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Old 21st July 2011, 21:23
tegbridges tegbridges is offline
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Dakota pilot, Yugoslavia, 1944


On July 20, 1944, my father and four other Allied escaped POWs were rescued from a Partisan-held area in Yugoslavia known as the Woods of Bosut. It was west of Belgrade, in Serbia, near the border with Bosnia. The SOE's Bari headquarters carried out the rescue.

I am writing a book about my father's WWII adventures -- Richard Bridges, a B-24 pilot, was shot down over Wiener Neustadt, Austria, on Oct 1, '43, became the first American prisoner of war in Hungary and eventually escaped from his POW camp in Yugoslavia.

I have gotten good information on the 1944 rescue in Yugoslavia from UK Archives. I have only a brief account of the rescue from my father before he died in 2003. The landing ground reception was organized by SOE Cpt. Basil Irwin, who is now dead. (I have an oral interview he gave to the Imperial War Museum.) It was Major Basil Davidson who alerted the SOE of the existence of my father's little band. I have Davidson's two books on his time with the Partisans. (Davidson died last year.)

I believe that the pilots were Aussies or South African and belonged to Squadron 267, a transport unit that operated out of Bari.

I know that the Dakota that rescued my father landed at night on a big meadow amidst the woods. My father, as a Liberator pilot, provided word to the SOE that the site met the RAF's specifications.

I'd love to talk to an old Dakota pilot who might have flown a similar mission or find an account by one who did. How exactly did they land the plane on a foreign landing strip at night without lights? Did they make the landing with instruments? What steps did they take to avoid the nearby trees? Were these landings relatively routine or did they make the pilots nervous as hell? I'd like to provide a description of what it would have been like for the pilot to land that Dakota in the Woods of Bosut.

Can anyone help?

For other parts of the book, I have received wonderful help during the past couple of years from several fellows who were also B-24 pilots in my father's bomb group (the 44th).

My private e-mail is tegbridges@gmail, if you prefer to write me there.

I am writing the rescue chapter now and would be grateful for any assistance.

Thanks, Tyler Bridges
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