Halyard Mission Airfields (4)
The Halyard rescue mission used three airfields for the evacuations, all of which have been discussed in earlier entries on our website. However, it is not widely known that one more airfield was constructed, but never used. After leaving Boljanić in early November 1944, the Halyard mission continued to search for downed airmen. That brought them to the Nišići plateau, north of Sarajevo. Weather was bad, and there were not many downed airmen left with the Chetniks, so it was decided to evacuate the Halyard mission.
On November 10, Captain Nick Lalich reported that he had found a suitable landing field near Nišići. For the next two days, 100 Chetniks worked on widening and clearing the field. Snow and low temperature froze the ground solid. It seemed like planes would land there soon.
Unfortunately, there was a big problem. Due to the high altitude of the Nišići plateau (more than 1000 meters), and short runway (only 630 meters), George Kraigher, an experienced pilot and head of the Air Crew Rescue Unit (ACRU), concluded it was not safe for landing. So Nišići airfield was prepared, but never used. The Halyard mission continued its journey for another 6 weeks. It should also be noted that even after the withdrawal of the Halyard Mission, the ACRU continued to work on rescuing Allied airmen from Chetnik territory. They tried to organize with Partisans, using a radio link, safe passage for downed airmen to Allied missions.