RAF Shinfield Park

Headquarters Flying Training Command 

(27th May 1940 - 1st June 1968)

Colonel Demetrios Karnezis

Alan Causon sent this email message on Mar 14th, 2020

Hello Andre, 

I thought that you would be interested in this Email I received from Alec Karnezis whose father Col. Demetrios Karnezis of the American Air Force was attached during my time to R.A.F. Shinfield Park as a Liaison Officer. 

I knew Col. Karnezis very well as he was working in the Air Staff Branch. In consequence I used to visit his Office several time a day. If you put his name on the Internet it will make for some very interesting  reading. He had a wonderful Career Record and I am sure that you will be able to make use of it for your Website. 

I managed to locate the Telephone No. of his son  Alec who lives in Sacramento , California and had a long conversation with him this afternoon An email from Alec is reproduced below. Col. Karnezis died at the age of 98 in February of this year as a result of falling down in his Kitchen and breaking his leg which according to Alec was successfully operated on but that an ulcer became infected and that his Heart and Kidneys could not stand the strain and he passed away within a few days. Apparently he was still driving up to the time of his fall which I think is incredible considering his home was in America which we associate with fast driving.

Kind regards

Alan

The following email had been received from Demetrios’ son Alec on Mar 12th, 2020

Alan,

I hope you are still out there.  I was connected to some comments you wrote via a historian in France, Arnaud Prudhomme.  I was so moved by what you wrote I decided to have it as the first page of a Power Point Memorial I am putting together for my Father Col. Jim Karnezis who passed away Feb. 5, 2020.  Here are your very respectful comments.

“As a young man of 19 years of age in 1957/58 who was serving in the Royal Air Force as a Clerk at the Headquarters of Flying Training Command at Reading, Berkshire, England I had the honour to have known Col. Karnezis and found him to be a most affable gentleman. Whenever I entered his Office which he shared with Wing Commander Bernard J. Jennings who was “One of the Few” I never realized how brave these 2 Officers had been. They always greeted me with a broad grin and always with a word of thanks.  When I read the details relating to Col. Karnezis it brings tears to my eyes when I think of his effort to retain our “Freedom”.  It is a great pity that the young people of Great Britian overall are not made of the same “Stuff” as so many of the young men who gave their lives and those who still live to tell the Tale.  The two Officers were marvelous men and not to be forgotten.”

Below is a recent 5 page letter from the Mayor of a small French village Champigny sur Yonne, about 60 miles southeast of Paris.  It is between the towns of Montereau and Sens on the Yonne River.  This is where my Dad’s B17 crashed on Sept. 6, 1943.  The letter is impressive.

I was 3 to 5 years old at Shinfield Park.  We lived at 13 Pattenson lane, down the slope from the base.  I learned British English there and have great memories playing with my English mates.

In the 5th page of the French letter, I am wearing a blue shirt and tie.

Respectfully,  

Alec Karnezis 

Alec sent this further email on April 11th, 2020

This is a bit of a long shot.  I was born in 1955 at Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, Georgia USA.  My father Jim Karnezis was a career United States Air Force Officer who had trained pilots since 1944 after he was shot down flying a B-17 to Stuttgart, Germany from England in 1943 and escaped.  In 1958 when I was 3 years old my Dad transferred to RAF Shinfield Park on an exchange program.  We lived on the base at 13 Pattinson Rd. until 1960 when we moved back to the USA, San Antonio Texas, Lackland AFB.

While in England as a "titch" I received an excellent beginning education!  At 5 years old in 1960 I was reading "Wind in the Willows", had read all the Noddy books and could add, subtract etc.  When I came to Texas in Sept. 1960 I was at least a year ahead in ability to most of the other kids in First Grade. I will never forget the difference in education and have been eternally great full for having got my start in England.

The little country school that I attended in England was a simple spartan school (see pic below) and my teacher was a lady of no nonsense.  We didn't play with crayons, just learned the basics. Attached is my class photo, that is me at the bottom left.  I was hoping to find out what was the name of that primary school and where it was located.  Maybe it was on the RAF Base.  I think it was south of where we lived, down a country lane toward Shinfield perhaps.  I have searched google maps and wandered down the streets, to no avail   Perhaps it was torn down for the M4 highway.

Please pass this on to whoever you wish, provided they are not a salesman.  My parents have passed on, so unfortunately they cannot help me.

Thanks,

Alec Karnezis

Fair Oaks, CA

USA

1960 class photo Shinfield Park

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Letter from the Mayor of Champigny sur Yonne

Alec (clipped from school photo)

Shinfield Primary School

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© Andre Francis 2020