Miroslav Standera

Second World War pilot who fled the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia and flew for the French and the RAF

Miroslav Standera was one of the last surviving Czechoslovak fighter pilots who fought for both the French air force during the Battle of France and for the RAF during the rest of the Second World War. Having fled the Nazi takeover of Czechoslovakia in 1939 he found his way to France, already with 140 flying hours to his credit for the Czechoslovak Air Force during times of peace.

Once in France, by then itself threatened by the Nazi occupation, Standera was snapped up by the French and was retrained in flying French Morane Saulnier MS-406C fighters, first at BA-117 (Base Aérienne) in Paris and later at Chartres – flying patrols aimed, unsuccessfully, at holding back the Luftwaffe and the German invasion.  At that time he was a Flight-Sergeant in the French Air Force.

On 11 June 1940, flying out of his base at Lognes-Emerainville, he was shot down near Epernay by a Messerschmitt Bf-109 from the Luftwaffe’s Jagdgeschwader-53 fighter wing nicknamed “Pik As” [Ace of Spades]. He was injured by gunfire but bailed out and was taken to hospital near Troyes. As the hospital was about to be overrun by the Nazis he was moved by train, eventually to the port of Sète to board an Egyptian freighter to Liverpool.

After a spell in a camp for exiled Czechoslovak military personnel at Cholmondeley Park, Cheshire, he joined the RAF’s all-Czechoslovak 312 Squadron, based at RAF Duxford and flying Hurricane fighters in defence of British cities and of vital shipping. Because of his injuries he was not believed to have been among the 88 Czechoslovak fliers who took part in the Battle of Britain as it is usually defined.

He would later join RAF 68 (night-fighter) Squadron based variously at High Ercall, Shropshire, RAF Cranfield and Fairwood Common, South Wales, flying Bristol Beaufighters and Mosquitos, including providing air support for the D-Day landing forces and intercepting German V-1 “doodlebug” flying bombs. In all he flew 1,320 hours in combat and survived two crash landings in April 1944 with his navigator Karel Bednarik.

Miroslav Standera was born in Prague in 1918, days before the city witnessed Czechoslovakia’s declaration of independence from the collapsed Austro-Hungarian empire. His birth came six weeks before the Great War armistice but war would loom large in his life. He trained as a typographer but joined the Czechoslovakian Air Force in 1936 at the Military Aviation School in Prostejov before joining the 4th Aviation Regiment in Pardubice.

After the Nazis occupied Czechoslovakia in March 1939 he fled through Poland and then travelled by ship to France. Initially he and the many fellow Czechs who wished to fight had to sign up for the Foreign Legion, but once war was declared, he joined the Armée de l’Air.

Once the war was over he returned to his homeland a hero, but the freedom for which he had risked his life was short-lived. Soviet-backed communists took power in 1948 and life was made difficult, even hell,  for those who had fought alongside Britons and Americans. As many of his old comrades were persecuted or even jailed, Standera fled for the second time in less than a decade.

Freedom for him and his compatriots was not easily won. He returned to the UK and was welcomed back into the RAF. On retirement he settled in London and built up a successful business as a silversmith and jeweller for around 35 years.

Pining for his real home, sensing the decline of communism and inspired by compatriots such as Vaclav Havel, he moved in 1983 to Bavaria in order, as he put it, “to be within sight of my native country.” Six years later, after the Velvet Revolution, he returned to his homeland, where the lived until his death in the west Bohemian city of Plzen (Pilsen), home of the renowned Pilsner Urquell beer.

As with all of the former war heros, Havel promoted Standera symbolically, from Flight Officer to Brigadier-General. He was named an honorary citizen- of Plzen and was awarded the French Legion of Honour.  

Miroslav Standera, fighter pilot and silversmith: born Prague 5 October 1918; died Plzen, Czech Republic 19 February 2014.

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind-the-scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
News
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Algo-Developer (BDD/TDD, ASP.NET, JavaScript, RX)

£45000 - £69999 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Algo-Develo...

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, Apache Mahout, Python,R,AI)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Data Scientist (SQL,Data mining, data modelling, PHD, AI)

£50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...

Java Developer - 1 year contract

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone