Crown Copyright: Marks of the Secretary of State for Defence and
used with their permission.
312 (Czech) Squadron
came to RAF Harrowbeer from RAF Fairwood Common on the 2nd May 1942. They
had been in the thick of the action and being posted to Devon was to give
the Squadron time to recover from some bad losses. They stayed for five months,
leaving on the 10th October 1942. The Squadron's identification letters were
DU. They flew Spitfire VBs and Hurricanes.
one of 312 Squadron's Spitfires is still flying! Here's a beautiful
shot of DU-Z (AR614) in flight. It's currently owned by the Flying Heritage
Collection in America. Here's
a link to their website.
Our thanks to them for providing the picture and allowing us to use
Photo © Flying Heritage Collection
During their stay
at Harrowbeer, they were filmed by the Czech Film Unit and this footage appeared
several years ago in a Czech TV program, a copy of which has been passed to
us. The commentary is in Czech! We have been unable to discover anymore information
about this program, or who has the copyright. Even the BBC were unable to
contact anyone when they wanted to use some shots in a recent program about
Harrowbeer. The stills below are not brilliant quality but they are unique(?)
colour images of RAF Harrowbeer.
The events being
filmed are an inspection and medal presentation ceremony, at which Frank
Mares is presented with his DFM, the first Czech Pilot to be so honoured.
Frank died on the 10th February 2008. His book, "Mission Accomplished"
was successfully published (by GrubStreet) in May 2007. It is available
from all good book shops and is an excellent read!
The date is September
26th 1942. Harrowbeer's ORB records that this was an "Anniversary
Celebration" for 312 Squadron. This was to have been held on the
5th September, the actual anniversary date but because of the death of
the Duke of York it was postponed to the 26th. There is a Mass (held in
one of the Bellman Hangars) prior to an inspection of the Squadron by
General Viest, who also presented some of the Pilots with Czech Decorations.
Then, A V M Orlebar, CBE, DFC, Air Officer Commanding 10 Group, presented
the Squadron with their Crest, duly signed by His Majesty the King, and
also presented Flt/Sgt Mares with his DFM. (Frank was posted from 312
on the 15th September and came back for the day to receive his medal)
The footage continues
with shots of Pilots outside the Officers Mess (some of whom are Polish) and
then there is film of a 312 Sqdn Spitfire returning from a sortie, then being
rearmed and refuelled. The film ends with the Squadron's 13 aircraft flying
off to Portreath, in Cornwall
As always on this
website, we have no wish to infringe anyone's copyright, so if you know who
we should contact please get in touch.
on the small picture to see a larger one.