The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. O Hruby
Otakar Hruby was born on 1st November 1913 in Nova Paka, Czechoslovakia. In 1932 he entered the Prostejov Aeronautical Academy. After graduating he was posted to 82 Squadron of the 5th Fighter Regiment at Prague. He went on to serve with the 5th and 6th Air Regiments at Hradec Kralove and Brno respectively.
After the German takeover in March 1939 Otakar escaped to Poland. After reporting to the Czech Consulate in Krakow Otakar and many other Czech airman embarked on the MS Sobieski at Gdynia. Arriving at Boulogne, he made his way via Paris to Marseille where he enlisted in the Foreign Legion, the only option for foreigners.
Posted to the HQ at Sidi-bel-Abbes in Algeria, Hruby remained there until war was declared when he was free to enlist in l'Armee de l'Air. After training at La Senia airfield, Oran he was posted to Group de Chasse I/10, operating the MS406.
Released after the armistice, Hruby made his way to Gibraltar via Casablanca and boarded a ship for Liverpool. He was processed into the RAF through the Czech depots at Cholmondeley Park and Cosford and sent to 6 OTU Sutton Bridge to convert to Hurricanes.
On 19th October 1940 he joined 111 Squadron at Dyce. Still with 111, he damaged a Ju88 off Aberdeen on 21st February 1941 and was later promoted to Flight Sergeant.
Commissioned in late 1941, Hruby was posted to 313 Squadron at Church Fenton. After a tour with them he became a flying instructor at 57 OTU Hawarden, moving when this posting ended to 310 Squadron at Exeter.
Hruby was awarded the DFC in July 1943 and served with 310 Squadron until June 1944. Off flying for a while due to illness, Hruby was sent for conversion to multi-engine aircraft. Going on to a night-fighting course he was injured in the crash of a Mosquito NF XII in March 1945. After treatment in hospital he spent his convalescence at the Czech Depot at Cosford.
Hruby returned to Czechoslovakia on 26th September 1945 and re-entered the Czech Air Force as Flight Commander at 121 Air Division at Prague-Kbely.
He went on to serve as a test pilot at Prague until February 1949. Purged from the air force by the communist authorities, Hruby was interrogated and spent two years in a labour camp.
Restricted to menial jobs, Hruby worked as a driver for a brewery and as a storeman. Rehabilitated in 1989, he was promoted to Colonel and travelled to London for the 50th anniversary of the Battle. He was introduced to the Queen Mother at a reception there.
He died on 15th May 1993 at Nova Paka, his birthplace.