Essay Example on the Forgotten 500: The Greatest Rescue Mission of WWII

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1191 Words
Date:  2023-03-02

The Forgotten 500 is a book written by Gregory A. Freeman is a revelation of the previously untold story of the 500 airmen rescued from the Nazi pursuit during the second world war. It is the greatest rescue mission to have been successfully actualized during the events of the second world war. Reasons for concealing of these rescuing events being political. Associated governments, the United States of America, the British, and Yugoslav associated with the concealing of these events. Failure to identify and allocate relevant appreciation to the brave efforts of the soldiers involved in the rescue of the five hundred airmen trapped behind enemy lines all through the world war II.

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It is not rational to put political benefits over humanity and the desire possessed by various individuals to conserve sanity despite the political differences experienced at the time. The assumption behind this concealment presumably being these associated governments offering affiliation and military support to the associated nation. The national identity of the individual who sacrificed his life to assist in the rescue and escape mission. His efforts to keep their movements unknown to Nazis who were at that time performing extensive searches for these soldiers left behind in the Yugoslavian hills. It could then have been rational enough not to identify his efforts but that of the Americans who participated in ensuring the success of the rescue mission.

The Forgotten 500 reveals the details of this operation then titled Halyard that took place in the year 1944. As per the book, it attains the threshold of being labeled the greatest ever successful rescue mission on American soldiers, not taking account of the geographical location to which it took place. Events that led to the trapping of those soldiers were relative to the bombing attacks that left them vulnerable and not in the capability of offering enough resistance against the Nazi army. Efforts by local Serbian villagers who, despite the knowledge of the consequences of harboring those American soldiers, may be realized by the Nazi army related to intentional suicide. The Nazis then having taken Yugoslavia entirely under their jurisdiction and dominated surrounding fields. It is considering the period the Americans laid low in hiding with the dominance of the Nazis in that region.

It went on for several months with the hope of the realization of their survival and existence by the United States government and initiating relevant rescue procedures to the same. Information on this rescue mission then involved initiation without the notification of the Germans despite their established superiority in that region. The trapped soldiers then tasked with the creation of a landing strip. It was with no relevant tools in performing this task and without creating any suspicion to the Nazi soldiers. There then existed the risk that the detection of such activities would relatively endanger the lives of the Serbian villagers who had offered refuge to the American soldiers. Notice being allocated on time, and it also took to perform a complete rescue of all soldiers trapped and still going unidentified all that time.

It is a realization of the involvement of the American agency OSS which was the organization dealing with American intelligence during that time. The organization later changed its identity to the new Central Intelligence Agency. The root of being trapped then was the desire by recently graduated American airmen to participate in the war against the Germans. Trapped after the bombing, they then had to find ways to evade the frequent German patrols for the period post the bombing and before the rescue. They were sustaining themselves with the little that could be offered by the villagers - a significant concern that the American government knew about these events.

And the possibility of some of their soldiers requiring backup after such events. The rescue efforts initiated after such a long period in a war case scenario - response to such not being allocated military attention. The OSS agents involved then with the knowledge of such events commenced the plans to initiate this impossible rescue within enemy lines. The decision on the strategy to be actualized being unanimously on air means as the only way to access the hills unnoticed. The operation is planned initiation during the day, with the unknown specificity to the picking points constructed. Also, the planes to be used for their extraction were at risk of being attacked by the Germans. Working hand in hand with the Yugoslavian guerrilla, who is recorded to be later betrayed by his western allies.

Support to the book

According to Moore (2017), these are presentations by an individual who identifies to be one of the airmen rescued during this operation. That it was around the summer of 1944, August, to be precise that these events occurred, he describes the landscape of the location as being rugged with uneven distribution of the settlement structures of the natives. There was no knowledge of the precise location to which they were stranded. Their movements limited with the possibility of bumping into German patrols. The compactness of the group was then essential as that provided more survival chances in case of such an encounter.

They were then lucky enough to have landed in a Yugoslavian resistance group territory with the group's name titled Chetniks. Luckily, this group was sympathizers who were fighting against the Germans. They then aided the airmen's movements with the promise of guiding them to safety. With their extensive knowledge of the area and the safe points to which German jurisdiction was not well established. It was evident of the disgust the locals had against the Germans with all realized efforts to keep the airmen out of the notice by the frequent German patrols. The Chetniks then offered weapons to the airmen not armed after landing, but luckily, they did not get to use those weapons.

Thesis by Barnes illustrates the development of the OSS and their relative additions to the advances against the Germans. Evidence availed of their activities in Yugoslavia with the use of weather forecasters. Who would provide desired to advise to airmen on the right time frames to initiate activities with the favourability of the weather conditions at those given times? The important role that they then play in this establishment. It offers history on the American involvement in the war against the Germans. The use of the air force in attacks aimed against the Germans and their equivalent counters (Hoffmann, 389-396). Information on escapes and evasion instances recorded during this period. Availability of the opportunity to utilize knowledge on their opponents to their benefit.


Freeman, G.A., "the Forgotten 500: The untold story of the men who risked all for the greatest rescue mission of World War II"

Moore, R.P., "One Mission to Ploesti: A world war II adventure of an airman's escape and rescue." Dog Ear Publishing, (2017)

Barnes, B.D. "The Dawn of SOWT: OSS Weathermen in the Balkans, 1944".

Hoffmann, G., "Quellenverzeichnis und Bibliografie." Fliegerlynchjustiz, (2015), 387-417

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