Slovaks in the Royal Air Force. Stories of pure patriotism and personal courage
Many Slovaks fought for Slovak freedom in the RAF, although there were fewer of them than Czechs. However, this was because many of them fought in the air force in the so-called Slovak State. Those who disagreed with this regime and wanted to fight against Hitler for a common Czechoslovak state went abroad. Even decades after the end of the Second World War, we still respect them. The Slovaks in the ranks of the Czechoslovak squadrons of the Royal Air Force (RAF), who were directly involved in the active fighting of the British Royal Air Force for Great Britain and on other fronts of the Second World War, form a distinctive chapter in the history and stories of patriotic devotion, noble courage and military skill that contributed significantly to the defeat of fascism. And for more than one of them, this struggle was fatal. Many Slovaks spent their last moments of life during a take-off, a combat flight, a fight with an enemy fighter, a bombing raid or a landing manoeuvre.
Of the total number of Czechoslovak air units in the RAF, Slovaks made up only about 14%, with most of their employment in the 311th Bomber Squadron as radio operators, deck gunners or ground personnel. Slovaks actively participated in combat operations until the end of the war. In addition to the famous Battle of Britain, the 310th and 312th Squadrons took part in the unsuccessful Operation Jubilee – the landing at Dieppe.
On 27 December 1943, one Liberator of the Czechoslovak search squadron sank the German ship MV Alsterufer. This event found a favourable response in the British press In the position of the top gunner of this Liberator, the then still sixteen-year-old Slovak F/sgt. Otto Schwarz took part in the action. Now retired Major General Ivan Otto Schwarz is one of the last two living Slovaks who fought in the Czechoslovak RAF squadrons during World War II. The other is Imrich Gablech. However, he had to say goodbye to flying due to health problems. He worked as an air traffic controller at Norwich Airport.
The story of this Slovak pilot is probably the saddest
He was born in 1914 in Nitrianska Streda, where he spent his childhood and where he graduated from primary school. After graduating from a higher industrial school in 1934, he voluntarily joined the army. In 1937, he successfully graduated from the Military Academy in Prostějov with the rank of lieutenant of the air force. Until 1939 he performed military service in Piešt’any as a fighter pilot. On Hitler’s birthday, a joint assembly of Slovak and German officers was held at the airport. During a toast to the Führer’s health, J. Grič knocked over a glass and its contents spilled over the table. The Germans considered it a provocation. This act could not go unpunished. Grič was imprisoned for some time in a military prison in Bratislava. However, this did not weaken his will, because after his release he immediately joined the foreign resistance in the service of the RAF.
Sgt. Jan Miklošek.
He was the first Slovak to die in the RAF in combat operations, as a member of 311th Bombardment Squadron. Ján Miklošek was born in 1916 in Sládkovičov. He was imprisoned for some time before going to the foreign resistance because he took part in the preparations for an uncovered flight.
As the son of a Moravian, he was given official permission to emigrate to
Yugoslavia. He arrived in Belgrade on 8 December 1939. From there he went to the Central
East and then to France. After its surrender, he sailed on one of the ships to
Great Britain, where he received pilot training. As a pilot, he then became
as a pilot with the 311th Czechoslovak Squadron. On 15 September 1941 he was heading for
his last combat flight to the port of Hamburg. His fellow soldiers after the war
…recalled that he allegedly had a very bad premonition before this flight. His
The plane took off shortly after 8:00 p.m. After take-off, the plane was engulfed in flames and crashed, killing the entire crew.
During the fighting until the end of the war, 430 Czechoslovak military pilots were killed and 51 others were captured (40 of them Slovaks). The most successful Czechoslovak fighter pilot of Slovak nationality in the service of the RAF was Otto Smik.