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Otto Smik

Author : 🕔30.06.2003 📕57.794
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Smik was born on January 20, 1922 in the spa town of Borjomi near Tiflis ( now Tbilisi - Georgia ) in the Caucasus. His Slovak father Rudolf remained here after the First World War, when he was captured by Russia. Rudolf Smik married the daughter of a high tsarist officer of Jewish origin, but he still longed to return to Slovakia. He was not allowed to do so until 1934. He already had three sons, Otto was the middle. The family first settled in Hájinky, then in Bratislava .

Otto has been interested in aviation since he was a child. He first built models and won the first prize in his category in the competition of aircraft modellers in Vajnory on May 9, 1937. He also attended a gliding course in Dúbrava and Straník and graduated from a two-year private business school, but the profession of clerk did not grow on his heart. The Slovak state was also created at that time, but Smik, as well as many others, did not like it.

On March 18, 1940, less than two months after his eighteenth birthday, Smik went abroad to join the Czechoslovak. foreign resistance. He fled the so-called Balkan route through Hungary, where he reported to the French consulate and received a fake passport, to Yugoslavia. Here he joined a group of other Czechoslovakians. refugees. So he continued through Greece, Turkey and Iran to France. On June 3, 1940, he reported to the Czechoslovak. air group in Agde . But before he could begin training, France collapsed and he sailed to Liverpool on June 24, 1940.

In England, he was accepted into the RAF as a soldier and began his career as an officer servant. It was not until September 1941 that he was called up for elementary flight training at the 3rd EFTS in Schellingford. He underwent continuing training in January 1942 in Canada. One of his instructors here was Josef Stehlík, one of the Czechoslovak. air aces, who rated Smik as an extraordinary pilot. After half a year he returned to England and in October 1942 he completed the final phase of the training cycle at the 61st OTU in Rednal - operational training. Already in May 1942 he was promoted to the lowest rank of officer Pilot Officer, but in Czechoslovakia. army had the rank of corporal. This brought him many problems in the future.

On 5 January 1943 he was assigned to the 312nd MS. fighter squadron , but already January 7, 1943 is transferred to the 310th MS. squadrons on the same base. Here were the problems that made Smik Czechoslovakia. pilots for having the rank of officer of the RAF. On the one hand, there were several experienced pilots - non-commissioned officers, pilots from the Czechoslovak Republic and seasoned veterans, on the other hand, they were themselves Czechoslovak. officers who did not like that Smik is an officer and did not graduate from the Military Academy in Czechoslovakia. Everything was resolved by the fact that Smik went to the British squadron at his own request. So he doesn't do " bad blood "! Therefore, on January 15, 1943, he joined the 131st Squadron in Castletown, Scotland, which was at rest there. Smik and the squadron held cash and undertook practice flights. He also met two other Czechs here - Tomáš Krumlov and Jaroslav Hlad .

However, as early as March 2, 1943, all three were transferred to the 122nd Squadron in Hornchurch .The squadron was then led by the famous fighter Donald Kingaby, DSO ,DFC , DFM and 2bar, the winner of twenty-three air battles, and flew with the new Spitfires F. Mk. IX. The main task of the squadron was to escort bombers to targets in northern France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Smik won his first victory eleven days after arriving at the new squadron. On 13. On March 3, 1943, the unit participated in the Ramrod 80 operation, which was a raid by eighty B-17 bombers at the station in Amiens-Longeau. Above the target attacked the union Messerschmitt Bf 109 G from I./JG 27 and Focke-Wulfy Fw 190 from I./JG 2 and II./JG 26.

Smik flew like Kingaby's number then, covering his back. Suddenly he saw, from a vantage point in the sun, a pair of one hundred and nine, and before he could continue he was 200 meters from one of them. He opened fire and did not miss. Black smoke billowed from Messerschmitt and plunged headlong into the ground, where it disappeared from Smik's eyes. He was admitted at home as probably shot down.

But the reality was much better. Only three Allied pilots reported a fight with the Bf 109 and the Luftwaffe lost just three Messerschmitts that day, which means that Smik also shot down his opponent. Also shot down pilots, members of JG 27, which had returned to Europe from Africa shortly before, were very interesting. The first was Lt. C. Erdmann, who was rescued by parachute, and the second Fw. Gustav Sturm, who had to make an emergency landing. The last victim was the commander I./JG 27 Hptm. Heinrich Setz , who died. Setz was a very experienced fighter, bearer of the Knight's Cross with an oak branch and the winner of 138 air battles. His conqueror is most likely Nor Sgt. T. Larssen from the 331st Squadron . Erdmann was probably defeated by the Poles from the 315th Squadron, and Smik apparently defeated Sturm.

On April 9, 1943, Smik participated in his first Rhubarb near Dieppe . Together with P / O GJM LeGol, they destroyed two locomotives and damaged one.

On May 18, 1943, Smik and Hlad were transferred to the 222nd Squadron , commanded from August 1943 by New Zealander William Crawford-Compton, DSO, DFC and bar, which subdued twenty-two enemies. Here, on June 29, 1943, he took part in the Rhubarb 27 operation, the aim of which was German transport, and when he participated in the destruction of the locomotive and thirty wagons. On July 15, he could claim another victory. During Operation Rodeo 245, he shot down one Fw 190 and destroyed another one hundred and ninety on August 27.

Another successful day for him was the fourth of September. The squadron started Operation Ramrod S.31, during which 36 American Marauders attacked the marshalling yard in Hazebrouck. A group of fighter hundreds attacked the formation over the target and a fierce battle broke out. In it, Smik managed to shoot down one Messerschmitt and damage the other. Four days later, he credited half of the destruction of another Bf 109 and 24 September.from Operation Ramrod 242 brought a probable victory over Focke-Wulf.

Smik recorded his greatest success on September 27, 1943 during two events. She started the first squadron at 9.59. It was Operation Ramrod 250, when American B-26 Marauder bombers attacked Beauvais-Tillé Airport, the base of Unit II / JG 26. About twenty Focke-Wulfs attacked the target at the union, which was joined by several Messerschmitts. Smik did very well in the outbreak of battle, and after landing reported two hundred and ninety as shot down and one, along with one Bf 109, as damaged. At 14.45, the squadron started the second event, which differed from the first only by the goal - this time Conches Airport. During this flight, Smik shot down a Messerschmitt.

On October 18, 1943, Smik flew on his 121st combat flight, but after that he took the prescribed rest. With 7 and 1/2 aircraft shot down for sure, 2 probably and three damaged, Smik was the most successful MS. fighter of 1943. His achievements were praised by the British command on 20 October 1943 with the award of a high honor to the DFC - Meritorious Cross. Smik then mostly worked as a shooting instructor, which was predestined by his excellent shooting skills.

The second operational tour was started by Smik on March 15, 1944 at the 310th MS. fighter squadrons. The squadron was then armed with Spitfires LF. Mk. IXC and intensively preparing for the invasion. This time the old fighters accepted Smik among themselves.

From June 6, 1944, the main task of the squadron, and the entire 134th ( Czechoslovak ) wing , was to protect the invading beaches and attacks on German transport.

The first big match of the 134th Wing with the Luftwaffe took place on June 8. Twelve bombed Focke-Wulf fighters, probably from unit 8/JG 54, attacked Sword's landing beach and wanted to escape with impunity. Czechoslovak fighters, however, were against. In the ensuing battle, they managed to shoot down three hundred and ninety and damage another five. Smik also scored one certain victory. The German unit reported two 100% losses. The first lost was the squadron commander and the winner of the 69th duel Oblt. Eugen-Ludwig Zweigart , holder of the Knight's Cross, second Lt. Alfred Taucher.

Smik scored another victory on June 17. He flew as commander of a four-member patrol to the landing area. Near the city of Caen, the pilots encountered a pair of fighter ninety. The first was shot down by Smik himself, the second in collaboration with František Vindiš.

On July 3, 1944, the 134th Wing was removed from the tactical air force and subordinated to the defense of Britain. At that time, Hitler's miraculous weapons began to fall on the first British cities - Fiesler Fi 103 missiles, better known as the V-1. Czechoslovakia also joined the patrols against the new danger. Squadron and the greatest success was achieved by Smik.

On July 8, 1944, at 9.25 pm, Smik started, together with Josef Pípa, on patrol against the reported V-1. Three minutes after takeoff, Smik saw a V-1 flying to London and destroyed it with a short burst of cannons. Another V-1 neutralized at 21.45 and the last at 22.00.

On July 11, 1944, his abilities received another award. He became the commander of Squadron B at the 312nd MS. squadron, whose operational activities were escorted by heavy British bombers over Germany and deep attacks by the Ranger against transport.

Smik and his swarm could have achieved great success on August 25, 1944. The target of the attack was Steenwijk Airport, where they attacked three juxtaposed trains, one of which was a tanker. It soon exploded and destroyed the two remaining sets. The fighters deprived the Germans of a lot of precious fuel.

Operation September 3, 1944 was fatal for Smik. On that day, the 310th and 312th Squadrons accompanied the Halifaxes to a raid on Soesterberg Airport.On the way back, Smik and his swarm attacked Gilze-Rijen Airport, where the masked Ju 88 stood. Although Smik managed to set two Junkers on fire, his Spitfire received three hits from the flak and the pilot had to make an emergency landing with him. Everyone then considered him dead, or at best a prisoner of war.

But the reality was much better. Smik survived the emergency landing and hid from the Germans. He was able to unite with members of the Dutch resistance, and they hid him for seven weeks. First in Beek, then in Breda and finally in Ginneken. On October 23, 1944, he set out on a journey to the German lines, which he crossed three days later, and on October 29, he was already in England.

For his penetrating command skills, Smik was placed on 13 November 1944 at the head of the 127th Fighter Squadron , which was based at the B-60 airport near Grimbergen, Belgium. The squadron participated in the air support of British troops, escorted by attack bombers and launched attacks on German transport. The armament of the unit consisted of Spitfires LF. Mk. XVIE, which were powered by Merlin engines built in the USA.

Attacks on ground targets were very risky and the squadrons that ran them had the greatest losses. On November 28, 1944, Otto Smika also found death. The squadron started armed reconnaissance in the area of Arnhem - Hengele - Zwolle. The pilots did not encounter any means of transport, and Smik decided to attack the station in Zwolle, which, however, was generally known to be very strongly protected by flak. He also became fatal to Smik. Already while turning to attack, Smik's plane hit several anti-aircraft grenades. The pilot tried to land with a badly damaged aircraft. But he failed to land and crashed. During the attack, another Spitfire was shot down, piloted by Belgian Henri LJ Taymans. One plane crashed on the Blooksteeg farm near Zwolle, the other crashed into a muddy moat by the Kampen - Zowlle railway embankment.

The Germans immediately began to liquidate the plane from the farm, removed the weapons from it and took the wreckage to scrap. The pilot of the plane was buried two days later in the cemetery of fallen Allied soldiers De Kranenburg as an " unknown Englishman ", although they found personal documents and an identification stamp with him. In June 1945, a Belgian commission arrived in Zwolle to find out the fate of both pilots at Taymans' father's request. They managed to find the remains of the Spitfire serial number RR227 and identified the pilot buried in 1944 as Taymans. The remains were therefore transported to Belgium in 1951. In 1946, the site was also examined by the Dutch section of the British RAF ( No. 5 ( Holland ) Section of Missing Research and Inquiry Service , which agreed with the Belgians and had an iron cross with a wrecked plane erected at the crash site of the second aircraft). on behalf of P / O O. SINK RAF ( Field ) + 27.11.1944.

In 1961, the widow of Henri Taymans visited Bloksteeg Farm. She learned from witnesses that a tall, blond man had been pulled from the wreckage by the Germans. But Henri was small in stature and had dark hair. In addition, for the first time, it was probably carefully examined which of the pilots piloted which aircraft. It turned out that the Spitfire RR227 was piloted by Smik, Spitfire RR229 Taymans. It was clear that a mistake had been made somewhere and the whole case had been reopened. Only the lifting of the second aircraft from the swampy ditch at Kamperweg could give a clear answer. However, the high cost of lifting from difficult terrain complicated the whole thing. In 1964, the Dutch media became interested in the matter, and more or less under the pressure of public opinion, it was decided that the aircraft would be picked up.

The pick-up finally took place on May 12, 1965 and was carried out by a special engineering team of the Dutch Royal Air Force. In the wreck of the Spitfire RR229, the remains of the pilot and his personal documents were found, which were easy to read even after twenty years. The pilot found was Henri Taymans, so Otto Smik was buried in Brussels. Then everything went smoothly.The Taymans were placed in the correct grave and Smik was transported to the Canadian War Cemetery in Adegem East. In 1994, his remains were exhumed once more and transported to Bratislava and stored in Slávičí údolí.

For his successful combat activities, Smik received many honors: five times Czechoslovakia. War Cross, Czechosl. medal for bravery , Order MRŠ III.class, French Croix de Guerre with palm tree or British Defense Medal and Air Crew Europe Star .

Sources:
Rajlich, J. 1995: Aces in the Sky, Prague: Our Army.
Rajlich, J. 2002: Na nebi hrdého Albionu, 4. část, 1943, Cheb: Svět křídel.
Rajlich, J. 2003: Na nebi hrdého Albionu, 5. část, 1944, Cheb: Svět křídel.
Rajlich, J. 2004a: Spitfire over Europe, Czechoslovak fighter Otto Smik and his time, Cheb: The World of Wings.
Rajlich, J. 2004b: Na nebi hrdého Albionu, 7. část, Černá kronika československého letectva v RAF 1940 - 1945, Cheb: Svět křídel.
https://aces.safarikovi.org/biography/cz/cz/smik.html

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Author : 🕔30.06.2003 📕57.794