RAF veteran Zbyšek Nečas-Pemberton dies at 97

Zbyšek Nečas, photo: Czech Television

WWII veteran Zbyšek Nečas, who flew with the No. 68 Night Fighter Squadron in the RAF, has died at the age of 97. The airman, who served as a radar operator on Bristol Beaufighters and Mosquitos, passed away at his home last week, his family revealed Wednesday.

Zbyšek Nečas,  photo: Czech Television
Colonel Zbyšek Nečas (also known as John Pemberton) served as a radar operator aboard Beaufighter and Mosquito night fighters during the Second World War and his bravery – honoured by Czech President Milos Zeman last year – contributed to the squadron’s three probable and 21 verified kills, according to the Czech Embassy in London. In addition, the No. 68 squadron damaged seven enemy planes and shot down three V-1 rockets by the end of the war.

Zbyšek Nečas was just 18 and still a high school student, escaped from the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia a month before WWII broke out and made his way to England where he had a cousin and it was there that he trained as a radar operator.

In an interview in 2006, the WWII hero said that together he and his pilot had been present during three confirmed kills, one probable, and two damaged. They took down the Nazis’ first four-engine reconnaissance plane which he described as “a flying radar”. In the same interview, he had praise for Baron Beaverbrook who under Churchill had served as the Minister of Aircraft production from 1940 – 1945.

After the war, Nečas returned to his homeland to learn that none of his immediate family had survived and it wasn’t long before he returned to the RAF.

To protect him from the Communists who had seized power in Czechoslovakia, under whom countless WWII heroes were persecuted and imprisoned, the British authorities faked his death, giving him the name of deceased pilot John Pemberton. The WWII veteran settled in Great Britain for good. His funeral has been scheduled for April 17.