The event known as Black Monday occurred on September 6, 1943.

A bombing raid of Stuttgart, Germany resulted in severe American losses.

Hardest hit was the 8th Air Force.  Of the 18 bombers of Col. Karnezis'
388th Group only 7 returned.



[ National Archives reproduction abbreviated]


E&E  REPORT # 126


November 1, 1943



Demetrios A. Karnezis, 1st Lt, 0-735598                                                             MIA: 6 September1943
560 Bomb Squadron, 388 Bomb Group                                                               Arrived in UK:
AGE: 22 years                                                                                                                25 October 1943

LENGTH OF SERVICE: 1 7/12 years                                                                                 




                  PILOT                                                           1st Lt   Demetrios KARNEZIS                     NARRATOR
CO-PILOT                                                     2d Lt   John W GEORGE                             E&E RPT # 102
NAVIGATOR                                                 2d Lt   William J FRAZIER                           MIA  [Prisoner]
BOMBARDIER                                             2d Lt   RichaRD V LOVELESS                    MIA  [Prisoner]
RADIO OPERAT'OR                                     T/Sgt   Jean LAWRENCE                             MIA  [Dead]
TOP TURRET GUNNER [also ENGR]            T/Sgt   Arthur C GAY                                  MIA  [Prisoner]
BALL TURRET GUNNER                             S/Sgt   Alvin E MORRISON                         MIA  [Dead]
WAIST GUNNER                                           S/Sgt   Ashpy P SMITH                               MIA  [Dead]   
WAIST GUNNER                                           S/Sgt    R A SCHWABENBAUER               MIA  [Dead]       
TAIL GUNNER                                              S/Sgt   George L LlNCOLN                         MIA  [Dead]



            We left KNETTISHALL at 0530 hours, 6 September 1943, to bomb STUTTGART.  About an hour after leaving the target we were attacked by yellow-nosed FW 190's.  The attack was concentrated on the low squadron and low group.  The leader of the low squadron was knocked out of formation making us low aircraft except for the second element, which was very low.  Enemy concentration then was on low three and us.


            The first hit scored was a 20 mm burst in the accessory section below the pilot.  It knocked out the aileron and AFCE [Automatic Flight Control Equipment (Auto Pilot)].  We fell away from formation but the ship assumed its normal trim, appearing to be slightly wing-heavy due to a hit in the number four engine which was on emergency operation.  I started for deck because we were out of formation and another group of fighters had formed and were after us.  The elevator controls had been flown from the co-pi1ot's seat since the start of' the mission.



In formation we had flown at 21000 feet.  Soon after, leaving formation I checked the altimeter at 17000 feet and noticed the aileron on the co-pilot's side was still in operation.  It was too late to give full power and return to formation because the fighter attack was increasing.  I motioned the copilot to change seats with me.  To do this we disconnected oxygen, interphones, safety belts and these were never reconnected.  From the copilot's side I pulled the ship out of dive at 15000 feet as an evasion maneuver and changed the bank very steeply to the left, but the fighters, attacking from tail, scored hits in the cockpit, in the oxygen bottle behind the co-pilot's seat and in the hydraulic lines leading to the emergency brake levers.  The ship caught fire.



I pushed the nose of the aircraft down and motioned the co-pilot to leave. The bombardier, standing between the seats in the cockpit because he was out of ammunition, went to the nose escape-hatch and baled [sic out.  He was followed by the engineer.  I put on my chute, opened the bomb-bay doors turned on the emergency alarm bell and went through the accessory section to the escape batch.  The co-pilot was sitting in the doorway leading into the nose.  He said something which I couldn't hear but since I could see he was not in any trouble, and being slightly burned from the cockpit fire, I baled [sic] out.  The altimeter had read 11000 feet when I opened the bomb-bay doors. I delayed my jump.


            I saw three chutes below me when I left the aircraft.  There was a layer of cloud, which I judged to be at 3000 feet, obscuring the ground.  I pulled my ripcord as I entered the cloud and had about l500 feet to study the terrain before I landed.  The aircraft, in a spiraling diving turn, had passed within a hundred feet of me above the cloud.  The bomb-bay doors were still open, the ball-turret guns were down and I saw no one standing in the waist windows or trying to leave the plane.  After I got through the clouds the ship crashed and burned in a small village.




            My delayed jump was intentional.  Leaving the aircraft, I did not bother to count because I meant to pull the ripcord when I hit the clouds.  My position during the free fall was on my back with legs slightly pointed up in a jackknife.  I held my knees bent.  I had enough time to experiment and tried lifting one leg.  This threw me into a flat spin on my back but by lifting the opposite leg I killed the spin.  I did this once successfully and was trying it a second time when I reached the clouds in a violent spin and pulled the ripcord.  The spinning position of my body twisted the shroud lines of my chute all the way up to the silk.  By the time the lines returned to their normal attitude and the chute was in full use, I had fallen through the cloud.  Enough of the chute filled with air before the shroud lines twisted to give me the feeling of the fall having been broken; but it took several hundreds of feet for the chute to straighten out.  Too much of a delayed fall could be fatal if the parachutist is in a violent spin when opening the chute.




            Since there was no prevalent drift to my chute I could judge my point of landing.  Below me were open farmlands, sloping down in one direction toward a river, a railroad and a main highway.  There was a small village on the river.  I estimated this village to be three miles from my landing point.  At the top of the incline in the opposite direction from the village there was a wood and I decided when I hit the ground to run to it.


            I hit the ground feet first but the chest type chute held me in a backward-leaning position so that my buttocks caught the full shock of the fall.  My breath was knocked out and I felt a severe pain at the base of my spine.  It was two minutes before I could make a move to take off the chute.  I was dressed in Pinks, sweatshirt, flying coveralls, leather jacket (A-2 type), and winter flying boots.

            After getting to my feet I bundled the chute and harness and walked to a line of shrubbery between two open fields. Under a bush I hid the chute, May West, flying boots and throat microphone.  I did this in full view of a farmer who was working in a field about fifty yards away.  At no time did he show any sign of having seen anything unusual though two small staring children stood beside him.



        I walked over to him and with sign language and a few words, I asked if Germans were in the vicinity and how many.  He continued working but managed to make me understand that there were a few Germans about four miles away.  I pointed where I had hidden my clothing and trotted off toward the wooded area I had seen from the air.  When I reached cover I sat in a clump of weeds and shrubbery to rest and then realized that I felt stunned and my back still ached severely.  Up to the point of reaching this cover I could not have been on the ground. more than ten minutes.

        I rested for five minutes, listening for signs of commotion or search.  I felt convinced no unfriendly people had seen me fall because there was not a sign of activity in the section of fields where I landed.

        I walked deeper in the wood following paths which looked old and unused.  Wagon ruts were thick-grown with weeds.  I did not walk in any planned or straight direction but turned into paths which seemed more unused than others.  I knew by cobwebs and weeds that no one had been over these paths for some tine.


        After several hours I arrived on the opposite side of the wood.  In the open about 600 yards away I saw an isolated farmhouse.  The only person in sight was an old man working in a field near the house.  For five minutes I watched him.  I felt I could approach without being seen except by some one in the house and then struck out across the open field.  I knew he was watching me as I walked toward him but he continued working as if he hadn’t seen me and went on working after I spoke to him.  I asked about the ‘Boche’ and waived my hand as if pointing around the area.  He shook his head which I understood to mean there were no Germans in the vicinity.  I pointed to the house, stepped in that direction and he nodded his head as if it were a good idea for me to go there.  At no time while I was talking to him did he stop working.


        I walked to the house and without stopping to nock opened the kitchen door and stepped in.  The family was finishing a meal and was still seated at the table.  There was a woman standing by a sink and in another corner of the room there was a large table at which a number of people had just finished a meal.  I took all this in at a glance while the family stared at me with wonder.  Their acknowledgment of my nationality seemed immediate even though I attempted a few English words which I thought were similar in sound to French words.  They noticed my cuts and burns and then pushed me toward a chair without paying attention to what I was trying to say.  My cuts were cleansed with 'eau oxygénée' and then I was fed.  I still  felt shaky but ate something even though I was not hungry.  While I ate they sat staring at me in amazement, occasionally all breaking into chatter at the same time.  Once, a man took out a cigarette and when I pointed to it he gave one to me.

        After eating I walked to the window to see if there were any signs of activity or anyone approaching the house.  The fields were clear.  I felt I wanted to rest and, pulling the woman over to the window, I pointed to a barn and made signs to indicate I wanted to sleep there.  I was puzzled when she didn't seem to agree to this but soon I got the idea that they knew a better place for me to rest.




        The woman filled a sack with hay and put it in a car.  I crawled in under the sack and. we rode to a concealed hut in the wood.  The woman spread the hay on the floor and made a bed of it.  By pointing to the hour hand of my watch she let me know she would return at 2000 hours.  After she left I gathered up some of the hay and moved to a position about fifty yards from the hut where I could see anyone who might enter it.  I dozed restlessly all afternoon and, at the appointed time, when the woman had not returned I set out walking in the direction of the farmhouse.  About half-way there I met two people from the house.  They were on bicycles and were bringing .food.  They led me back with them and after a light supper I was put in a downstairs room.  A. heavy black-out was put on the windows and some of the family sat in the room with me.  We managed a long conversation with sign language.  One of my friends decided to give me a lesson in French and by working together we constructed a French-English dictionary of simple words.



        The next morning I was awakened early.  There were no civilian clothes for me yet.  I spent most of the day learning to speak French.  In the afternoon I was told that someone who could speak Eng1ish was coming to see me.  His English turned out to be four or five words which we couldn’t find any use for in our conversation but his ability at sign language was as good as mine and we got along well.  Before leaving he told me that another English-Speaking person would come to see me the next day.


        This person spoke excellent English and I learned that one officer had landed with a wounded leg and had been captured.  Some Frenchmen had tried to shelter him but he had been seen by a German patrol and his capture was unavoidable.  Two others, I was told, had been captured immediately upon laming.  One of them had tried to run and was shot in the arm before capture.  A fifth man had escaped and from what I was told I think he was Lt GEORGE who has returned to duty.  My informant stated only five chutes had been seen.  Three bodies were found in the plane and two near the wreckage.  An eighty-year old French woman had been killed when the plane crashed through her home.


        The English-speaking friend had brought civilian clothes for me.  I was told that on the following day some one would come to take me away.  From here the rest of my journey was arranged.

         Compiled By:                                                                                Approved By:
                 (signed)                                                                                      (signed)
      JOHN F WHITE, JR.                                                                     W S HOLT
               1st Lt,  AC                                                                                      Lt Col,  AC

[An encounter with a German officer in Paris en route back to England was resolved in favor of Col. Karnezis by the skillful and convincing use of his wits.  He arrived in England on a fishing boat from the Bretagne area of France.  Fifteen men of equal fate were stowed in the hold of the boat and were covered with heavy ropes and other fishing gear.  The hiding ordeal lasted five days before leaving France.  The experienced underground calculated the time of the least intrusive sea patrols.  Although boarded later by the German sea patrol, they were not discovered.  Col. Karnezis, through a small space in the ropes,  glimpsed a German's boots strutting on deck.


The book, To Kingdom Come, by Robert J. Mrazek is an intimate and unique account of the fateful event that became known as
"Black Monday."