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Black Monday (letecká bitva nad Kovářskou 1944)
name:Black Monday (letecká bitva nad Kovářskou 1944)
price:22,00 €
pcs on stock:0
color:light blue
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On this day in 1944, the peaks of the Ore Mountains were caressed by the late summer sun and the sky was periodically streaked by condensation trails of American heavy bombers, carrying their deadly loads to somewhere other than here. It was as if the countryside below was insignificant, and the war for its inhabitants was a distant affair, aside from the everpresent propaganda, occasional letters from the front or the dreaded telegrams informing of the fallen. The second September Monday was destined to change all that. This was a day that dictated that an incredibly intense meeting between the American 8th USAAF and the Luftwaffe would take place. Only a few minutes of vicious combat were all that was needed to claim over fifty aircraft from both sides.

On September 11th, 1944, the American 8th USAAF sent 1,131 four-engined B-17 and B-24 bombers to hit various German and occupied European targets under Mission No.623 requirements. Some of these were tasked with hitting targets in eastern areas of the Reich and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, and these included refineries in the German Ruhland. Hitting these was the responsibility of the 3rd Bomb Division, with assets made up of the 95th, 100th, 390th and 486th Bomb Groups.

Shortly after noon, the 100th Bomb Group, dubbed 'The Bloody Hundreth'††was jumped by a large group of II.(Sturm)/JG 4 Fw 190A-8/R2 interceptors. Fierce combat ensued that saw the destruction of several tens of aircraft on both sides. Within a few minutes, the Focke Wulf and Messerschmitt pilots took down a third of the American combat formation. This initial phase of the battle played out over those sunkissed peaks of the Ore Mountains. Most of the aircraft shot out of the sky that day hit the ground in the vicinity of Oberwiesenthal Ė Kovarska (Schmiedeberg) located along todayís Czech-German border. Just in the area of Kovarska alone, four B-17Gs impacted the earth. Some damaged aircraft turned and laid in a course for home, but, as fate would have it, the tragedy of that day was not yet at an end...

Soon, the battle was at its full intensity. The mountain forests were littered with the burning wrecks of B-17s and Fw 190s, and the sky was set on fire, dotted by white parachutes, when the fray was joined by 339th and 55th Fighter Group Mustangs. Only these ensured that the losses of the 'Bloody Hundreth', at the mercy of the armoured Fw 190s, werenít higher. In a matter of a couple of minutes, the hunters became the hunted. The combat between the fighters took place from eight kilometers up down to ground level and from the Czech border to the vicinity of Chemitz.... The 'Bloody Hundreth' could afford a light sigh of relief, and some of the damaged aircraft turned in a desperate attempt to make it back home, while the remainder of aircraft went on to their designated target that was only about twenty minutes away.

The battle also meant desperate events for the local inhabitants below. Burning wrecks with screaming engines rained down over the hills, forests and fields....the air was filled with the stench of combat.

As the wrecks in the Ore Mountains burned themselves out over that afternoon, those that had luck on their side made it back to their bases. The scars on the land and on so many lives would remain forever.

Today, we know that in this specific battle, over fifty aircraft were lost and eighty airmen of the 100th Bomb Group, Jagdgeschwader 4 and the 55th Fighter Group lost their lives.

Within several months, the Second World War came to an end, the wrecks of the aircraft began to succumb to vegetation where they lay and the events that occurred slowly drifted off into a distant memory. From the mid eighties, a group of local boys began to pay attention to this nearly forgotten moment in time with a youthful exuberance that would lead to the founding of the museum in Kovarska, the central location of the battle that bears its name. The museum was opened on September 13th, 1997 by veterans of the battle. After 53 years, former enemies met as colleagues and friends to open a new chapter surrounding Black Monday over the Ore Mountains together. Right from the start, the mission of the museum was, however unlikely, the meeting of the veterans of the battle and the relatives of both survivors and the fallen, to whatever extent research made possible. The mission also includes an attempt to define to the greatest extent possible the details of individual stories on both sides of the conflict, in an effort to complete the mosaic made up of its smallest, but significant, parts.

Despite its far-reaching effects, the Battle over the Ore Mountains on the afternoon of September 11th, 1944 was but one episode of the Second World War. It saw participants of men from two massive air armadas, and their determination, resolve and sacrifice should never be forgotten. Last, but not least, this event is worthy of being remembered because it is a part of struggle for our freedom.


text: ing. Jan Zdiarský




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