D-Day (part 1) - Žagubica

June 6th is best known as  D-day - the Allied landing in Normandy. But it was also very important for the Halyard Mission. On this day, six American aircraft crashed in Serbia. A total of 63 airmen were rescued by Chetniks while only 4 airmen were killed or captured. This is the largest number of airmen rescued in Serbia in a single day. Liberator No 42-109818 from the 98 Bomb Group was attacked by enemy fighters during the return from a mission to Ploesti. One airmen was killed, two engines were damaged and set on fire. The pilot ordered the crew to bail out, while at the same time trying to put out the engine fires. To his surprise, the fires died and the aircraft managed to return to Italy on two engines. But not before five airmen bailed out:

Robert Vlachos Rueben Staub Benedict Mazzara Glenn Mitchell Richard Martin Robert Vlachos landed in Romania and was assisted by local citizens to cross the Danube and make contact with Chetniks. After the war, Vlachos testified before the Committee for Fair trial of Draža Mihailović.  The other airmen parachuted a few minutes later, in the vicinity of Žagubica, Serbia. They soon met another crew that bailed out near them. The second Liberator, 42-78075, was also attacked by enemy aircraft, and the crew bailed out after crossing the Danube river.  Everett Estep John Honsinger Milton Friend Chester Beyer Harold Ripper Arthur Zion John Scharnitzky Santo Pensabena Calvert Baumann Edward Dunn One of the airmen, Frank Files, was killed when he hit the tail while exiting the aircraft.  These 15 airmen were joined by four British airmen, who were shot down on May 8th, during a mission to mine the Danube river. In mid-July, they were taken to Pranjani airfield, from where they were evacuated on August 10. Pilot Everett Estep was injured, and he was evacuated later, on August 27th. Milton Friend came to Serbia in 2010 and testified during the court process of rehabilitation of Draža Mihailović.

Images:

Milton Friend with chetniks in Yugoslavia

Plane 42-78085 during flight

Rescued airmen testified before the Committee for a Fair trial of Draža Mihailović




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