A Brief Biography of W/O Jaroslav Nýč
(Formerly of 311 (Czechoslovakian) Sqn RAF)
Adapted from an article in ‘The Roundel’
– the station magazine of RAF Bahrain (Sept’ 1963)
As a boy Jaroslav Nýč always wanted to fly and much against his father’s wishes he left college and joined the Czech Air Force in 1935. He trained as a pilot on single and twin-engined aircraft in reconnaissance and bombing, but in March 1939, Czechoslovakia was invaded by Nazi Germany and the young pilot knew that he could not remain in his beloved country, he had to escape and fight for his country’s freedom.
He crossed the border into Poland and went to Krakow in Poland, where, to escape from the shadow of the Nazi jackboot, he went to the French Consulate and signed on as a member of the French Foreign Legion. This enabled him to travel to France and while there he transferred to the French Air Force. France quickly became involved in the war, and the aircraft of Jaroslav’s squadron were destroyed by enemy bombing. After moving up and down the length of France, Jaroslav ended in the south of the country and escaped the Nazis once again, this time by getting on a ship to England.
In July 1940 he became a member of no.311 (Czechoslovak) Squadron of the RAF and was given the captaincy of a Wellington bomber. In September 1940 he started flying on operations and his experiences were, even for those times, often hair raising.One night late in 1940 he established a record of sorts by returning from a raid on Hamburg with forty-seven holes in his aircraft. The following year, having taken off at 2307 hours on another operation to Hamburg, his aircraft was set upon by a night fighter and suffered serious damage. The enemy fighter was almost certainly a Messerschmitt Me.110 of 4/NJG1, probably being flown by Lt Rudolf Schoenert. The Luftwaffe pilot claimed a Wellington as shot down to the west of Lemmer at 0050 hours. After getting his crew to take to their parachutes, Jaroslav attempted to make his own exit. Unfortunately, the escape hatch slammed shut. The Wellington was rapidly losing height, spiralling down from its original 20,000 feet. Jaroslav tried everything to free the hatch, he kicked, banged, knelt and jumped on it, without any visible effect. Incredibly! just as he had given up hope, the hatch suddenly came free and he fell out of the aircraft. After pulling the ripcord on his parachute he passed out and only regained consciousness on the ground in a field full of cows. He rapidly became aware that one very large cow was staring closely at him and before he could move out of the way it brought its head down and gave a monstrous sloppy kiss. This was the night of the 16/17th of July 1941 and Jaroslav’s aircraft was Wellington R1718 KX-N. In addition to F/Sgt Nýč the other crew members were; P/O Otakar Černý; P/O Jaroslavl Zafouk; Sgt František Knap, Sgt Jiří Mareš and Sgt Karel Stastny. All were taken prisoner with the exception of Mares, who drowned in the Zyder Zee after bailing out of the stricken aircraft.
The next morning, Jaroslav and his surviving crew were captured and became POWs (Jiří Mareš’ body was found the next day). At his first prison camp, Jaroslav quickly decided that he would cause the Germans far more concern if he went on the run, so he duly made his escape with eight others by cutting a large hole in a wall and getting out of the camp. The party split up, all heading in the general direction of France. Jaroslav’s group kept walking for seven days, before they were recaptured almost by accident, when a German military fire picquet spotted a small fire that they had lit and came to investigate.
After ‘doing time’ in a number of camps Jaroslav still looking for an opportunity to escape, managed to get himself onto an outside working party by swapping identities with a British soldier, who had been detailed for work in a coal mine. After working two sweaty and dusty shifts, Jaroslav again took the chance to abscond. It was typical December weather, cold and snowy, but Jaroslav kept going for two days, before he was spotted by some suspicious German civilians. His prize for being recaptured was twenty one days solitary confinement when he returned to the camp.
The end of the war came for Jaroslav on the 16th of April 1945 when he was released. He was taken back to Britain and after some weeks was able to return to Czechoslovakia. He joined the newly forming Czechoslovakian Air Force, got married and had a son. By 1949 he had risen in rank and was doing well, but the new communist government were not keen on Czechs who had served in the west. Jaroslav saw many of his former colleagues losing their rank and status and even being imprisoned, because they refused to join ‘the party’. He realised that it was only a matter of time before he himself became the focus of attention and he decided that it was time to escape once more, this time with his family. He decided to ‘borrow’ an aeroplane and he agreed to take three other families with him when he left the country. On a Friday in April 1949 he took off alone on a supposedly normal reconnaissance mission in a Siebel twin-engine communications aircraft. He flew to a disused airfield, where by prior arrangement his ‘passengers’ were waiting. The field was apparently guarded by an armed policeman , but the ‘passengers’ were able to disarm him. Jaroslav taxied up to the escapers and they quickly climbed into the aircraft carrying their luggage. Altogether there were eight adults and four children, including a nine month old baby. The take off run was short and the aircraft strained to get airborne with its heavy cargo. They finally struggled into the air narrowly missing the hedge at the end of the field. For some forty five minutes until they crossed the border, Jaroslav held the throttle against the stop and kept the aircraft low. He then set course for England. The arrival of the Siebel at RAF Manston in Kent caused some excitement. The staff in the control tower could only stare as an exultant group of back slapping Czechs emerged from the aircraft.
Jaroslav once again joined the Royal Air Force and was later to be awarded the Air Force Medal (AFM) for his distinguished service with Air Ferry Command. He had previously been awarded the Czech War Cross for his war-time service. He was later in the nineteen sixties to become the Station Warrant Officer at RAF Bahrain.
© F/Lt John P Rennison retd. 2011