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František Fajtl (1912 - 2006) - Biography

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When I realized I could not win, I turned the plane nose down. I could not jump out, and the only chance was to land in the terrain.

František Fajtl was born August 20, 1912 in Donín near Louny. As a child, he was brought up in the spirit of patriotism and obedience. He was an active member of the Sokol organization. He studied in a commercial academy then joined the military, passing the exams to the Military Academy in Hranice na Moravě. During his second year of studies, he began to study aviation in Prostějov. In 1935, František graduated from the academy as a lieutenant pilot. He joined the Air Force regiment in Přerov, where he, in March 1939, had to watch the surrender of the airport to the Germans. After the occupation, he was dismissed from the army and he decided to illegally cross the border to Poland. From there, he was supposed to be deployed in the Foreign Legion in Africa; however after the outbreak of WWII, he went to fly in France. He undertook training in Chartres, and fought in Lyon and Paris. After France was defeated, he left for England, where he was deployed in the Battle of Britain. He was the first Czechoslovak to become a commander of a British squadron (n. 122). In May 1942, he was shot down over France but managed to escape to Spain, where he was briefly imprisoned. After his return to England, he became the commander of the 313th Czechoslovak Fighter Squadron. At the beginning of 1944, as part of the Allied assistance, he was sent to the USSR as a commander of twenty fighter airplanes. His unit was to support the Slovak National Uprising. After the defeat of the uprising, Fajtl continued fighting in the eastern front, and the end of the war found him in Poland. After his return to Czechoslovakia, he remained in the army, and became a regimental commander and a deputy to the division commander. In 1949, he was dismissed from the army, arrested and held in prison in Mírov without a trial for 17 months. After his release, he reunited with his family and moved out of Prague. František then earned his living as a labourer, construction technician, and an accountant. After the fall of the communist regime, he was fully rehabilitated and was awarded the rank of lieutenant general in retirement and many other decorations. He died on October 4, 2006 at the age of 94.

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