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The Airmen's Stories - P/O S Janouch


Svatopluk Janouch was born on 6th November 1913 in Noveho Jicina, Czechoslovakia. He trained as an observer in the military school at Prostejov from 1934 to 1936. After serving with the 1st Aviation Regiment he went on to train as a pilot, his first posting on qualifying was to 43 Fighter Squadron, operating the Avia B-534.

Like many other Czech airmen Janouch slipped out of the country after the German occupation in March 1939 and made his way through Poland to France. Sent at first to the Foreign Legion at Sidi-bel-Abbes in Algeria, he was inducted into l'Armee de l'Air and sent for training at the flying school at Oran.



Above image courtesy of the JE Hybler archive and copyright Mrs. L Hybler 1984.


After further training at Blida he qualified on the MS406 and was posted on 15th December 1939 to GCI/6 at Chissey-sur-Loue near Dijon. On 9th March 1940 Janouch had to bale out near the airfield at 200ft. when his engine caught fire. On 5th June he shot down a Hs126 of 4/LG2. On the 7th June he returned with his MS406 badly damaged by ground fire after a low-level attack on enemy armour. He was wounded in one leg and admitted to hospital.

GC I/6 was evacuated south without Janouch so he discharged himself and made his way by road, sometimes by bicycle, to Bordeaux. Here he was able to board the Dutch vessel Karanan which landed him at Falmouth on 21st June 1940.

He was commissioned in the RAFVR on 12th July and joined 310 Squadron, which was then forming at Duxford. He claimed a Me110 destroyed on 7th September and shared in the destruction of a Do17 on the 18th, over the Thames. On 28th February 1941 he was appointed 'B' Flight commander.

His 1940 injuries caught up with him on 29th May 1941 when he finished his tour and he was taken off operational flying and posted on 17th October 1941 as an air controller at Debden.

On 15th May 1942 he became Liaison Officer at HQ Fighter Command and in 1943 he was transferred to the same post at 10 Fighter Group.

On 1st December 1943 he moved to London to a post in the Czechoslovak Inspectorate General (CIG), moving on 15th August 1944 to Paris as air attache in the Czechoslovak legation.

Janouch returned to Czechoslovakia in July 1945 and took up a post in the Military Academy in Hradec Kralove. Like many ex-RAF airmen he was purged by the communist authorities in 1948 and left the country.

For several years he worked for Air France and in 1952 he became the deputy director of the Swissair office in New York. He died there on 12th April 1966 aged 52.



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