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The Stowaway

There was one unexpected passenger among the rescued airmen on the August 10 evacuation flight from Galovica Field.

Mihailo Paunović was a Chetnik, assigned to help the rescued airmen. He became friendly with members of two crews that were shot down near Čačak, on June 6th. He was very close to Charles Davis, from Liberator No 42-52717, and Donald Smith, co-pilot on plane No 42-7757. When it became clear that evacuation was getting closer, and since the situation in Serbia became more difficult for the Chetniks, the rescued airmen invited Mihailo to come with them. They would smuggle him out, as one of the rescued airmen. Their plan was successful, and Mihailo managed to get on board and reach Italy safely. It took some time to discover that he had made the journey from Serbia. In the first OSS document that Yugoslav nationals that arrived in Italy he was not mentioned. After the war, Mihailo settled in the US.

But this story does not end there. In the early 1970s, Mihailo heard a familiar name on the radio, general Donald Smith was giving a speech near to his hometown. He thought that this might be his wartime friend, and contacted him by phone. They recognized each other immediately and were soon in tears. Photos: Charles Davis, Mihailo Paunovic and Donald Smith near Pranjani in 1944, and in the 1970s in the US


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