Sergeant RUDOLF SCHOLZ
Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
311 (Czechoslovak) Squadron
Born 10.2.1924 Litvinov, Czechoslovakia
Died 10.4.1945 Tain, Scotland
Buried St John the Evangelist Church, Stoke Row, Oxfordshire
Rudolf Scholz was born on 10th February 1924 in Litvinov, a town in the far west of Czechoslovakia on the border with Germany. Czechoslovakia (as it was known until the separation with Slovakia on 1st January 1993) had been formed as an independent state only 6 years earlier following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the end of World War 1. The new country had a multiplicity of minorities living within its borders, the Sudetenland area where Rudolf’s family lived being primarily ethnic German, and subsequent to the rise of Adolf Hitler – claiming oppression – this minority demanded autonomy from the Czechoslovak Government. In September 1938 the infamous Munich Agreement, sponsored by the French and British Governments, forced the Czechoslovaks to hand over the Sudetenland to Germany.
Rudolf’s family held anti-fascist views and fled to the remaining hinterland of Czechoslovakia. By the time the Nazis invaded and occupied the remainder of Czechoslovakia on 15th March 1939, the British Government had begun to allow a quota of refugees into Britain. Just one day before – on 14th March 1939 – Rudolf, together with his parents Karl and Berta, left with a transport via Poland to England. Following the subsequent invasion of Poland, Britain and France declared war on Nazi Germany on 3rd September 1939 and the world was again at war.
Rudolf was just 15 when he arrived in England and worked as a mechanic, joining the Czechoslovak Army in England on attaining his 18th birthday in 1942. By this time, the losses sustained by the Czechoslovak Squadrons of the Royal Air Force could not readily be replaced, and they looked to the army for recruits. On 16th July 1943 Rudolf transferred to the Royal Air Force, and on completion of his training was posted to 311 (Czechoslovak) Bomber Squadron on 4th November 1944 as a Flight Engineer.
311 (Czechoslovak) Bomber Squadron was at this time based at RAF Tain, north of Inverness in Scotland where, as part of Coastal Command, they were involved in protecting allied shipping by destroying enemy submarines in the Atlantic and the North Sea.
On 10th April 1945 Consolidated Liberator EV 955, with 9 Czechoslovak crew members, took off with 3 other aircraft of the Czechoslovak Section on an anti-U-Boat patrol. It was a very dark morning with poor visibility and 50% cloud cover. The heavy, fully loaded bomber was unable to reach the necessary altitude during take-off and at 04.07 struck the ground some 1500 yards beyond the end of the runway and crashed among the sand dunes behind the beach.
Of the nine crew members, Flight Lieutentant Josef Simet, Flight Sergeant Arnost Hayek, Flight Sergeant Zdenek Palme, Flight Sergeant Otto Kennedy, Sergeant Josef Vanis, and Sergeant Rudolf Scholz were killed in the crash.
Josef Simet, Arnost Hayek, Zdenek Palme and Josef Vanis are buried in St Duthus Old Cemetery in Tain, whilst Otto Kennedy was cremated at Golders Green, London. Rudolf’s parents, however, brought their son’s body to be buried near them and he was laid to rest in the cemetery of St John the Evangelist in Stoke Row, Oxfordshire. Rudolf was 21 years of age. There were just 28 days still to go to the end of the war in Europe.
On Sunday 11th November 2012 the residents of Stoke Row remembered Rudolf in their Services of Remembrance at St John the Evangelist Church and at the Stoke Row Chapel. This brief chronicle of Rudolf’s life has also been published in the November 2012 issue of the “Stoke Row News”, with the final plea to “please spare a thought from time to time for this brave young man in his lonely grave, who gave his life for his country and ours”.
Rudolf is remembered on the Memorial to the Fallen Czechoslovak Airmen at the Military Museum in Prague and also in the Czech Club in London.
His family have sited a plaque in his memory on the wall of his former home in Litvinov.
Rudolf is also remembered through the memorial to all members of 311 (Czechoslovak) Bomber Squadron who gave their lives in World War 2 erected in St Duthus Old Cemetery in Tain, and unveiled by the Ambassador to the Czech Republic on 9th August 2007.
If anyone is able to provide further information about the Scholz Family please contact us.