WWII

RAF Honington Commemorates Czechoslovak WWII Squadron

311 (Czechoslovak) Squadron was formed at the Suffolk base in 1940 and suffered the heaviest losses of any Czech formation in the RAF.

A ceremony has taken place at RAF Honington to commemorate the 80th anniversary of 311 (Czechoslovak) Squadron.

The squadron was formed at the Suffolk base on 29 July 1940 during the Second World War and served as part of Bomber Command and Coastal Command, flying thousands of sorties. 

It suffered the heaviest losses of any Czech formation in the Royal Air Force and was the only Czechoslovak-manned bomber squadron of the RAF during the conflict.

The squadron flew Wellington bombers and the Consolidated Liberator heavy bomber, scoring the highest success rate of any Coastal Command squadron.

The ceremony, held on Wednesday at RAF Honington's memorial garden, was attended by Czech Air Force personnel, as well as families of Czechoslovak veterans.

Group Captain Matt Radnall, Station Commander of RAF Honington, said: "During the Second World War over 500 Czechoslovaks serving in Allied air forces were killed. Of these, 273 died while serving with 311 Squadron.

"Today it is fitting that we mark the Squadron’s formation with a simple ceremony in our Memorial Garden to ensure that their sacrifice will always be remembered.

"There is added significance as we also mark the 80th anniversary year of the Battle of Britain, during which Czechoslovaks played a critical and courageous role."

Group Captain Matt Radnall, Station Commander of RAF Honington, spoke during the cermony (Picture: MOD).

During the war, 2,500 Czechoslovaks served in the RAF - more than half as aircrew. 

The Deputy Ambassador of the Czech Republic to London, Ales Opatrny, also attended the commemoration as well as Defence Attachés from the Czech Republic and Slovak Republic.

"During the summer months of 1940, a total of 932 members of the Czechoslovak Air Force arrived in Great Britain from France and gradually 4 Czechoslovak Squadrons were formed," said Mr Opatrny at the ceremony.

"Today we commemorate 80 years since these events and more than ever we are aware of the close relations between our nations: British, Czech, and Slovak."

Wreaths were also laid at the Czechoslovak War Graves in the churchyards of Honington and East Wretham.

311 (Czechoslovak) Squadron was disbanded in February 1946.

It will also be remembered in the Czech Republic on 1 October 2020, with a ceremony in Brno.

Cover image: The ceremony at RAF Honington was held on Wednesday (Picture: MOD).