Pilgrimage to site where Fairlop Waters pilot was killed

A “forgotten” pilot who was killed while flying back to Fairlop Waters during the Second World War is being honoured this week as a pilgrimage is made to the site where his Spitfire crash landed.

The burial site of Karel Pavlik in Ypres, Belgium, is also being visited by a delegation including Fairlop Heritage Group (FHG) chairman David Martin on Thursday - the 69th anniversary of the fatal attack.

The Czech airman’s Spitfire was shot out of the sky in May 1942 as he escorted Boston bombers back to the UK.

His Spitfire hurtled to the ground with such violent speed, its engine was only recovered in 1997 11km south-east of Ypres, buried 7m deep in clay.

Today, distant relative Milena Kolarikova and her husband will join Mr Martin and others as they tour four crash sites.

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Each site claimed the life of a pilot during that fateful May 5 mission codenamed RAF Operation Circus 157.

They will then visit the burial site of Mr Pavlik and the three other men killed: Belgian Baudoine de Hemptinne, Canadian Roland Joffre Ribut and Douglas Stacey Jones from the UK.

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Mr Martin found out about Mr Pavlik’s life and death when a mysterious cross with the words “Rodina” (meaning family) and “Milena”, plus a hand-written note about the former sergeant was left at Fairlop Waters last year.

Investigations by Mr Martin found the pilot, of 313 squadron, was killed as he flew back to the country park.

He was then able to make contact with Mrs Kolarikova, who was born in Prague but now lives in Ypres.

Ahead of his visit, Mr Martin said: “I’m very pleased, even honoured, that I will be representing Redbridge/England.

“It will help Fairlop to be remembered and add knowledge about it.”

During the First World War, Fairlop aerodrome was a Royal Naval Air Station training school, while during the Second World War, it was an RAF base.

The delegation will also lay wreaths at the Menin Gate in Ypres during the annual Last Post ceremony.

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