The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. E M Prchal
Born on 1st January 1911 in Dolni Brezany, south of Prague, Edward Maximilian Prchal joined the Czech Air Force in 1929. He qualified as a pilot and served until 1936. From 1936 to 1939 he flew as a pilot for the Bata Company in Czechoslovakia, on international trips. In June 1939 he escaped from his Nazi-occupied country to Poland, then went to France, later joining the Armee de l'Air.
In May 1940 Prchal was serving with Groupe de Chasse I/8. On 6th June he destroyed a Me109 and shared in the destruction of a Do17 and on the 7th destroyed a Hs126. After the French collapse, Prchal escaped to England.
He joined 310 Squadron at Duxford at its formation on 10th July 1940. He claimed a Do17 destroyed on 26th August but on this day his Hurricane, P3157, was severely damaged by a Me109 in combat over the Thames Estuary and he made a forced-landing near Upminster, slightly wounded. On 15th September he shared a He111 and on the 18th shared in the destruction of a Ju88.
Commissioned in December 1941, Prchal served with 68 Squadron, a night-fighter unit with many Czech pilots and radar operators. He was later posted to 511 Squadron, Transport Command and flew VIP’s to and from the Middle East and ferried aircraft from Canada to the Middle East.
On 4th July 1943 Prchal was pilot of a Liberator going from Gibraltar to London, with General Sikorksi and members of his staff on board, as well as other VIP’s. Soon after taking off the aircraft crashed into the sea and Prchal was the sole survivor. He was taken from the water badly injured and unconscious. He returned to 511 after recovering from his injuries.
After the war Prchal returned to Czechoslovakia with his wife and daughter. He was in the Czech Air Force until January 1946 when he joined Czech Airlines as a Senior Captain. In 1950 he escaped to England with his family and two other Czech airline pilots, Kaucky and Rechka, and their families.
Prchal went to the USA in 1951 and became Czech language instructor at the US Army Language School at Monterey, California. He retired in 1978.
Prchal died at St Helena, California on 12th December 1984. His ashes were taken to England. Part of them was scattered over the Channel and the remainder buried in Brookwood Military Cemetery.
Prchal is commemorated in his home village, please see: