Miroslav Štandera

Portrait of Štandera in his RAF uniform.

Brigadier Miroslav Štandera was a Czech fighter pilot who fled Czechoslovakia after Nazi Germany occupied the country in 1939. He flew combat missions for the French Air Force and the Royal Air Force. In 1949, following the persecution of ‘western’ combat pilots by the Communist government he fled Czechoslovakia again.

Brigadier Miroslav Štandera was born in Prague on 5October 1918. In 1936, he attended the military school of air force cadets and successfully joined the Czechoslovak Air Force. He was mobilised in 1938 when Nazi Germany annexed the Sudetenland but did not see any fighting.

After the demobilisation of the Czechoslovak army and the establishment of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia in March 1939, he fled across the border to Poland. Together with other soldiers he sailed across the Baltic Sea to France. He joined the French Foreign Legion and was sent to the German-French theatre of war in May 1940. During his fourth flight, Štandera was shot down near Troyes. He soon left the hospital, escaped to the port of Narbonne and managed to board a ship to Liverpool. After arriving in England, he served with the Czechoslovak 312th Fighter Squadron of the Royal Air Force (RAF) until 1943, when he was transferred to the 68th RAF Nocturnal Fighter Squadron. On 6 June 1944, he participated in the invasion of Normandy.

After the war, Štandera returned to Czechoslovakia and served mainly in Pilsen. However, as a ‘western’ combat pilot, he was soon dismissed from the army. In 1949, he learned about his impending arrest and again fled to England where he re-joined the RAF.

After the fall of the Iron Curtain, Štandera permanently returned to Pilsen in 1994. He died on 19 February 2014 at the age of 95. He is the holder of numerous honours and decorations, including the Order of Merit and the Order of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk.

Štandera (fifth from the left) with a RAF unit in France in 1939. © www.memoryofnations.eu / private archive of Miroslav Štandera
Portrait of Standera in 2006. © www.memoryofnations.eu / private archive of Miroslav Štandera