Vladimir Horsky – One of the Few




Vladimír HORSKÝ

jeden z “mála

………………..* 11.02.1914. Břuchotín, Olomouc

………………..† 26.09.1940. Isle of Wight, UK








Pre WW2

Vladimír Horský was born 11 February 1914 at Břuchotín, a village north of Olomouc, in the Moravia region of Czechoslovakia.

His early interest in flying led him to join the Olomouc Aero Club to take up sports flying. A few years later, he and 19 other pilots from that Club would be flying in the RAF in England.

Vladimír Horský in tribute by Olomouc Aero Club to its airmen who served in the RAF during WW2.

For his military service he joined the Czechoslovak Air Force, becoming a cadet at the Military Aviation Academy in 1936 where he attended a pilot training course. He graduated as an operational pilot and was posted to the 33rd Squadron of the 2nd Air Regiment who were deployed at Olomouc and equipped with Avia B-534 biplane fighter aircraft. By the time of the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, on 15 March 1939, he had accumulated a total of 249 flying hours to his credit in that service.

After the German occupation of Czechoslovakia on 15 March 1939, the Czechoslovak Air Force was quickly disbanded by the Germans and all personnel dismissed. The same fate befell most of those serving in the Czechoslovak Army. For the military personnel and many patriotic Czech citizens, this was a degrading period. Many sought to redress this shame and humiliation and sought the liberation of their homeland. Germanisation of Bohemia and Moravia began immediately. But only four days later, by 19 March 1939, former senior officers of the now-disbanded Czechoslovak military had started to form an underground army, known as Obrana Národa [Defense of the Nation]. One of their objectives was to assist as many airmen and soldiers as possible to get to neighbouring Poland where Ludvík Svoboda, a former distinguished Czechoslovak Legionnaire from WW1, was planning the formation of Czechoslovak military units to fight for the liberation of their homeland. Within Czechoslovakia, former military personnel and civilian patriots covertly started to arrange for former Air Force and Army personnel to be smuggled over the border into Poland to join these newly formed Czechoslovak units.

To Poland

Obrana Národa also worked in co-operation with Svaz Letců, the Airman Association of the Czechoslovak Republic. These two organisations provided money, courier and other assistance to enable airmen to escape to Poland. Usually, this was by crossing the border from the Ostrava region into neighbouring Poland. News soon began to be covertly spread amongst the former Czechoslovak airmen and soldiers and many voluntarily made their personal decision to go to Poland. Vladimír was one of those who decided to escape to Poland and enlist in one of those units. He successfully managed to cross the border to Poland and reported for duty at the Czechoslovak Consulate at Kraków.

However once in Poland, the Czechoslovak escapees were to find that Poland was not permitting the formation of foreign military units on its territory. However Czechoslovak officials in Poland had been in negotiations with France, a country with which Czechoslovakia had an Alliance Treaty. Under French law, foreign military units could not be formed on its soil during peacetime. The Czechoslovak escapers, however, could be accepted into the French Foreign Legion with the agreement that should war be declared they would be transferred to French military units. The Czechoslovaks would, however, have to enlist with the French Foreign Legion for a five-year term. The alternative was to be returned to occupied Czechoslovakia and face German retribution for escaping – usually imprisonment or execution with further retribution to their families.

The Czechoslovak escapees were initially billeted at Małe Bronowice, a former Polish army camp, on the outskirts of Kraków, whilst arrangements were made for their departure to France. When those arrangements were completed, Vladimír, with other escaped Czechoslovak airmen, travelled by train to Gdynia, Poland, where, they boarded a ship, which took them to France.

France

Initially, the Czechoslovaks were billeted at Place Ballard, the French Foreign Legion’s recruitment barracks near Paris to undergo medical checks and documentation to be completed, and also French lessons, then arrangements to be made for their transfer to the Legion’s training camp at Sidi-bel-Abbes, Algeria. For Vladimír and his fellow escapers, before that process could be completed, war was declared and instead he and the Czechoslovak airmen were transferred to the l’Armée de l’Air at their recruitment centre at Dugny, near Paris. On 16 September 1939, Vladimír was posted to Centre d’Instruction de Chasse, at Chartres for re-training on French fighter aircraft and also a crash course French.

Vladimír Horský, with fellow Czechoslovak pilots, Chartres, March 1940.

He completed his re-training on 8 March 1940 and with the rank of Caporal Chef (Sgt) was assigned, along with three other Czechoslovak pilots to GC I /6 which was equipped with MS-406 fighter aircraft and at that time deployed at Chissey airfield, about 60 km south-east of Dijon, France. Nineteen other Czechoslovak pilots were also deployed with GC I/6. When the Germans invaded France, the rapidity of their Blitzkreig caused GC I/6 to frequently have to change their airfields as they retreated westward and by the time of the French capitulation, on 20 June, they were at Bergerac in south-west France. On 11 June, Vladimír was slightly wounded during aerial combat with Me 109s from III/JG53, but was able to land his MC406 at their current airfield at Connantre, about 115 km, east of Paris.

During the Battle of France, GC I/6 took part in numerous aerial combats and achieved modest combat success, but seven of the pilots were killed in aerial combat, four of whom were Czechoslovak, with a further two Czechoslovak pilots injured. The French valour medal, Croix de Guerre 1939-1945 avec Palmes, was awarded to Vladimír during this period.

With the French capitulation, l’Armée de l’Air released all the Czechoslovak airmen from its service so that they, under instructions from the Czechoslovak Government in Exile in England could make their way there to continue the fight. Vladimír and another 182 Czechoslovak airmen were evacuated from Port Vendres, on the Mediterranean coast about 30 kms from the Spanish border. On 24 June 1940, aboard the ‘Gouverneur Général Chanzy’ along with Poles and Dutch, Vladimír sailed at 08:20 to Oran, Algeria under the escort of a Royal Navy destroyer.

Czechoslovak military awaiting evacuation from Port Vendres, June 1940.

The Czechoslovak airmen then travelled by train, for four days to Casablanca from where they sailed aboard the ‘Gib-el-Dersa’, at 15:12 on 29 June 1940, to Gibraltar, arriving at 11:00 on 30 June. Here they changed ships to the ’Neuralia’ and sailed on 2July for Liverpool, arriving on 12 July.

RAF

On his arrival in England, Vladimír was accepted into the RAF Volunteer Reserve, at the rank of Sgt, and on 6 August, was posted to the newly-formed 310 (Czechoslovak) Sqn, based at Duxford, near Cambridge, and equipped with Hurricane Mk I aircraft. Here he was assigned to the squadron’s reserve pool of pilots who were due to do their conversion to Hurricanes with the squadron. When 310 Sqn became operational, on 17 August 1940, it was no longer possible for this re-training to be undertaken within the squadron due to shortages of aircraft and instructors. Instead, the reserve-pool pilots were assigned to 6 OTU at Sutton Bridge, near Spalding, Lincolnshire, to continue their re-training. He completed this on 10 September 1940 and was posted, along with fellow Czech Sgt Jiří Kučera, to 238 Sqn at Chilbolton, Hampshire, a satellite airfield to Middle Wallop. They were the first two Czechoslovak airmen to join the squadron.

He made his 1st operational flight in the Battle of Britain on 19 September in Hurricane P3599, on a routine patrol at 15,000 feet over the Brookland and Guildford area, during which no Luftwaffe aircraft were seen. His next flight was two days later, again on a routine patrol over Guildford at 10,000 feet, and again no Luftwaffe aircraft were encountered.

Finally, on 25 September, Vladimír, flying Hurricane Mk I V6777, encountered the Luftwaffe. At 11:35, 11 Hurricanes from 238 Sqn were on patrol over Yeovil, Somerset, when a formation of He IIIs and Me 110 escorts were spotted returning from a bombing raid on Bristol. In the dog-fight the Luftwaffe lost six aircraft with a further two damaged.

The following day, 11 of the squadron’s Hurricanes were in action again when 40 Luftwaffe Me 110 aircraft, from III/ ZC 26, were sighted over the Isle of Wight at 16:25. The Hurricanes engaged with the Me 110 in a series of skirmishes; five Me110 were destroyed and a further two damaged. The squadron’s only loss was Vladimír, flying Hurricane Mk I P3098, who did not return. His aircraft disappeared over the Solent and was probably shot down at 16:30 by a Me 110 from JG 26; he crashed into the sea near the Isle of Wight. He was 26 years old.

The body of Sgt Vladimír Horský was never recovered and he is remembered on panel 15 at Runnymede. He was one of the 88 Czechoslovak pilots who participated in the Battle of Britain

Medals awarded:

British:

1939 – 45 Star with Battle of Britain clasp

Czechoslovak:

Válečný kříž 1939

Pamětní medaile se štítky F–VB

France:

Croix de Guerre 1939-1945 avec Palmes

Remembered

Olomouc

Olomouc hrbitov

Winged Lion Monument, Prague:

Czechoslovak Airmens Memorial, Dejvice, Prague.

London Battle of Britain Monument:

National Battle of Britain Memorial, Capel le Ferne, Kent:

He is remembered in the Remembrance books at St Clements Danes Church, London and St Vitus Cathedral, Prague.




This entry was posted in Battle of Britain, Biography, France, Not Forgotton, Poland. Bookmark the permalink.

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