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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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311 Squadron Wellington Ic L7788 Fl/Lt. Karel Josef Trojacek

Operation: Berlin

Date: 23/24th September 1940 (Monday/Tuesday)

Unit: No. 311 Squadron (Czech) (motto: Na množství nehleďte - 'Never regard their numbers')

Type: Wellington Ia

Serial: L7788

Code: KX-E

Base: RAF East Wretham, Norfolk

Location: Leidschendam, Holland

Pilot: Fl/Lt. Karel Josef Trojacek 82580 RAFVR Age 30. PoW No. 3769 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan

Pilot: Sgt. Arnošt Zabrs 787225 RAFVR Age 28. PoW No. 18350 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan

Obs: P/O. Zdeněk Prochazka 787193 RAFVR Age 32. PoW No. 3770 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt Karel Kuňka 787252 RAFVR Age 27. Safe (see note)

Air/Gnr: P/O. Václav Kilián 82606 RAFVR Age 25. PoW No. 3771 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan

Air/Gnr: Sgt. František Knotek 787548 RAFVR Age 23. PoW No. 315 Camp: Stalag Muhlberg (Elbe)


Taking off at 21:35 hrs. joining 128 others from various squadrons to bomb the German capital. No night fighters were encountered but three aircraft were shot down by the intense flak over the target area.

L7788 was coned by searchlight for about a minute before being hit by flak on oil pipes feeding the starboard engine just after dropping their bomb load. Oil pressure dropped and their airspeed reduced and they lost height.

Shortly before reaching the Dutch coast and at only 500 ft a fire erupted from the starboard engine and the propeller dropped off. The pilot had no option but to force-land the Wellington at 04:35 hrs.

All the crew was unhurt and initially went on the run. Three were captured almost immediately the remainder went free for a further day before they were encircled by Germans.

note: Sgt. Kuňka decided to take his own life rather than being captured and shot himself with the very pistol from the aircraft. He died on the 26th of September despite treatment and surgery at the hospital in The Hague.

The Wellington was repaired at the Fokker factory, Schiphol airfield and repainted with German markings before flying to Berlin.

The other aircraft lost:

83 squadron Hampden I L4049 KN-O flown by Sq/Ldr. Anthony Orlando Bridgman DFC. 37667 RAF. The pilot took PoW, remaining 3 crew killed. His DFC was awarded whilst in captivity for his role in the wooden horse escape. Born on the 04th June 1915 in North Stoke, Somerset. Anthony Bridgman bought a small printing company in Guildford, Dramrite Printers Ltd., moving it to Long Lane in Bermondsey, London until it was sold in 1980. Bridgman then retired to the village of Polruan in Cornwall. He died in Northam, Devon on the 14th of January 2006, age of 90.

77 squadron Whitley V P5046 OL-A flown by P/O. Andrew Woodrow Dunn DFC. 41685 RAF from Londonderry, Northern Ireland - missing believed killed with all 4 other crew. All his crew on an earlier operation on the 09th June received awards for their attempts to save the aircraft Whitley V N1372 KN-O. The pilot had other amazing escapes: Whitley V N1384 20th May 1940 force landed near Abbeville. Whitley V forced landing at Finningley on the 06th June 1940. Whitley V N1476 on the 19th June 1940 Ditched off Hastings Pier.

Letter sent to Sgt. Kunka mother (roughly translated)

"'I regret to confirm to you the message that you are probably already receiving? ”and by telegraph. Sgt. Karel Kunka, in Oslavany near Brno, came via England and France with an air group to England. He trained as a telegraph operator and in the 3940's was assigned to the combat bomber unit.
On September 23, 1994, he took part in a raid on Berlin and did not return from this operational flight. It was not until January that the news came that Sergeant Kuňka had arrived. he paid with his life his enthusiasm for a plane over the Netherlands.
The report also stated that he was buried on 9/27/94.0 at Gravengage Central Cemetery in the Netherlands.
Sergeant Kuňka laid down a young and promising life in the fight against the enemy as a faithful son of his country and a brave advocate of our societies and freedoms.
He was posthumously awarded the Czechoslovak warrior. ' This decoration, as well as personal property, This will be handed over to you as soon as circumstances allow.
I feel with you, dear lady, your pain, and I thank Ves on my own behalf and on behalf of all the Czechoslovak Air Force for the Common and for the victory that Sergeant Kuňka is asking for. he deserved.
Honour his name, work and memory''

Burial details:

Sgt Karel Kuňka. Westduin Cemetery. Allied Plot. Row 3. Grave 56. Born 27th July 1913 in Oslavany Oslavany, Okres Brno-venkov, Jihomoravský (South Moravia), Czech Republic.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Theo Boiten, Nachtjagd Combat Archive The Early Years part one, Brigita Petrášová, Free Czechoslovak Air Force, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 01-05-2022

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Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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