The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. J Prihoda
Josef Prihoda was born at Vlasim in central Czechoslovakia on 9th October 1914. He was in the Czech Air Force when the Germans took over his country on 15th March 1939. He later made his way to Poland and joined the Czech Air Force component there. When Poland fell, Prihoda made his way to France and enlisted in l'Armee de l'Air in late 1939.
Above image courtesy of pomnikyletcu.cz
The French at that time would only allow foreigners to enlist in the Foreign Legion and Prihoda did so, he was posted to the Legion base at Sidi Bel Abbes in Algeria with several other Czechs. He was later allowed to resume flying duties and Prihoda went to the airfield at Oran for two months of retraining on French aircraft.
On 16th November 1939 he was assigned to the regional Fighter Flight ERC 571 stationed at Maison Blanche in Algeria. The obsolete aircraft that equipped the flight were replaced by the Dewoitine D510. The unit remained in North Africa in anticipation of an attack by the Italians.
After the capitulation of France Prihoda and his Czechoslovak colleagues sailed from Casablanca to Gibraltar where they joined the Neuralia, landing at Liverpool on 12th July 1940.
Prihoda was processed into the RAF at Cosford and sent to 6 OTU Sutton Bridge on 21st September to convert to Hurricanes. He was then posted to No. 1 Squadron at Wittering on 8th October.
On 21st April 1941 Prihoda probably destroyed a Me109. On the 28th he was jumped by a Me109 near Dungeness and shot down. He baled out, landing safely in a marsh at New Romney. He destroyed a Me109 on 16th June and probably destroyed a Me109 and damaged another on the 21st.
Commissioned on 28th October 1941, he was posted away from No. 1 Squadron on 23rd September and awarded the DFC (gazetted 28th September 1942). In early 1942 Prihoda was with 111 Squadron at Debden. On 12th February he destroyed a Me109 and damaged another.
In April he was with 313 Squadron at Hornchurch. On the 27th Prihoda destroyed a Fw190, on 9th May he probably destroyed another and on 23rd June shot down another.
On a Ramrod operation on 6th March 1943 he was in combat with enemy fighters in the Brest-St. Vierge area in Spitfire BP862. He was last seen in pursuit of an Fw190 and is believed to have been shot down into the sea.
Prihoda was 29 and is remembered on the Runnymede Memorial, panel 129.
Above image courtesy of Dean Sumner