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The Airmen's Stories - P/O T Vybiral

 

Tomas Vybiral was born in 1911 and was serving in the Czech Air Force in the thirties. The Germans took over Czechoslovakia on March 15th 1939 and Vybiral subsequently escaped to France. Like other Czechs, he joined the Foreign Legion, the only unit open to foreigners.


After the outbreak of war, Vybiral was seconded to the Armee de l'Air. He served as a Lieutenant in Groupe de Chasse I/5. On May 13th 1940 he shared in destroying a He111, on the 15th shared a Hs126, on the 16th shared another Hs126 and a Do17, shared He111’s on June 1st and 5th and destroyed a Me110 on June 10th. When France capitulated, Vybiral made his way to England.

He joined the RAF and, after converting to Hurricanes, was posted to 312 Squadron at Duxford on September 5th 1940. On a flight from Speke on October 15th Vybiral lost his bearings and having run low on fuel, he baled out over Dalton-in-Furness. His Hurricane, V6811, crashed at Gleaston.


In early 1942 Vybiral was posted to 41 Squadron as a Flight Commander. He shared in the destruction of a Fw190 on May 4th. From January to November 1943 he commanded 312 Squadron. During 1944 Vybiral led the Czech Wing from North Weald. He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 11th July 1944) and the DSO in December 1944. As well as holding Czechoslovak war decorations, Vybiral was a Companion of the Legion d’Honneur.

In August 1945 he returned to Czechoslovakia but after the Communist coup in 1948 he escaped with his family to England and died there on 21st February 1981, being buried at Brookwood with his wartime Czech comrades.

 




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