From 12th September to 22nd September it was meeting of war pilots-participants of the biggest air batte over middle Europe in 2nd World War. Participants were:
-five American air veterans,who survived the air battle. Rob Hoskins, the editor of magazine LIBERAIDER joined them. The leader of group was 2nd/Lt. Thomas Qualman, navigator of bomber B-24J "Liberator" Nr.44-41016,who arrived with his wife, as well as 1/L Hjalmar Johansson,Ing., the former president of advising company.
During the battle in the area of Troubky-Henčlov-Rokytnice the Liberator was shot down by German fighter from JG 300 "Wilde Sau"-Uffz., Paul Lixfeld.
-The former commander of fighters sqadron 300 JG Luftvaffe generallieutenant Gunter Hall, who didn´t participate in that battle. He substituted the German pilot Lixfeld, who had promised his participation in the reunion, but he cancelled it a count of health problems.
Mr.Rall wished to meet his friend the Czech R.A.F. pilot, participant of the battles in France and in Great Britain, generalmajor Mr. František Peřina.
-The generalmajor Peřina accepted the invitation and the group of the war air veterans was completed.
- retired colonel ing.Josef Brazda Csc., who helped Thomas Qualman and his colleague Edmund Casold after their bomber crashed. He had hidden them in his uncle Hošák´s barn.
Inocenc Kratochvíl and his father´s cousin Josef Brázda helped them in the first night after their shooting down. It was after couple days he led both american pilots to Hostýnské mountains. After the miserable march they got to the Mrnuštík family.
The reunion was guaranted by the organisators, who were: District and Town authorities,the leader of army authorities semicolonel Dušan Krpec, Jaroslav Schoen, Jan Hlavačka, maojor Milan Kouřil, Zdena Scherová Mgr., and some sponsors, eg. Air company OLIMEX, Czech airlines in Prague and 33rd helicopter base in Přerov. Big merit had the major of Troubky Mr. František Němčák,the major of Rokytnice and director of Museum in Přerov- Phdr. František Hýbl.
The reunion of air veterans was festive fenced by welcoming all participants by the major of Přerov –Jindřich Valouch. It was situated in a new repaired Mervart´s exposition room of Přerov´s museum. After introduction of participants of the reunion and greetings Phdr. Hýbl narrated the history of Přerov with pedagogical and religious activity of Jan Amos Komensky. At the end of the festive theCzech anthem was played by the garrison music band from Olomouc. The headmaster of Komensky´s museum František Hýbl then showed the whole museum to the participants. All participants were intrested in the new rerepaired exposition of primaval age, whose rich archeologic fund reach world famous. After the visit of the museum there was meeting of air war veterans and historians. And after the lunch in the town house the participants went to Helfštýn castle. The castle is in reconstruction now. In this old Moravian castle, there are lot of cultural actions. The Participants of the meeting were most interested in the exposition of artistic blacksmith, which reach European, even World famous. They also had a look for other expositions. First day of reunion also participated army air atache in the Czech republic colonel Marc Neifert and deputy of commander of the Czech air force general-colonel Ing. Jiří Kubala.
In next days of reunion the veterans visited Troubky and Rokytnice, where Mr. Qualman and Rall put the wreth to the graves of the American pilots. Organisators of the reunion made posible to visit our capital city Prague with itsfamous historical and cultural places and monuments. They realized excursion of the airport Ruzyně, which has been recently reconstructed.
One day it was devoted to the visit of the Silesian oil refinery, which was the aim of Qualman´s crew. It has been bombed some times before, on that memory day of the 17th December 1944, but they hadn´t reached the aim.
In December 1944 the German army started the Arden battle. It was the last German ground operation on the west front – the breach of front in the area of the town Eifel. The German airforce, especially fighters were quite numerous. In spite of the bad weather the 8th airforce stayed on the British bases 15th airforce decided to attack the Silesian refineries. The decision had to help the AF in the Ardens battle.
In the attack on refineries in Blechhammer and Odertal were used 524 bombers and 300 fighters. On the 17th December early in the morning 191 of B-17 took off. Because of the damaged runway 463rd group wasn´t allowed to took off. Two machines were shot down by the way, so only 159 bombers bombed the primary aim and 18 bombers Moravian Ostrava. Five Lightnings and sixteens Mustangs landed back prematury from the amount of 300.
49th crew was attacked by German fighters on its way with 304th group. 461st group, which closed the group, was damaged mostly. During few minutes the group lost 8 airplanes, 6 in Moravia and 2 in Slovakia. 2 airplanes fell down in district of Šumperk. In the next battles the Americans lost 4 fighters. All together the Americans lost 13 airplanes, 10 bombers and 3 fighters. Next 14 airplanes was destroy by anti-aircraft artillery, colision and mechanical damages.
Altough the attacking side had lost a lot: 50 airplanes were destroyed, 19 pilots died and 9 were injured. In the direct battle the German side lost even 30 airplanes, 27 fell down in Moravia and Silesia. 21 airplanes (Bf 109) crashed or emergency landed for low fuel.
Instead of conklusion of my article I would like to quote the opening words of the semicolonel Ing. Dušan Krpec to the book “17th December 1944 … war airmen remember”, was publicated to the 55th anniversary of the end of World War 2nd on the ocasion “Reunion of the direct participants ofair battles over Přerov´s district 17th December 1944”. I took information from this book.
The end of World War 2nd in 1945 took peace to the mankind.
But even after 55 years from the end of World War 2nd the debts are returning – indemnify of forced people, apology and acknowledgement of guilt.
Its symbolical, that at this time its organised realy rare action- “Reunion of direct participants air battles over Přerov”.
The meeting of war veterans, who had met 55 years ago, from German and American side and after the air battle the ruins of airplanes were falling and parachutes of those, who survived.
It was possible today to prepare the reunion.
The meeting, thats main idea is to forgive, but not to forget.
The meeting, that was prepared by people,who don´t want to war.
Retired Colonel Ing. Josef Brázda CSc