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Joseph Capka

Admitted to:

Colchester Military Hospital. RAF Hospital Ely (02/07/44).

Date of Injury:


D.O.B/Age when admitted:

28years. Born 24.11.1916

Cause of Incident:

Shot down in Mosquito on return from ops, by American Flying Fortress that had been captured by Germans and was being used as a decoy. Parachute was caught so made crash landing into a steep bank, barely escaping before his plane exploded.

Transferred to QVH:



Loss of left eye. Burns to forehead and arms.

No. of Operations at East Grinstead:



This is to certify that the patient mentioned below and whose description is stated hereon is the authorised holder of this Identity card.





Service No:





DFM, Croix de Guerre, Czech War Cross, Czech War Medal

Patient Unit:

68 Sqn



Patient Rank:

Flt Lt



Age at Death:

57 years.

Dr Rank:

Dr Unit:


Was a bomber pilot in the Czech Air Force when the German came in 1939.
Fled to Poland, then France, where he learnt to fly the French way in Marsailles. Piloted bombers against German forces before escaping with refugees through Bordeaux when France fell.
Reached England in June 1940 and joined the RAF, learning English. Posted to 311 (Czech) Sqn in Honington, Suffolk. Flew 52 ops, mostly against heavily defended targets, with some narrow escapes - the last op of his tour was to Bremen, where his Mosquito was badly hit and lost an engine. Nursed it back to England and crash-landed in own airfield.
Took instructors course and started training young Czech pilots, before taking part in first 1000 bomber raid on Cologne.

Returned to Czechoslovakia after the war and was one of many Czechs kicked out of the armed services in 1948 for fighting with the British during the war. Refused permission to return to Britain and an attempt to leave illegally failed, resulting in a charge of high treason and imprisonment.

After many appeals, he was freed in 1954, eventually returning to Britain in 1957 and being met by his wife at Victoria Station.

Died of a heart attack and was buried in Easton, Norfolk.


Further Reading:

'Red Sky at Night' By Joseph Capka.
This is Your Life, 29/09/58.
'Smiling Jo Had Many Lives', The Guinea Pig, Summer 1975, pp. 12-6.


'Obituary', Ian Craig, The Guinea Pig, Christmas 1973, p. 24.

East Grinstead Museum Collection:
EGRTM 2751.65 - Portrait photo, one of five in a set of Guinea Pig photos
EGRTM 2785.9 - Photo of Capka in his air force uniform
EGRTM 2785.31 - Photo of Capka and his wife at Guinea Pig Club Cocktail Party