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Sgt. Petr Uruba

Author : 🕔10.11.2004 📕19.396
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On the night of February 6-7, 1941, six Wellingtons of the 311th (Czechoslovak) RAF bomber squadron launched from East Wretham to attack the French port of Boulogne. The aircraft marked KX-T "Tamara" did not return from the raid. The second pilot of this machine was Sgt. Petr Uruba. Currently Col. (Ret) Petr Uruba, a former co-pilot of the aforementioned Wellington 311th (Czechoslovak) Bomber Squadron of the RAF, is one of the RAF veterans with whom we meet regularly at meetings in the Hotel Legion and other events. The colonel and I had an informal face-to-face meeting at his home for one summer evening. As such a small surprise, this time we took with us three photographs measuring approximately 40x50 cm, in addition, of course, obligatory several books, a camera, a dictaphone and similar tools. One never knows when it may come in handy ...

To the person of Col. Uruba as such, I will go into more detail sometime in the near future. Take this post only as such a memory of a short friendly chat ...

From the beginning, our evening "expedition" was marked by a slight confusion and chaos. I left a letter at home from the colonel, where the address was written. Later, I remembered her and, for sure, confirmed myself through Honza Lehovec, but for a change, I could not find an atlas of Prague anywhere at home with my parents. The reassurance did not come even after the meeting with Kakance, because we got the knowledge that this one is not in his red Audi either. In my greatest despair, I ran across Jičínská Street to Flora to the metro, wanting to use the magic of a service card and ask for a colleague in the service for help. Unfortunately, a colleague apparently did not understand what I was asking of him, and informed me how to get to the place by public (accumulating? ...) transport. Eventually I had to use wall maps and we were saved. In a few minutes we parked in the shade of trees next to a small apartment building in Krč ...

We rang the doorbell nervously. After a while, the colonel was downstairs and apologized for not being able to invite us home, for greedy reasons, Mrs. Urub was taking a bath, getting ready for the hajan, and so on. Of course, we didn't even expect any visit, we thought we would have the few things we had with us signed and we would help. In the end, a pleasant and very interesting conversation lasted more than half an hour in the garden in front of the house ...

We could not have started our conversation except by asking about the last flight of "Tamara" that fateful evening in February 1941. For information, Wellington KX-T, on his return to England for unknown reasons, landed at the airport in occupied France and the entire crew was captured . The bomber crew consisted of P / O František Cigoš - pilot, Sgt. Petr Uruba - co-pilot, P / O Emil Bušina - navigator, P / O Arnošt Valenta - radio operator, P / O Karel Křížek, Sgt. Gustav Kopal - shooters (By the way, Arnošt Valenta was one of 50 members of the RAF who were assassinated by the Gestapo after the famous Great Escape from the prison camp in Sagan ...) .

There are two versions of this unfortunate event. According to the first of them, the crew got lost due to the inexperience of the navigator Bušina and landed at the airport in France by mistake. The second version says that the crew fell into the trap of a German radio station and received a deliberately bad course from it. In addition, at the most critical moment, the radio went off (accidentally?) . In the history of the 311th Squadron, this is the most mysterious of all operational losses. Where is the truth? ...

It is true that the navigator Bušina, at the age of 38 already exceeding the permitted standards, took part in the operational flight for the first time. After the raid on the harbor, he collapsed nervously and began to faint. Therefore, he could not make course corrections and so the second pilot, Sgt.Uruba, who was behind the wheel on his way back to England, flew according to the course the crew received shortly after the raid. In addition, a strong wind carried the aircraft far from the route. After flying over the coast (unfortunately already English ...) it was not possible to identify the signals transmitted by the beacons, the radio did not work ...

With declining fuel and an erroneous estimate of the approximate position, Sgt. Uruba machine southeast. Unfortunately, he basically went back across the Channel to occupied France. With the fuel level indicator at almost zero, he then decided to land at the nearest airport. The weather was starting to get worse, so everyone was relieved when a field airport appeared in front of the plane. After turning on the position lights and signaling the lamp in the bow of the aircraft, a series of "goosenecks" lit up on the ground, indicating the runway.

What was a surprise for the crew when the approaching soldiers did not have British but German helmets on their heads. Petr Uruba, still behind the rams of the plane, immediately restarted the engines, they started immediately and without the slightest problems, because they were not enough to cool down yet, turned around and tried to take off. Unfortunately, he did not succeed. The track was too short, the terrain soft, and the running German soldiers hung on the stern of the moving machine. All that was left was to get up with my hands over my head ...

But what if we managed to start? "Tamara" was almost without fuel, you would have to sit on the water ...

We were determined to take off and fly at all costs. We would have to land somewhere anyway. But we wanted to fly away ...

Then the German Feldwebel came and told us in good English that we were actually happy to rejoice. "War is over for you" , the war is over for you , ... I knew German well, so I sent him, ... to hell and so on ...

How did they treat you in captivity? Did they abide by the Geneva Agreement on Prisoners of War? They knew you were from Czechoslovakia, so actually citizens of the Empire ...

Well, they behaved pretty well. But how where. They had to abide by the Geneva Agreement, according to which prisoners must be treated fairly, they must receive the same food as their guards. We were ordered by the English commanders, in case of captivity, to continue sabotaging German efforts, to harm, not to comply with the regulations. So, for example, every morning, when there was a boarding and counting of prisoners, everyone was already boarding and I was just leaving the quarters. The German commander always cursed and said, "Ah, Uruba, immer der letzte, ... " as if he were always the last. We also took part in digging tunnels. It was very dangerous, it almost covered us. There was no logs ... That was my attempt at some kind of passive resistance ...

They had excellent information about us. They actually got them after the occupation of the republic. There were a lot of records about us pilots on the staffs. Maybe I've been flying since 1935. So they knew us well. Names, residences and so on. I spoke good French and English, so I pretended to be Canadian. I learned those languages at school and then in private. I did well. But they knew everything ...

It is also written that they knew a lot from traitors. I'm thinking of Přeučil, who deserted and flew with the Hurricane to the Germans ...

Well, ... He overstated ... and he didn't escape his fate either. And it's good they didn't shoot him, but he got a noose. Death by shooting is more honorable. Good thing he hung ... damn it!

The English uniform actually saved you then. After all, the English were threatening sanctions on German prisoners at the time. But they still presented you to the Gestapo ...

We got to the Gestapo, here to the "Petchkárna". I met Vilda Bufka there. I tell him, "Bill, what about you here?" And the German immediately started yelling at us to keep quiet ...

As members of the RAF, we had the advantage that the English said of us that we had British citizenship. So we had to be treated like any other member of the British Army, Air Force and so on.The Germans had to come to terms with it, and in the end they concluded that they would settle with us after the victorious end of the war. But ... we got to the Gestapo sometime in 1944, and basically every German must have known that they had lost the war. After all, the Germans were also among the first to sign the Geneva Agreement ...

There were many Germans in England, in prison camps. Then the English got rid of them so that they would not have to feed them, they sent them to Canada. And the prisoners did very well there ...

You are currently meeting at various events with German pilots. How do you understand them? You used to be enemies for life and death ...

We meet them quite often, at various events abroad and at home. For example, in September there will be such a meeting in the Ore Mountains in Kovářská, in the museum of the air battle over the Ore Mountains, recently there was something similar in southern Bohemia in Český Krumlov, a few days ago we were in France. It is already good, there are good relations between us. Finally, they are also just people ...

I had such a speech at one of those meetings. In German. I concluded with the words: "Krieg ist der große scheiße" . I had a big round of applause and we laughed well ...

In addition to Krumlov, it was also reported in the news. I mean the affair with Beneš's bust at the hotel of Colonel Jan Horal ...

I saw it too. Well ... it's supposed to be an expression of respect for our president. He visited us during the war with squadrons at airports, he was an excellent man, a prominent figure in our history. And they don't like him. How can they afford it? After all, they actually started the war themselves ...
And what about the relationship between you and the civilian population? ...

Civilians have always treated us great. And not only in England, the French apologized to us for Munich. As foreigners, we had such a privilege that each of us could be invited by a family to join them when we actually lost our homes due to going abroad. I went to one of them, they had a beautiful daughter. Marion's name was ...

When I got to England, I walk around the harbor and see a girl from behind. I run up to her and call out, "Marion, what are you doing here?" Well, ... it wasn't Marion ... But we enjoyed the girls a lot. So, you know, we were young, there was a war, a blue Air Force uniform impressed them. There used to be dance parties every week, so there was never a shortage of girls. I also remember one, ... there was a golf course not far from us, they had a nice lawn and the dimples, ... so we examined the dimples and ...

... and then it's clear. While remembering the girls, I was immediately attacked (he had to attack me, otherwise it just didn't work ...) the film Dark Blue World and Kája Vojtíšek. " Look, Sena, the English will be necessary ... " . So in the end we had a good time and it was fun. I admit that we were surprised, we know Mr. Uruba as a calm and quiet grandfather ...

Well, we didn't want to delay too much, we were already too far ahead of the original assumptions. But it was an absolutely wonderful meeting. In the end, we wished each other nothing but health, and promised to meet again sometime, probably in September in the Legion, because we will not get to any earlier event. We handed the colonel one of the posters, a bouquet of roses that we had prepared for his mistress, said goodbye and went home. But along the way, we spun other interesting plans. Kakanec is constantly thinking about a personal encounter with gen. A duvet, which will not be a problem and he will talk to him. I'm going to have my poster with Col. again. Frame Uruba and his autograph and donate it to the Duo Hotel for a veteran exhibition. I would like to visit Col. on that occasion. Jana Horala. But it will still be seen ...

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Author : 🕔10.11.2004 📕19.396