History of the air battle on September 11th, 1944
The 100th BG, otherwise known as “The Bloody Hundredth”, had lost more then one third of its bombers in the battle, which the Group had sent out to this mission. The JG4 sustained a casualty rate of over 50 percent … Solely in the Kovarska region, four B-17Gs and at least five Luftwaffe fighters crashed. Further three B-17Gs and three Geraman fighters fell in a close vicinity of German towns of Crottendorfu and Neudorfu. Many others returned damaged to their home bases.
American bombers departed from their base in Thorpe Abbotts and their fighter escort took-off from Fowlmere and Wormingford bases in East England. The intercept fighters of the JG4 departed from bases in Welzow and Alteno. The refinery in the German town of Ruhland was the target for the 100th Bomb Group.
The 95th Bomb Group, which departed from the English base in Horham, also played a part in the battle. The BG lost a number of aircraft, but at the same time scored a number of victories.
A half a century later…
An unveiling of a memorial dedicated to the fallen airmen was a part of the 50th anniversary event on September 11, 1994. The elementary school, onto which a tail of the shot down B-17 crashed during the battle, received an honorary name “ Sgt. J. C. Kluttz’s elementary school”. This was after the ball turret gunner of this bomber, which survived the crash of his B-17. The Czech veterans, members of the British RAF, unveiled the memorial. Two of them, Genmjr. Frantisek Fajtl, DFC and Genmjr. Alois Siska removed a white cloth from the memorial, which is dedicated to their allied friends, but also to their former enemies from Luftwaffe, at exactly 12 hrs and 21 min. The exact time when a wrist watch of one of the shot down airman stopped fifty years ago.
To the sound of the church bells, a pair of fighters rumbled through the sky overhead and the pilots of the Czech Air Force also joined with their greetings and revered the fallen airmen.
Three years later, in September 1997, the direct opponents of this battle, the German and American airmen met in Kovarska after 53 years, in order to open the Museum dedicated to them. They demonstrated senselessness of this air battle and also of all wars by their personal friendship, 53 years after they fought against each other in the sky over the Ore Mountains. Senselessness, which by their words has to be always reminded as a warning for next generations.
For the first time since the end of WWII, they returned to the place, where they went though hell on September 11th, 1944, where they survived thanks to their parachutes and where their friends died.
During this four day event, whose highest point was the grand opening of the Museum, they returned to the Ore Mountains’ sky again, saw the places where their aircraft had crashed in this battle, attended a performance concert and a mass for the fallen airmen of September 11th, 1944 in the St. Michael church in Kovarska and organized a forum for the public.
By opening of the Museum in September 1997, a new chapter of the “Black Monday over the Ore Mountains” was written. The Museum is not only an unique collection of documents of the biggest war event of the vast Czech – German region of the Ore Mountains, but also helps to cover white spots in the history of WWII in Europe.
Additional and detailed information about the air battle can be obtained by visiting our Museum exhibition or in the “Black Monday over the Ore Mountains” publication. Currently 5th edition (2005), first edition was published in 1994.
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