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The Airmen's Stories - P/O V Zaoral


Vladimir Zaoral was born at Brno, Czechoslovakia on 5th November 1915.

After secondary education he graduated in 1935 from the technical college in Brno and went on to the Military Academy at Hranicich, graduating in 1937. His first posting was to the 2nd Aviation Regiment at Olomouc.

When the Germans took over his country on 15th March 1939 the Czechoslovak Air Force was disbanded and he was demobilised on the 17th, sailing on the 29th on the MS Chrobry to France.

On arrival in France, the Czechoslovak airmen were required to join the French Foreign Legion for a five year period, with the agreement that, should war be declared, they would be transferred to French military units. Zaoral was placed in the Legion barracks at Nanterre, near Paris, to await transfer to the training base at Sidi-bel-Abbes, Algeria, but before he could move war broke out and he was transferred to l’Armée de l’Air at its airbase at Dugny, near Paris.

On 9th October he was posted to CIC Chartres for retraining on French equipment. Training was completed on 16th May 1940 and he was posted to Patrouille DAT (Groupe de Chasse de Defence), which was equipped with MS406c fighters and based at Chartres.

After the French collapse the Czech airmen were released and on 19th June he embarked on the Arry Scheffer at Bordeaux and sailed for England, arriving at Falmouth on the 23rd.


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


Zaoral went to 4 Recruit Centre and then moved to the RAF Czechoslovak Depot at Cosford on 1st July. He was commissioned in the RAFVR on 12th July.

He was attached to 501 Squadron at Gravesend between 18th and 28th August but then joined 310 Squadron at Duxford and converted to Hurricanes. He flew his first operational sortie on 23rd September.

He moved to 501 Squadron at Kenley on 17th October and claimed a Me109 destroyed on the 25th.

On a training flight on 3rd March 1941 he had to make a forced landing, due to his forgetting to switch the fuel supply from the main tank to the reserve tank. He belly landed at Little Downham, west of Ely.

Back with 310, Zaoral was killed in a flying accident on 19th November 1941 as a Flying Officer.

He was practising aerial attacks on a glider at Dyce airfield. He was flying Spitfire P7837. His aircraft was seen to dive on to the glider, at about 600ft, and then go into a steep climb to about 2000ft into cloud. The Spitfire emerged from the cloud in a spin, with the engine shut off. As the aircraft neared the ground, Zaoral managed to re-start the engine but the Spitfire went into a steep dive with the engine full-on. It crashed just outside the airfield perimeter.

Zaoral was buried on 21st November 1941 in Dyce Old churchyard, Aberdeen.


Above image courtesy of PJRG66.



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