Colonel (ret.) Petr Uruba

* 1916  †︎ 2009

  • “In the meantime there was naturally the invasion in 1944 and the American troops were sweeping through West Germany. We were well informed about it all as we had a secretly made wireless. We knew what the situation looked like and also that the American troops were advancing quite fast. And really in April, it was April 16, after the night fight the Americans fought their way into the fort where we were held captives, in that Colditz. The day is unforgettable after all that. We were all watching it from a large room where services took place. No matter what your Christian denomination was, whether you were Catholic or Protestant, we took part in the service. However, the Americans were just shooting at an artillery formation in the meantime and they hit the part with German offices. Padre quickly finished the service encouraging us to hide down in the cellar to save our bodies and souls. After the night fight the American soldiers entered the fort and we were shouting for joy. One of the soldiers was surprised and said in Czech: 'You are Czech?' 'Yes!' 'My parents and grandparents were Czech and I'm John Stefko from Nebraska.' So it all ended well because we were transported fast then."

  • “I was born in Rusava, it is in Hostýnské Mountains in Wallachia. My father was a forest worker and I attended council school in Bystřice pod Hostýnem. I got trained as a shop boy but I went to language courses in Bystřice at the same time. They offered French and I found it very convenient. I got to the air training institution in Prostějov in 1935, where I went through pilot training.”

  • “The year 1948 came, so called 'Victorious February,' but it meant the end of our air force to us. The commander of Prostějov was colonel Josef Duda, who was a fighter pilot in Daxford. He won victory a few times and he was proud of it. Those who lived at that time knew exactly how parties were being formed and how people in the army were recruited. The army was apolitical during the period of the First Republic. But we thought it would continue onwards like this. We were very wrong then. Certain colonel Reicin, who worked at the Ministry and whom everyone was scared of because he was an agent from Moscow, knew that the western revolt had to be removed. There was no one who would stand up against his suggestion. We all were dismissed. Josef Duda as the commander of the training institution and we all were dismissed with him as well. It was the year 1948 after the February. We were dismissed in March, at the end of March."

  • “We simply knew we had to somehow try to return freedom to our country. At that time the first troops started forming in Krakow, Poland. We got there illegally, we were not organized by any travel agency but by the border. We made a date with a friend of mine and we left for Ostrava and went from Ostrava-Šenov. The village is on the border and searching for the address of a teacher in Šenov we were informed by a young Czech: 'I know, you want to Poland, I'll help you.' We couldn't believe it as there were many German guards on the train, who guarded the border. But he truly helped us. He led us along some kind of a farm-track towards the forest where the border was. The borderline was cleared, the German guards were walking there. He said: 'Try it now!' And we really ran with the smith (friend) over on the other side. We already saw a guard going down the road which was very close to Poland. The Polish guard secured us, took us to the police station and later we got to Krakow where our Army was being organized.”

  • “As for our crew, we were rather close flying over Boulougne, which is a port in northern France. We were not given the exact wind speed nor glide when planning the flight. Consequently, having dropped bombs we were on our way back but we had a wrong course and because of the lack of fuel we landed in the occupied part of France at the airport Flairs on the Cotain Tain peninsula. As a second pilot I flew back so I had to do the landing manoeuvre. It was a short little airport used by Luftwaffe. I landed but rolling to the hangars on the other side there ran the Germans and the gunman – the back one - said: 'They are Germans.' I turned the aircraft again towards the airport but it was February and and the grassy airport was hollowing. They lay on the tail unit so we couldn't take off again. Therefore I got... actually all our crew got... into captivity. We had to land anyway because we ran out of fuel. The Germans said to us triumphantly: 'Well, the war is over for you.' They said it in English. We were not happy because of that, since we were going through the time when our combat efforts were ended.”

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    Olomouc, 07.02.2003

    duration: 01:07:57
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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Everyone do something for your country, when it is needed – without hesitation

Petr Uruba
Petr Uruba
photo: Pamět Národa - Archiv

The sergeant-major in retirement Uruba Petr was born in Rusava, a Moravian village in Wallachia, in 1916. He attended council school in Bystřice pod Hostýnem, where he was trained to be a shop boy. In 1935 he got to an air training institution in Prostějov where he took part in pilot training. The year 1938 followed. He got to know about forming Czechoslovak armed troops in Poland. His journey to Krakow was illegal. France knew that a small Czech troop was being formed and offered the Czechs the French Foreign Legion. The condition was their transport to France and their incorporation into Czech troops in the case of WWII outbreak. After his escape from France he joined 311 Squadron in England. Having dropped bombs during their flight over Boulogne sur Mer (a port in France), Mr. Uruba’s crew were on their way to the base. A few mistakes were made... wrong course, the lack of fuel, the speed. The aircraft was made to land in the occupied part of France. They were captured. Months were passing and the invasion in Normandy took place in 1944. The Americans fought their way into their fort on April 10, and the liberated soldiers transferred to England. Having come home Petr Uruba went through a flying instructor course in Olomouc. He trained new pilots in air training institutions in Olomouc and Prostějov. In February 1948 the Communist coup d’etat came. It was the end of his career in the Czechoslovak Army. There were purges. All those who had anything to do with the Western revolt were dismissed. His family spent the worst time in Rusava. His wife’s parents died in 1954, which was the reason for their moving to Olomouc. Mr. Uruba worked there in a foundry. They knew he was knowledgeable as for languages therefore he was assigned a post in the scientific and technological department in Lutín after some time. He retired in 1971. As a pensioner he earned some extra money in a camping site in Braník. He used his language skills in the reception. Later on he was repeatedly invited for schools meetings where he replied to students’ questions.