Colonel (ret.) Josef Vyletěl

* 1925  †︎ 2017

  • “Supplying the tanks, artillery ammunition, and so on. Many cars were needed for that. We thus only had the things that they needed immediately. Weapons, cartridges, grenades, machine guns, and so on. All this was there and I was responsible for it. At first there were two of us. When we were on the move, the driver lost control over his vehicle, and he turned the car over in a complicated terrain. We had American Studebakers and he got between the wheels. He was then taken to a hospital. And so there was only I left.”

  • “We had a large barn, and the Soviet tankists had their tank there and I liked to spent time with them there. When I got to the army, I thought that I would like it best if I could get into a tank unit. We joined on March 20, 1944 in the city of Rovno, and we were admitted to the army there.”

  • “My family were farmers. They bought a piece of field. Then we had a land of about twenty hectares. Grandpa had three daughters, one of them married into one town, and they had a pub there, and the second married Mr. Linhart, who was my uncle. They had a brewery in our village. My mom stayed at home and she married my dad.”

  • “They accepted us to the army in the town of Rovno, and luckily they ordered us to make rows of three and then they said: ‘You, and you, step out of the line.’ They pointed at me, too, and so I stepped out of the line. They told us: ‘Those of you who were selected are admitted in the tank unit. You will get into the cars and we will take you to the town Kiverce.’ That is near Luck. When we arrived there, they ordered us, about twelve soldiers, to guard the commander of a smaller tank unit, whose commander was the first lieutenant Vladimír Janko.”

  • “[Since you were younger by your year of birth, were you not at risk of being sent to Germany to do forced labour?] It was a threat for us, too, but what happened was that the Linhart family was in the brewery, and Germans were coming to the brewery because they were actually administering it all, and the Linharts would give them beer, and none of the citizens of Mirohošť was ever sent to Germany for work. But otherwise this was normally happening.”

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    Turnov, 27.05.2014

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In a tank unit with an arms and ammunition depot

DSC01285mlad.jpg (historic)
Colonel (ret.) Josef Vyletěl
zdroj: Dobová: 1945; Současná: 27.5.2014, autor Luděk Jirka

Colonel in retirement Josef Vyletěl was born March 9, 1925 in the village Mirohošť in Volhynia in the then Poland. He was born into a community of Volhynian Czechs and his native village was half Czech and half Ukrainian. He has never seen his father. His father suffered a head injury by shrapnel in the battle at Zborov and he died as a result thereof in 1925. Josef‘s mother then remarried. Josef completed seven grades of Polish elementary school and then he enrolled in the Polish trade academy in Dubno. However, his studies became interrupted on September 17, 1939 by the Soviet occupation of western Volhynia, which was followed by the Nazi occupation after June 22, 1941. Josef was helping his stepfather with work on the farm during the war, but after the Red Army reentered Volhynia in early 1944, he enlisted in the newly formed 1st Czechoslovak Army Corps in Rovno on March 20, 1944. He wished to serve in tank units, a decision which was largely influenced by his experience with Soviet tankists‘ stay in Mirohošť. His wish eventually came true and he was assigned to serve in the Czechoslovak tank units. He served as a gunsmith in the technical service company and he was in charge of an arms and ammunition depot where he had to be within reach of the advancing tanks at any time. He joined the combat at Jaslo in Poland and in the Carpathian-Dukla operation. In February 1945, the 1st Czechoslovak Independent Tank Brigade was formed. Later it was transferred to southern Poland, where they took part in the liberation of the town Žory and other regions in southern Poland. In 1945 the brigade contributed to the liberation of the Ostrava region during the Ostrava-Opava operation. Even after the end of the war, Josef was deployed in the area of Moravská Ostrava in June 1945 due to the conflict with Poland. He subsequently went to Žatec and he applied to join the local Army Group Žatec. He took a property previously abandoned by deported Germans for his stepfather, who had followed the army corps as a civilian and who returned to Volhynia after the war, and in 1947 after the re-emigration of Volhynian Czechs he moved there together with his two sons. Josef then went to study an army school for tankists in Vyškov and when he graduated with a lieutenant‘s rank he was assigned to serve in Klatovy and later in Podbořany, where he also met his future wife. Then he was transferred to the District Military Administration office in Turnov and he and his wife lived in Jenišovice. His wife however died in 1972 and he married again. Then he lived with his second wife in Turnov. Josef Vyletěl passed away on October, the 20th, 2017.