Squadron Leader Miroslav Antonin ‘Tony’ Liskutin DFC AFC, the last Czech pilot then living who fought in the Battle of Britain, takes to the skies in a Spitfire once more, flying out of Biggin Hill, on 21 July 2016 – aged 96. Afterwards he said “It was like being re-united with an old friend… It was an amazing experience. I could not believe I was back in a Spitfire. I haven’t been up in one since about 1953. It brings back memories of great importance, memories of being younger”. Story: Into The Blue
“Squadron Leader Miroslav Liskutin was born on August 23, 1919, in Jirikovice in Czechoslovakia.
After completing an engineering apprenticeship he applied to join the Czechoslovak Air Force and trained as a pilot with the 2nd Air Regiment.
When the Germans invaded his homeland in March 1939, he escaped through Poland, from where he travelled to France. There, he spent some time with the French Foreign Legion, serving in both North Africa and France itself. Again, he had to flee the Nazis, when they invaded France. He escaped to England in a Polish coal ship with 500 others, sailing from Bordeaux to Falmouth in SW England. In England, he joined the RAF.
In September 1941, he was posted to No. 145 Squadron, based at RAF Catterick, where they flew Spitfires. This squadron, commanded by Squadron Leader Stan Turner, had earlier in the year been part of the Tangmere Wing under Wing Commander Douglas Bader.
Three months later he joined No 312 (Czechoslovak) Squadron and on August 19 1942 took part in the aerial support of the Dieppe Raid. On this day he shot down a Dornier Do 217 German bomber.
Ground attack operations over France continued for the remainder of the year and on November 7 he destroyed a Fw 190.He commenced a second tour with No 312 Squadron in July 1943 and in March of the following year began operating with his squadron from RAF Apuldram Advanced Landing Ground, near Chichester Harbour. The tented accommodation at Apuldram initially made life hard in the wintery conditions. However, a barn was converted as an officer’s mess and hot baths were taken at nearby RAF Tangmere.
Operations from Apuldram included dive-bombing attacks against ‘Noball’ V-1 flying bomb installations [originally identified by Constance Babington-Smith, Signatory #180], bomber escort duties, and ground attacks on rail and road targets. At the end of May, Liškutín narrowly avoided disaster when his Spitfire hit the top of poplar trees when carrying out a low-level ground attack. Even though he had badly damaged his Merlin engine, he managed to return to Apuldram.
A small selection of photographs from the excellent collection at Czech Airmen WW2 RAF Group on Facebook
During a patrol over Normandy a few days after D-Day (June 6), Liškutín’s Spitfire was hit by flak. This time, he managed to land on one of the newly constructed strips in Normandy. His was probably the first landing by an Allied aircraft after the invasion.
At the end of the war, he returned to Czechoslovakia, but it soon became apparent that the communist regime did not look kindly on those who had fought with the Western powers and he returned to Britain, where he lived for the rest of his life.” (Michael J Hawkins, Bratislava)
by John Gillespie Magee Jr. (9 June 1922 – 11 December 1941)