Not forgotten

Whilst the emphasis of this site is very much about the Czechoslovaks who served in the Royal Air Force, it must be remembered that some were unable to complete that journey as they had had made the ultimate sacrifice along their route to England. It is estimated that about 40% of the airmen, serving in the Czechoslovak Air Force at the time Hitler occupied Czechoslovakia in 1939, made their individual decision to leave their homeland and successfully managed to cross the border to Poland. From here, some used this as a staging post before following the ‘Balkan’ route to Yugoslavia where they boarded ships which took them to France and usually enlistment into the French Foreign Legion. Others, prior to war being declared on 3 September 1939, were able to sail from Poland directly to France. Whilst these were the main routes to the West others were also used.

Some however joined the Polish Air Force and fought the Germans when they invaded Poland. In this short and bitter conflict four are know to have been killed but there may have been others as well. Those known are:

Poland:

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KURKA Štefan, Lt., † 02/09/39, Dęblin


Killed in air raid, Dęblin airfield

Buried at War Cemetery “Balonna”, Poland.

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PĚŠIČKA Václav, čet., † 08/09/39, Belźyce.


Shot at Zagórz, near Belźyce, by Polish police who mistook him, for a German airman.

Buried at the Catholic cemetery
, Belźyce, Poland.

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ROUS Zdeněk, Lt., † 02/09/39, Dęblin


Killed in air raid, Dęblin airfield

Buried at War Cemetery “Balonna”, Poland.

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ŠANDOR Ondřej, Lt., † 02/09/39, Dęblin.


Killed in air raid, Dęblin airfield

Buried at War Cemetery “Balonna”, Poland.

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At the Skrzynka Cmentarz wojenny Balonna cemetery, Dęblin, Poland, there are a further three headstones, marked as being of Czechoslovak airmen and have the date of the air raid on Dęblin airfield of 02/09/39. The identities of these have yet to be established as neither Czech or Polish military archives have documents, which survived the war, giving any further details.

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More information of Czechoslovak airmen’s graves in Poland here.

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France:

The Czechoslovak Memorial, 2009.

When Poland fell some of the Czechoslovak airmen travelled South along the ‘Balkan’ route to France where, due to war having now been declared, where enlisted into l’Armée de l’Air  – the French Air Force where they joined their compatriots who had previously had joined the French Foreign Legion. his emphasis of this site is very much about the Czechoslovaks who left their homeland and arrived in Britain where they joined the Royal Air Force, it must be remembered that some where unable to complete that journey as they had had made the ultimate sacrifice on that journey.

Funeral of František Novák who had served in l GC

It is estimated that about 40% of the airmen serving in the Czechoslovak Air Force at the time Hitler occupied Czechoslovakia in 1939, managed to cross the border to Poland. Here, some used this as a staging post before following the ‘Balkan’ route to Yugoslavia where they boarded ships which took them to France and usually enlistment into the French Foreign Legion.

In 1970, Czechoslovak airmen and soldiers who had died in France during the Battle for France in May and June 1940, were re-interred at La Targette, Czechoslovak Military Cemetry, Pas de Calais, France.

The Bohemian Cross, May 1939.

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BARTOŇ František, lieutenant., † 06/10/39, Chartres.


Pilot at CIC Chartres, killed on training flight in Curtis Hawk H75, lost speed and crashed near Chartres.

Interred at grave 143

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BENDL Josef, sergent, † 07/06/40, Amiens.


Pilot with GC I/6. Was killed when his MS-406C, no. 898, fighter aircraft was shot down near Moliens whilst attacking German tanks between Formerie and Forges les Eaux.

Interred at grave 144

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BÍEBERLE František, lieutenant, † 25/05/40, Arras.


Pilot with GC I/6. Shot down during combat flight. Achieved 1+0=1 victories.

Interred at grave 145

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ČERNÝ Jan, sergent, † 11/05/40, Châeauroux.


Pilot with CIB Châteauroux, severely wounded in air raid attack on Ste Anne airfield, died in local hospital from his injuries.

Interred at grave 146

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DEKASTELLO Josef, lieutenant, † 03/06/40, Thieux.


Pilot with GC I/8. Shot down by allied anti aircraft fire. Achieved 1+0=1 victories.

Interred at grave 148

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DÝMA František, lieutenant, † 21/05/40, Senlis.


Pilot with GC III/7, and between 17/06/40 to 18/0640 with GC I/6. Shot down, suffered head injuries and died in hospital.

Interred at grave 147

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EICHELMAN Zdeněk, sergent, † 29/04/40, Toulouse.


Pilot with CIB Toulouse, killed in a training accident.

Interred at grave 149

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FLANEK. Leopold, sergent, † 15/05/40, Ardennes.


Pilot with GC III/2, killed when his MS 406 crash landed in the Ardenes.

Interred at grave 150

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GLEICH Jaroslav, lieutenant, † 13/06/40, Avord-Beaugi.


Pilot with GC II/3, Killed when aircraft crashed. Achieved 2+0=2 victories.

Interred at grave 01061, La Targette

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HAMŠÍK Timoteus, capitaine, † 14/05/40, Sedan.


Pilot with GC I/5. Killed after parachuting from his aircraft.

Interred at grave 151

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HRANIČKÁ Josef, sergent, † 05/06/40, Compiègne.


Pilot with GC I/6. Separated from the rest of his Squadron during combat, was flying alone between Creil and Mondidiere, shot down in MS 406 C.1, no 1035 at 11:40 by a Me 109 and crashed at Compiègne. Achieved 1+0=1 victories.

Interred at grave 173

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KOREC Otakar, lieutenant, † 05/06/40, Agrouves, Somme.


Pilot with GC I/3. Shot down in his D520 during aerial combat.

Interred at grave 174

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KOŠNAR Josef, caporal-chef, † 05/06/40, Amiens.


Pilot with GC III/7, and between 17/06/40 to 18/0640 with GC I/6. Shot down during combat flight.

Interred at grave 175

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KRÁKORA Jan, caporal-chef, † 23/04/40, Senlis.


Pilot with GC I/1. Killed during a training flight D520.

Interred at grave 178

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KRÁL Jiří, lieutenant, † 08/06/40, Montdidier.


Pilot with GC I/1. Killed in combat. HIs Bloch MB 152, no 299, was shot  down about 40 km NW of Paris, managed to escape from the burning aircraft but his parachute failed to open.

Interred at grave 01148, La Targette

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KRÁLÍK Antonín, caporal-chef, † 27/05/40, Amiens.


Pilot with GC I/8, Killed on operational flight. Achieved 1+0=1 victories.

Interred at grave 176

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KŘÍŽEK Jaroslav, sergent, † 15/11/39, Toulouse.


Pilot with CIB Toulouse, killed when his MB.200 bomber aircraft crashed near Toulouse.

Interred at grave 179

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KUČERA Vladimír, sergent, † 14/05/40, d’Etampes.


Pilot with EPP Etampes. Killed during a training flight.

Interred at grave 180

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MIKOLÁŠEK Antonín, lieutenant, † 25/05/40, Remigny.


Pilot with GC II/3. Shot down during operational flight. Achieved  2+0=2 victories.

Interred at grave 182

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MORÁVEK Emil, sergent-chef, † 15/06/40, Heuilley-le-Grand.


Pilot with GC I/5, from 01/06/40 with GC I/8. Shot down and crashed behind German lines, suspected of being shot later.

Interred at grave 167

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NOVÁK František, capitaine, † 27/04/40, Paris.


Pilot. Well known pre war aerobatic pilot of the Czechoslovak Air Force. Went to France in 1939 and joined l’Arme d’Air was posted to CIC Chartres as a instructor. Discharged himself early from hospital following a gastric operation so that he could continue training pilots. Returned from training flight with all stitches broken and died in hospital 3 days later.

Re-interred to  the family tomb at town cemetery at Sokoleč near Nymburk, Czech Republic, in October 2002.

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NOVÁK Jaroslav, sergent-chef, † 15/12/39, Villefort.


Pilot at EP Istres-Miramas, killed in a crash during bomber pilot training.

Interred at grave 185

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NOVÁK Josef, sergent, † 02/06/40, Portet, Toulouse.


Pilot with GC III/3. Killed in training accident.

Interred at grave 184

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POPELKA Stanislav, sergent, † 03/06/40, Ozoir-la-Ferrière.


Pilot with GC I/6. Killed in aerial combat. Achieved  0+1=1 victories.

Interred at grave 186

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RAJTR Miroslav, sergent, † 11/01/40, Chartres.


Pilot at CIC Chartres, killed in a training accident.

Interred at  grave 168

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STOKLASA Jaroslav, sergent, † 04/03/40, Pau.


Pilot at CIB Pau. Killed in training accident.

Interred at grave 169

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VAŠEK Vladimír, caporal-chef, † 02/01/40, Meuse, Malancourt.


Pilot with GC I/5. Killed in aerial collision during combat flight.

Interred at grave 171

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The Bohemian Cross, 2009.

More information of Czechoslovak airmen’s graves in France here.

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Belgium:

BERAN Jindřich, Cpt, † 11/05/40, Wettern, Belgium.

Pilot with GC III/3, achieved  5+0=5 victories. Decorated postumously  with  2 Czechoslovak War Cross’s and a Croix de Guerre with Palm.

Originally interred at Wettern, but on 15/10/1950, following the request of the family was exhumed at reburied in the family vault at Rožná pod Pernštejnem, Czechoslovakia.

More information of Czechoslovak airmen’s graves in Belgium here.

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Russia:

Some Czechoslovak airmen had travelled initially to Poland in 1939 and then further East to Russia were they were initially imprisoned. When Germany invaded Russia, these Czechoslovak airmen were released with some staying with Russian forces whilst others travelled to Murmansk to board Royal Navy ships which would be sailing back to Great Britain where they would be enlisting into the Royal Air Force.

This was a perilous route with constant attacks from the Luftwaffe above or submarines below which resulted in many ships being sunk.

One of these convoys was QP 11 sailing from Murmansk to Oban, Scotland via Iceland. HMS Edinburgh was a cruiser on convoy escort duty, had on board a cargo of Russian gold and also several Czechoslovak airmen who had been released from Russian captivity and also G/Capt Josef Berounský, who was already serving in the RAF and had been on a fact finding mission for the Czechoslovak HQ, in London. HMS Edinburgh left Murmansk on 28 April 1942. The following night, she was damaged in a torpedo attack and more damaged was incurred the following dat when attacked by Ju88’s. The attacks caused considerable damage and HMS Edinburgh had to be abandoned, later to be sunk by British ships. These attacks resulted in many on board to be killed or wounded. Berounský was wounded in these attacks and whilst rescued, he died shortly after from from his wounds and was buried at sea off Iceland.

BEROUNSKÝ Josef, G/Capt., † 30/04/42.


Pilot, HQ London

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Other Czechoslovak airmen were rescued by another ship and were taken back to Murmansk to await another convoy to England. On 13 May 1942 HMS Trinidad, a Fuji class light cruiser which left Murmansk as one of the escorts for a returning convoy. On board were seven Czechoslovak airmen. That night the ship was attacked by a group of 20 Ju 88’s near the North Cape in the Barents Sea. All attacks missed except for one bomb which hit the ship causing it to sink at 73 ° 37 ‘N and 23 ° 27 ‘E. Sixty three on board were killed in this action including:

FERÁK Janf, rt., † 15/05/42.


Pilot

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LAŠTOVIČKA Vratislav, rt., † 15/05/42.


Pilot

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NÁVESNÍK Josef, rt., † 15/05/42.


Pilot

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ZIKMUND Bohuslav, čet., † 15/05/42.


Airman

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Article last updated: 11 January 2014




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