B24 Liberator


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Vaclav Horejsi – 100th Anniversary


On 14 February 2015, Ševětín commemorated the 100th anniversary of the birth of Václav Hořejší, who served as a navigator with 311 (Czechoslovak) Squadron of the RAF.

14. února 2015 Ševětín oslavil 100. výročí narození Václava Hořejsího, který sloužil jako navigátor u 311. (československé) perutě RAF.

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The well attended event commenced with a church service followed by the flypast of two Gripen fighter jest from the Czech Air Force. Speeches were followed by the laying of wreaths and flowers by his memorial near the church at Ševětín.

Vzpomínková akce, na které bylo mnoho přítomných, začala bohoslužbou a pokračovala přeletem dvou Gripenů Vzdušných sil Armády Česke republiky. Po projevech následovalo kladení věncu a květin u památníku u kostela v Ševětíně.

The days events concluded with an exhibition about the life of Václav Hořejší, his service in the RAF, his escape to the west after the Communist take0over in February 1948. WW2 memorabilia were also included in the exhibition.

Události dne byly završeny výstavou o životě Václava Hořejsího, jeho službě v RAF, jeho útěku na Západ po komunistickem převratu v r. 1948. Memorabilia z 2. světove války byla součástí výstavy.




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Vaclav Jicha Memorial unveiled


Akce začala přesně podle plánu ve 14:00. Účastni byli nejen příbuzní Václava Jíchy, z nichž někteří se při této příležitosti setkali poprvé, ale i další vzácní hosté. Byli mezi nimi například velitel Vzdušných sil AČR brig. gen. Ing. Libor Štefánik, plk. ing. Oldřich Pelčák, náhradník prvního čs. kosmonauta a předseda odbočky 26 Praha Svazu letců ČR, která nese jméno plk. Václava Jíchy, DFC, AFC, dále plk. Ing. Míťa Milota, starosta obce Dnešice Karel Malý, autor knih o příslušnících CzRAF Pavel Vančata, členové Spitfire Clubu, zástupci Junáka z Dnešic, spoluautor knihy „Nikdo nebude zapomenut“ Petr Šatra.

The ceremony started as scheduled at 14:00. Attending were not only Václav Jícha’s relatives (some of whom were to meet for the first time) but another distinguished guests as well. They included JUDr Jan Rouček, Director of the Cabinet of Ministry of Defense, Brig. Gen. Ing. Libor Štefánik, Commander of the Czech Air Force, Col. ing. Oldřich Pelčák, backup for the first Czech cosmonaut and Chairman of 26th branch of Svazu letců [the Airman Association of the Czech Republic] which bears the name of Col Václav Jícha, DFC, AFC, Lt.Col. Míťa Milota, Karel Malý, Mayor of Dnešice, Pavel Vančata author of several books about Czechoslovak RAF airmen, members of the Czech Spitfire Club, representative of the Dnešice Scout group and Pert Šatra co-author of the book „Nikdo nebude zapomenut“ [“Nobody will be forgotten”].

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Odhalování zahájila členka Tmavomodrých Vendula Lyachová přivítáním a přednesením programu.

Conducting the ceremony was Vendula Lyachová (from the Tmavomodrý svět goup) who welcomed all those who attendeded and guided through the events program.

Jako první vystoupil ředitel kabinetu Ministerstva obrany JUDr. Jan Rouček, který mimo jiné vyřídil pozdrav od ministra obrany a ocenil snahy o připomínání takových hrdinů občany. Následoval projev velitele Vzdušných sil AČR, jenž zdůraznil, že dnešní Vzdušné síly AČR vycházejí z tradic a hlásí se k takovým pilotům, jakým byl i Jícha. Zmínil i dnešní úkoly letectva. Poté vystoupil MUDr. Jiří Wicherek. Hovořil o tom, že je Tmavomodrým ctí zanechat trvalejší vzpomínku na Václava Jíchu, a uvedl, že národ, který si nepřipomíná své hrdiny, je těžko najde, až je bude potřebovat.

The opening speech was by JUDr. Jan Rouček who conveyed the greetings from the Minister of Defence and acknowledged the efforts of the commemoration for such heroes. Then followed a speech by Commander of the Czech Air Force who stressed that today’s Czech Air Force is based on the traditions and and values of pilots like Jícha. He also mentioned the challenges of today’s Air Force. The final speech was by MUDr. Jiří Wicherek on behalf of the Tmavomodrý svět group who said that it had been their honour that they were able to leave a lasting memorial to Václav Jícha and that if a nation that did not remember their heroes, it would be difficult to find them when they needed them.

Poté zazněla státní hymna České republiky a paní Vendulka Jones, neteř Václava Jíchy, odhalila pamětní desku.

After the Czech national anthem was played, Vendulka Jones, niece of Vaclav Jícha, unveiled the plaque.

Následovalo položení věnců a květin.

This was followed by the laying of wreaths and flower bouquets.

Poté Vendula Lyachová poděkovala přítomným za účast, přečetla seznam přispěvatelů, sdělila, že přebytek finančních prostředků bude poukázán Sdružení Čs. Zahraničních letců 1939-1945. Dále poděkovala kreslíři Pavlu Rampírovi, který nezištně připravil návrh pamětního listu, jenž byl po akci rozdán přítomným.

Vendula Lyachová thanked all for attending and read-out the list of donors, saying that the surplus funds raided would be donated to the the Association of Czechoslovak Airmen Abroad 1939 – 45. Thanks were also given to Pavel Rampír, cartoonist, whose selflessly prepared a draft commemorative sheet that was distributed to those present after the event.

Trubač zatroubením Last Post zahájil symbolickou minutu ticha, kterou pak také ukončil signálem Reveille.

The buglar played the “Last Post” followed by a minutes silence, he then played ‘Reville’.

Účastníci se po formálním ukončení jen neradi loučili a další diskuse se přesunuly do salonku blízké restaurace.

Concluding the ceremony Vendula Lyachová invited all to a nearby restaurant where a lounge had been reserved.

Rodina Václava Jíchy
Family of Václav Jícha

Vendulka Jones s některými členy skupiny Tmavomodří
Vendulka Jones with some of the Tmavomodrý svět group.

Akce měla jednoznačně pozitivní přijetí a těšila se zájmu sdělovacích prostředků. Česká televize připravila reportážní vstup, jenž byl vysílán ve večerních Událostech.

The Czech media covered the event with Czech TV broadcasting a report that evening.

Po ceremonii natočila reportérka Veronika Neprašová z Českého Rozhlasu rozhovor s rodinou V. Jíchy.

After the ceremony, Veronika Neprašová, reporting for Czech Radio interviewed relatives of Vaclav Jícha.

Nezkrácený záznam odhalení, jehož autorem je Jan Šinágl, je na:

A video of the ceremony, by Jan Šinágl, is:




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Svetin schoolchildren remember Vaclav Horejsi


On 6 February 2015 the schoolchildren at Ševětín primary school held a small exhibition of their work to to commemorate the 100th anniversary of F/Lt Václav Hořejší, Navigator with 311 Sqn and was from Ševětín.

Dne 6. února 2015, žáci ZŠ v Ševětíně, připravili malou výstavu svých prací k připomenutí 100. výročí narození F/Lt Václava Hořejšího, navigátora 311. perutě, rodáka Ševětínu.

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Vaclav Horejsi – 100th Anniversary Remembrance



Městys Ševětín připravil u příležitosti 100. výročí narození bývalého příslušníka RAF, navigátora 311. (československé) perutě plk. i. m. Václava Hořejšího vzpomínkové setkání, které se uskuteční v sobotu 14. února 2015…

The Municipal Authority of Ševětín will commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the birth
of Col. (ret.) Václav Hořejší, ex-navigator of 311(Czechoslovak) Squadron RAF,
on Saturday 14. 02. 2014…


12.30 – 12.45 Prezentace hostů
Guests presentation
13:00 – 13:50 Bohoslužba v kostele, doprovodný program v místě setkávání
Church service and accompanying programme
14:00 – 16:00 Zahajovací program v místě setkání, průlet letounů
Opening program including an aircraft flypast
15:00 zpomínka na Václava Hořejšího
Remembrance of Václav Hořejší
16:00 Doprovodný program v restauraci U Zemenů
Accompanying programme at restaurant U Zemenů

Jménem všech organizátorů srdečně zve starostka Městyse Ševětín…

The Mayor of Ševětín cordially invites you on behalf of organisers to attend…

Romana Hajská





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The search for Vaclav Jicha’s Anson


Fateful Flight.
Osudný let

On 1 February 1945, Václav was aboard a Avro Anson NK945 for a training cross-country flight. The aircraft took off at about 14:15 from RAF Kinloss en route to Berwick on Tweed, south-east of Edinburgh. The aircraft was piloted by F/Lt R.D. Fergusson with Václav Jícha as co-pilot and P/O A.S. Davidson, a flight engineer, as passenger. No more was to be heard from the aircraft.

Dne 1. února 1945 Václav prováděl výcvikový navigační let na letounu Avro Anson NK945. Letadlo vzlétlo v asi 14:15 z letiště RAF Kinloss na trať do Berwicku nad Tweedem, jihovýchodně od Edinburghu. Letoun byl pilotován poručíkem R. D.Fergussonem, Václavem Jíchou jako druhým pilotem. Na palubě byl ještě poddůstojník A. S. Davidson, palubní technik. Nikdy víc jsme o tomto letadle neměli slyšet.

Avro Anson.

Prior to take-off the pilot did not obtain a weather report for the route. During the flight, the Anson encountered a heavy snow storm. The pilot tried to return but, at about, 15:45, in bad visibility it crashed on Soutra Hill between Hunters Hall and Turflaw, East Lothian, some 30 yards east of the A68 Edinburgh/Lauder road.

Před startem pilot neobržel zprávu o počasí na trati. Během letu, Anson vletěl do těžké sněhové bouře. Pilot se pokusil o návrat, ale asi v 15:45, při špatné viditelnosti narazil do kopce Soutra mezi Hunters Hall a Turflaw v oblasti East Lothian, asi 27 metrů na východ od silnice A68 vedoucí z Edinburghu do Lauderu.

The crash scene, at Windy Cleugh a glen on Soutra Hill, was found, six days later when at 10:45, David Lees, a shepherd, found the wreckage of the aircraft in deep snow. Parts of the aircraft were strewn over a large area on the side of the hill, with the tail section nearly intact but upside down. It was reported to Sgt William Murdoch at the nearby Lauder Police Station who went to inspect the crash scene but found no sign of life. He return to Lauder and reported the incident to his HQ.

Místo havárie v rokli Windy Cleugh na Soutra Hill bylo zjištěno o šest dnů později. V 10:45 David Lees, pastýř, našel trosky letadla v hlubokém sněhu. Části letadla byly rozházené na velké ploše na úbočí kopce, ocasní část téměř neporušená, ale vzhůru nohama. Nález byl nahlášen Sgt Williamu Murdochovi v nedaleké policejní stanici v Lauderu. Sgt. šel zkontrolovat místo havárie, ale nezjistili žádné známky života. Vrátil se na stanici a oznámila incident nadřízeným.

At 14:00 that day, accompanied by a Doctor from RAF Charterhill Dun, and Police Constable Simpson, Sgt Murdoch returned to the crash scene to recover the bodies. They were joined there by a RAF Engineering Officer from RAF Drem, who took command of the recovery operation. Between them, with they managed to remove one body from the aircraft but without specialist equipment were unable to extricate the other two.

Ten samý den, ve 14:00se Sgt. Murdoch vrátil na místo nálezu spolu s doktorem RAF Charterhill Dunem a s Constable Simpsonem vyzvednout těla. K nim se připojil strojní důstojník RAF Drem, který převzal velení záchranné operace. Podařilo se jim vytáhnout z letadla jedno tělo, ale bez speciálního vybavení nebyli schopni vyprostit další dvě.

The following day a RAF recovery squad, with specialist equipment, returned to the crash scene, and recovered the remaining two bodies from the wreckage.

Následující den se vrátilo na místo záchranné družstvo RAF se speciálním vybavením a vyprostilo zbývající dvě těla z trosek.

F/Lt Václav Jícha was buried at grave 17, section M of the Haddington Roman Catholic graveyard, Haddington, East Lothian.

F / Lt Václav Jícha byl pohřben v hrobě číslo 17, část M římskokatolického hřbitova v Haddingtonu, East Lothian.

While information about the crash of NK945 had been known for many years, the actually crash-site location had not been investigated post-WW2.

Zatímco informace o havárii NK945 byla známy již mnoho let, vlastní místo havárie nebylo v poválečné době zkoumáno.

Looking up at the crash scene from the A68

It was only in 2007 that Kenny Walker and Scott McIntosh, two members of the Air Crash Investigation & Archaeology Group, after careful research into official records and witness statements, went that winter for a preliminary investigation, but because of the deep snow due to the blizzard conditions their search was limited to the north side of the hill.

Až v roce 2007, Kenny Walker a Scott McIntosh, dva členové vyšetřovací a archeologické skupiny zabývající se haváriemi letadel, po pečlivém výzkumu úředních záznamů a výpovědí svědků,se vydali v zimě na předběžný průzkum. Kvůli hlubokému sněhu v důsledku blizzardu se jejich hledání omezilo jen na severní stranu kopce.

Looking down at the crash scene, burnt area still visible.

Kenny Walker returned the following year, armed with metal detector, and undertook a sweep of the valley, the findings indicated that there was the possibility that some artefacts from the aircraft still remained after the crash site had been initially cleared in 1945. The stumps remaining from the trees that the NK945 hit when it crashed being clearly visible.

Kenny Walker se vrátil po roce, vyzbrojený s detektorem kovů, a prohledal údolí. Ukázalo se, že existuje možnost, že některé artefakty z letadla ještě zůstaly na místo havárie, ačkoliv trosky byly sesbírány v roce 1945. Pařezy ze stromů, které poškodil letoun při havárii, byly jasně rozeznatelné.

Royal British Legion Remembrance crosses were laid at the scene of the crash to commemorate the three airmen who had been killed in the crash.

Kříže na místě havárie na památku tří letců, kteří zahynuli při nehodě.

With these positive findings, the arduous process of obtaining the required permissions from the Ministry of Defence, the Scottish Borders Council and landowners permission before any excavations took place.

Na základě pozitivních nálezů zbytků letounu, začal náročný proces získávání požadovaných povolení od ministerstva obrany, Skotské rady a vlastníků půdy k vykopávkám.

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After these permissions were finally obtained, Scottish members of the Air Crash Investigation & Archaeology group returned to the crash site on 26th September 2009 to commence excavations. To record the event The Haddington History Society also attended to film the event.

Po získání těchto povolení, skotští členové vyšetřovací a archeologické skupiny se dne 26. září 2009 vrátili na místo nehody a zahájili vykopávky. Haddingtonská historická společnost se vykopávek také zúčastnila, aby tuto událost natočila.

Throughout the day’s excavation small items of aircraft remains were found ranging from small airframe parts, switches, fuses, broken perspex and battery parts to a RAF cap badge.

Po celý den vykopávek byly nalezeny drobné části letounu od spínačů, pojistek, rozbitého plexiskla a dílů baterie až po odznak na čepici RAF.

The assistance of Kenny Walker and the Air Crash Investigation & Archaeology Group with this article is very much appreciated.




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Josef Bryks Day – Olomouc 4. 2. 2015.


Životopis na Josefa Brykse zde

A biography on Josef Bryks is here




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British Medals awarded to Czechoslovak airmen in WW2


Some pertinent, details of British Orders, gallantry and campaign medals awarded to Czechoslovak airmen during WW2. Fuller details of each medal regarding non-RAF and pre-WW2 / post-WW2 usage can be found on wilkepedia or other resources.

Medals listed in descending order.

Medals are worn on the left side of the recipients chest. The most important medal, or senior medal, is worn on the right of the group. If a number of medals are worn they are often overlapped or mounted on a backing piece, this is known as court-mounted. Valour medals, awarded for bravery, are given greater importance over campaign and service medals.

A list of Czechoslovak airmen awarded Orders and Gallantry medals can be found here.

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Order Medals:

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KCB – Knight Commander of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath

The Most Honourable Order of the Bath has a military and civilian division. The Order has three levels in each division: Knight Grand Cross (GCB); Knight Commander (KCB); and Companion (CB). The Order is the fourth-most senior of the British Orders of Chivalry. Inclusion in the Military Division, regarded as the highest class of British military honour obtainable, is governed by rank. The first two levels confer knighthood. The Companion level was presented to the military for service in the Second World War one of its recipients being Air Marshall Karel Janoušek.

Award Criteria :

The Order has a Civilian and a Military Division and appointment of females is possible. It is mainly awarded to senior military officers for services in action and to people who give distinguished service at senior levels in political and government service.

Description :

Male recipients wear the Commander’s star on the left chest, with the badge suspended from a necklet.

Neck Badge :

The military badge is a gold Maltese Cross of eight points, approx 55mm x 48mm, enamelled in white. Each point of the cross is decorated by a small gold ball; each angle has a small figure of a lion. The centre of the cross bears three crowns on the obverse side, and a rose, a thistle and a shamrock, representing England, Scotland and Ireland, emanating from a sceptre on the reverse side. Both emblems are surrounded by a red circular ring bearing the motto of the Order “TRIA JUNCTA IN UNO'(Latin for “Three joined in one”), a reference to the union of England, Scotland and Ireland and symbolised by the three crowns of the Order. This in turn is flanked by two laurel branches, enamelled green, above a scroll bearing the words ICH DIEN (old German for “I serve”) in gold letters.

The badge has a reverse that is similar in appearance to its obverse.

Breast Star :

The Breast Star of the the Commander is an eight pointed star formed by two Maltese crosses The center disc features a red circular ring bearing the motto of the Order “TRIA JUNCTA IN UNO'(Latin for “Three joined in one”), a reference to the union of England, Scotland and Ireland and symbolised by the three crowns of the Order. This in turn is flanked by two laurel branches, enamelled green, above a scroll bearing the words ICH DIEN (old German for “I serve”) in gold letters.

Ribbon :

The crimson ribbon is 38 mm wide for all three classes.

Clasps :

No clasps or bars are associated with this Order.

History :

The origins of the fourth highest order of chivalry in England the title of the Order date back to 1399, it arose from the ritual washing (inspired by the ritual of baptism), a symbol of spiritual purification, followed by a night of prayer and meditation before the Knights of the Bath attended the mass and then receive there accolade. Medieval knights frequently carried out there vigil of fasting, prayer and purification in the Chapel Royal of St John the Evangelist in the Tower of London.

It was established by King George I by letters patent under the Great Seal dated 18 May 1725, with one class and one division. The Dean of Westminster was made Dean of the Order in perpetuity and King Henry VII Chapel designated as the Chapel of the Order. This patent specifically recalls how in former times ‘upon special occasions a ‘Degree of Knighthood, which hath been denominated the Knighthood of the Bath’, has been conferred’.

In 1815, the decision was formally taken to abolish the ancient rites of bathing, vigils and the other preparations for installation to the Order. From the reign of King James I a special badge with three crowns was appropriated to the Knights of the Bath representing the three kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland.

At the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the Prince Regent later to be King George IV found it necessary to reward many of the distinguished Army and Naval Officers and extend membership of the Order by creating a civilian division for exemplary civilian merit.

It was awarded to military personnel during both World Wars.

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CBE – Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire

Awarded for having a prominent but lesser role at national level, or a leading role at regional level and for a distinguished, innovative contribution to any area.

Awarded to G/Cpt Josef Berounský, G/Cpt Josef Duda, G/Cpt Alois Kubita, S/Ldr Karel Ruckl and G/Cpt Josef Schejbal.

Award Criteria :

The CBE award is the Commander class of the Order of the British Empire and is the mid-rank of the order and is generally awarded for outstanding work in an individual’s respective field.

Description :

The CBE is a 50 mm cross patonce (four arms, each arm growing broader and floriated toward the end) of silver-gilt with the arms enamelled pale blue crosses and crimson rings. The Imperial Crown is mounted to the upper arm.

The obverse has a gold circular centre showing the crowned effigies of King George V and his consort Queen Mary. The centre is surrounded by a circular band, enamelled crimson and bearing the motto FOR GOD AND THE EMPIRE in gold.

On the reverse is a rope circle with the current Royal Cypher, with a hallmark on the lower arm.

The cross is suspended by a crown and a ring.

Ribbon :

Since 1937, the civil ribbon is rose-pink flanked by narrow pearl grey edges whilst the military ribbon has an additional central narrow stripe of pearl grey.

History :

The Order of the British Empire is the order of chivalry of the British democracy. The order was created in 1917 by George V as he recognised the necessity for a new award of honour which could be more widely awarded, in recognition of the large numbers of people in the British Isles and other parts of the Empire who were helping the war effort both as combatants and as civilians on the home front. For the first time, women were included in an order of chivalry, and it was decided that the Order should also include foreigners who had helped the British war effort.

From 1918 onwards there were Military and Civil Divisions, as George V also intended that after the war the Order should be used to reward services to the State, defined in a much wider sense to acknowledge distinguished service to the arts and sciences, public services outside the Civil Service and work with charitable and welfare organisations of all kinds.

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OBE – Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire

The Military Division of the Order of the British Empire recognises distinguished service in the field or before the enemy or for services to the Empire (Commonwealth).

Awarded to W/Cmdr Ján Ambruš, W/Cmdr Jaroslav Hlaďo, S/Ldr Miloš Provazník and W/Cmdr Ferdinand Secký.

Award Criteria :

The OBE award is the Officer class of the Order of the British Empire and is the second rank of the order and is the one that those who have performed very worthy service are admitted to. The Military Division was awarded to commissioned officers and warrant officers in respect of distinguished service in action.

Description :

The post 1936 (current) badge is a 50 mm gilt with a cross patonce (four arms, each arm growing broader and floriated toward the end), with the Imperial Crown to the top arm.

On the obverse, in the centre, within a gold circle contains the conjoint bust of King George V and Queen Mary facing left with the motto “FOR GOD AND THE EMPIRE”

The reverse has the royal and imperial cyphre GRI surmounted by a crown, the whole enclosed in a cable circle, with a hallmark on the lower arm.

The cross is suspended by a crown and a ring.

Ribbon :

Since 1937, the civil ribbon is rose-pink flanked by narrow pearl grey edges whilst the military ribbon has an additional central narrow stripe of pearl grey.

History :

OBE – reverse

The Order of the British Empire is the order of chivalry of the British democracy. The order was created in 1917 by George V as he recognised the necessity for a new award of honour which could be more widely awarded, in recognition of the large numbers of people in the British Isles and other parts of the Empire who were helping the war effort both as combatants and as civilians on the home front. For the first time, women were included in an order of chivalry, and it was decided that the Order should also include foreigners who had helped the British war effort.

From December 1918 onwards there were Military and Civil Divisions, as George V also intended that after the war the Order should be used to reward services to the State, defined in a much wider sense to acknowledge distinguished service to the arts and sciences, public services outside the Civil Service and work with charitable and welfare organisations of all kinds.

_______________________________________________________________

MBE – Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (Military Division)

Awarded to W/Cmdr Vladimír Nedvěd and S/Ldr Arnošt Fantl.

Award Criteria :

The MBE award is the Member class of the Order of the British Empire and is the first rank of the order. Usually awarded to an army officer of the rank of Major, Captain or Lieutenant as a reward for their loyal service.

From 1940 the Sovereign could appoint a person as a Commander, Officer or Member of the Order of the British Empire for gallantry, for acts of bravery (not in the face of the enemy) which ranked below the level required for the George Medal, with the grade being determined by the same criteria as usual and not by the level of gallantry.

Description :

The MBE is a 50 mm cross patonce (four arms, each arm growing broader and floriated toward the end) of silver-gilt. The Imperial Crown is mounted to the upper arm.

The obverse has a circular centre showing the crowned effigies of King George V and his consort Queen Mary. The centre is surrounded by a circular band, enamelled crimson and bearing the motto FOR GOD AND THE EMPIRE in gold.

On the reverse is a rope circle with the current Royal Cypher, with a hallmark on the lower arm.

The cross is suspended by a crown and a ring.

Ribbon :

Since 1937, the civil ribbon is rose-pink flanked by narrow pearl grey edges whilst the military ribbon has an additional central narrow stripe of pearl grey.

History :

The Order of the British Empire is the order of chivalry of the British democracy. The order was created in 1917 by George V as he recognised the necessity for a new award of honour which could be more widely awarded, in recognition of the large numbers of people in the British Isles and other parts of the Empire who were helping the war effort both as combatants and as civilians on the home front. For the first time, women were included in an order of chivalry, and it was decided that the Order should also include foreigners who had helped the British war effort.

From 1918 onwards there were Military and Civil Divisions, as George V also intended that after the war the Order should be used to reward services to the State, defined in a much wider sense to acknowledge distinguished service to the arts and sciences, public services outside the Civil Service and work with charitable and welfare organisations of all kinds.

Vladimír Nedvěd‘s MBE was the only one awarded to a Czechoslovak airman for bravery. On the night of 16/17 December 1940, on only his second operational mission, he was a navigator with a rank of P/O in a 311 Sqn Wellington T2577 (KX-Q) that took-off from East Wretham for a bombing raid of Manheim, Germany. After take-off, at an altitude of about 100 feet, whilst doing its primary circuit of the airfield, the aircraft’s wing-tip clipped some tree tops, heeled over, crashed into the ground a short distance from the airfield and the port engine burst into flames. P/O Nedvěd was uninjured in the crash and managed to escape from the aircraft, finding the co-pilot, who had been thrown from the aircraft in the crash, injured near the aircraft, he dragged him away to safety. Despite the aircraft being engulfed in flames, causing its armaments to exploded, on hearing that cries from the tail-gunner who was trapped in the rear gun-turrett, Nedvěd return to the aircraft to try and rescue him.

For this act of bravery, Air-Vice-Marshall John Baldwin, Air Officer Commanding No 3 Group Bomber Command recommended that Vladimír be awarded the George Cross. However the Honours Committee at the Air Ministry deceided that the ‘case’ fell short of the required criteria for the award of a George Cross and instead approved the award of a George Medal. It was then pointed out to the Selection Committee that the Member of the British Empire medal came next the the George Cross.

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DSO – Distinguished Service Order

Award Criteria :

Awarded for highly successful command and leadership during active operations.

Description :

A gold cross, with curved edges, overlaid in white enamel. The obverse of the medal has at the centre of the cross a raised laurel wreath, enamelled green, surrounding the Imperial Crown in gold, on a red enamelled background. The reverse has a similar raised centre with the laurel wreath surrounding the Royal Cypher ‘VRI’. The suspender is decorated with laurel leaves, and a bar of the same design is positioned at the top of the ribbon.



Ribbon :

Crimson flanked by narrow dark blue stripes at the edges.

Clasp :

A gold bar ornamented by the Crown may be issued to DSO holders performing a further act of such leadership which would have merited award of the DSO.

History :

The Distinguished Service Order was instituted originally to reward junior officers in the Army for distinguished service or acts of gallantry against the enemy. While the Order of the Bath had been available for senior officers and the Distinguished Conduct Medal for the other ranks, no award below the level of the Victoria Cross (VC) had existed for junior officers. The DSO was also made available to junior officers of the other services.

Six DSO’s were awarded to Czechoslovak airmen during WW2.

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Gallantry Medals:

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DFC – Distinguished Flying Cross

Award Criteria :

The Distinguished Flying Cross is a military decoration awarded to personnel of the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force and other services, and formerly to officers of other Commonwealth countries, for “an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying in active operations against the enemy”.

Medal Description :

A cross flory 54 mm wide, in silver, the horizontal and base bars terminating in bombs, the upper bar in a rose. This cross is surmounted by another, composed of aeroplane propellers, charged in the centre with a roundel within a laurel leaf, from which 2 wings stretch across the horizontal bars.
At the centre of the roundel is the RAF monogram surmounted by the
Imperial Crown. The reverse of the cross has at its centre an encircled Royal Cypher above the year ‘1918’.

The medal is issued named.

Ribbon :

Alternate narrow diagonal stripes of white and deep purple.





Clasp :

A silver bar ornamented by an eagle may be issued to DFC holders performing a further act of such valour which would have merited award of the DFC.

History:

Designed by Edward Carter Preston and instituted in 1918, the Distinguished Flying Cross was issued for acts of valour while flying in operations against the enemy to warrant officers and officers of the RAF. It was later made available to equivalent ranks in the Royal Navy and British Army for acts of valour in the air.

During the Second World War, 20,354 DFCs were awarded, the most of any award, with approximately 1,550 first bars and 45 second bars.[4] Honorary awards were made on 964 occasions to aircrew from other non-commonwealth countries.

The equivalent award for the other ranks for acts of valour in the air on operations against the enemy was the Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM), instituted at the same time as the DFC and which was also later made available to other ranks of the Royal Navy and British Army.

A total of 57 DFC’s were awarded to Czechoslovak airmen during WW2. F/Lt Karel Kuttelwascher, the third most successful Czechoslovak fighter pilot of the war achieving the distinction of being the only Czechoslovak airman to be awarded a bar to his DFC during WW2. Three other Czechoslovak airmen, F/Lt Slavomil Janáček, S/Ldr Alois Šedivý and F/Lt Jan Alexander, achieved the distinction of being awarded DFM’s whilst at the rank of NCO and later also being awarded DFC’s when they were officers.

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DFM – obverse

DFM – Distinguished Flying Medal

Award Criteria :

The Distinguished Flying Medal was (until 1993) a military decoration awarded to personnel of the Royal Air Force (United Kingdom) and the other services, and formerly also to personnel of other Commonwealth countries, below commissioned rank, for “an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying in active operations against the enemy”.

Description :

An oval, silver medal, 35 mm wide and 41 mm long. The obverse shows a bareheaded effigy of the reigning sovereign.

The reverse shows Athena Nike seated on an aeroplane, a hawk rising from her right arm above the words FOR COURAGE, all within a laurel wreath.

A bomb with two wings attaches the medal to the ribbon.

Ribbon :

The ribbon is 32 mm wide, and consists of alternate violet and white stripes (1/16 inch wide) leaning 45 degrees to the left.
A violet stripe is to appear in the bottom left and upper right corners when viewed on the wearer’s chest.

Clasp :

Further awards are signified by a straight slip-on silver bar
with an eagle in the centre.

DFM – rear

History :

The medal was established on 3 June 1918. It was the other ranks’ equivalent to the Distinguished Flying Cross, which was awarded to commissioned officers and Warrant Officers (although WOs could also be awarded the DFM), although it ranked below the DFC in order of precedence, between the Military Medal and the Air Force Medal. Recipients of the Distinguished Flying Medal are entitled to use the post-nominal letters “DFM”. In 1993 the DFM was discontinued, and since then the Distinguished Flying Cross has been awarded to personnel of all ranks.

During World War II, 6,637 DFMs were awarded, with 60 second award bars. Some 165 were awarded to aircrew from other non- Commonwealth countries. Fifteen DFM’s were awarded to Czechoslovak airmen during WW2. Sgt Josef František, flying with 303 Sqn (Polish) during the Battle of Britain was the only Czechoslovak to be awarded a bar to his DFM during WW2, 11/9/40 and 4/10/40. Three other Czechoslovak airmen, F/Lt Slavomil Janáček, S/Ldr Alois Šedivý and F/Lt Jan Alexander, achieved the distinction of being awarded DFM’s whilst at the rank of NCO and later also being awarded DFC’s when they were officers.

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AFC – Air Force Cross

All ranks of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Army and RAF in recognition of exemplary gallantry in the air on non active operations.

Description :

A cross, in silver, the obverse (shown here) made up of a thunderbolt surmounted by another cross of aeroplane propellers, the ends of which are inscribed with the letters of the Royal Cypher, the base bar terminated with a bomb and the top bar by the Imperial Crown, with the arms conjoined by wings. A central roundel depicts Hermes mounted on a hawk in flight bestowing a wreath. The reverse bears the image of the Royal Cypher above the date ‘1918’.



Ribbon :

Alternate narrow diagonal stripes of white and crimson.

Clasp :

A silver bar ornamented by an eagle may be issued to AFC holders performing a further act of such gallantry which would have merited award of the AFC.

History :

Instituted in 1918, the Air Force Cross (AFC) was issued for acts of gallantry while flying on non active operations to warrant officers and officers of the Royal Air Force (RAF). It was later made available to equivalent ranks in the Royal Navy (RN) and Army for acts of gallantry in the air.

The equivalent award for the other ranks for acts of gallantry in the air on non active operations was the Air Force Medal (AFM), instituted at the same time as the AFC and which was also later made available to other ranks of the RN and Army.

Following the 1993 review, the AFM was discontinued and the AFC became available to all ranks of all services for exemplary gallantry in the air not in presence of the enemy. It is at the same level as the Queen’s Gallantry Medal, which is awarded for the same degree of gallantry on land or at sea.

Seven AFC’s were awarded to Czechoslovak airmen during WW2.

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Air Force Medal – obverse

AFM – Air Force Medal

Criteria :

The Air Force Medal was (until 1993) a military decoration awarded to personnel of the Royal Air Force (United Kingdom) and other services, and formerly also to personnel of other Commonwealth countries, below commissioned rank, for “an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying, though not in active operations against the enemy”.

Description :

An oval, silver medal, 35 mm wide and 41 mm long. The obverse shows a bareheaded effigy of the reigning sovereign.

The reverse shows Hermes (facing right) is shown, mounted on a hawk in flight and bestowing a wreath, all contained within a laurel wreath. The date 1918 appears behind Hermes on the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II medals.

A bomb is attached to the clasp and ribbon by two wings.

Ribbon :

The ribbon is 31.75 mm wide, and consists of alternate red
and white stripes (1/16″ wide) leaning 45 degrees to the left.
A red stripe is to appear in the bottom left and upper
right corners when viewed on the wearer’s chest.

Clasp :



Air Force Medal – rear

History :

The medal was established on 3 June 1918. It was the other ranks’ equivalent to the Air Force Cross, which was awarded to commissioned officers and Warrant Officers (although WOs could also be awarded the AFM), but ranked below it in order of precedence, between the Distinguished Flying Medal and the Queen’s Gallantry Medal.

The AFM was awarded 259 times during WW2, three of which were awarded to Czechoslovak airmen.

Recipients of the Air Force Medal are entitled to use the post-nominal letters “AFM”. In 1993, the AFM was discontinued, and since then the Air Force Cross has been awarded to personnel of all ranks.

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MC – Military Cross

Crireria :

Awarded to all ranks of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Army, and RAF in recognition of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy on land.

Description :

An ornamental cross in silver, with straight arms terminating in broad finals ornamented with Imperial Crowns. At the centre on the cross is the Royal Cypher (King George VI shown here). The reverse of the cross is plain in design, though at certain times the year of the award has been engraved.



Ribbon :

A central stripe of deep purple flanked by equally sized stripes of white.

Clasps :

A silver bar ornamented by the Crown may be issued to MC holders performing a further act of such gallantry which would have merited award of the MC.

History :

Instituted in 1914, the Military Cross was issued for gallantry in presence of the enemy to warrant and junior officers of the Army who were ineligible (on account of their rank) for the Distinguished Service Order. During World War 1 it was also available to equivalent ranks in the Royal Naval Division and Royal Marines (RM) and it later became available to equivalent ranks in the RAF for acts of gallantry on land.

The equivalent award for the other ranks for gallantry on land in presence of the enemy was the Military Medal which was instituted in 1916 and, like the MC, later became available to RAF other ranks serving on the ground.

Following the 1993 review the MM was discontinued and the MC became available to all ranks of all services for exemplary gallantry on land in presence of the enemy. It is at a level below the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross and is at the equivalent level to the Distinguished Service Cross (for exemplary gallantry at sea) and the Distinguished Flying Cross (for exemplary gallantry in the air).

Not a usual gallantry medal to be awarded to a Czechoslovak airman, the MC awarded to F/O Vilém Kauders was whilst he was serving with the Czechoslovak Army in North Africa in WW2, prior to him volunteering for transfer to 311 Sqn RAF.

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Military Medal – obverse

MM – Military Medal

Criteria :

The Military Medal (MM) was (until 1993) a military decoration awarded to personnel of the British Army and other services, and formerly also to personnel of other Commonwealth countries, below commissioned rank, for bravery in battle on land.

Description :

A circular silver medal of 36 mm diameter. The obverse bears the effigy of the reigning monarch. The reverse has the inscription “FOR BRAVERY IN THE FIELD” in four lines, surrounded by a laurel wreath, surmounted by the Royal Cypher and Imperial Crown. The suspender is of an ornate scroll type.

Ribbon :

The ribbon is dark blue, 31.75 mm wide, with five equal centre stripes of white, red, white, red, and white (3.17 mm each).

Clasps:

Silver, laurelled bars are authorised for subsequent awards.



Military Medal – rear

History :

The medal was established on 25 March 1916. It was the other ranks’ equivalent to the Military Cross (MC), which was awarded to commissioned officers and, rarely, to warrant officers, although WOs could also be awarded the MM. The MM ranked below the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM), which was also awarded to non-commissioned members of the Army.

Recipients of the Military Medal are entitled to use the post-nominal letters “MM”. Over 115,000 awards were made for actions during the First World War. Additionally, over 5,700 bars were awarded, as well as 180 second bars. There was one instance of a third bar being awarded; this was made to Private Ernest Albert Corey, who served as a stretcher bearer in the Australian 55th Infantry Battalion, which served on the Western Front. During the Second World War, over 15,000 awards of the MM were made. The decoration has occasionally been bestowed upon non British or Commonwealth subjects, and has also been awarded to some civilians, with the first such awards being made to two female civilians for actions during the Easter Rising in 1916.

In 1993, the Military Medal was discontinued. Since then the Military Cross has been awarded to personnel of all ranks within the British honours system. Several Commonwealth nations, such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada, have established their own honours systems in the post Second World War era and now award their own gallantry decorations.

Not a usual gallantry medal to be awarded to a Czechoslovak airman, the MM awarded to Sgt Karel Hájek whilst serving with the Czechoslovak Army in North Africa in WW2, prior to him volunteering for transfer to the RAF.

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Campaign Medals:

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Below lists the order of precedence for British campaign medals of World War 2.

1939- 1945 Star
Atlantic Star
Air Crew Europe Star
Africa Star
Pacific Star *
Burma Star
Italy Star
France and Germany Star
Defence Medal
1939 – 1945 War Medal

* not applicable for Czechoslovak RAF personnel as this was not a war theatre the served in.

It was decided that the maximum number of stars that could be earned by one person was five, while those who qualified for more received a clasp to be sewn on the ribbon of the appropriate star. Only one clasp per ribbon was permitted.

British uniform regulations stipulated that neither the Atlantic Star nor the France and Germany Star would be awarded to a recipient of the Air Crew Europe Star. Subsequent entitlement to the Atlantic Star or the France and Germany Star was denoted by the award of the appropriate clasp to the Air Crew Europe Star.

Clasps are usually referred to as ‘bars’. They are single-faced metal bars carried on a ribbon attached to the medal, indicating the recipient’s service in a particular campaign or battle. Usually the first earned Clasp is closest to the medal, so that the latest earned should be at the top.

The possible Atlantic, Aircrew Europe and France & Germany Star combinations are (remembering that the recipient received only the first two earned of these 3 stars)

Aircrew Europe Star with France & Germany Clasp

Aircrew Europe Star with Atlantic Clasp

Atlantic Star with Aircrew Europe Clasp

Atlantic Star with France & Germany Clasp

France & Germany Star with Atlantic Clasp

Due to the different date ranges, it is not possible to have a Aircrew Europe clasp to a France and Germany Star.

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1939-1945 Star

Eligibility Criteria :

The 1939 to 1945 Star was awarded for any period of operational service overseas between 3 September 1939 and 8 May 1945 (2 September 1945 in the Far East).

The criteria is 180 days’ service between these dates, although some special criteria apply when, at certain specified times, just 1 days’ service is required.

RAF air crew qualify with 60 days service in an operational unit including at least one operational sortie. The star was immediately awarded if the service period was terminated by death, disability or wounding. The award of a gallantry medal or a Mention in Despatches also led to an immediate award.

Description :

The 1939–45 Star is a six–pointed star of yellow copper zinc alloy, with a height of 44mm and maximum width of 38mm.

The obverse has a central design of the Royal Cypher, surmounted by a crown. The cypher is surrounded by a circlet containing the words ‘The 1939–1945 Star’.

1939-1945 Star ribbons

Ribbon :

The ribbon has three vertical stripes of dark blue, red and light blue. The dark blue stripe represents the Naval Forces and the Merchant Navy, the red stripe the Armies and the light blue stripe the Air Forces. The three equal bands representing the equal contributions towards victory of the Royal Navy, Army, and the Royal Air Force respectively. Worn with the dark blue stripe furthest from the left shoulder.


Clasp :

Battle of Britain

Air crew of fighter aircraft engaged in the Battle of Britain between 10 July and 31 October 1940, in a qualifying squadron, were awarded the clasp ‘Battle of Britain’ to be worn on the ribbon of the 1939 to 1945 Star. In undress uniform, a silver-gilt rosette was worn on the medal ribbon to denote the award of this clasp.

Bomber Command

The long overdue recognition for the airmen who had served in Bommber Command only came on 26 February 2013 when a Bomber Command Clasp was announced. It is granted to the aircrew of Bomber Command who served for at least 60 days, or completed a tour of operations, on a Bomber Command operational unit and flew at least one operational sortie on a Bomber Command operational unit from the 3 September 1939 to the 8 May 1945 inclusive. This applies to servicemen after they have met the minimum qualification for the 1939-45 Star, which in many cases, though not exclusively, is 60 days.

1939 to 1945 Star with Battle of Britain clasp

Airmen must have already qualified for the 1939-45 Star before their time can count toward the required 60 day qualification period for the Bomber Command Clasp.

Eligibility is extended to those members of Bomber Command aircrew who did not meet the qualifying criteria due to service being brought to an end by death, wounds or other disability due to service, service marked by a gallantry award or taken as a prisoner of war.

Foreign nationals commissioned or enlisted into British or, the then, Dominion Air Forces (e.g. Royal Canadian Air Force or Royal Australian Air Force) are eligible provided the individuals did not receive a similar award from their own government.

Eligibility to the Bomber Command Clasp has no effect upon eligibility for World War 2 recognition previously awarded and does not suggest automatic eligibility for any further awards.

History :

The ribbon for this medal, along with those of the other Second World War campaign stars, is reputed to have been designed by King George VI. The Star campaign medals were designed by the Mint engravers.

Sometimes mistakenly referred to as the ‘Victory medal’.

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Atlantic Star

The Atlantic Star is a campaign medal of the British Commonwealth that was awarded for operational service in British waters and the Atlantic within the period 3 September 1939 to 8 May 1945. Due to British uniform regulations, neither the France and German Star nor the Air Crew Europe Star would be worn by a recipient of the Atlantic Star.

Eligibility Criteria :

RAF air crew qualified after the award of the 1939 to 1945 Star for an additional 60 days service in an operational unit having taken part in operations against the enemy at sea within the specified area.

The star was immediately awarded if the service period was terminated by death, disability or wounding. The award of a gallantry medal or a Mention in Despatches also led to an immediate award.

Air crew members had taken part in active operations within the specified areas, on condition that they had completed two months service in an operation unit after earning the 1939-45 Star.

Any time spent as a Prisoner of War was not counted, unless the recipient had completed the period necessary to earn the 1939-45 Star and then been captured.

Description :

The Atlantic Star is a six–pointed star of yellow copper zinc alloy, with a height of 44mm and a maximum width of 38mm.
The obverse has a central design of the Royal Cypher of King George VI, surmounted by a crown. The cypher is surrounded by a circlet containing the words ‘The Atlantic Star’.

The reverse is plain, although Stars issued to Australian and South African personnel have recipient names impressed.

Ribbon:

Shaded and watered stripes of blue, white and green to represent the Atlantic. Worn with the blue edge furthest from the left shoulder.

Regulations only allow one clasp to be worn with the Star. When the ribbon is worn alone a silver rose emblem on the ribbon of the first star when wearing the ribbons without the medals attached. However due to the recipient being only allowed to wear one emblem there is no way of telling whether they qualified for the Air Crew Europe or France Germany Star as the pattern is the same for both.

Clasp :

British uniform regulations stipulated that neither the Air Crew Europe Star nor the France and Germany Star would be awarded to a recipient of the Atlantic Star. Subsequent entitlement to the Air Crew Europe Star or the France and Germany Star was denoted by the award of the appropriate clasp to the Atlantic Star.

When the Atlantic Star is worn the appropriate clasp can be fitted to the ribbon with the title ‘Air Crew Europe’ or ‘France and Germany’, however regulations state that only the first clasp earned can be worn with the medal.

Air Crew Europe :

Awarded to those who subsequently became entitled to the Air Crew Europe Star.

France and Germany :

Awarded to those who subsequently became entitled to the France and Germany Star.

Atlantic Star with Air Crew Europe clasp.

History :

The ribbon for this medal, along with those of the other Second World War campaign stars, is reputed to have been designed by King George VI. The Star campaign medals were designed by the Mint engravers.

The Battle of the Atlantic took place between 3 September 1939 and 8 May 1945 as German U boats attacked the convoys transporting valuable supplies from America and the colonies to Britain.

Battleships of the Royal Navy and aircraft of the RAF escorted the convoys, hunted the U boats and despite some notable successes by the U boats, the Allies won a comprehensive victory in the Atlantic.

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Air Crew Europe Star

The Air Crew Europe Star is a campaign medal of the British Commonwealth that was awarded for aircrew operations over Europe in World War 2 between 3 September 1939 and 2 September 1944.

Eligibility Criteria :

The Air Crew Europe Star was earned almost exclusively by RAF personnel and can only be awarded after the 1939 to 1945 Star has been qualified for.

The Air Crew Europe Star was awarded for 60 additional days’ service in an RAF Unit engaged in operational flying over Europe from bases in the UK with at least one operational sortie. After 5 Jun 44, operational flying over Europe qualified aircrew for the France and Germany Star.

The recipient was awarded this star if their service period was terminated by their death or disability due to service. Also the award of a gallantry medal or Mention In Despatches also produced the award of this medal, regardless of their service duration.

Non-aircrew personnel had to complete 6 months service in an area of operational army command.

Description :

The Air Crew Europe Star is a six–pointed star of yellow copper zinc alloy, with a height of 44mm and a maximum width of 38mm.

The obverse has a central design of the Royal Cypher of King George VI, surmounted by a crown. The cypher is surrounded by a circlet containing the words ‘The Air Crew Europe Star’.

The reverse is plain.

Air Crew Europe ribbons

Ribbon :

A wide central stripe of light blue, flanked at the edges by narrow stripes of yellow and black to symbolise the continuous service of the Air Force by night and day.


Clasp :

Regulations only allow one clasp to be worn with the Star. When the ribbon is worn alone a silver rosette ribbon emblem is worn to denote the award of a clasp.

Atlantic :

Awarded to those who subsequently became entitled to the Atlantic Star.

France and Germany :

Awarded to those who subsequently became entitled to the France and Germany Star.

Air Crew Europe Star with Atlantic and France & Germany clasps.

History :

For aircrew operations over Europe in World War 2. The strategic bombing campaign against German industrial cities, military installations, and a wide variety of other targets continued throughout the War and made a decisive contribution to Allied victory.

The RAF endured significant losses of both men and aircraft but by the end of the War the campaign had severely curtailed German industrial production and virtually immobilised her military power.

The ribbon for this medal, along with those of the other Second World War campaign stars, is reputed to have been designed by King George VI, with the three equal bands representing the equal contributions towards victory of the Royal Navy, Army, and the Royal Air Force respectively. The Star campaign medals were designed by the Mint engravers.

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Africa Star

World War 2 medal for battles in Africa

Eligibility Criteria :

Star awarded for 1 or more days’ service in North Africa, Malta or Egypt between the above dates.

The qualifying areas for the Africa Star also include the earlier areas of conflict against the Italians in East Africa; those serving in Abyssinia, Sudan, Eritrea, Kenya or Somaliland between certain other specified dates will also qualify.

RAF air crew landing in or flying over an area of an Army operational command or flying over enemy occupied territory in North Africa will also qualify.

Service with either the 1st or 8th Army in North Africa during certain specified dates qualify for award of the ‘1st Army’ or ‘8th Army’ clasp to be worn on the ribbon of the Africa Star.

Description :

The Africa Star is a six–pointed star of yellow copper zinc alloy, with a height of 44mm and a maximum width of 38mm. The obverse has a central design of the Royal Cypher of King George VI, surmounted by a crown. The cypher is surrounded by a circlet containing the words ‘The Africa Star’.

The reverse is plain, with no naming.

Ribbon:

Pale buff to symbolise the desert, overlaid with a central red stripe and one narrow stripe each of dark and light blue to represent the 3 services. Worn with the dark blue stripe furthest from the left shoulder.

Clasp :

Service with either the 1st or 8th Army in North Africa during certain specified dates qualify for award of the ‘1st Army’ or ‘8th Army’ clasp to be worn on the ribbon of the Africa Star.

There were 3 clasps for this medal: 8th Army, 1st Army and North Africa 1942-43. Only one bar could be worn on the medal. If a recipient was entitled to more than one clasp, they wore the first clasp gained.

History :

In North Africa, British forces fought against the Germans and Italians between 10 June 1940 and 12 May 1943.

Italy entered the war in July 1940 when their forces invaded British colonies in East Africa. When the British fought back Germany sent troops to help the Italians. The British were then weakened after sending forces to aid Greece and German forces advanced, taking control of large areas of Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.

The desert conflict continued with the balance of power shifting between the 2 sides until the British eventually secured victory on 12 May 1943 when the remaining German forces surrendered at Tunis.

Some historians consider the British victory over the German forces here to have been the turning point in the war which led to victory

The Star campaign medals were designed by the Mint engravers.

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Italy Star

The Italy Star was a campaign medal of the British Commonwealth, awarded for service in World War II.

Eligibility Criteria :

This medal was awarded for 1 days operational service in Sicily, Italy or Yugoslavia during the period 11th June 1943 to 8th May 1945.

RAF personnel had no prior time qualification. Qualification involved participation in aircrew service within the Mediterranean theatre, including sorties from the Mediterranean area over Europe.

Entry into Austrian Territory during the last few days of the Second World War qualified for this star.

The Star was awarded to those who have earned it whatever other Campaign Stars may be granted in addition for services in WW2.

Description :

The Italy Star is a six–pointed star of yellow copper zinc alloy, with a height of 44mm and a maximum width of 38mm.

The obverse has a central design of the Royal Cypher of King George VI, surmounted by a crown. The cypher is surrounded by a circlet containing the words ‘The Italy Star’.

The reverse is plain and issued unnamed by the British Government.

Ribbon :

The ribbon for this medal is 32mm wide and, along with those of the other Second World War campaign stars, is reputed to have been designed by King George VI. Equal width stripes of red, white, green, white and red represent the colours of the Flag of Italy.

Clasp :

There were no clasps awarded with the Italy Star.

Campaign History :

After victory in North Africa, the Allies used the position of Tunisia and Malta to invade Sicily. This campaign in Sicily took place from 10 July 1943 to 17 August 1943.

After this swift victory, the Allies pressed on into Italy, with this campaign beginning on 3 September 1943, and also invaded Italian occupied Greece, Yugoslavia, Corsica and Sardinia. The campaign in Italy itself continued to the end of the war in Europe on 8 May 1945.

The Star campaign medals were designed by the Mint engravers.

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Burma Star

The Burma Star was a campaign medal of the British Commonwealth, awarded for 1 or more days service in Burma between 1941 to 1945.

Eligibility Criteria :

RAF air crew engaged in operations against the enemy will also qualify provided that at least one operational sortie has been completed.

Those serving in Bengal and Assam (in India), China, Hong Kong, Malaya or Sumatra between other specified dates will also qualify.

Description :

The Burma Star is a six–pointed star of yellow copper zinc alloy, with a height of 44mm and a maximum width of 38mm. The obverse has a central design of the Royal Cypher of King George VI, surmounted by a crown. The cypher is surrounded by a circlet containing the words ‘The Burma Star’.

The reverse is plain, with no naming.

Ribbon :

Dark blue overlaid with a central red stripe to represent the Commonwealth Forces and 2 narrow stripes of orange to symbolise the sun.

Clasp :

There were no clasps awarded with the Burma Star.

Campaign History :

The campaign in Burma took place between 11 December 1941 and 2 September 1945, during which time the Japanese invaded Burma, driving British forces to the Indian border. As the Japanese held superiority in the Pacific it wasn’t until early in 1944 that the Allies were in a position to strike back and regain a foothold in Burma with the aim of finally defeating the Japanese in the Pacific and Far East.

Total surrender of the Japanese came on 2 September 1945 following the dropping of the atom bombs by the Allies on 2 Japanese cities.

PoWs were forced to labour on construction projects such as railway building (as depicted in the film ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’) and were frequently tortured and starved. Around 13,000 British soldiers and 2,000 civilians died in Japanese wartime camps.

The Star campaign medals were designed by the Mint engravers.

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France and Germany Star

The France and Germany Star was a campaign medal of the British Commonwealth, awarded for operational services in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany between June 6th, 1944 (D-Day) and the May 8th, 1945, the German surrender and end of hostilities in Europe.

Eligibility Criteria :

Air Force aircrew had to make one operational sortie over Europe within the above dates and appropriate land or sea areas. Personnel who flew operations over Europe from Mediterranean bases did not qualify for this award either but for the Italy Star medal.

Non-aircrew personnel qualified under the same conditions as the Army.

British uniform regulations stipulated that neither the Atlantic Star nor the Air Crew Europe Star would be awarded to a recipient of the France and Germany Star. Subsequent entitlement to the Atlantic Star was denoted by the award of the Atlantic clasp. A clasp for the Air Crew Europe Star was not issued as that Star could not be earned after 5 June 1944.

The Star was not awarded in addition to the Atlantic Star or the Air Crew Europe Star. If a candidate should qualify for these three Stars or two of them, the Star first earned will be awarded. If the France and Germany Star is awarded under these conditions a Clasp will be awarded for service which would qualify for the Atlantic Star. A silver rose Emblem will be worn to denote the award of this Clasp.

Description :

The France and Germany Star is a six–pointed star of yellow copper zinc alloy, with a height of 44mm and a maximum width of 38mm.

The obverse has a central design of the royal cypher of GRI VI with a crown positioned on the circlet at 12 o’clock.

The cypher is surrounded by a circlet containing the words ‘The France and Germany Star’.

The reverse is plain, with no naming.

Ribbon :

Generally 32 mm wide with five equal stripes of (from left to right) blue, white, red, white and blue. These were chosen as being symbolic of the national colours of France, Netherlands, and the United Kingdom Union Flag. Being noted that Belgium is not represented.

When the ribbon is worn alone a silver rosette ribbon emblem is worn to denote the award of a clasp.

Clasps :

Due to the different date ranges, the combination of a Aircrew Europe clasp to a France and Germany Star is not possible.

Atlantic :

The Clasp with the title ‘Atlantic’ was awarded to the recipient qualifying for the France & Germany Star and the Atlantic Star. This was attached to the ribbon of the France and German Star to show service rendered. A second clasp to this Star was not awarded.

France and Germany Star with Atlantic clasp.

Campaign History :

Concurrently to the campaigns in the Far East, the Allies were preparing for a final campaign in Northwest Europe. On 6 June 1944 (D-Day) British, American and Canadian forces landed on the beaches of Northern France.

Over the next year the British, American and Canadian forces advanced across Western Europe, liberating German occupied France, Belgium and the Netherlands. At the same time the Russians advanced from the East, through German occupied Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Austria towards Berlin.

German forces surrendered when the Allies reached Berlin, bringing the war in Europe to an end on 8 May 1945.

The Star campaign medals were designed by the Mint engravers.

_______________________________________________________________

Defence Medal: 1939 to 1945

One of the two medals, the Defence Medal and the War Medal, which were issued in recognition of general service in World War 2. These are circular medals made in cupronickel.

Eligibility Criteria :

The Defence Medal was awarded for service in the forces in non-operational areas subjected to air attack or closely threatened for at least three years service in Great Britain until 8th May 1945 or one year in territories overseas until 2 September 1945.

The type of service in the UK included those service personnel working in headquarters, on training bases and airfields and members of the Home Guard.

The Defence Medal was also awarded for non operational service overseas, for example in India or South Africa.

The qualifying period was dependant on the area being served:

Defence Medal – rear

UK – 1080 days

Overseas, non-operational 360 days

Overseas, non-operational but with close threat or air attack 180 days.

Description :

The award has the uncrowned head of King George VI on the obverse.

The reverse shows the Royal Crown resting above a small oak tree and flanked by two heraldic lions. The dates 1939 and 1945 appear in the top left and right respectively on the reverse, whilst beneath are the words ‘The Defence Medal’. The medal is made of a Cupro-Nickel combination.



Ribbon :

The light green ribbon is 31.75 mm wide with a central stripe of orange, which is 6.35 mm wide, and a narrow black stripe in the middle of each green stripe. The orange flame colour symbolise enemy attacks on Britain’s green and pleasant land and the black stripes represents the black-outs.

Clasp :

None issued.

History :

_______________________________________________________________

War Medal 1939 – 1945

The War Medal 1939–1945 was awarded to all full time service personnel of the Armed Forces in recognition of general service in World War 2 wherever their service was rendered.

Eligibility Criteria :

The War Medal 1939-1945 was awarded to all full time personnel of the armed forces of the British Commonwealth (excluding the Home Guard) and Merchant Navies for having served at least 28 days, operational or non-operational, between September 3rd 1939 and September 2nd 1945

The medal was granted in addition to the other campaign stars and the Defence Medal. A few categories of civilians, such as war correspondents and civil air transport crews also qualified.

Description :

The British issue of this circular medal is made of cupro-nickel and were issued unnamed. It is 36mm in diameter. The obverse shows the crowned head of King George VI, facing left, and the legend GEORGIVS VI D : BR : OMN : REX ET INDIAE IMP :.

1939-1945 War Medal – rear




The reverse of the medal shows a lion standing on the body of a dragon. This dragon is double-headed, one of an eagle and one of a dragon to signify the principal occidental and oriental enemies. Above are the dates 1939 and 1945.






Ribbon :

In the colours of the union flag, the ribbon is 32mm wide with a narrow central red stripe flanked by narrow white stripes , wider blue stripes and then red.

Clasps:

A single oak leaf emblem is worn to signify a “Mention-in-Despatches” and the silver oak leaf signifying a “King’s Commendation for Brave Conduct” is worn on the medal. There are no bars or clasps other than these emblems.

History :

The medal was established on 16 August 1945 and had been designed by Edward Carter Preston.

_______________________________________________________________




Posted in 310 Sqd, 311 Sqd, 312 Sqd, 313 Sqd, 68 Sqd, Information | 1 Comment

Convoy Protection – Frantisek Weber


Ochrana konvoje
Convoy protection

vzpomínky Františka Webera, 310 perutě

memories by František Weber, 310 Sqn

Letiště naší squadrony je někde na jihu Anglie blízko Kanálu. Tak blízko že hned po startu se díváme do šedých, někdy klidných ale častěji rozbouřených a ne příliš vábně vypadajících vln Kanálu. Jsme v readiness od svítání a je lednové ráno s citelným mrazíkem. Je ještě hodně šero a na bezmračném nebi svítí ještě spousta hvězdiček, jakoby naschvál zdržovaly blížící se rozednění. Mechanici zahřívají motory našich Hurricanů. Piloti nesou si padáky a letecké kukly do svých letounů. Zdá se, že bude hezký den. Vracíme se rychle do pilotního baráčku ke kamnům, jež sálají příjemné teplo. Přitahujeme křesla a židle blíž ke kamnům v bláhové naději na příjemnou siestu u kamen.

The airfield of our squadron [310 Sqn] is somewhere in the south of England close to the English Channel. So close that soon after the take-off, we look into the grey, sometimes peaceful and quiet but more often turbulent and not too tempting-looking waves of the Channel. We are in the readiness from daybreak and it is January morning with considerable frost. There is still a lot of gloom and the cloudless sky is full of shining stars, as if they would purposely be delaying the approaching dawn. The mechanics warm up the engines of our Hurricanes. The pilots carry their parachutes and flying-helmets to their aircraft. It seems to be a nice day. We return quickly back to the stove in our barracks, which radiates a pleasant warmth. We bring the chairs and seats closer to the stove in the futile hope for a pleasant siesta by the warm siesta.

Opravdu bláhová naděje. „Red section up“, křikne telefonista z vedlejší místnosti. A je po siestě – alespoň pro red section. Ostatní si ji zatím rozhodně nenechají rušit a baví se vesele na účet 3 pilotů, kteří spěchají z příjemného tepla mrazivým ránem ke svým letounům, jichž motory jsou již v chodu. Mechanik pomůže upoutat pilotu do sedadla.

Really a foolish hope. “Red section up,” shouts the telephone-operator in the next room. The siesta is over – at least for the red section. Others certainly do not let it interfere with themselves and merrily have fun on account of the three pilots who rush from the pleasant warmth through the frosty morning towards their aircraft, whose engines are already running. The mechanic helps the pilot to get strapped into the seat.

Pilot přeběhne v rychlosti zrakem všechny přístroje a páky, je-li vše v pořádku a na mechanikové zdvižené „OK“ Sir? Odpovídá kývnutím hlavou a mechanik seskakuje z křídla rozjíždějícího se letounu. Mike – vedoucí roje rozžíhá polohová světla, poněvadž je ještě hodně šero. Jack a já děláme podobně a po letištní ploše, mrazem jakoby stříbrem pokryté rozjíždí se 3 letouny.

The pilot quickly glances over the instruments and checks the levers, to check if everything is in order and at the mechanic´s lifts his thumb and asks “OK” Sir? The pilot responds by a nod of his head and the mechanic jumps down from the wing of the airplane. Mike – the section leader switches on the navigation lights, because there is still a lot of gloom. Jack and I do the same, and three aircraft taxy over the apron, which looks silver-plated because of the frost.

Stoupáme v okruhu kolem letiště a Mike volá pozemní radiostanici, že red section je „airborne“. A člověk si tak skoro připadá, stoupá-li z toho přízemního šera, zesíleného lehkým závojem mlhy, která při pohledu se shora vypadá jakoby roztrhán, přerušován, tvoří ostrovy, pásy jako u nás na podzim, když se pálí bramborová nať a kouř se roztéká do polí. „Kurz 220°, výška 15.000 feet“, slyším ve sluchátkách controlora dávající pokyny Mikeovi. Rovnou tedy nad Kanál. Zhasínáme polohová světla. Stoupáme v nařízeném kurzu. Za chvíli přelétáváme pobřeží a jsme nad Kanálem. V lednovém ranním šeru vypadá nevábně, studeně. Ponurá šedivá plocha, jejíž ponurost ruší bílé skvrny – to jak vlny na sebe narážejí a lámou se v bílém pěnivém hřebenu. V dáli vpravo je vidět obrysy anglického pobřeží. Pozemní stanice dává rozkaz kroužit.

We go up and circle the airfield and Mike, on his radio, calls the ground station that red section is “airborne”. A man so nearly falls when climbing from the ground in the gloom, intensified by a light veil of mist, which when viewed from above looks like it was torn, interrupted, consisting of islands, bands just like us in the Autumn when the smoke from burning potato leaves drift away over the fields. “Heading 220, height 15,000 feet,” I can hear the dispatcher giving instructions to Mike in my headphones. Thus, straight to the Channel. We switch- off the navigation lights and are climbing to the ordered heading. We are flying over the coast-line and in a moment and are over the Channel. It looks unattractive, cold in the January morning gloom. The bleak grey area, which is breached by white spots – when two waves collide and break into a white foaming crest. In the distance, on the right the outlines of the English coast can be seen. Our ground station gives the orders to circle.

Díváme se a napínáme zrak dolů na hladinu. Opravdu – pod námi seřazený konvoy. Sestupujeme níž do 10.000 feet, poněvadž v šedivé hladině je dost těžko pozorovatelný. Nás musí být proti jasnému nebi krásně vidět a mohou bezpečně poznat, že jsme vlastní. Měníme sestavu letouny za sebou. Lépe se to v stálém kroužení létá. Létáme stále tak, abychom měli convoy stále v dohledu. Díváme se bedlivě na všechny strany, kdyby se snad některý Němec sem zatoulal a pokusil se složit svůj náklad na convoy, abychom mu popřáli „good morning“. Nic se však neděje. Nahoře je absolutní klid – letoun ve vzduchu opravdu „sedí“, nejmenší náraz není cítit.

We are looking and straining our eyes down to the surface. Indeed – the convoy is lined up below us. We descend to 10,000 feet, because it is quite difficult to observe it against the grey surface. We must be easily seen against the clear sky and they should know for sure that we are allies. We’re changing our formation to aircraft following each other. It is easier to fly that way with the constant circling. We are flying with the convoy in our sight every second. We watch closely on all sides of them in case a German wanders towards the convoy and drop his load on them to wish them a “good morning”. But nothing is happening. Above it is absolute calm – the aircraft is flying very smoothly in the air, not the smallest impact can be felt.

Obzor na východě rudne a přechází pak nahoru dále v jasnější barvu až nahoře přechází v jasnou slabounce namodralou skoro bílou. A opět vrací se pozornost ke convoji. Nyní už rozpoznat Destroyery patrolující po stranách, v předu i na zádi convoje jako vlčáčtí psi kolem stáda. Chlapci na lodích jsou jistě také na stráži. Mají těžkou zodpovědnou a nezávidění hodnou službu. Dívám se směrem k pobřeží a najednou vidím proti jasnějšímu východu siluetu letounu letícího podél pobřeží proti směru našemu asi 5.000 stop níže než my. Upozorňuji vedoucího rádiem, ale poněvadž vím, že by ho asi těžko našel, předlétávám a skláním letoun v ostrém piké kolmo na směr letícího letounu. V zrcátku vidím, že Mike a Jack jdou za mnou. Zapínám světlo zaměřovače na „on“ a pojistku na „fire“.

The eastern horizon is turning red and then further up goes into brighter colours all the way to faint bluish almost to white. And again attention returning back to the convoy. We can now recognise the destroyers patrolling on the sides, in front and to the rear of the convoy as German shepherd around a herd. The boys on-board are certainly also on guard. They have got a heavy and unenvious responsibility and do worthy service. I look towards the coast and suddenly against the brighter East I can see the silhouette of an airplane flying along the coast in the opposite direction at about 5.000 feet lower than us. I warn the leader on the radio, but because I know that it would probably be difficult for him to spot it, I over fly him and bow the aircraft into a stark pique at a right angle to the direction of the flying airplane. In the mirror I can see that Mike and Jack follow me. I switch-on the gunsight lights s on “on” and set the guns to “fire”.

Nemohu zatím poznat o jaký letoun jde. Se zkracující se vzdáleností silueta je také patrnější; může to být Blenheim, Beaufort, ale také Ju 88. Teď konečně poznávám, že je to Beaufort od Coastal Command. V tom okamžiku také objevuje se za letounem raketa skutečně odpovídající kódu na tuto dobu. Posádka nás už také tedy spatřila a pilot prudce potlačuje letoun a jde do zatáčky. Nevěří nám asi. Myslí si: „co kdyby si to ti rošťáci stíhači spletli, nevšimli si rakety a vpálili mi nějakou do těla“. Musím se v duchu smát jeho obavám (někdy oprávněným), ale nedá mi to a pokračuji v útoku „very close“ (bez palby ovšem) a přelétávám těsně nad střelcem, jehož kulomety jsou výhružně obráceny proti mně. Táhnu letoun do stoupavé zatáčky a řadím se opět za Mika a Jacka, kteří si rovněž poctivě zaútočili, aby si ten Beaufort nemyslel, že si může jen tak lehce potulovat podél pobřeží.

I cannot recognise the type of the aircraft yet. The silhouette is getting more evident by the shortening distance; it may be a Blenheim or Beaufort, but also a Ju 88. Now I finally recognise, that it’s a Beaufort from Coastal Command. At this very time a flare actually corresponding to the code for today appears behind the aircraft. Its crew had also spotted us and the pilot violently dives the airplane and goes into a turn. He probably does not trust us. He thinks, “what if those ruffian fighters get it wrong, and do not recognise the flares and fired somewhat into me.” I have to smile at his fears (sometimes legitimate), but I can´t help myself and continue the attack to “very close” (but without the fire, of course), and overfly very close to the air gunner, whose guns are turned against me menacingly. I drag the airplane into a climbing turn and join Mike and Jack, who also attacked devotedly, so that the Beaufort would not think that he can just so easily wander along the coast.

Vracíme se nad convoy. Na východě již slunéčko vyšlo, ale v přízemní mlze vypadá jako rudá koule jak je někdy vídat při západu slunce. Pozemní radiostanice nám dává kurz domů. Vracíme se k pobřeží, kde se zatím utvořilo silné kouřmo, takže je vidět pouze kolmo dolů. Letiště také vidíme až když jsme těsně nad ním – dík kontrolorovi v operation roomu, který nás pomocí rádia přivedl až na letiště. Opravdu tyto operation roomy se štábem pomocného personálu zaměřovací stanice jsou k nezaplacení. Velmi velmi často pomohou pilotovi z nouze. A tak po 1 ½ hod. letu přistáváme aniž bychom si vystřelili. Nevadí – snad příště. A nyní hurá na vydatnou snídani.

We return over the convoy. The sun has already risen in the east, but it looks like a red ball in the mist as often seen during a sunset. The ground station gives us the course for home. We return to the coast, where a thick haze is forming so you can see only straight down. We can see the airfield only when we we are just above it – thanks to the controller in the operation room, who brought us by the radio to the airfield. These operation rooms with a crew of support staff are priceless indeed. Very often they help pilot in an emergency. And so, after 1 ½ hour of flight we land without the opportunity to take a shot. Never mind – maybe next time. And now let’s go for a hearty breakfast.

© František Weber




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When Lions Roar



When Lions Roar


A brief history of the some 2,500 Czechoslovak airmen
who fought with the RAF during World War II.

by

Nicholas Watson


Following the infamous 1938 Munich Agreement that dismembered Czechoslovakia and the inevitable annexation of the rest of the country by the Nazis the following year, many Czechoslovak patriots escaped to fight with the Allies in World War II.

Some 2,500 Czechoslovak airmen joined the British Royal Air Force, serving with distinction and in a fith of cases paying with their lives. Those that returned to Czechoslovakia after the war, many with horrific injuries, were persecuted by the Communists, who wanted to maintain the fiction that it was only the Soviets who had liberated Czechoslovakia.

This is the story of those airmen.


Publisher: Trinity Publications
Published: August 2014
Cover: Paperback
Language: English
Pages: 81
Price: 250 Kč / € 8.9

Available from Shakespeare & Sons




Posted in 310 Sqd, 311 Sqd, 312 Sqd, 313 Sqd, 68 Sqd, Books, Victim of Communism | 4 Comments