There were so many of our planes in the air that instead of looking for submarines we had to make sure we didn’t collide with one another
Petr Arton (Solomon Apfelbaum) was born on 1st January 1922 in Warsaw where his name was registered as „Sláma“. He was brought up in a Jewish family in Teplice. His father owned a small cloth recycling factory. In 1938 he and his family moved to Prague, where Petr became a student in an English school. However, a year later the family had to flee to Poland, where the onset of war caught up with them. Petr left Poland on a small boat for Russia and from there to Vilnius in Lithuania. There, with the help of the Japanese consul, he obtained a Japanese visa and arrived in Shanghai in the beginning of January 1941. He joined the Czechoslovak Army and via Singapore and South Africa moved to England for basic training. In 1942 he became a member of the Royal Air Force (RAF). From the beginning of April 1944 he took part in 49 battles against German submarines. After the War his parents moved to Canada and Petr went home with the Czechoslovak bomber squadron. Within three weeks he became Deputy Commander of the garrison at Liberec and later deputy to the Chief of Education at the General Staff of the Air Force. It was his idea to make the airport in Žatec available to the Israeli Hagana. Due to the political changes in 1948 Petr left Czechoslovakia and immigrated to England. In April 1954 Petr became an Israeli citizen and lives in Israel to this day. Jan Svěrák was inspired by Petr Arton and the role of Frantisek Slama, played by Ondrej Vetchy, in his film Tmavomodrý Svět (Dark Blue World) is based on him.