The story is shared by the Trust with kind permission from Jan Břečka, Head of the Historical Department of the Moravian Museum, Brno, Czech Republic. The portrait photo is courtesy of the photo archive of Tomáš Jambor.
Remembering F/O František Bouda, navigator serving with 21 Squadron, RAF, who was killed together with Josef Stránský on 21 June 1944 in France.
František Bouda was born into a Czech family in Vienna on April 6, 1916, but spent his youth and adolescence in Slovakia in the city of Košice. Here he completed his elementary school education and also graduated from the Higher Engineering School, where he successfully passed his matriculation in June 1936.
He then had to enlist in the army and did his basic military service with 37th Infantry Regiment in the Slovak town of Levoča. He decided to stay in the army and completed a one-year course at the Military Academy in Hranice. Then, in September 1938, he was assigned the rank of lieutenant as the commander of a platoon of light tanks at 2nd Assault Vehicle Regiment in Vyškov.
After the Nazi occupation, he went to France in November 1939, where he joined the Czechoslovak foreign army. As a platoon commander in the 11th Company, 2nd Infantry Regiment, he participated in the battles with the German army and after the defeat of France, he managed to sail to Great Britain on the French destroyer FR Forbin from the port of Bordeaux in June 1940.
Here, in the newly reorganized Czechoslovak unit, he was posted to the command company of the 2nd Infantry Battalion and promoted to the rank of first lieutenant. At the end of 1941, he applied for reassignment to the air force and on December 19 he was accepted into the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve with the rank of Pilot Officer (P/O). The following two years he underwent demanding training as an air navigator - in May 1943 he was slightly injured during a training flight after the crash of a Wellington plane.
On June 1, 1943, after completing training, he was posted to 311 (Czech) Squadron, RAF, in Beaulieu, Hampshire and promoted to the rank of Flying Officer (F/O). On August 24 of the same year, he completed his first combat flight.
Czechoslovak crew of the 311 (Czech) Squadron in front of the Liberator aircraft, 1943-1944. František Bouda stands second from the right. © Photo archive: Marcela Kopečná.
In February 1944, 311 (Czech) Squadron moved to RAF Predannack, Cornwall but on March 23, 1944, he was transferred to the 21 Squadron, RAF, where as a navigator he flew a De Havilland Mosquito bomber together with S/Ldr Josef Stránský, DFC. At the end of May 1944 he was awarded the Czechoslovak Military Medal "Za chrabrost" (For bravery).
On the night of June 21, 1944, František Bouda and Josef Stránský took off for their 11th combat flight over Normandy, but they never returned. Initially considered missing, later the wreckage of the plane with the dead crew was identified on the coast of Normandy, near St. Valery-en-Caux. The two Czechoslovak airmen were buried together at the Franco-British military cemetery.
You can read about the circumstances of their death in Josef Stránský's story.
Royal Air Force • FLYING OFFICER
Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
21 Squadron, Royal Air Force
DIED 21 June 1944
SERVICE NO. 138862