Research Trip CZRAF 2007 - Scotland

Dyce cemetery - 24th May 2007

My first day in Scotland.
Sandy drove me a little bit around Aberdeen at first and then we visited Dyce cemetery where are buried three members of No. 310 (Czechoslovak) Fighter Squadron - two Czech and one Polish pilot.

First was Sgt A Dvorek killed on 29th September 1941 when his Hurricane flew in bad weather into Leachie Hill near Kincardine. His body was found by a local police near the wreckage of his plane the next day ...

On 19th November 1941 F/O V. Zaoral was practising air attack on glider in vicinity of Dyce airfield when he stalled his Spitfire in low altitude and spun into ground 12 miles south-east of Dyce.

The last loss of No. 310 Squadron while based in Dyce was the only Polish pilot serving during the whole war with any Czechoslovak fighter squadron, F/O W. Sniechowski. On 8th December 1941 he was practising night landings and take offs. After the third take off his Spitfire lost height in a steep left turn and spun into the ground. The pilot tried to bale out but it was impossible in such a low altitude ...

The author between graves of P/O V. Zaoral and F/O W. Sniechowski.

 

Trip to Tain & Evanton - 25th May 2007

This was very busy day as Sandy and Linzee took me up to Tain to meet John Fleming and his wife who were our guides to former RAF Station Tain, St. Duthis cemetery in Tain and finally t o Kiltearn Parish Churchyard near Evanton.

RAF Station Tain

Early in the morning we started anothe long trip. Sandy drove us first of all to Linzee who joined us for trip to Tain via Inverness.

First of all we visited John Fleming and his wife Marion. John is ex-RAF Air Traffic Control officer and he spent part of his RAF career at RAF Station Tain. At present time John and Marion are taking care of Czechoslovak aimen's graves at Tain cemetery. We were talking about RAF Station Tain and No. 311 (Czechoslovak) Bomber Squadron serving there since August 1944 till August 1945 having a lovely tea and excellent short bread.

Afterwards we have started our visit of former RAF Station Tain. As there were five of us we used two cars and I have the pleasure to be driven by John who is the best companion around Tain you can ever imagine.

First of all we went to entrance gate to the present station which is still used as a range for air gunnery and air bombing practice.

Former control tower of RAF Station Tain.

Some other original buildings of RAF Station Tain.

Then we drove upon a small hill as from there is a nice overview of the whole area of former statio

Building in the middle (next to the guard house on the left) was the HQ of No. 311 Squadron.

Modern control tower is in big contrast with the original one. 

On the hill is the former station cinema, there are still visible the holes for projectors, but on the ground instead of seats were some kinds of farming installations...

The three large buildings on the opposite side of road were former tailor's works and equipment store.
(Picture includes Linzee talking with Sandy next to his silver Skoda:-)

As we were short of time that was all from RAF Station Tain and we drove to the cemetery.

 

St. Duthis cemetery in Tain

From RAF Station Tain we moved to Tain where is small St. Duthus Cemetery. 

The pin in the ground shows when on 9th August 2007 was unveil the memorial to the Czechoslovak airmen from No. 311 (Czechoslovak) Bomber Squadron killed while serving in the RAF Tain. (It was possible to great effort of Sandy Reid). More pictures from this event will follow soon.

It was quite difficult to take a picture of some graves as the weather was beautiful - sunny - and the graves were against the sun. As we have a lot of other things to do, I have no other chance.

There are graves of 18 Czechoslovak airmen who lost their lives in 1944 - 1945 while serving at RAF Station Tain. Unfortunately all of them were killed in air accidents.

Sgt J. Kostal, Sgt R. Barvir, Sgt V. Cerny, Sgt S. Stetka - members of Liberator GR Mk.V BZ720 "G" crashed on 29th October 1944 near Helmsdale.

W/O S. Petrasek, F/Sgt J. Sebestik, F/O E. Zbroj, Sgt W. Hnilicka, F/Sgt F. Havranek, F/Sgt F. Benedikt, Sgt Sgt J. Kulhavy - the entire crew of Liberator GR Mk.V FL981 "O" which lost height after night take off from Tain for a training flight on 4th December 1944 and hit ground.

W/O O. Bures, F/Sgt M. Bodlak, F/Sgt O. Mandler, F/Sgt Z. Launer, F/Sgt I. Englander, F/Sgt A. Bednar , F/Sgt J. Zapletal, Sgt M. Dorniak - the entire crew of Liberator GR Mk.V FL949 "PP-Y" which flew into high ground at Hoy, Orkneys Islands while on route to Anti/Submarine patrol on 1st January 1945.

F/Lt J. Simet, F/Sgt Z. Palme, F/Sgt O. K. Kennedy, Sgt J. Vanis, Sgt R. Scholz, F/Sgt A. Hayek - members of Liberator GR Mk.VI EV955 "PP-D" which flew into ground after night take off from Tain for an operation on 10th April 1945.

There is also grave of one WAAF meber, but she died by natural death.

After short visit to St. Duthus Cemetery we drove south to former RAF Station Evanton and to the nearby Kiltearn Parish Churchyard.


Kiltearn Parish Churchyard near Evanton

We drove past former RAF Station Evanton where there are still standing four original buildings. There are also some hangars but I am not so sure if there are the original ones from the WWII.

The Kiltearn Parish Churchyard is not so easy to find, it is quite beyond Evenaton on the shore of sea bay.

There is a small plot of 15 war graves from WWII consisting of 9 Polish, 5 Commonwealth and 1 Czech casualty.

The only Czech casulaty is Sgt Jaroslav Kalasek, who died on 10th July 1944 as Air Gunner Trainee of No. 8 Air Gunnery School based at RAF Evanton. He was killed when Polish pilot during low flight in 250 feet lost control and dived into ground near Evanton. All aboard the Anson got killed - pilot Sgt Adam Scigala (Polish) and also three British Air Gunner Trainees - Sgt Heron, Sgt Hills and Sgt Chantrell. The pilot Sgt Scigala is buried in grave against Kalasek's.

Photo: Linzee Druce

After our visit at Kiltearn Parish Churchyard Johnem and Marion returned home and we drove to the south to Linzee's house.

On the farewell photo there are left to right: author, John Fleming, Marion Fleming, Sandy Reid

Photo: Linzee Druce

 

Trip to Oxford PH404 crashsite - 26th May 2007

On this Saturday Linzee and Phillip prepared for me trip to Bheinn A'Bhuird where crashed Oxford PH404 of No. 311 (Czechoslovak) Bomber Squadron. It was very long and quite exhausting expedition but on the other hand very nice and very emotional.

The most important trip of my visit to Scotland started on Saturday early in the morning (at 6 AM). We drove to the meeting point with Filip and on route we pass the summer seat of the Royal family. Once Linzee stopped for me and I was able to take a long distance shot of mountains where we are going to climb. 

We met with Filip in small town Braemar and look at the memorial of Wellington R1646 which also crashed in surrounding mountains. There is a part of one Pegasus engine on the memorial.

On the photo left to right: author, Phillip

Photo: Linzee Druce

Then we drove to a parking place where starts the track into mountains. Linzze give me all the food and drinks while Phillip kindly provided all the climbing staff - gloves, cap, waterprrof girdles on trousers, water and windproof jacket. Phillip was only in shorts and light jacket but it was not so hot for someone who is not accustomed to Scottish weather.

On the photo left to right author and Phillp ready for the climb.

Photo: Linzee Druce

We started togethr with Linzee (who unfortunately has a problem with her back so she was not able to join us) at 9 AM towards the mountains where on tops was still snow. As Phillip told me several times during our trip - we were extremly lucky as we have for the most of the day nice sunny weather with perfect visibility.

On the photo Philip and Linzze check the map before we started the climb.

This photo shows the area where we were climbing to reach the spine and to find the way to the crashsite.

When we crossed a small river, we make a short rest and Linzee returned to her car. Me and Fillip started the climbing which took us next few hours.

On the photo is the first lap of clib with the small river in the bottom.

Zigzag footpath leading to the right and constantly uphill...

Author on the top of edge enjoying the lovely nature in lovely weather... but not for so long.

Photo: Phillip Kammer

Shortly afterwards the clouds cover the sky and as we were quite high the visibility fall only to few meters, the wind start to blow and we got into a snowstorm. Finally Fillip recognized that it is the right time to take long trousers while I went into reserve jersey and use the cape. Then we continue with help of map and compass as we were able to see practically nothing. 

Photo: Phillip Kammer

We are appoaching the crashsite which is nearby the edge in the distance in the middle of photo.

Author enjoying the snow in May:-)

Photo: Phillip Kammer

Within reach of our target - last tens of metres remain to the Oxford PH404 crashsite, one ongine is already visible.

Memorial plaque is placed on the best spot all around the crashite. More information about the memorial plague can be find on Linzee's site.

Author at the memorial plaque next to the the Oxford PH404 crashite from where he made a phone call (mobile signal is available all around the place) to the daughter of F/O Jan Vella, one pilot who perished in the crash.

Photo: Phillip Kammer

The crashite from the top of the edge. In the far distance a little bit to the righ there is RAF Station Tain from where Oxford took off.

The area where the fuselage was burned up to prevent other aircraft to think there is new crashed plane. Most of the parts were in unexpectedly good condition after they were exposed to the mountain weather for more then 65 years.

Author resting by the Phillp's car after more then 11 hour trip.

Photo: Phillip Kammer

 

Many thanks for places to stay and all transport to my friends Linzee Druce, Sandy Reid and Phillip Kammer and also to John & Marion Fleming for their nice accompanion.

 


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