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Západ slunce nad AN2

Tales of men and machine

Vilém Göth

Göth Vilém - Jaroslav Popelka & Čeští RAFáci 450x600.jpg

Vilém Göth, 1940  (Jaroslav Popelka & Čeští RAFáci)

*1.10.1909 Opatovice (Vyškov - Czech Republic)

† 2.1.1978  Ledeč nad Sázavou (Czech Republic)

Graduate of the military academy, First Republic fighter, participant in flight training in France, member of the british RAF, pilot 310. čs. fighter squadron, participant in the battle of Britain, two confirmed kills.

He graduated from the State Real Gymnasium of Otokar Březina in Telč, graduated on 15 June 1934, and voluntarily enlisted in the army. Soon after, he joined the School for Air Force Vocational Youth in Prostějov and then served in Air Regiment 2 in Brno. On 25 June 1935 he flew as an observer on an Avia A-11, which crashed. After his recovery, he started a two-year study at the Military Academy in Hranice in September. With the rank of lieutenant of the air force he was going through a fighter course in Prostějov, where on 15 October 1937 his Avia Ba-33 was hit by a fellow member of the swarm, but fortunately he managed to jump out and save himself by parachute. Until the occupation he served in Piešt'any and Prostějov.


He left his homeland, which had been conquered by Nazi Germany, together with his friends from Jihlava, also army officers. On 13 June 1939 they managed to hide on a railway carriage under the coal and crossed to Poland. On 26 July, he continued on from Gdynia on the ship Kastelholm to France. There, although he was officially conscripted into the Foreign Legion, he did not have to default on his commitment, as war had broken out in the meantime. With the French Air Force, he began his familiarisation with local equipment at the Chartres training centre near Paris. In particular, he mastered the Morane Saulnier MS-406 fighters. However, the turn of events from May 1940 was rapid and he did not get involved in the fighting. He left the collapsing country on 19 June from Bordeaux by the ship Karanan and, together with other airmen, reached British Falmouth.


V. Göth was accepted into the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR) at the officer rank of Pilot Officer (P/O, as a Czechoslovakian lieutenant). On 12 July, he arrived with a group of pilots at Duxford Base near Cambridge as the base of the newly formed 310th Czechoslovak Fighter Squadron. Gradual retraining from Avro Tutor biplanes, through continued Miles Master training, culminated in a transition to the Hawker Hurricane Mk. I, which formed the main armament of the unit. It first flew operationally on 20 August - patrols in the morning and before noon, and in the evening took off with Blue Swarm on alert, but the pursuing Dornier Do 17 escaped them in the clouds. On the evening of 7 September, the Three Thirds was sent as part of the Duxford Wing, along with 242 Squadron and 19 Squadron, to defend against the attacking Luftwaffe formations in the London area. V. Goeth behind the nose of a Hurricane Mk. I V6643 (NN-Y) successfully attacked a twin-engined Messerschmitt Bf 110 from a fighter escort. While checking its descent, he took hits from another opponent, but managed to maneuver it out of the way and eventually send it to the ground. He credited both Bf 110s as sure kills. Shortly afterwards, however, his cockpit became covered in glycol from a damaged cooling system and the fighter, with a white ribbon of smoke and a stalled engine, began to descend. He successfully performed an emergency landing on his belly and ended the mission unharmed. On 18 October, P/O Vilém Göth and P/O Vladimír Zaoral were sent to the 501st Fighter Squadron, which had been heavily involved in combat for most of the battle and needed resupply. The very next day they conducted two training flights around Kenley Base on the southern outskirts of London, followed by their first patrol action four days later.


On Friday 25.10.1940 the squadron engaged in several operations. V. Goeth started on patrol at 11:05, during which their unit clashed with a group of Messerchmitt Bf 109 fighters and scored three victories. They took to the air again at 14:40 when, after an alert, their command tasked them with protecting the Biggin Hill base area and directed them southeast to meet the attacking enemy formations. Near Tenterden the formation was suddenly attacked from an elevation by Bf 109 fighters. However, in a quick evasive manoeuvre, P/O Wilhelm Goeth, flying a Hurricane Mk. I P2903 (SD- ) in close formation as Red 2, crashed into P/O K. MacKenzie. From an altitude of over 8 km he then crashed, injured or unconscious, into an orchard at Manor Farm and was killed. A fellow soldier managed to parachute out.


On the last day of October, V. Goeth was buried at Sittingbourne Cemetery in Kent. He was promoted to the rank of Colonel of the Air Force in memoriam in 1991.


Decorations for war service

3x Czechoslovak War Cross 1939,...



- In Dačice he is commemorated by a memorial plaque in the western corner of Palacký Square, on the house No. 63 in the street named after him "Göthova", the local Aviation Museum also bears his name

- Memorial plaque on house No. 72/10 on Jakubské náměstí in Jihlava


  • Černý K.: Z Vysočiny na křídla RAF

  • Popelka J., Zemánková M.: RAF: Místo narození Brno

  • Vávrová M.: Rytíři Vysočiny

Joe, Čeští RAFáci, 2023

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