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New memorial to RAF pilot Josef František

On Sunday, September 4th, a memorial to Sergeant Josef František, a Czechoslovak RAF pilot and one of the best flying aces of the Second World War, was unveiled on Priest Hill in Epson, England, not far from the place he died. The event was attended by representatives of the embassies and armies of Czechia, Slovakia and Poland, as well as a numerous delegation from Josef František's birthplace - Otaslavice. The main initiator of the creation of the memorial was the Polish Air Force Memorial Committee.

Josef František was born in Moravian village of Otaslavice in 1914. In 1934, he joined the Czechoslovak Air Force Academy in Prostějov, and after successfully completing his training in 1936, Josef was sent to the 2nd Regiment of Dr. Eduard Beneš of the Czechoslovak Air Force based in Olomouc. Even then he lacked a sense of discipline. This led to him being demoted for numerous indiscretions and threatened with dismissal from the service. At the same time, however, his extraordinary talent as a pilot began. When Czechoslovakia was annexed by Germany on March 15, 1939, František fled to Poland and then to France.

After the capitulation of France, he came to Britain, where he again decided to fly in the Polish Air Force and on August 2, 1940, he was assigned to the 303rd Polish Squadron of the RAF, which flew Hawker Hurricanes. František's first combat success came on 2 September 1940 and in the following 28 days, he managed to shoot down 17 German aircraft, making him the highest rated foreign pilot and the fourth best Allied pilot in the Battle of Britain. He was killed on October 8, 1940 when his Hurricane crashed, for reasons unknown, near Epsom, Surrey.


Josef František Memorial