Remembering a Hero - Miroslav Liskutin RIP
Our friends in Europe sometimes accuse Britain of being obsessed with the World War II era. There is a degree of justice in this charge but for a whole host of reasons looking back on a heroic age which is still just within memory but is gradually passing into history is wholly understandable in the present climate.
As Nick Cohen wrote yesterday in a review of the film "Entebbe" (which has persuaded me that I will have to watch it), "we now live in a world without heroes" and it is as though everyone who at first appears to be a hero turns out to have feet of clay.
It is not just that the Battle of Britain was, as Churchill said at the time, our "Finest Hour," and as close as it ever gets in history to a battle between good and evil in which our country fought on the side of good. The story of World War II is full of real and indisputable heroes and Miroslav Liskutin was one of them.
Mr Liskutin was born in the former country of Czechoslovakia in 1919 and joined the Czechoslovak air force as a young man. When his country was occupied by the Nazis he came to the western allies, briefly serving with the French before heading to Britain to continue fighting the Nazis.
He joined the RAF and became a pilot in joined 145 Squadron flying from Catterick. After flying convoy patrols he was sent to 312 (Czech) Squadron taking part in the Dieppe operation and in dive-bombing sorties.
He took part in the air cover provided during the D-Day landings and had the distinction of flying the first allied aircraft to land in France after D-Day. After his plane was damaged by German fire he landed on a strip that had just been laid by the Royal Engineers.
‘They repaired his plane and he was back up again fighting,’ said his son Milos.
After the war he initially went back to Czechoslovakia with his family. But, not finding life under Communism attractive, he came back here to Britain, re-joining the RAF and eventually retiring as Station Commander at RAF Ouston in 1962. After working in civilian avaiation and in Zambia he spent the last part of his life at Fareham.
The Czech government have since recognised his service and he was given the rank of Major General. He died on February 19 this year and his funeral was on March 28. He leaves two sons, four grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
A hero from an age of heroes. Rest in Peace.