Halyard Mission Airfields (1) - Pranjani
Pranjani is the place most associated with Halyard mission. Clandestine airfield was constructed on the Galovića field, near village where airmen were hidden.
It was first used in early 1944, when British military missions landed with Westland Lysander planes, specialized for short takeoff and landing and special missions. On May 28/29, first major evacuation took place, when seven C-47 planes evacuated almost 140 rescued Airmen, Escaped prisoners and withdrawn members of British military missions.
For this mission, runway was extended and flattened, trees chopped so heavier transport planes could take off with as much as 30 persons on board. During spring and summer of 1944, more Airmen fell in Serbia on the Chetnik guerrillas territory. Their number steadily grew over 100, so it was decided to send special mission, codenamed Halyard, to rescue them. Pranjani airfield was used once again.
On first and largest evacuation on August 9/10, 16 C-47 planes evacuated 225 US and 6 British airmen. Additional 31 Russian, Italian and Polish escapees were evacuated, along with 6 man Yugoslav mission.
Further evacuations were on August 26/27, 27/28 and September 5/6, when 75 US airmen and 24 other nationalities were rescued. Under pressure of Tito's partisan forces, Chetniks had to withdrew shortly after. Overall, there were 5 major evacuations from Pranjani. More than 500 men (of whom 330 were US Airmen) were evacuated.
In remembrance of these events, Halyard mission foundation every years organizes commemorations on Galovića field and in Pranjani.