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Colonel (ret.) Jan Koukol (1912 - 2012) - Biography

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I have to say that luck has accompanied me


Colonel in retirement Jan Koukol was born December 26, 1912 in the village Helenín near Jihlava in the then Austria-Hungary. His father worked as a machine minder in a textile factory and his mother was a housewife. Jan attended elementary school, then he studied a secondary school of electrical engineering and after obtaining his certificate he was drafted to the Czechoslovak army, where he served in the 3rd air regiment in Piešťany in Slovakia. He went through a school for non-commissioned officers in Čáslav and thus he was promoted to the rank of a sergeant. In 1938 he experienced the mobilization while he was in Spišská Nová Ves, but after the establishment of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia he crossed the border with Poland where on August 25, 1939 he was presented in Malé Bronowice near Krakow as a member of the Czechoslovak Legion (the Czech and Slovak Legion). After the German invasion of Poland he got to Moscow via Vilnius, and from there he left for the Middle East. He was assigned to the Czechoslovak Infantry Battalion No. 11 - East, and he served as a technical sergeant in the 2nd company. With the infantry battalion he took part in the occupation of Syria in 1941 as well as in the well-known defence of Tobruk. After the arrival of other soldiers and reorganization of the infantry battalion into a 200th light anti-aircraft regiment he continued serving in this unit as a technical sergeant and his duty consisted mainly in securing the proper functioning of the unit. In 1943 he went on the ship Mauretania around Africa to Liverpool in England, where he joined the 1st Czechoslovak Independent Armoured Brigade as a technical sergeant. In 1944-1945 he took part in the siege of the French city Dunkerque. One of his jobs after the war included work in the Škoda factory. Jan Koukol lived in Prague and he reached the venerable age of nearly 100 years before he died on July 6, 2012 as one of the last Czechoslovak defenders of Tobruk.

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