03.09.1944 No. 310 (C) Squadron Spitfire IX MJ311 NN-W W/O. A. Skach
Operation: Ramrod - Soesterberg Airfield, Holland.
Date: 3rd September 1944 (Sunday)
Unit: No.310 Squadron RAF (Czech)
Type: Supermarine Spitfire IX
Location: Rayne, Nr. Braintree, Essex.
Pilot: W/O. Antonin Skach 172636 RAFVR Age 27. Killed
This information has been kindly submitted by Trevor A. Williams who had researched the loss and forwarded it to W/O. Skach's daughter and eventually to us.
REASON FOR LOSS:
W/O. Antonin Skach was taking part in a Rodeo (1258) escorting 100 Halifax bombers that were going to bomb Soesterberg Airfield in Holland.
Shortly after crossing the coast the pilot had trouble with his engine and turned back to RAF North Weald. He was last seen descending through rain clouds and crashed at School Road at Drapers Farm near Rayne, Essex. Previously W/O. Skach had claimed a Fw190 over Dieppe.
He had married and English girl and she gave birth to a daughter named Stazie. Antonin's wife, Isobel Stach, passed away in 2008.
Trevor Williams takes up the story: "I visited the crash site back in 1981 and was told that the windscreen from this Spitfire had been removed at the time of the accident by a local man.
After a great deal of research I traced this item to the local village dump and discovered it in superb condition. The spitfire had previously seen service with 80 (F) Squadron at West Malling. (See Bob Spurdles book -"The Blue Arena")
The official report on the loss of W/O Antonin Skach during the Ramrod 1258 mission. This Spitfire came off the production line at Castle Bromwich in 1943 - she served with great distinction with 501 (F) Squadron.
80 (F) Squadron, West Malling and finally 310 F) Czech Squadron based at North Weald - the majority of this Spitfire's life was spent more time across the channel than it did in the UK. and suffered some very hairy moments during her career - the story of this one reads like a best seller."
W/O. Antonin Skach behind the windscreen at the controls of a Spitfire Mk.VB prior to 310 receiving the 1X's.
A reunion of 501 (F) Squadron members at St Osyth’s, Point Clear, Essex in 1994. Shown here is the Reverend James Grottick (RAF now also passed away) with the supplier of this information Trevor Williams. Trevor described James as a real "gentleman" and flew the aircraft (MJ311) on several sorties whilst with 501 (F) Squadron at Hawkinge. He was fascinated at seeing the windscreen Trevor had recovered saying: "I can't believe all those years ago I sat behind this"!
Spitfire Mk.IX, MJ311 80 (F) Squadron
This is a copy of the original photograph that was presented to Trevor Williams by Sq/Ldr. Bob Spurdle and which used to hang above his desk at his home in New Zealand. Bob commanded 80 Squadron at West Malling where 310 Squadron collected the Spitfires from when 80 received their new Tempest's. The Spitfire in this article was delayed arriving back at North Weald as her pilot, not Skach, taxied into a stationary hut and damaged her wing!
A rare sepia photo of the squadron - W/O. Skach is shown, centre row 2nd from right with his Irvin clear turned up.
W/O. Antonin grave in Cheadle, Cheshire
Trevor explained to us that he had met many of W/O. Skach's friends and when he used to attend the Czech reunions in London the Czech pilots always resented being placed on convoy patrols away from the fighting, whilst the Poles were in the thick of it. They used to tell him that he should remember that Czechoslovakia had been invaded before Poland, yet your RAF never let us at the enemy as quickly as they let the Poles. Trevor also said that the Czechs are a truly wonderful people, very proud and very honest and that the Aircrew Remembered website is wonderful and in remembering these boys, their memories and what they stood for will never be forgotten - we owe each and everyone of them so very much - a debt that we can only repay by making sure their deeds and sacrifices were not in vain.
P/O. Antonin Skach. Cheadle and Gatley Cemetery. Sec. 15. Grave 45. Czechoslovak Military Cross 1939 (x 2), Czechoslovak Medal for Bravery (x 2), Czechoslovak Military Commemorative Medal and Bar (Great Britain). Son of Antonin and Annastazie Skach of Czechoslovakia, husband of Isabel Skach, of Edgeley, Stockport.