Ever since he was a child he wanted to be a pilot. He graduated from the Military Academy in Hranice na Moravě. In 1935 he was stationed as a fresh air force lieutenant to the second air force regiment in Olomouc. In August 1938 he transferred to 63rd reconnaissance squadron in Přerov. After occupation of Czechoslovakia he escaped in summer 1939 to Poland and later to France. After the breakout of the WW2 he was stationed to air defence of Lyon and Paris. After France was defeated he escaped to Britain with his fellow countrymen.
In August 1940 he was accepted into the ranks of RAF and after a short training he joined the 17th fighter squadron and took part in the Battle of Britain, where he won numerous dogfights. At the end of 1941 he was made Wing Commander of 313th Czechoslovakian fighter squadron, took part in operations over occupied Europe. In April of 1942 he became the first Czechoslovak to command a fighter squadron – 122nd “City of Bombay”.
5th May 1942 while escorting bombers attacking Lille train station he was shot down and crash landed in German occupied territory. After a dangerous journey he made it to unoccupied Vichy France crossing the Pyrenees from there to Fascist Spain where he was put in jail. The British military attaché helped to secure his transfer through Gibraltar back to England. In September 1943 he became Squadron Leader of the 313th fighter squadron and fought in its ranks in France, Belgium and Netherlands.
In November 1943 Colonel Fajtl was named Commander of Czechoslovakian fighters sent to Soviet Union to fight on the eastern front. These men became the core of the 1st Czechoslovak Independent Fighter Air Regiment that Fajtl commanded until the end of WW2. The regiment was at first deployed to render assistance to the Slovak National Uprising and later participated in the closing battles of the Moravian Gate. He reached liberated Prague in mid May 1945.
After the communist coup of 1948 he was expelled from the army in 1949. In January of 1950 he was arrested and his wife and daughter were forcibly removed from their flat in Prague. After several days of interrogations, he was moved to a forced labour camp in Mirovice where he was held without sentencing for 17 months. After his release he and his family lived outside of Prague, where he was only allowed to work as a manual labourer or a clerk. He achieved full rehabilitation only after the communist regime fell.
Books of František Fajtl: Friend of the Clouds, Shot Down, First to Get Home, Memories of my Fallen Friends, Second Time at Home, Battles and Returns, I flew with 313, Two Low Blows, Hero of the Century, From Donín to the Skies, General of the Skies (based on memoirs of General Peřina), I Commanded the Fighters (based on memoirs of Karel Mrázek)
originally Richard Husmann
* 4. 9. 1922, Praha
† 20. 7. 1987, Praha
In 1939 when only 17 years old he escaped occupied Czechoslovakia through Germany to France. He shortly served in the Foreign Legion and once the war broke out joined Czechoslovakian army in France.
After the fall of France he managed to escape to Britain. Here he went through military air force training and from 1940 to 1943 he flew as a gunner of the 311st Czechoslovakian bomber squadron.
In 1944 he transferred to the USSR to the 3rd Czechoslovakian combat air force regiment. He flew as a gunner on the two man Il-2s Ilyushin known as Sturmoviks. During the Ostrava operation on 16th April he shot down a German Focke-Wulf F 190 but was heavily wounded himself on. His was the very last aerial kill of the Czechoslovak air force serving with the USSR. He survived eight crash landings and was wounded twice. He was 22 when the war ended.
He later went on to study law but after the communists took power was expelled from the school by the faculty action committee. Later he worked mainly as a manual labourer.
Books of Filip Jánský: Avenue of Pears, Riders in the sky, Desert Fortress, New year’s Night, Test of faith, Memories of Skyrider.