WWII veteran Imrich Gablech died, aged 101

After fighting for the British RAF, General Imrich Gablech was an unwanted person in his home country.

Imrich GablechImrich Gablech (Source: Sme)

One of the last pilots who served in the British RAF during World War II, General Imrich Gablech, recently passed away. He was 101 years old at the time of his death, Czech Defence Minister Martin Stropnický informed on December 16.

SkryťRemove ad
Article continues after video advertisement
SkryťRemove ad
Article continues after video advertisement

“A hero passed away,” Slovak president Andrej Kiska reacted on social network. “We thank you for your courage, Mr. Gablech. We shall never forget.”

Gablech, a native from the Slovak village of Hrachovište, who should have become a priest, became war hero instead thanks to his courage. He escaped the Nazis, survived Soviet captivity and became an unwanted person by the communist regime of president Klement Gottwald.

In 1937, he started attending the school for pilots in Czech Prostějov, the Sme daily wrote. After the war-time Slovak was announced, he flew an armed plane to Poland, on June 7, 1939. After the Soviet Union joined the attack on Poland, Gablech was captured and sentenced to five years of forced labour for espionage.

When Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union, Gablech was released from the work camp and got to the UK together with Poles, via Archangelsk. There, he briefly flew for the RAF. Serious health problems prevented him from a further career as a pilot, however, and he was then trained to be a flight controller. He worked as a flight controller until the end of war, at the Coltishall airport near Norwich.

After returning to his homeland – after the war ended – he also worked as flight dispatcher, first at the Prague-Ruzyň airport, then in Havlíčkův Brod. When the communists took over in Czechoslovakia, he was dismissed from the army, in February 1949, as most of the “western” fighters were. He was unable to find a job for some time, ultimately making his living as a manual labourer.

SkryťRemove ad

In 2005, a biography of him was published in Slovakia, called Hallo, Airfield-control, Go Ahead! (Spomienky vojnového pilota, Memoirs of a War Pilot). Gablech received several Czech and foreign awards and medals.

Last year, on his 100th birthday, he was promoted to general. He spent the last years of his life in Havlíčkův Brod, Sme wrote.

Top stories

News digest: LGBT+ people better off in Malta

From Bratislava to Komárno with a new rail operator. Take a look at timeless Czechoslovak glasses.


8 h

Village burnt down but thanks to contest it is one of Slovak symbols now

Ease your hiking muscles in a spa after a two-hour hike with incredible views and a walk through time.


27. jul
Altogether 131 refugees from Ukraine are accommodated at the premises of the Prešov prison; the capacity of the facility is 151 people. The original inmates were moved to Sabinov. The picture features an angel in the Ukrainian national colours created by one refugee and her son as a thank you gift for visitors.

It's August and I really want to go home to Ukraine

A Ukrainian refugee, mother of two, tells the story of her escape to Slovakia and the six months she has lived here so far.


15. aug
Slovak Foreign Minister Ivan Korčok.

Slovakia plans no ban on all Russians from entering the country

The country would most likely support an EU-wide ban.


16. aug
SkryťClose ad