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Pilot of the

Royal Air Force

WW2 Hero

 

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Korda's paintings can be either RENTED or SOLD
 



The RAF bombers on a day mission.

Korda used to fly exactly one of these early war Vickers-Wellington machines - their "Willie" as the crew affectionately called it - at night, on 41 deadly bombing missions deep in the enemy's territory. Bringing his crew safely back every single time: 

Apart from German fire from the ground and from the air, we had several other enemies in our flight operations – inclement weather with that proverbial dense English fog and engine troubles in the air.  When anything of the latter sort happened when flying a mission to Germany, it was possible to abort it and try to come back home.  The situation became much more precarious when such a failure happened right over the enemy territory.  Then our lives hung in the balance. 
Such a terrible experience we had on June 19, 1941.  Our bombing target then was Koln on the Rhine.  It was altogether one of those “fine” missions:  horrendous antiaircraft fire barrages, search lights, heavy flak, all those amenities of the air war.  The night sky around us was lit and sparking with exploding shrapnels like a gate to hell.  Air around us was vibrating with those explosions as well as with our own bomb hits below.  Our little Wellington was bobbing in all this like a cork on the sea. 
Just as we left Koln, our right engine suddenly koncked out.  And we were just headed for the sea.  The thought of the salty water was not very encouraging.  In our minds, it was not so much the water but its inhabitants.  I thought that, after all, I wasn’t born just to become food for some sea creatures.  Naturally, these thoughts did not bring our engine back to life.  And our emergency landing in Holland might only be fine with the Germans.  There was still one possibility, to abandon the plane and bail out with our parachutes.  However, a real flier would do that only in case of an absolute emergency.
Barely aloft,
we just kept flying slow, and very hesitantly, toward the sea where the Germans were welcoming us.  Apart from the coastal gun batteries, they fired at us also from the ships.  Despite of all this we eventually made it to the English shores – where we disappeared into a fog so thick that it was impossible to even think of landing at our home base.  We kept plodding along farther inland with our one engine until finally I was lucky to be able to land our crippled plane close to Cambridge.  However, our ordeal was still not over then.  The engine caught fire and red flames lit up the morning twilight.  We put out the fire ourselves with our on-board extinguisher.  I went to bed at 9 am."
         
What a terse cool record of a terrifying night raid !


 

Vaclav KORDA was a professional pilot. And a good one to boot. While he was born with an exceptional talent as a painter, he trained hard and ambitiously to be a pilot. When his homeland was invaded by Nazis in 1939, he did not hesitate a minute to put his pilot skills to work to defeat the enemy. A deadly task indeed. Many of those like him never returned from their missions.
"Never have so many owed so much to so few", said the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill when thanking the airmen for victoriously defending England during the Battle of Brittain in 1940. Korda was one of those who survived the ordeal, he served in the Royal Air Force throughout the whole of World War 2.  Five long years.
"I left so that I could return", said he about leaving his loved ones behind for six cruel years of ww2.
When he returned, a decorated war hero, he wrote a book narrating his war experience. Published first in his native Czech language, it is currently being translated into English.

Perhaps we best let Korda speak in his own words on this web-page.  Brief excerpts from the book will be used to bring to life the wrenching experience of this brave and highly principled man.

Art collectors - and all, you would also be pleased to know that the ww2 story of the Czech RAF airmen has been marvelously made into a Czech movie released  in 2001 and nominated for the  Oscar award:             "The Dark-blue World".
It practically is Korda's war-time story - in living colors of a wide-screen movie with English subtitles. The difference being - Korda was not a fighter pilot - and he did not stay in Czechoslovakia to be persecuted by the communist regime after it took over the country - and set out to punish the best men of the land.

     
   
     


   
 Vaclav KORDA in 1943
RAF pilot - 311th Squadron
(1940-1945)


 
         



Distinguished Flying Cross - UK

 














 

"I was promoted to the officer rank on March 21, 1941.  It was a wonderful day when I was in London at the Air Ministry to receive the envelope with my promotion to a Pilot Officer (P/O).  I was remembering my father who wanted to see me as an officer and, instead, I became a pilot.  His wish came true now, without him even knowing.
The promotion was the first outward recognition of one’s performance in the battle.  It was followed by three more Czech honor medals.  Between May and August 1941 I was awarded the Czech War Cross four times.  The last award for me during this war period was the British honor, the DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross) that is the highest flying distinction.
If I was awarded four medals for our successes at the Bomber Command, it was the work of my whole crew.  If I was promoted to the rank of a British, and Czech, officer for our successful bomber missions, it was certainly because of the excellent work of my whole flight crew.
Of course, the Bomber Command awards the captain because the responsibility for success depends on him to a large degree and he is the one directly responsible for fulfilling the mission orders.  It depends on his personal qualities just how the orders are carried out.  That’s perhaps why the captain eventually deserves the awards, praises and rewards for the success.
"












 
DFC-UK uniform bar











CzWC uniform bar



 

Korda's service in the RAF's Bomber Command was the christening of the pilot by fire. After a number of bombing flight missions (41) he was transferred to the Ferry Command to fly new US-made bomber planes from Canada to the UK. He became the first Czechoslovak pilot to cross the Atlantic, the feat that he repeated a number of times. Many a pilot did not make it across - disappearing without a trace in the radio-silent vast spaces over the ocean. Losses of life perhaps higher than in the fiery battles over the Continent.
Assignment to the Coastal Command that followed saw Korda flying long hours over the Bay of Biscay looking for German ships and submarines.  Every ship sunk by these pilots counted - and was payed for by lives lost to attacks by German fighter planes.
The end of the war, however, was already just beyond the horizon. Korda's service in the Transport Command was a preparation for returning to civil aviation.
Then - victory at last.
And return home ...  "I left so I could return"







 







     
     
   


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