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Life Stories 2

One-legged air gunner

W/O Ladislav Kadlec

Born on 14th July 1917, Brankovice, Vyškov District, South Moravian Region
He was killed on 13th March 1944, Bay of Biscay (missing in action, MIA)

Barber becomes a air gunner

On 6th July 1941, during the retourn journey from a sortie to Münster, his wellington was attacked by a Messerschmitt Bf−110. He was able to repeat the attack but he was seriously wounded. His right leg was amputated below the knee in the hospital. He was discharged from hospital with a false leg. He wanted to return to operational duty. He was finally able to pass a Medical Selection Board. He became the only one−legged Czechoslovak airmen on active service. Unfortunately, on 13th March 1944, he went missing during a patrol over the Bay of Biskay. His remains have never been found.

He is remembered on a memory plaque installed on the elementary school building in Brankovice.

Ladislav KADLEC shows to his comrades, how is possible to walk with false leg. Zdeněk Hurt collection.

Fotografie z No 1 (C) OTU (Československé operačně výcvikové jednotky). Zleva/from left: Bohuslav TOBYŠKA, Marián PATZELT, Miroslav STYBLÍK (KIA,23rd November 1943/23. listopadu 1943), Ladislav KADLEC (KIA, 13th March 1944/13. března 1944), Hanuš AUER, unknown/neznámý, Jaroslav LIŠKA, Alois VOLEK (KIA, 14th March 1945/14. března 1945). Archive of Tomáš Jambor. Archiv Tomáše Jambora.

Even under communism, he strived to make sure that we do not forget about our RAF members


Born on 11th May 1915, Nuzice, České Budějovice District, South Bohemian Region
Died on 21st August 2000, Prague

He was a man who has always been, at all times and under all regimes, instrumental in promoting this country, making sure his fight and the fight of his friends has not been and will not be forgotten.

In 1993, he was named a member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for his activities under communism when he had put together a list of all Czechoslovak RAF pilots. He would also organize their meetings and secret funerals. And despite of the communist secret police StB, he would wear his RAF uniform to all memorial events. He was also a intermediary for contacts with the British embassy. He supported the memory of the Czechoslovak RAF members even after the fall of the communist regime in 1989. In 1995, he participated in the foundation of the Czechoslovak Association of Legionaries in Prague 3.

Alois Konopický

Two men, two prisoners of communism. Alois Konopický (left) and transport pilot František Altman, AFC. Funeral of exairman Stanislav Rejthar, December 1944. Archive of Association of Czechoslovak Foreign Airmen 1939 – 1945.

First airman of 311 (Czechoslovak) squadron killed in action

Sgt Karel Kunka

Born on 27th July 1913, Oslavany, Brno - Venkov District, South Moravian Region
Killed in action on 25th September 1940, Haag, Holland

Rather death than captivity

He did not return from an air raid on Berlin, not even two weeks after the commencement of operation flights of 311 (Czechoslovak) Squadron. His plane was damaged by flak and had to make an emergency landing. The first part of the crew have been arrested already in the morning, while the other part of the crew, including Karel KUNKA, were hiding for another day. When they were encircled, Karel KUNKA fatally shot himself with a flare pistol. He underwent a surgery but died. The other members of his crew survived the war in captivity.

Karel KUNKA is remembered as one of the victims of Nazism on the plaque located on the building of the Municipal Authorities in Oslavany. His last flight is mentioned, even though not quite correctly, in the book called “Het Mysterie van de L 7788.”

Oslavany 1935, from the left: Amálie HORÁKOVÁ, Karel KUNKA, unknown, Otto SCHALLINGER, unknown. One of the girls could be Gerda SCHALLINGEROVÁ. During World War II, Otto and Gerda were sent to Terezín and subsequently to the extermination camp in Majdanek. They have never come back. Archive of Karel Hel.

Karel KUNKA as a soldier of the pre-war Czechoslovak Army. Archive of Karel Hel.

Night Reaper – the most successful Czechoslovakian fighter pilot

F/Lt Karel Kuttelwascher, DFC and Bar

Born on 23rd September 1916, Svatý Kříž, Havlíčkův Brod District, Vysočina Region
Died on 17th August 1959, Truro, Cornwall, Great Britain

He became a successful fighter pilot thanks to the Night Intruder operations. The pilots would fly without radars, using only maps, destroying German aircraft over their territory. Overall, Karel KUTTELWASCHER shot down eighteen German planes. In October 1942, he was withdrawn from combat as a very successful fighter pilot, after which he also worked as a test pilot. After the communist putsch in 1948, he too emigrated back to Great Britain.

In 2009, a memory plaque in his memory was unveiled in the house he was born at. In 2011, a monument in his memory was unveiled in his hometown. His life is described in a book by his son-in-law Roger DARLINGTON called “Night Hawk” (in Czech known as “Noční jestřáb”) In 1943, during his promotion tour, a comics about his life was published in the USA. One of the streets at the Prague residential quarter of Černý Most has been named after him.

As leader of A flight, 1 Squadron. July 1942, Tangmere airbase. He achieved most of his shot down in this plane. Archive of Vee Darlington.