The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. F Chabera
Frantisek Chabera was born to a Czechoslovakian family in Landsberg, Germany on 5th January 1912.
After training as an electrician he joined the Czechoslovak Air Force and served with the 2nd and 4th Aviation Regiments from 1930 till 1934, when he was attached to Institute of Aerospace in Letnanech, Prague.
When the Germans took over Czechoslovakia on 15th March 1939 he escaped through Poland to France and joined l'Armee de l'Air.
In May 1940 Chabera was serving in Groupe de Chasse II/5, operating the Curtiss Hawk 75. On the 11th he destroyed a He111 and shared another, on the 14th he shared a Me110, on the 24th shared a Me109, on 5th June shared another and on the 8th claimed one destroyed.
After France fell Chabera's unit retreated to Algeria. Along with other Czech airmen he made his way to England by ship via Gibraltar.
Above: Chabera in France with his Hawk 75.
He was processed through the Czech depot at Cosford and joined 312 Squadron at Duxford on 5th September 1940.
On 24th March 1941 he was posted to 96 Squadron, operating the Defiant in the night fighter role, and teamed up with air gunner Sgt. K Bednarik.
On 20th September 1941 they were posted, still as a crew, to 68 Squadron where they converted to the Beaufighter.
Chabera was commissioned on 19th December 1941 and moved on 26th May 1942 to the Czechoslovak Inspectorate General (CGI) in London for non-operational service.
In February 1944 he sailed to the Soviet Union as one of 21 Czech airmen who would be the nucleus of a Czechoslovak air unit within the Russian Air Force. He was appointed commander of the 2nd Squadron and later the 1st Squadron of 1st Czechoslovak Fighter Air Regiment. They operated the Lavochkin La-5 and later the La-7.
On 18th October 1944 he claimed a probable Ju88.
Postwar he resumed his post at the institute at Letnanech. In 1948 he was purged by the communist authorities, along with many of the Czech airmen that had served with the RAF, and sentenced to five years in an uranium mine.
After his release he was restricted to manual work and took up his old trade of electrician. On retirement he settled in Litomerice.
He died on 21st October 1999 in Prague.