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Jan Vella DFC

Jan Vella DFC
Author: Keith Wilkinson (Guest)
Time Stamp:
22:15:20 Monday, August 26, 2002
Post:
I am seeking information about the death of Flying Officer Jan Vella DFC 159265 of the 311 (Czech) Squadron RAFVR.

He died on January 10th 1945, aged 39.

Does anyone know the circumstances, or any other biographical details of this pilot, please?



RE: Jan Vella DFC
Author: Keith Wilkinson (Guest)
Time Stamp:
22:24:50 Monday, August 26, 2002
Post:
I have seen this posted on a website. Can anyone translate, or offer similar information about Jan Vella in English for me, please?

Jan Vella

* 10. 1. 1906 Kladno, %86 10. 1. 1945 Velk%E1 Brit%E1nie - Skotsko

Pilot, st%EDha%E8 se specializac%ED na no%E8n%ED lt%E1n%ED, absolvent Vojensk leteck %9Akoly Cheb. V roce 1928 z d%F9vodu sni%9Eov%E1n%ED stavu arm%E1dy p%F8e%9Ael k %C8SD jako strojv%F9dce. Na podzim r. 1939 ode%9Ael do Velk Brit%E1nie, p%F9sobil kr%E1tce ve stavu 310. %E8s. st%EDhac%ED perut%EC, pak u 41. (britsk) Group. Na po%E8%E1tku roku 1943 p%F8e%F8azen k Coastal Command a za%F8azen jako velitel letounu-skipper u 311. %E8s. bombardovac%ED perut%EC. V r%E1mci Coastal Command u R.A.F. nej%FAsp%EC%9An%ECj%9A%ED %E8s. pilot, jeden z nelep%9A%EDch v r%E1mci slo%9Eek 311. %E8s. bombardovac%ED perut%EC ve Velk Brit%E1nii. V lednu 1945 p%F8i cest%EC na %F8%E1dnou dovolenou havaroval v letounu ve skotsk%FDch hor%E1ch.



RE: Jan Vella DFC
Author: annsa
Time Stamp:
22:20:42 Friday, August 30, 2002
Post:
I can make out bits and pieces, unfortunately my special language is Russian so written in Cyrilic script. I'll printit out and study it for a bit and see if I can make out any more. I can understand a far bit of spoken Czech, it's the written that is difficult or me. Don't we have any Czech speakers on this board? Perhaps Franek can make out more.

Regards,

Ann


RE: Jan Vella DFC
Author: CZ_RAF
Time Stamp:
07:54:36 Saturday, February 9, 2002
Post:
Ann,

Yes, there are some Czechs on this board, at least me.

But August is my month of holidays:-)

Pavel


RE: Jan Vella DFC
Author: Fairlop
Time Stamp:
06:10:26 Tuesday, April 9, 2002
Post:
Keith,

Jan Vella was the engine driver before the war. At station Praha-stred (Prague-center).

A service at RAF he started as a fighter. Between 28/10/40 - 31/3/41 served with 312 Sqn as Sgt, from 1942-45 was a member of 311 Sqn.

He died on 10/1/45 during a flight from base of the 311 Sqn Tain to Hornchurch. Together with S/L Kvapil, F/O Linhart, P/O Kauders and W/O Jelen went on holiday. Oxford Mk II, PH404 took off on 10.45 am and after 30-40 mins crashed into Bheinn A%B4Buird hill, NW Aberdeen probably due to unexpected bad weather over mountains in Scotland. The remains of the airmen and a/c found by chance a mountaineer on 19/8/45 (after the war) !

Hope this helps.

Cheers,

Michal

Czech republic



RE: Jan Vella DFC
Author: Jan Zdiarsky (Guest)
Time Stamp:
07:10:24 Thursday, May 9, 2002
Post:
Hi, here is translation. This will be no very correct in grammatical, but ure unrstandable...

Jan Vella

born 10. 1. 1906 in Kladno (Central Bohemia, NW of Prague), %86 10. 1. 1945 Great Britain - Scotland

Fighter pilot with specialization for hight flights. He absolved the "High aviation military school" in Cheb (German name Eger, a city in West Bohemia). In 1928 he leave army and came to Czech Railways as an enginedriver. Autumn 1939 he escaped to United Kingdom. Shortly whe was with No. 310 Czechoslovak Squadron RAF, later with No. 41 Sq. RAF. At begin of 1943 he was ordered to join Coastal Command in duty as a skipper at No. 311. Czechoslovak bombardment Squadron. He was one of the best CZ pilots, one of the very best an 311. Squadron. January he traveled to a regular leave and the plane crashed in Scotland Mountains.

That is end of the translation. Hope this helps a little.

Best regards, Jan Zdiarsky

www.museum119.cz



RE: Jan Vella DFC
Author: Ross_McNeill
Time Stamp:
04:34:56 Tuesday, August 27, 2002
Post:
Hi,

F/O Vella DFC was killed when Oxford PH404 crashed on Bheinn A'Bhuird in bad weather.

Regards

Ross


RE: Jan Vella DFC
Author: balnaguie01
Time Stamp:
19:50:59 Thursday, August 29, 2002
Post:
Vella born 10/05/1906 in Kladno. Prior to the war he was an engine driver, consequently his name is recorded at Prague station on a memorial to railway personnel. He was flying as second pilot on the fatal flight, which has been the subject of much speculation over the years. It seems, however, that Vella was going to London with one of the other fatalities (five in all)to receive their DFCs. He had 2,790 flying hours to his credit and is buried at Brookwood Cemetery, London.


RE: Jan Vella DFC
Author: Keith Wilkinson (Guest)
Time Stamp:
20:42:54 Thursday, August 29, 2002
Post:
Thanks for the help.

Does anyone know anything else about that fatal journey?

Which airfield did they fly from - could it have been RAF Montrose?

Also - does anyone have any suggestions as to where I might get more biographical information about Vella?

Anyone got any Czech contacts?


RE: Jan Vella DFC
Author: Henk Welting (Guest)
Time Stamp:
08:31:52 Friday, August 30, 2002
Post:
Hi Keith,

Put your question also on the forum of the site "Czechoslovak airmen in the RAF"

Regards,

Henk.


RE: Jan Vella DFC
Author: keith wilkinson (Guest)
Time Stamp:
20:22:50 Friday, August 30, 2002
Post:
HI Henk,

I have tried this - so far without success.

It seems a shame that such a man as Jan Vella can historically vanish into obscurity - and I feel we have a bit of a duty here to find out something of this character.

I have managed to build up a few bits and pieces about his life.

Surely someone somewhere can assist?



RE: Jan Vella DFC
Author: CZ_RAF
Time Stamp:
07:56:05 Saturday, February 9, 2002
Post:
There were not flying for DFCs but for holidays. If you will

visit the list of awards of Czechoslovak airmen, you will see

that only Vella from the five men aboard has got DFC!

Pavel



RE: Jan Vella DFC
Author: Chris Charland (Guest)
Time Stamp:
21:36:28 Friday, August 30, 2002
Post:
Hi Keith

I strongly suspect that the Oxford was used by No. 311 (B) Squadron as a support aircraft. I know that they had an Oxford Mk. 1 s/n R6163 on strength with the unit at one time.

Here's all that I have on Flying Officer Jan Vella DFC.

Cheers...Chris

He was born in Kladno on the 10th of May 1906. Flying Officer (Podporu%E8%EDk) Vella was a member of No. 311 'Czecho-Slovak' (B) Squadron when killed in the crash of an Airspeed Oxford Mk. 1 s/n PH404 on the 10th of January 1945.

Also killed in Oxford s/n PH404 were fellow countrymen and members of his squadron.

Warrant Officer (%8At%E1bn%ED rotmistr) Rudolph Jelen - Born in Byst%F8ice on the 30th of March 1902.

Flying Officer (Poru%E8%EDk) Leo Linhart - Born in Salcburk on the 16th of November 1912

Squadron Leader (Kapit%E1n) Karel Kvapil - Born on the 28th of March 1918 in Litovel.

Flying Officer (Podporu%E8%EDk) Valter Kauders - Born in Praha on the 18th of April 1918.

** All these men rest in the Czechoslovak (Wartime) section of Brookwood Cemetery, Surrey.



RE: Jan Vella DFC
Author: Chris Charland (Guest)
Time Stamp:
21:50:04 Friday, August 30, 2002
Post:
Hi Keith

Flying Officer (Poru%E8%EDk) Leo Linhart should read Flying Officer (Poruč%EDk) Leo Linhart.

Cheers...Chris


RE: Jan Vella DFC
Author: annsa
Time Stamp:
23:18:06 Friday, August 30, 2002
Post:
Keith,

Found these websites, you probably have already looked at them though:

http://www.geocities.com/czechandslovakthings/WW2_aguide.htm

This chap must speak Czech and is interested in Czech airmen, worth asking if he'll translate.

http://www.army.cz/acr/raf/cast/019.htm

This is a Czech site but perhaps the author speaks English.

I'll keep studying the print out of the written Czech.

Isn't Pavel Czech?

Regards,

Ann


RE: Jan Vella DFC
Author: keith wilkinson (Guest)
Time Stamp:
20:15:22 Saturday, August 31, 2002
Post:
Thanks everyone...you have been so useful thus far.

Is there a list of DFCs...and why the DFC was awarded.

Why did Jan Vella get a DFC?

Seems a shame he died while on the way to receive it!

cheers

Keith


RE: Jan Vella DFC
Author: keith wilkinson (Guest)
Time Stamp:
20:21:22 Saturday, August 31, 2002
Post:
Is there a photo anywhere of Jan Vella?

Has any picture been published?

I have had a look at the website of his home town where he seems to be a local hero, but there is still little info of this guy.



RE: Jan Vella DFC
Author: annsa
Time Stamp:
21:20:28 Saturday, August 31, 2002
Post:
[font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 31-Aug-02 AT 09:21 PM (GMT)[/font][p]Keith,

The Czech website I looked at had DFC*. Hugh Halliday would probably be able to fill in more details if he was around as far as Medal Awards go, but hopefully I shall be at the PRO as well as Hugh on the 11th September so I'll have a dig around and see if there is any info on Vella there.

Regards,

Ann


RE: Jan Vella DFC
Author: annsa
Time Stamp:
21:36:09 Saturday, August 31, 2002
Post:
[font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 31-Aug-02 AT 09:54 PM (GMT)[/font][p][font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 31-Aug-02 AT 09:51%A0PM (GMT)[/font]

keith,

Base flown from may have been Tain. Look at:

http://www.lf.czu.cz/museum119/311/Dave.htm

Also look at:

http://cz-raf.hyperlink.cz/units/topgun3.html

And this is by Pavel and probably contains a lot of the info you are looking for:

http://cz-raf.hyperlink.cz/index.html

Look at units and go to 311 at the bottom there is a link for accidents and the one in which Vella was killed has info on the crash.

Regards,

Ann


RE: Jan Vella DFC
Author: Keith Wilkinson (Guest)
Time Stamp:
11:29:16 Wednesday, January 9, 2002
Post:
Hi Ann,

Thanks for your very useful web site tips - they have certainly moved me a step nearer.

And thanks too for offering to look up Vella at the PRO. That would be so kind of you!

I have sent off e-mails all over the place so I will post any updates of interest.

If you want to contact me directly, I am on: geeza.wilko.A T.btinternet.com

Thanks again

Keith


RE: Jan Vella DFC
Author: CZ_RAF
Time Stamp:
08:00:27 Saturday, February 9, 2002
Post:
I will add his picture on my wesite cz-raf.hyperlink.cz as soon as possible.

Pavel



RE: Jan Vella DFC
Author: CZ_RAF
Time Stamp:
07:59:23 Saturday, February 9, 2002
Post:
I do not think so! If is my source correct, he was awarded DFC on 26th Jan 45,

16 days after his death!

Pavel


RE: Jan Vella DFC
Author: CZ_RAF
Time Stamp:
07:57:36 Saturday, February 9, 2002
Post:
Yes, I am Czech! I was born in Prague, I am living in Prague and I

hope I will not die in Prague :-)

Pavel



RE: Jan Vella DFC
Author: annsa
Time Stamp:
08:53:45 Saturday, February 9, 2002
Post:
Pavel,

Glad you have appeared, hope you had a good holiday. How about translating into English the piece in Czech that Keith posted? I can only work out some of it!!

Were you flooded?

All the best,

Ann


RE: Jan Vella DFC
Author: CZ_RAF
Time Stamp:
13:39:31 Saturday, February 9, 2002
Post:
Hi Ann,

Keith write me directly to my e-mail that there was anybody before me who was able to translate it.

Thanks for interest, I am O.K. I live far from Vltava and on the hill :-)

regards

Pavel


RE: Jan Vella DFC
Author: annsa
Time Stamp:
14:07:19 Saturday, February 9, 2002
Post:
Pavel,

Please put a translation on this board, then we can all se what it says. I can make out about 75%, but some of the words are unfamilar to me as well as how they are pronounced.

Glad you stayed dry!!

All the best,

Ann


RE: Jan Vella DFC
Author: keith wilkinson (Guest)
Time Stamp:
20:01:11 Sunday, June 9, 2002
Post:
Thanks to everyone for contributions.

It's good to see we are helping keep alive the memory of an important man.


RE: Jan Vella DFC
Author: Linzee
Time Stamp:
21:48:28 Sunday, June 9, 2002
Post:
The mountain, Beinn a'Bhuird (pronounced Ben a Voord)is 1196 m or 3924 ft high and is the 10th highest mountain in the UK. It's in the Cairngorm Mountains.

Would you be interested in photographs of the crash site?(assuming it can be located)

Regards

Linzee


Location of PH404
Author: Ross_McNeill
Time Stamp:
22:13:37 Sunday, June 9, 2002
Post:
Hi Linzee,

Parts of the aircraft remain on the mountain.

Map Ref: 36/112025

Regards

Ross


RE: Location of PH404
Author: Linzee (Guest)
Time Stamp:
22:30:30 Sunday, June 9, 2002
Post:
Many thanks Ross. Had a look and it seems to be just below 1100 m and on a steep craggy bit. Typical! Oh well, I'll pick a nice day and have a go sometime. Will report any findings on this board. Suppose I'd better take a man with me since woman can't read maps (apparently)!!!

Cheers

Linzee



RE: Location of PH404
Author: balnaguie01
Time Stamp:
10:57:43 Tuesday, July 9, 2002
Post:
I believe PH404 was one of two Oxfords and five Martinets of 4(C)OTU which arrived at RAF Tain on detachment from RAF Evanton on 10.12.44. The Martinets had been used to tow targets for RAF Alness-based Sunderlands and presumably they came to Tain for the same duties with 86 and 311 Liberator Sqns. I expect the Oxfords were for liaison, flight-checkout etc.

Regarding the crash site: this is in a very remote area and visiting the site is a very serious undertaking. I visited the site, which is on an exposed, rocky ridge, in 1976, at which time both Cheetah X engines and cowlings were present along with pieces of mainspar and other smaller wreckage. The saddest remains are the little bits of coloured glass from tiny broken bottles scattered about the site. I assumed these were gifts for somebody whom one of the crew was going to visit whilst on leave.

The Aircraft Accident Card reads "A/c [aircraft] on transit flight overladen - no dinghy or mae wests. Disappeared over sea - bad met forecast. Pilot took off with an adverse met report and too great a load. No mae wests or dinghy ..(unclear).. long sea leg. Used a/c for improper purpose. Weather was good at take off - possibly ran into cloud". In correspondence with a friend of mine, ex-Sqn Ldr Marcel Ludikar, said that he did not agree with the "improper purposes" statement. As far as he could remember, the a/c was taking 2 of the crew to London to receive their DFCs in Buckingham Palace. Ludikar had been detailed for this trip but his place was taken by F/O W Kauders, and Ludikar proceeded on normal leave the same day.

It would seem that had the aircraft been flying only a little higher it would not have crashed. As others have said, the wreck wasn't found until 19.8.45. This was quite by chance by a party of walkers from Elgin. With great effort the bodies were recovered by the RAF Dyce Mountian Rescue Team and on mules from an Indian mountian regiment. The wreck was burnt to avoid it being mistaken for other lost aircraft.

Can I ask that anyone visiting the wreck leaves it as they found it.


RE: Location of PH404
Author: Linzee
Time Stamp:
11:54:57 Tuesday, July 9, 2002
Post:
Hello Keith,

Fit like?!

Thanks for your additonal information about the crash site and your concerns. I am very familiar with the type of terrain in the area we are talking about, have 'done' Beinn a'Bhuird in the past and many of the higher tops in the 'Gorms too so I'm aware of what I would be undertaking.

It goes without saying that the site would be left as it was found.

Was thinking of tootling up there tomorrow, but the hill forecast is dire so it will have to wait for another day.

Regards

Linzee



RE: Jan Vella DFC
Author: CZ_RAF
Time Stamp:
19:27:38 Friday, August 9, 2002
Post:
[font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 08-Sep-02 AT 07:31 PM (GMT)[/font][p]Hi Linzee,

I will be very kind for any info or photos of the crash site. I have obtained some of them but I am worried that they were gone when my Hotmail Inbox was deleted.

Regards

Pavel

P.S. If there is some small iteresting part(s) of plane, could you be so kind and send me some of them? I will give them to one friend who has a private museum of Czechoslovak airmen. Sure I will pay you postage. Please contact me directly on cz_raf.A T.hotmail.com. Thanks a lot.


RE: Jan Vella DFC
Author: Linzee (Guest)
Time Stamp:
19:46:06 Friday, August 9, 2002
Post:
Hi Pavel,

I plan to visit the crash site next weekend, provided the weather is suitable. You will be most welcome to any photographs that I take and if I find any further information about it locally I will pass it on.

Please read my previous posting with reference to your PS.

Regards

Linzee



RE: Jan Vella DFC
Author: CZ_RAF
Time Stamp:
17:19:23 Monday, September 9, 2002
Post:
Hi Linzee,

I am sorry, I have missed this note.

No problem, I will send him copies of photos which I will obtain from you.

Thanks in advance

Pavel


RE: Jan Vella DFC
Author: balnaguie01
Time Stamp:
20:46:19 Monday, September 9, 2002
Post:
I should have added at the end of my last posting that my plea to "leave the wreck as you find it", includes not removing any bits. The wreckage is often the only memorial to the crew and this case is no exception. In any case, removal of wreckage requires specific consent from the Ministry of Defence.

In Scotland there has been a lot of debate and much strong feeling about wrecks, or parts of wrecks being removed, usually to private museums in the south of England - but that's another story!


RE: Jan Vella DFC
Author: CZ_RAF
Time Stamp:
13:07:43 Sunday, September 15, 2002
Post:
O.K. I have apologozied, I have missed your note.

Pavel


RE: Jan Vella DFC
Author: Linzee (Guest)
Time Stamp:
20:54:21 Sunday, September 15, 2002
Post:
Today I visited the crash site (26 mile/44 km round trip which took 10 hours, so I'm pretty tired!).

Thanks to Ross for the coordinates, very helpful. I might send you a slight change to them but I'll have to do some checking first.

The two engines are still at the site as well as a some other unidentifiable (to me) parts. There is also a considerable amount of small debris in the immediate area despite the fact that the aircraft was burnt to avoid it being mistaken for any other crashed aircraft.

The site and wreckage have all been photographed (sorry, not with a digital camera so you'll have to wait until I have the film developed). I will post some of the images once I have had the film developed.

Pavel, I will contact you off board regarding posting the photographs to you for the museum.

Regards

Linzee



RE: Jan Vella DFC
Author: Keith Wilkinson (Guest)
Time Stamp:
14:06:22 Saturday, September 21, 2002
Post:
Hi everyone,

I have just returned from two weeks in France - and was quite astonished to see my original queries about Jan Vella had generated 37 responses. Must be near a record!

Linzee - I too would like to see any of your photos of the crash site if that is possible.

My e-mail address is: geeza.wilko.A T.btinternet.com

Thanks everyone who has contributed on this topic.

Keith