Memorial to Czech RAF pilot Josef František unveiled in Britain

A memorial dedicated to Czech RAF pilot Josef František, who died on October 8, 1940, while returning from a patrol flight, was unveiled in Surrey in South East England on Sunday.

František was one of 88 pilots from Czechoslovakia who fought alongside more than 2,300 UK pilots and several hundred foreign fighters in the Royal Air Force during the Battle of Britain.

Josef František | Photo: B & E Kudlacek collection,

The Czech, who fought for the 303 Polish Squadron during the Battle of Britain, was one of the most successful fighter aces of the battle with 17 confirmed kills.

The crash took place only a day after his 26th birthday, at what is now part of the Priest Hill Nature Reserve near Epsom, Surrey. The memorial is located near a public footpath and also a short distance from the site of the accident.

The construction of the memorial was initiated and funded by the Polish Air Force Memorial Committee, a non-profit organization established to commemorate the achievements of the Polish Air Force in World War II and to honor the memory of fallen Polish pilots.

The organisation initiated the project in cooperation with the Polish, Czech and Slovak embassies.

"We are honoured to be able to create a permanent memorial to Sergeant František close to the place where he lost his life. As a Czechoslovak pilot who flew in a Polish squadron under a British commander, he is a powerful reminder of the international makeup of “The Few” head of the PAFMC, Richard Kornicki, has said.

"We hope that the future generations that will pass by the memorial will pause and remember those to whom they owe their freedom," he added.