In Memory of Andrej Šimek of 311 (Czechoslovak) Squadron

Andrej Simek 311 Squadron

I recently recorded a video in tributeOpens in a new tab. to the Czechoslovak airmen of the 311 (Czechoslovak) Squadron who flew Liberators out of Beaulieu. They suffered significant losses during their anti-submarine operations. In the video I explain how thirty one Czechoslovak men died during the eleven months 311 Squadron spent at Beaulieu airfield. 

I was wrong. It should have been thirty two men. 

I realised my mistake when examining the operational records of RAF Beaulieu again, and noticed the name Andrej Šimek. It recorded how he’d been killed during an operation on 30 August 1943. I am not sure how I missed him previously.

This blog post is a tribute to Sgt Andrej Šimek who was 23 years old when he was killed serving from Beaulieu Airfield. 

Sgt Andrej Šimek

Andrej Šimek is buried at Brookwood Cemetery in Woking.

Andrej Šimek was born in 1920 in Zarnovica and in wartime was a Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve with the 311 (Czechoslovak) Squadron. August 30 was his first operational flight as a wireless operator and air gunner on the American-made Liberator. 

The operational record book for 311 Squadron on August 30th, 1943, records Liberator FL948 leaving the RAF Beaulieu at 0628 that morning for an anti-submarine sweep. The entry reads as follows: 

“Ju.88 attacked our a/c in position 11:00 hrs. 45-28N 08-32W opening fire from 500 yds, and closing to 50 yds. This burst killed the beam gunner, Sgt. Simek. Our mid-upper, and rear gunner returned fire, and E/A’s port engine began to smoke and stbd. engine caught fire. E/A with stbd. engine in flames and thick smoke pouring from engine was observed by our mid-upper and rear gunner to plunge into the sea. Combat lasted 15 minutes.”

According to FCAFAOpens in a new tab., the Junkers Ju.88 had hit the Liberator twenty times and the Czechoslovak gunners became involved in a protracted duel with the enemy, eventually coming out on top. During the fight the mid-upper gunner Sgt František Benedikt had fired 750 rounds and the rear gunner Sgt František Skalík) 600 rounds. 

During the battle, Sgt Andrej Šimek was hit and died onboard the aircraft. 

FCAFA believe that Ju.88 involved was Ju.88C-6 No.750399 (F8+FX) of 13/KG40 crewed by Uffz E Itzegehl, Uffz U Lentz and Gefr H Hobusch, all of whom are recorded as missing.

Liberator FL948 and surviving Czechoslovak crew members landed back at Beaulieu at 1523 pm. 

Andrej Šimek is buried at Brookwood Military Cemetery in Woking.

References and credits

M Heighway

I hope you enjoy my dedication to Beaulieu Airfield. If you have any memories or questions please do get in touch with me so I can continue to add to this resource.

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