Ludvík Škultéty

* 1925  †︎ 2016

  • “Because in Benešova Hora I had read about Masaryk, he was the best man in the world. The patriotism was so strong that there was not a single guy who would have acted otherwise. Everyone believed that our country had to win the war and set the people free. It was obvious, they just did not even think of anything else. I haven’t told you yet, but another reason why I applied was that hundreds of other people applied, whom I had actually helped to get in. The Englishmen could not speak a word of French, and the French could not speak a word of English, and they could not speak Czech, either. But I didn’t do it because I was smart, I was simply the stupid one who just happened to be there, well, by chance. But I was happy that I was able to do it.”

  • “Mom obviously tried to get us to our father. She could not speak a word in any foreign language; nobody in our village could speak any other language, and they didn’t even have a map, they didn’t even know where it was. The way these people were earning their living was making shirts, and they had a hard time to make ends meet. Our mom carried us there, and she carried a duvet tied with ropes on her back so that it would look as a backpack. When you think of it again after some time, it seems really funny.”

  • “They didn’t have anybody else than this stupid boy, who could do typewriting and who could speak Czech as well as French. All the other guys who were born there could mostly speak only French, and they didn’t even speak Czech at home. I was thus there for several weeks and I was writing reports and recording their data. I befriended some of them, and I even had some friends from Marseille who applied there, and when we arrived to Toulouse, we entered a room and there was František sitting there. My František! He had run away from home and he had joined the army. He had told them that he was eighteen. He was actually sixteen. The recruiters didn’t care at all, they didn’t even investigate anything; they didn’t have any right to check anything, anyway. Well, and so there I was with him again.”

  • “We were assigned to the unit. We were the best shooters, Franta and I, nobody could do it better than us. We were the best gunners from the whole unit that was in England. We didn’t even know about it, it was just a matter of chance, but we always hit the target on the first shot, either Franta or I, we probably inherited this skill from our father... So we had this kind of advantage. But the reason I am telling this... Well, we were lined up there and these English airmen… A special unit arrived there. Everything they had was better. They looked as rich guys, they had golden buttons on their new uniforms, and nice shoes, and everything else... They had two sweaters, three shirts, three ties, they just looked dashing. The leader ordered: ‘We need to strengthen our units. Is there anyone who would like to join us? Mr. President needs to have a strong air force unit as well.’ But at that time it was already too late for everything. We were just greenhorns when we got there… He ordered: ‘Three steps forward.’ František made three steps forward and so I had to do the same. So this was how we got to the air force…”

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    Otovice u Karlových Varů, 10.05.2015

    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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Everyone believed that our country had to win the war. It was something so obvious that I did not even think about of anything else

In the RAF unit
In the RAF unit
photo: Archiv pamětníka

Ludvík Škultéty was born November 10, 1925 in Benešova Hora near Vimperk. His father Ludvík came from Slovakia and his mother Antonie, née Daňhová, was born in Benešova Hora, At the turn of the 1920s and 1930s Ludvík’s father went to southern France to work there in coal mines in the La Grand Combe region. The rest of his family followed him there in 1931. They had two sons Ludvík and František, and two more sons - Josef and Milouš - were born while the family lived in France. Many Czechoslovak families were living in the area at that time and many Czech cultural associations were active there. Although the sons attended French schools, the family planned to return to Czechoslovakia and they tried to make them speak Czech well. For this reason, Ludvík was sent by his parents to the Šumava Mountains to stay with his grandparents and attend local school so that he would develop some connection to his homeland. In the Šumava part of the family there were many skilled artisans and musicians, who were earning their living by accompanying itinerant circus troupes. Ludvík returned to France before the outbreak of WWII and when he was sixteen years old he began working on the sorting line in the coal mines. In 1943-1944 he became involved in the activity of the local resistance movement and he took part in several acts of sabotage in the coal mines. In 1944 he decided to join the army. He ran away from the mines and for several weeks he was working for the Czechoslovak consulate in Marseille. He was assisting in the recruitment of Czechoslovak citizens and by coincidence he also got reunited with his brother František there. In March 1945 they both joined the Czechoslovak army and they were transported to England with a short stop-over in Paris. After going through infantry training in Southampton both brothers applied to serve in the RAF units. Both trained as aerial gunners in the Liberator bombers. They did not get into combat until the end of the war and each of them only experienced several reconnaissance flights. They served in England until September 1945 and then they returned to Czechoslovakia where they had to do military service, at first in Prague-Ruzyně and then in Havlíčkův Brod. When his military service was over, Ludvík Škultéty settled in Otovice near Karlovy Vary where his parents had moved after their return from France. He married there and since his wife was a German, they had to undergo a complicated process of obtaining permission for their marriage. Thanks to his knowledge of several languages Ludvík got a job in the Karlovy Vary branch of the Čedok travel agency where he then worked until his retirement. Ludvík Škultéty passed away on July, the 25th, 2016.