECKÝ, M., 21/02/43
KORMANOVIČ, I., Sgt, 03/03/42
KOSARZ, W., Sgt, 08/11/40
KOZÁK, P., F/O 28/04/45
KRÁL, Č., Sgt, 21/01/42
KUBÍN, V., Sgt, 17/03/45
KUDLÁČEK, J., P/O 05/10/45
LAŠKA, J., F/Lt 26/04/44
LAUNER, Z., F/Sgt 01/01/45
MAŇÁSEK, M., Sgt 13/07/44
MAREŠ, J., Sgt 17/07/41
MAŠEK, J., Sgt 19/07/45
MAŠEK, S., 22/07/45
MOTYČKA, T., F/O 15/10/44
MRÁZ, B., F/Sgt 07/10/44
NOVÁK, B., (with FAFL) 13/10/43
NOVÁK, M., F/O 07/10/44
PAVLÍK, K., Sgt 05/05/42
PODIVÍNSKÝ, A., Sgt 03/03/42
POLÁK, H., Sgt 29/08/43
RYBNÍČEK, K., F/Sgt 05/10/45

SEDLÁK, Z., F/Sgt 05/10/45

SEDLÁKOVÁ, E., LACW 05/10/45

ŠIMEK, A., Sgt 30/08/43
ŠTULÍŘ, S., Sgt 08/11/41
VACULÍK, F., F/Sgt 20/09/44
VALENTA, J., Sgt 11/01/42
VAVERKA, B., F/O 05/10/45

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