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The Airmen's Stories - P/O J J Hanus


Josef Jan Hanus was born on 13th September 1911 in a village near Jilemnice, NE Czechoslovakia.

After leaving school he in 1931 he trained as a teacher but left this after some months to enlist in the Czech Air Force. Posted as an Observer to the 1st Air Regiment on 1st October 1932, he retrained as a pilot, qualifying in July 1935.

On 25th April 1938 he was attached to the Ministry of the Interior to work in airport security.

After the German occupation he escaped like many Czech airmen to Poland. When no organisation was forthcoming he sailed on 1st August 1939 on the MS Chrobry for France. Initially drafted into the Foreign Legion, he was eventually released to the French Air Force and by late May 1940 he was serving with GCIII/1, operating the MS406 from Plessis-Belleville, NE of Paris.



In action he shared a Hs126. Following the French collapse he sailed on 24th June 1940 from Port Vendres on the MS General Chanzy. Landing in Oran, he went by train to Casablanca and from there sailed on the Gib-el-Dersa to Gibraltar. The Neuralia then took him to Liverpool, where he landed on 12th July 1940. After being processed through the Czech depot at Cosford he was commissioned and went on 28th September to 6 OTU Aston Down to convert to the Hurricane. On 14th October he was posted to 310 (Czechoslovak) Fighter Squadron.

He remained with the squadron until 21st May 1941, when he went to 32 Squadron at Angle. On 18th September 1941 Hanus moved to 245 Squadron at Kilbolton. He was awarded the Czech Military Cross in late 1941 and two bars later in the war.

He was posted to 54 OTU Church Fenton on 1st January 1942 to convert to Beaufighters. Hanus joined 600 Squadron at Predannack on 17th February and was attached for a while to 125 Squadron at Fairwood Common for further training. He went to 68 Squadron at Coltishall on 13th September, was posted away later and on 25th December 1942 was in transit to North Africa.

Hanus arrived at Setif on 10th January 1943 and rejoined 600 Squadron. On 16th March he damaged a Do217, destroyed Ju88s on 4th, 21st and 24th April and was given an immediate award of the DFC (gazetted 26th May 1943).

He destroyed a Ju88 on 16th September and was posted back to the UK on 8th December 1943, arriving on 28th February 1944 to go to HQ Fighter Command as Technical Liaison Officer.

On 6th May 1944 he married Lillian Webb, they went on to have two children.

On 22nd August 1944 Hanus flew back to Prague in an Auster. He rejoined the Czech Air Force but like many ex-RAF airmen was purged by the communist authorities in May 1948. He had managed to send his family to England and escaped himself through Germany in July.

He rejoined the RAF and was posted on 2nd November 1948 to 23 Squadron at Coltishall. Hanus did a Control course at Middle Wallop, served with 141 Squadron from January 1949 and in June 1951 went on to Flying Control. He lost his flying category in late 1954 and trained as an Equipment Officer, serving in this capacity until his retirement on 19th September 1968 as a Flight Lieutenant, retaining the rank of Squadron Leader.

Before retirement in 1977 he worked at the computer company ICL.

Hanus died on 21st April 1992.


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