Craughwell, Thomas J. Great Rescues of World War II: Stories of Adventure, Daring and Sacrifice (Pier 9, 2009).
World War II gave rise to some of history's most gripping stories of courage and heroism. Some of the rescues recounted here involve 'the greatest generation', the soldiers, sailors and airmen who risked all for their brothers and sisters in arms; others concern civilians who hid Jews in their homes or helped Allied soldiers trapped behind enemy lines. And there are deeply personal stories, too, such as Lucie Aubrac's audacious plan to liberate her husband from a Gestapo prison. Common to all - the deep reserves of courage and humanity that led ordinary men and women to risk, and even sacrifice, their lives in order to rescue those in mortal danger. Key points: written in an engaging, accessible, lively tone; the text can be dipped into, or read at one sitting; divided into two parts, moving from the European theatre to the war in Asia, the book presents 24 audacious true stories; beautifully presented with contemporary photographs to support the text. Draza Mihailovich's story is one of the featured stories.
Freeman, Gregory A. The Forgotten 500: The Untold Story of the Men Who Risked All for the Greatest Rescue Mission of World War II (NAL, 2007).
Bombing of the Ploiesti, Romania, oil refineries, a key German resource, started in 1942. Allied pilots sustaining damage frequently bailed out over Serbia in German-occupied Yugoslavia, where the resistance and others hid them. By 1944, more than 500 were stranded and slowly starving. The OSS concocted the daring Operation Halyard to airlift them, but they had to construct a landing strip without tools and without alerting the Germans or endangering local villagers, and then the rescuers had to avoid being shot down themselves. The operation's story is an exciting tale, but it was kept from general knowledge for decades; the resistance leader most responsible was a rival to Tito. Nazi-baited by a Stalinist mole in British intelligence, he was executed in 1946 with the consent of Britain and America, which thereafter refused to acknowledge having been snookered (the State Department kept many details classified more than 50 years). Evoking the rescuees' successive desperation, wild hope, and joy, and their gratitude to the Serbians who risked their lives to help, Freeman produces a breathtaking popular account. (Freida Murray for Booklist)
Tabori, Paul. The Ragged Guard: A Tale of 1941 (London, Hodder & Stoughton Limited,1942) and reprint (Digit Books, Watson, Brown. London, UK. 1958).
In August, 1942, The Ragged Guard: A Tale of 1941, a novel on Draza Mihailovich by Hungarian-born British author and journalist Paul Tabori, was published in London. The novel was a fictionalized account of the guerrilla resistance movement led by Draza Mihailovich in German-occupied Yugoslavia during the crucial year of 1941.
The plot of the novel centers around Major Stephen Barrett, a British Intelligence Service agent, who is sent to Yugoslavia in the weeks before the German invasion of Yugoslavia on April 6, 1941. He was assisted by Patrick “Paddy” Oliver Flaherty, an Irish-American who was a newspaperman and represented a U.S. chain of newspapers in Central Europe. This was his cover. He was in fact an American intelligence agent of the G-2 Branch of the American General Staff.
Operation Halyard was the largest Allied airlift operation behind enemy lines, of over 500 Allied airmen downed over Nazi occupied Serbia by Serbian Chetnikguerrillas, led by General Dragoljub Mihailović, with the assistance of American Office of Strategic Services (OSS) liaison officers. Most of the airmen had been shot down during numerous bombing runs, most of which were on their way from Italy to bomb German occupied oil fields in Romania. They were not captured, but instead practiced escape and evade until coming into contact with the Chetniks.
This operation took place between August and December 1944 from a crudely constructed airfield created by Serbian peasants in Pranjane, Serbia. It is little known today, and largely unknown to most Americans. It is the subject of the 2007 book The Forgotten 500: The Untold Story of the Men Who Risked All For the Greatest Rescue Mission of World War II, by author Gregory A. Freeman. In his book, he describes it as one of the greatest rescue stories ever told. It tells the story of how the airmen were downed in a country they knew nothing about, and how the Serbian villagers were willing to sacrifice their own lives to save the lives of the air crews.
The OSS planned an elaborate rescue involving C-47 cargo planes landing in enemy territory. It was an extremely risky project, involving the planes not only entering enemy territory without being shot down themselves, but also landing, picking up the downed airmen, then taking off and flying out of that same territory, again without being shot down themselves. The rescue was a complete success, but received little to no publicity. Part of this was due to the timing, and the world being focused on the D-Day operations in France.
Because of this operation, and due to the efforts of Major Richard Felman, U.S. President Harry S. Truman posthumously awarded General Mihailović the Legion of Merit award for his contribution to the Allied victory during World War II. The award was presented to Mihailović's daughter Gordana by the U.S. State Department on May 9, 2005.
For the first time in history, this high award and the story of the rescue was classified secret by the U.S. State Department so as not to offend the then Communist government of Yugoslavia. Such a display of appreciation for the Chetniks would not have been welcome as the Allies switched sides to Josip Broz Tito's Partisans during the war.
On September 12, 2004, four American veterans, Clare Musgrove, Art Jiblian, George Vujnovich and Robert Wilson visited Pranjani again for the unveiling of a commemorative plaque at the Pranjani airfield.