wounds was transported to
the hospital. His testimony
was the main source of the
information about the 133rd
Squadron fate above Brest.
It has to be said that with
many inaccuracies. Out of
eleven remaining pilots six
perished, four became POWs
and one successfully bailed
out of the damaged aircraft,
avoided the capture and returned back to Britain. F/L
Edward Brettell was among
POWs. During the night of
24-25 March, 1944 he participated in the „Great Escape“ from Sagan (Stalag Luft
III) but after the capture was
murdered by Gestapo.
Another pilot who had taken
off on the mission survived
the Morlaix disaster, P/O Dominic Gentile, who after the
fighter escort was formed
Bolt Head in the painting of Antonin Vendl, No. 313 Czechoslovak Sqadron RAF
serve. He finished the British pilot training after that was
posted to 501 Squadron RAF. In June 1942 he was reassigned to 313 Squadron and after finishing his tour of duty in
April 1943 he was temporarily attached to Ferry Command.
After „the rest“ at No. 1 Delivery Fligh RAF Tony Vendl started to seek another combat assignment. Coincidentally the
offer came from his respected and beloved commander
S/Lr Frantisek Fajtl who was recruiting volunteers to form
the fighter unit in the Soviet Union. After the two months long
journey to the East and following training on La-5FN the unit
was surprised by the outbreak of the Slovak National Uprising. The 1. Czechoslovak Fighter Squadron in the USSR broke
a record of being the fighter unit operating in the enemy’s
The airport also served as a gathering point of the RAF fighter rear for the longest time. Af the supression of the Uprising
squadrons participating in the support of the USAAF 8th AF on and unit’s withdrawal back behind the front lines Tony was
their missions to raid Morlaix and Cherebourg on September 26, busy with training new pilots at 1st Czechoslovak Combined
1942. RAF Bolt Head was closed in 1945. Nowadays there is a Air Division and also flying combat missions in support of the
memorial at the crossing point of the runways. A small private advancing ground troops, including the Ostrava Operation.
airdrome is located here.
After the WWII Antonin Vendl joined the transportation
Col. Antonin Vendl was born on June 9, 1919 in the village of squadron at Prague Kbely where he flew C-47 and Ju-52.
Skrivanek nearby Nemecky (nowadays Havlickuv) Brod. In 1937 After the communist coup Antonin Vendl did not avoid the
he enlisted in the persecution of the aviators who had fought in the West. In
School of the Avia- 1949 he was dismissed from the Army. The troubles to obtain
tion Youth with the a civilian job followed. Over the years he worked his way
objective to beco- up from a helper to a salesman and later manager of the
me a military pilot. Mototechna store in Prague. In his tiny office the former RAF
The training howe- comrades-in-arms secretely met. The communist police and
ver was interrupted their lackeys‘ harrassment continued until the end of 1989.
by the German oc- After the Revolution, together with many other members
cupation. The de- of Czechoslovak foreign resistance Tony was rehabilitated
sire to flee abroad and promoted to the rank of Colonel. At least once he used
and join the fight his contacts to prevent his promotion to General. „There
against the enemy is plenty of other chaps who would deserve it much more
only than myself“ he said. Until his death he worked hard so as
in June 1939 after his fallen comrads were remembered and he was an actiseveral unsuccessful ve member of the Czechoslovak Foreign Airmen Association
attempts. Then the 1039-45. He passed away on April 2, 2002 due to the compliusual calvary of the cations from an accident.
in Poland and Fran- For his combat achievements Antonin Vendl was (among
ce followed. After many others) decorated with four Czechoslovak War Cross
France collapsed he 1939, three Medals for Bravery, British Star 1939-1945, Atlanmanaged to make tic Star, Defence Medal, Order of the Slovak National Upristo the Great Britain ing I. Class and Medal of Merit I. Class.
where he joined the
RAF Volunteer ReRAF airport Bolt Head was built in 1941 at the southern coast
of Devonshire County as a satellite airport for the RAF Exeter
base. The flying and ground personnel facilities were initially
minimal. During the war the wooden lodgings and hangars were
built. First unit to occupy the base was 16 Squadron RAF flying
Lysanders. Among other occupants was the 313 Czechoslovak
Squadron (June 10, 1942-June 28, 1943) and from this period
date the recollections of Antonin Vendl based on which he painted the attached picture featuring „his“ Spitfire Mk. V ‚RY-V“
in the foreground. In 1941 the RAF Hope Cove ground control
station was established nearby to support the fighter missions in
this sector of the Channel.
INFO Eduard - August 2021