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Hawker Hurricane No V6885 - 13/02/1941

Flying Officer Bartos

Flying Officer Bartos

Flying Officer Jindrich Bartos (83220) was born in Lugansk (Russia) on the 16th November 1911. He graduated Army Academy in Hranice and Prostejov in 1934/35 as a pilot, he served as a pilot with the 2nd Air Regiment. After Germany invaded Czechoslovakia in 1938 he escaped Czechoslovakia for Poland in the summer of 1939 and then sailed to France. There he became a participant of the Battle of France as a member of Groupe de Chasse I/3 at Esbley.

During a dogfight over Paris on the 3rd June 1940 he was shot down and crash landed with light wounds. He was credited with damaging a Heinkel He111 on this day whilst flying a Dewoitine D.520C.1

There he served from the 17th May 1940 till the18th June 1940 when the Groupe de Chasse I/3 flew from France to Oran in North Africa. From there he sailed via Casablanca and Gibraltar to England where they landed in Cardiff on the 5th August 1940.

After retraining on Hurricanes Flying Officer Bartos was posted to the newly formed No 312 (Czech) Squadron at RAF Duxford on the 5th Sept 1940 after becoming the second Czechoslovak fighter unit which was formed on the 29th August 1940 at the Czech aircrew depot at RAF Cosford. Two days later the first nine used Hawker Hurricanes Mk1 were flown into Duxford and on the 4th September 1940 arrived a Miles Master Mk1. Czech airmen, flying personnel and ground staff, arrived at RAF Duxford during afternoon of the 5th September 1940. The squadron was based around experienced pilots, who had already had combat experience during the Battle of France, many of whom had already had more then one victory.

On the 6th September 1940, the pilots began with theoretical preparation for flying on the Hurricanes and with training flights on the Master. The training was very slow due to the fact the unit had just one trainer aircraft. For faster retraining of the pilots, another Master was loaned from No 310 (Czech) Squadron. After nearly a month the level of training was very high and on the 26th September the squadron moved to its new home, the RAF station at Speke Airport, near Liverpool. There the unit completed its retraining and in last days of September obtained further Hurricanes. A detachment was also sent to RAF Penrhos on the 22nd December 1940 to fend off attacks on the airfield by German bombers.

On the 2nd October 1940, No 312 (Czech) Squadron was declared as operational and its task was to protect the Liverpool area from enemy raids.

In October 1940 Flying Officer Bartos became an operational pilot, at first he served as a section leader and after promotion to Flying Officer he was appointed to the function of deputy flight leader of flight "B".

As part of the RAF Penrhos detachment from RAF Speke Flying Officer Bartos was on a training flight (mock dog fighting with Sergeant Votruba) in Hawker Hurricane No V6885 (DU-V), his aircraft was seen to go into a spin/dive from 5,000 feet by Sergeant Votruba and crashed at Talacre near Prestatyn at 14:30 hours on the 13th February 1941, the reason of which is unknown, it is thought that the crash was probably caused by failure of his oxygen equipment.  

Flying Officer Bartos's grave
Flying Officer Bartos's grave
Flying Officer Bartos was buried with full military honours in Liverpool West Derby Cemetery, Section RC11 grave No 392, which is shared with Sergeant Otto Hanzlicek on the 18/02/1941. Representatives of the Czech depot at Wilmslow attended. Flying Officer Bartos had approximately 863 flying hours to his credit, with 27 of these on Hurricanes.
The squadron left RAF Speke for RAF Valley on Anglesey, on the 3rd March 1941. The squadrons motto was, Non multi sed multa - 'Not many but much' and the squadron badge was, A stork Volant. The stork in the badge relates to the French 'Escadrille des Cygelines' with whom the original pilots of No 312 (Czech) squadron had flown prior to coming to the UK.
Hawker Hurricane No V6885 was powered by a Rolls Royce Merlin III, No 174559 driving Rotol or De-Havilland three blade variable pitch propellers, and was built by Glosters under contact No 85730/40 Block 3/G, the third Gloster produced block Nos V6840 to V6889 for 50 Mk I Hurricanes, the aircraft delivered between July 1940 and August 1941, at average rate of production 4 to 5 aircraft per day.
Hawker Hurricane No V6885 was issued to,
No 22 MU - 10/10/1940
No 312 - 24/10/1940
SOC - 02/03/1941, with a total of 85.30 flying hours.

The accident was witness by a Mr Frank Parsons and his friends who where at school at the time, they saw the Hurricanes swooping around in the sky over the nearby range, when suddenly one of the aircraft fell away and fluttered down like a leaf until it disappeared out of site behind some trees. Mr Parsons was one of the boys that the headmaster sent across to the crash to see what had happened.

When they arrived on site they witnessed the pilots body being removed from the cockpit by a number of locals including the district nurse and then being wrapped up in his parachute and placed alongside the wreck. Upon the arrival of the salvage crew all non essential persons were removed from the field and placed behind the wall, during the salvage operation the salvage crew through bits of aircraft to the local kids behind the wall, some were even trying to snag pieces with long sticks. A Bell tent was placed in the garden of an adjacent holiday cottage to act as a guard post.

Mr Parsons and his friends recalled that the aircraft was buried up to its wings and sticking out of the ground at about 45 degrees with its tail in the air and was the correct way up.

Alleged Crash site of V6885 - summer 2002 

Alleged Crash site of V6885 - summer 2002

On the 15th September 2002 a small group of LAIT members in the company of Mr Parsons and his friends attempted to find the crash site location of V6885, however after 4 1/2 hours of searching revealed no trace of the crash site only caravan site debris and 1942 period 0.303 ammunition cases from the adjacent air to ground gunnery range. Mr Parsons and his friends however were positive that the location they indicated was that of V6885, there was even the remains of a crater to be seen as the field had never been ploughed, the RAF must have done a very good clean up job. Mr Parsons still has a tiny fragment of the aircraft to this very day.

They also recalled a Spitfire crashed on the other side of the village, but that is a job for another day.

Speke Incidents