Lieutenant (ret.) Adolf Pravoslav Zelený

* 1914  †︎ 2010

  • “Finally they sent us to Gdynia and Polish officers came and asked us: ‘Please, join the Polish air force, we will promote you all to officers.’ There is a book about it written by Jan Reil. When we came to France, I was at the barracks with the French flying group Saint Sir. They brought us to Paris where we passed through the medical and physical examination. We signed a contract for five years. They released us and I returned to Saint Sir. Three days later a lieutenant Berounský from the Czech Air force came and brought ten francs for everyone. And they told me and Štefka, who was also a lookout: ‘You are not proper pilots, you will have to go back to the foreign legion.’ So we were in the foreign legion. Only for a short time but it was disappointment because all the officers knew us. We had served at the air force before the war as lookouts. And then somebody came and told us that we were not on the list of pilots and that we had to go to the infantry. That was a real disappointment, but what can one do?”

  • “It was almost my final flight. They called four planes and told us: ‘We will bomb a smuggler ship that harbors in Bordeaux.’ Those smugglers were ships that sailed secretly around South Africa or they sailed from Japan and brought uranium and raw material to Germany. But they always had to sail around Spain. Andour forces knew it. They had sunk one of those ships, I called the pirates. And our ship was harbored in Garonne, at the mouth of the Garonne river. Not exactly in Bordeaux. So four planes were supposed to fly to Bordeaux. It was a wonderful night with the moon and without a single cloud. Then we saw Bordeaux in front of us, all lights were on. And we found the harbor with the ship. And I saw the ship and I went to the bomb launcher. And we flew by and nothing happened, the lights didn’t go down. So we decided to make another attack and I launched the bombs. I saw them explode, one, then the second one, third one… but they didn’t make any damage because it was low tide and the ship was resting on the sea bottom. Maybe the only harm we did was to kill some French. Then they started a fire but we flew very low and escaped to the sea. When we landed in Talbenny, everybody was confused because they called all the planes back but we didn’t hear it. So we flew there and when we announced the attack, they thought that the Germans shot us down. My wife was pregnant at the time and nobody dared to tell her that we were shot down. And then we suddenly appeared back at the base.”

  • “I was always lucky that I saved someone. When we were in Poland I rescued a Polish man who was drowning in the river. When I was in Singapore I was at the rescue guard, but we didn’t rescue anybody because of the army in the jungle. I was trained to navigate in the jungle. The most people I saved was in Kenya. I went and took three people out of a crashed car. And then Moduli, there was one dead and one alive, then Mont Meru, there was one dead and two seriously injured. Then in the desert I found some people who got lost. So anywhere I came I was always a rescuer. If I had been in Scotland I would have been the mountain rescuer, but it didn’t happen.”

  • “It was 19th of September and we flew with the Vladimír Nedvěd’s plane to bomb at the nearest French fights. And when we were almost there, one of the shooters said: ‘Look! Four Junkers!’ So Vladimír dropped the bombs and our only chance was to get to the clouds. The clouds were at six thousand meters. We started to climb up and before we got there one of the planes attacked us from the front. The front shooter fired at him and he flew under us and they said they saw smoke coming out of his engine. Then another attack, I immediately recorded our position and gave the figures to the telegrapher, to send a message home that we were under attack by three Junkers planes. When I was finished I went to the astrodome. That was a place from which you could see all around the plane. It was used to calculate position. My task was to estimate the destinations and other information about the attacking planes. So I reported: ‘A mile, half a mile, two hundred meters.’ And then the pilot turned the plane, it was called the corkscrew. And I was there and reported all the planes and I saw the planes attacking, but they didn’t shoot. The rear shooter reported that he fired at him, but the German didn’t seem to shoot. Then we got tot the clouds. They were small clouds and anytime we got out, there was a German plane waiting, but it didn’t shoot. That was either a miracle or the Germans had run out of ammunition. There was a fighter academy in Bordeaux and I think that they were just training above the sea and they didn’t have enough ammunition. Or they returned from the middle of the Biscay Bay where they had put down somebody, but I inquired after we came home and there wasn’t any of our planes put down that day. So we got away.”

  • “The night from 12th to 13th June we crossed the border in a train for coal, which was empty. We got into the wagon and we had to crouch at the left side. They had lights at the border, but the left side was in the dark and they couldn’t see us. And when we were at the border, it looks funny now, Karel began to cough, and there were German soldiers near, we heard them speaking German. And when he began to cough, I stuffed his mouth and it was really thrilling. But they didn’t hear us. And we knew that we were still in Germany. Then the train stared and went about a kilometer further and stopped again. We had nightsticks, short pieces of cable. You could kill a person with that and we were ready to kill anybody that would come at us. We waited, and then we heard Polish voices, so we jumped out of the train and they said: ‘Don’t worry, you are in Poland.’ So we asked for the ticked office to buy tickets and they advised us to go to the police station. The guy was Czech and he told us that it is better to report at the police station because if they had caught you on the run, they arrested you and send you back to the country. So we went to the the police. And later we found out that there were about twenty Czech people escaping with us. If somebody had come to us and we would hit him, we would probably kill him.”

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    Praha - Prosek, 05.06.2006

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We got into a cloud and anytime we got out, there was a German plane waiting, but it didn’t shoot. That was either a miracle or the Germans had run out of ammunition

zeleny-Edit.jpg (historic)
Lieutenant (ret.) Adolf Pravoslav Zelený
photo: dobová:, Současná: z roku 2003

Adolf Pravoslav Zelený was born on 11th October 1914 in Rožná pod Pernštejnem in the Žďár nad Sázavou district. In 1937, he graduated at the Military Academy in Hranice na Moravě as a lieutenant. On 12th June 1939, he decided to escape from the occupied country. He crossed the border to Poland where he worked on a field for a short time. He entered the French foreign legion and left to England. In 1940, he was called to the air forces, he passed through the training and he entered the 311th Fighting Squadron. He was a coast patrol. He was promoted to the operational officer at the base. In 1945 he returned to Czechoslovakia, enrolled to a military training and served as a flight operator at the Ruzyň airport. He established the Association of Foreign Pilots and he was twice elected as its chairman before he was expelled by the communists. He left to England in 1948 and had problems finding work, which he finally found as a navigator and a pilot of B-29 Superfortress. In 1952 he was dismissed because of his age and he started working as a flight operator abroad, he served in Kenya, Libya, Singapore and Bahrain. In Libya, he became the chief commander of a military academy. He left the RAF in 1971 and started working as a tourist guide all around the world. He died in January 2010.