07.09.1940 No. 310 Squadron Hurricane I V7437 Sgt Koukal
Date: 7th September 1940 (Saturday)
Unit: No. 310 Squadron (Czech)
Type: Hurricane I
Base: RAF Duxford, Cambridgeshire
Location: Near Capel Fleet, Hart Marshes, Isle of Sheppey, England
Pilot: Sgt. Josef Koukal 787979 RAFVR Age 28. Badly injured
REASON FOR LOSS:
7th September 1940 - the day the Luftwaffe started its blitz campaign on London.
At 17.15 hrs over Southend Sgt Koukal shot down a BF109. During combat over the Thames Estuary the Hurricane flown by Sgt Koukal was hit by gunfire. He managed to bale out but as the shells had ignited the fuel tanks he suffered severe burns. The aircraft crashed at 18.10 hrs at the locate shown.
He spent the next two years under the constant care of the experts at East Grinstead Hospital under Dr. Archibald Mcindoe and after a total of over 22 operations he went back to fly again.
The Kent Battle of Britain Museum excavated the crash site in 1972 and recovered many pieces from the aircraft including as shown, the Rolls Royce Merlin engine.
Sgt. Josef Koukal was born on the 6th May 1912 in Jenisovice, Czechoslovakia. He was serving in the Czech Air Force when the Germans took over the country on 15th March 1939. He escaped to Poland and joined the Czech Air Force detachment there. When Poland fell Kestler made his way to France and in late 1939 he joined l’Armee de l'Air. After the French collapse in June 1940, he made his way to England. Married Franceska Putnarovou in 1936 survived the war. They had two children, Joseph and Peter. Sadly he died of a heart attack on the 23rd February 1980 in Luže.
Researched for relatives of the pilot. With thanks to the following for further information supplied, Pavel Studnička for his personal notes on Josef, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses' Vol. 1, Winston G. Ramsey - 'Battle of Britain Then and Now'. Edward Bishop - 'McIndoe's Army'. Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
30 May 2022: we are grateful to Tom Dolezal for pointing out Koukal was not awarded the DFC, as we previously stated. We were misled by a mistake on a memorial plaque in his hometown of Luže.
On Czech Independence Day 2020, 36 years after his death, he was awarded the Order of the White Lion, the Czech Republic's highest award.