On 9 June 2018, a memorial plaque was unveiled at Sloupnice for F/Lt Jiří Mikulecký 312 Sqn pilot who was born in the village.
The plaque was unveiled by Mr Josef Škeřík, Mayor of the village and Mrs Jan Stott, daughter of Jiří Mikulecký with the national anthem sung by children from the local school.
Jiří Mikulecký was born on 16 September 1918 at Horní Sloupnice near Ústí nad Orlicí, Czechoslovakia.
Before WW2 served as a pre-war Czechoslovak Air Force pilot with the 12th Flight of the 3rd Air Regiment.
After the German occupation of Czechoslovakia in March 1939, the Czechoslovak military was disbanded with all its personnel released from their military service. Many of them, however, planned to escape to Poland from where they would join Czechoslovak military units so that they could fight for the liberation of their homeland. In Jiří’s case, he managed to escape on 25 August, just before the German invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939.
Initially, the Czechoslovak escapers in Poland, traveled east to avoid capture by the Germans, but when, on 17 September 1939, the Soviets invaded Poland from the East, they were captured. For Jiří this meant that his next two years were spent in 14 different Soviet camps and prisons. Following the German invasion of Russia in June 1941, the Soviets released their Czechoslovak military prisoners so that they could fight for them. For Jiří this meant a short period in the Soviet Air Force until early 1942 when negotiations took place between the British and the Soviets so that these Czechoslovaks could be released from their Soviet deployment and brought to Britain to join Czechoslovak forces there. Under the command of G/Cpt Josef Berounský, a group of Czechoslovak airmen traveled to Murmansk where on 28 April 1942, they boarded the Royal Navy cruiser HMS Edinburgh and set sail for Britain. Two days later, in the Barents Sea, HMS Edinburgh was sunk by a German submarine. Jiří was amongst those rescued by a Royal Navy minesweeper and returned to Murmansk.
On 13 May 1942, with six other Czechoslovak airmen, Jiří set sail aboard another Royal Navy cruiser, HMS Trinidad for the voyage to Britain. Two days later, following attacks by twenty Luftwaffe Ju 88’s the HMS Trinidad was badly damaged and had to be scuttled. Jiří along with fellow Czechoslovak airmen Jan Šťastný and Jaroslav Hlađo, were rescued by an escorting Royal Navy destroyer and taken to Iceland and then onto Britain.
Here, Jiří joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve, from where he was sent to Canada for pilot training. On completion of that training in the Spring of 1944, he returned to Britain and that July posted to 312 (Czechoslovak) Sqn RAF as a fighter pilot.
When the war ended, Jiří returned to Czechoslovakia on 13 August 1945 and remained in the Czechoslovak Air Force. He was posted to České Budějovice where he was Commanding Officer of the 4th Air Regiment, a post he held until the Communist putsch of 15 Feb 1948. Following that putsch, he was dismissed from the Czechoslovak Air Force.
On the night of 18 May 1948, With his English wife Sheila, and former RAF colleagues Vladimír Soukup, Jaroslav Šodek, Václav Ruprecht and Vladimír Kopeček, they ‘borrowed‘ a Siebel 204 OK-ZDJ aircraft from České Budějovice airbase. Initially, they landed at a US airbase, in the American Zone of Germany, only to be arrested, detained and then ordered to return to Czechoslovakia. The former RAF airmen remonstrated to the American airbase Commanding Officer “we protected your boys when flying with the RAF!”. Their aircraft was refueled and they were ordered by American Commanding Officer to return to Czechoslovakia. but who then added he had complied with his own order by ordering them to return, however having taken-off if they chose to fly East or West was up to them. The Czechoslovak airmen took-off and they flew to England, landing at Manston, Kent.
Jiří changed his name to George John Desmond and rejoined the RAF. He retrained to fly jet fighter aircraft and was posted to Malaya where he flew in the conflict there. In September 1956, he was mentioned in Despatches for his gallant and distinguished service during that Malaysian campaign.
Due to an injury he received while serving in Singapore, he was unable to continue flying and he declined a non-flying role within the RAF. Instead, he returned to the UK, left the RAF and re-trained as a school teacher, an occupation he spent the next 18 years before retiring.
He died 11 January 2007, aged 88, at Bath, UK.