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Západ slunce nad AN2

Tales of men and machine

Svatopluk Janouch

Janouch Svatopluk - Battle of Britain London Monument 450x600.jpg

Svatopluk Janouch  (Battle of Britain London Monument)

*  6. 11. 1913 Holín u Jičína ( Czech Republic)

† 12. 4.1966  New York (U.S.)

Graduate of the military academy, First Republic fighter, participant in air battles in France and a number of tank battles, member of the British RAF, pilot of the 310th Czechoslovak Fighter Squadron, participant in the Battle of Britain, squadron commander, fighter ace with five confirmed kills, staff officer, military attaché, teacher at the Air Academy, refugee from the communists.


In 1933 he graduated from the state grammar school in Jičín, enlisted in the army and entered the Prostějov School for Air Force Reserve Officers. Afterwards he flew as an observer in M. R. Štefánik's Aviation Regiment 3 in Slovakia. He started his career as a soldier by studying for two years at the Military Academy in Hranice. On August 1, 1936 he joined the Air Force as a lieutenant in T. G. Masaryk's Aviation Regiment 1 in Prague-Kbely. He completed a fighter application course and in May 1937 joined the 43rd Squadron armed with Avia B-534. In the unit, which was later redesignated as the 31st Squadron, he also held the position of gunnery officer and served until the occupation in March 1939.

He left the Protectorate on 25 May 1939 for Poland, but there they were not interested in Czechoslovaks. There was no choice but to sign a pledge to the Foreign Legion, which allowed further movement to France. The ship Sobieski left Gdynia on 16 June and four days later arrived in Boulogne. His subscription was soon filled by a move across the Mediterranean to North Africa, where he underwent infantry training at Sidi-bel-Abbés. When war broke out in September 1939, a supplement to the commitment came into force, and the airmen were finally transferred to the Armée de l'Air. During the autumn he familiarised himself with French equipment with the Colonial Air Force, but on 15 December he completed the GC I/6 fighter unit and moved with it back to mainland France. He began flying operational missions on Morane Saulnier MS-406 machines. The fighting was very fierce - he gradually achieved three confirmed kills, but once had to abandon the aircraft on a parachute and once after a series of hits had no choice but to make an emergency landing. In early June 1940, as the front began to collapse, they were ordered to carry out battle duties. S. Janouch was severely wounded by shrapnel on his left leg during his third mission against tanks. He managed to return to the base with exhausted strength, after which he was taken to the hospital. From there he escaped from the advancing Wehrmacht and managed to join a group of evacuated Czechoslovaks in the port of Bordeaux. On 16 June they sailed on the Karanan to Great Britain.

On 7.7.1940 he joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR), received the rank of Pilot Officer (P/O, lieutenant) and moved to the base Duxford near Cambridge to the newly established 310. čs. fighter squadron. He began his service by retraining on British equipment and familiarization flights around the area. He first flew on patrol in the cockpit of a Hawker Hurrinace Mk. I with NN codes on the fuselage on the afternoon of 19 August. The Battle of Britain was gaining in intensity. On 7 September the squadron engaged in a major engagement with bombers and their escorts over London. P/O S. Janouch in Hurricane V6556 (NN-E) received one twin-engined Messerschmitt Bf 110. On the 19th, flying the same machine, he and P/O S. Fejfar shot down a Junkers Ju 88 bomber. From 28 February 1941 he took over command of B Squadron and took care of it until 29 May, when he was forced to stop operational deployment for health reasons. He continued to serve successively as an air controller, liaison officer and, from the end of 1943, as chief of the education service at the Inspectorate of Czechoslovak Aviation in London. In August 1944, he became the Czechoslovak military attaché at the Czechoslovak embassy in Paris, and on 3 October 1944 he left the RAF VR and subsequently transferred to the Ministry of National Defence.

He returned to liberated Czechoslovakia on 23.7.1945 and from September he taught at the Military Aviation Academy in Hradec Králové. At the end of February 1948, shortly after the communist coup, he was transferred to České Budějovice and in May he was sent on leave.


In order to avoid the expected arrest, he chose a second exile. He then worked for Air France and from 1952 for Swissair in New York, where he died at the age of 52. In 1991, he was promoted to the rank of colonel of the air force in memoriam.


Decorations for war service

Croix de Guerre (French War Cross) with two palms and silver star, Légion d'Honneur - Chevalier (Knight of the Legion of Honour), 2x Czechoslovak War Cross 1939, Czechoslovak Medal for Valour before the Enemy, Czechoslovak Medal for Merit I. degree, Czechoslovak Commemorative Medal with F and VB plates,...


  • Janouch S.: Světla a stíny

  • Rajlich J.: Esa na obloze

  • Rajlich J.: Na nebi hrdého Albionu 1

Joe, Čeští RAFáci, 2023

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