The Airmen's Stories - F/Lt. F Rypl
Frantisek Rypl was born on 2nd April 1903 at Cesky Krumlov, Czechoslovakia.
In October 1923 he joined the Military Academy in Hranice. He graduated from there in August 1925 and was posted to the 52nd Artillery Regiment. In October of that year he was sent to the Artillery School at Olomouc. From July 1926 he was posted to the 2nd Artillery Regiment.
In November 1928 Rypl was sent to the Military Aviation Academy at Prostejov for training as an air observer, he then decided to remain in the Air Force. In November 1929 he was assigned to the 64th Squadron of the 3rd Air Regiment based at Vajnory, Slovakia.
Between November 1930 and December 1932 he completed several courses, including fighter pilot training, at the Military Aviation Academies at Olomouc, Prostejov and Cheb. He then returned to the 3rd Air Regiment and was rapidly promoted. In July 1935 he was appointed Commander of the Air Defence Unit for the Hradec Kralove region. At the end of September 1938 he was assigned to the Ministry of the Interior.
After the German occupation of Czechoslovakia in March 1939 the Air Force was disbanded by the Germans and all personnel dismissed. In January 1940 Rypl escaped through Slovakia, Hungary and Yugoslavia where, with other escaped Czechoslovak military airmen, he boarded a ship which took them to Beirut and then onto Marseille.
In France they were taken to the Czechoslovak Depot at Agde. Before Rypl could be processed into l'Armee de l'Air the rapid German advance forced the French forces to retreat westwards.
Rypl managed to reach the Merignac airbase at Bordeaux. On 17th June he was one of thirty eight Czechoslovak airmen who left on the last BOAC flight out. They landed at Hendon and shortly afterwards Rypl was transferred to the Czechoslovak Airmens Depot at Cosford.
He was commissioned into the RAFVR and posted on 12th July to 310 Squadron. He was trained on the squadron to fly the Hurricane. When the squadron was declared operational on 17th August he flew on its first operational patrol.
Sitting left to right, P/O V Goth, F/Lt. JM Maly, F/Lt. GL Sinclair, F/Lt. JE Boulton, F/Lt. J Jefferies, P/O S Zimprich, Sgt. J Kaucky, F/Lt. F Rypl, P/O E Fechtner and P/O V Bergman.
Standing, left to right, P/O S Janouch, Sgt. J Vopalecky, Sgt. R Puda, Sgt. K Seda, Sgt. B Furst, and Sgt. R Zima
On 9th September he was in combat with Me109s south of London in Hurricane P3142 when he was shot down, making a forced landing near Oxted.
On 11th December 1940 he was posted to 4 Ferry Pilot Pool at Kemble where he stayed until May 1941. He was then posted to the Czechoslovak Inspectorate General in London. In December 1941 he went to the Military Office of the Czechoslovak President.
He returned to flying and, after retraining on night fighting Beaufighters, was posted to 307 Squadron.
Rypl's operational flying finished following an accident at the end of a night training flight on 8th November 1942. He was returning to Exeter after an exercise in conjuction with a searchlight battery. Due to poor visibility his Beaufighter VIf X8149 overshot the runway and hit a tree. In the crash his radar operator, Sgt. WW Gajek, was killed and Rypl was seriously injured.
In February 1943 he returned to duties with the Military Office of the Czechoslovak President. In August 1944 he requested a transfer to the 1st Czechoslovak Air Regiment in Russia.
Rypl arrived in Russia on 28th September 1944 and was assigned to the 1st Czechoslovak Air Regiment equipped with IL-2 aircraft. On 9th May 1945 he became the first Czechoslovak airman to return to Prague. Rypl stayed in the Czechoslovak Air Force postwar and from 1st September 1945 he studied at the USSR Supreme Military Academy in Moscow.
He returned from Moscow in August 1947 and was appointed Commander of the Military Academy at Hradec Kralove.
Following the Communist takeover in February 1948, Czechoslovak airmen who had fought for the Allies were regarded as being tainted by capitalism and many were arrested, imprisoned and subjected to other persecution. Rypl was one of the few former RAF airmen who was left in post.
He remained as Commander at Hradec Kralove until June 1951 when he was posted to the Aviation Research Institute as Deputy Commander and became its Commander in April 1952. Over the next twenty years he received various promotions and higher levels of Command.
Rypl was commanding the 11th Fighter Regiment at Vojkovice when he retired, he died on 2nd August 1973.
On 10th January 1974, his son, aged 41 and also called Frantisek, was killed serving in the Czech Air Force when his MiG-15bis crashed (below).