Five Czech Republic crewmembers who were reported missing after their plane crashed during the Second World War more than 80 years ago have been recovered and identified.
The crewmembers of 311 (Czechoslovak) Squadron, Royal Air Force have been named as F/Sgt Jan Hejna, P/O Vilem Konštatský, F/Sgt Alois Rozum, P/O Leonard Smrček en F/Sgt Karel Valach. All five are currently named on the CWGC’s Runnymede Memorial which commemorates over 20,000 men and women of the Commonwealth air forces who were lost during the Second World War during operations from bases in the United Kingdom and Western Europe and who have no known grave.
Vickers Wellington T2990 was one of 41 RAF aircraft which bombed Bremen during the night of 22/23 June 1941. On its return flight it was intercepted by a German night fighter and shot down. It crashed in flames and only one crewmember was able to bale out and was made prisoner of war.
The recovery of the wreckage of the aircraft from a meadow in the community of Hollands Kroon in the Netherlands took place in June 2021 as part of an official national program for the recovery of aircraft wrecks. The excavations are managed by an expert team from the Royal Netherlands Armed Forces. During the excavation, they recovered human remains, and it has now been established that these belong to the five missing casualties.
As members of the Royal Air Force, they will be buried with military honours in a Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) cemetery in the Netherlands later this year, with both Czech and British representation Their graves will be marked with CWGC headstones for Czech members of the RAF.