read online epub The Forgotten 500: The Untold Story of the Men Who Risked All For the Greatest Rescue Mission of World War IIAuthor Gregory A. Freeman –

Fab must read As another reviewer said this is a nonfiction book that reads like a novel Suspenseful, uplifting real life storyWhy is there not a movie about Operation Halyard I m afraid I m going to have to burst a lot of bubbles with this review, because I know a lot of people really enjoyed this book To be fair, the storytelling style is really gripping and chock full of well told war stories I love war stories, especially when they re true Problem is, this book is FULL of historical errors major and minor The only reason I know is because I m writing an article on Operation Halyard, and have talked to some of the veterans involved, including Tom Oliver and George Vujnovich They tell me that one of Freeman s major sources, Felman the airman who appears in the book a lot, was a habitual liar and constantly embroidered accounts of the things he witnessed He was only there barely a couple of months, yet he comes across as though he were the leader of the airmen The one airman I talked to never even met Felman while there, and they were both there at the same time and were evacuated within days of each other An example of an error Freeman claims that Halyard was the largest rescue of downed American airmen WRONG There was a much bigger one that happened outside Bucharest in August, 1944 that got 1100 airmen out in three days Also, Freeman suggests that the airmen participated in building the airstrip near Pranjani Wrong again The Serb villagers and the Chetniks soldiers did all the work Another one Freeman states that the first slang coded message sent by the airmen included the latitude and longitude of their location along with a serial number Wrong again the airmen sent that info at the request of the 15th Air Force after the Air Force made their first response And so on, and so on It s pretty sad that though the jacket copy trumpets Greg Freeman s 20 years of work as a journalist, he did a really sloppy job Not only that, but it was really obvious that his real intention is not to tell the story of Operation Halyard, but to rehabilitate the reputation of Gen Mihailovich What was funny was that when I looked at the OSS original operational records for Operation Halyard, there was one document from the Air Force that expressed concern that Mihailovich might be using the airmen he rescued as exhibits to prove his loyalty and friendliness to the Allies to get back in their good graces Freeman s whitewash job which totally ignores evidence that Mihailovich really did collaborate with Axis forces makes you really wonder if it was true The last word is this good yarn, sloppy history. InThe OSS Set Out To Recover ThanAirmen Trapped And Sheltered For Months By Villagers Behind Enemy Lines In Yugoslavia Classified For Over Half A Century For Political Reasons, This Is The Full Account Of Operation Halyard, A Story Of Loyalty, Self Sacrifice, And Bravery Just when I thought I knew all of the major aspects of WWII, along comes a book that shatters all those illusions The Forgotten 500 is an amazing story of 500 airmen who came down in the mountains of Yugoslavia and how they are saved from starvation and capture by the rugged Serb freedom fighters And to that extent, I ve read books like this before But the back story is filled with twists and turns that include espionage, lovers escaping to freedom, political wrangling between the US and our allies, Communist moles and a coverup that took 50 years to come to light Gregory Freeman does an incredible job documenting the major players in this epic saga that no one today seems to know about Churchill calls this episode his greatest mistake during WWII A mistake not just on his part that led to tragic consequences for heroes, resistance fighters and for entire nations Note the book really takes off after chapter 7, so if you decide to read this, hold your judgment until at least then. Audio 59I knew nothing of this secret mission I had never heard of the save from Yugoslavia This was very impressive. Whilst this is a good yarn and provides some interesting back stories I felt it lacked substance The book descends into Brit and communist bashing where some of the facts are tenuous and at best circumstantial Following my own further research of the subject it s clear the author had been somewhat lax on his grip of the facts generally and totally ignores evidence that Mihailovich really did collaborate with Axis forces A good tale ruined by factual errors and a political agenda. If you are a WWII buff this is a must read The incredible, untold story of the rescue of over 500 US and Allied pilots from Yugoslavia over just a few weeks Many personal stories and the heroism of the Yugoslav primarily Serbs people and how they gave us their food and shelter to feed and house these fliers An important part of this book is the role of Communists in the US and British Armies and the OSS and British Secret Service and how they influenced the relationship between the US, Great Britian and Yugoslavia It was their influence that allowed the US and British governments to support Tito and his communists that led to his eventual rise as the head of post war Yugoslavia Very enlightening and somewhat frustrating at the role these moles played And, what is really frustrating is that it was know they were communists, but the enemy at the time was facists Germany and Italy. This is based upon the audio download from by Patrick LawlorWow, this is another example of why these men are known as the greatest generation This book was non stop action that script writers could only hope to come up with.Kudos to Patrick Lawlor in his narration I also enjoyed him in another worthy read listen The Colony The Harrowing True Story of the Exiles of Molokai He is quickly becoming another of my favorite readers This is the story of downed pilots in Yugoslavia and their life with the Yugoslav peasants as they helped to hide these airmen from the Germans Simultaneously, the story of the internal struggle for power in Yugoslavia between Tito and Mihailovich was played out along with the Allies analysis of which of these two was their greatest ally Even though Mihailovich was the one who was responsible for assisting in the rescue of these men, history shows that the Allies threw their support to the communist Tito helping communism gain a foothold in Eastern Europe that would lastthan 40 years.I was surprised to learn of the way the British intentionally or not sabotaged the American efforts to rescue their men This information was jaw dropping In the end, Mihailovich was abandoned and not acknowledged by America for nearly 60 years On Veteran s Day in 1979, Ronald Reagan wrote of Mihailovich, I wish it could be said that this great hero was the last victim of confused and senseless policies of western governments in dealing with Communism Thus, the fate of General Mihailovich is not simply of historic significance it teaches us something today, as well No western nation, including the United States, can hope to win its own battle for freedom and survival by sacrificing brave comrades to the politics of international expediency He further stated, .it has been demonstrated beyond doubt that both freedom and honor suffer when firm commitments become sacrificed to false hopes of appeasing aggressors by abandoning friends Words that still have meaning today. I live in Serbia so everything in this book was familiar to me I found it light reading that neither taxed nor insulted my intelligence.Today, between Italy and Greece, there s a series of sovereign nations Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Kosovo But back in 1941, it was all one country called Yugoslavia The Nazis invaded and conquered Yugoslavia and divided it up between themselves and their Axis partners Within Occupied Yugoslavia there were two distinct resistance movements the Partisans and the Chetniks.The Partisans were Communist and sought to remake Yugoslavia in the image of the Soviet Union The Chetniks were exclusively Serb and sought to re establish the status quo, in which they were the boss most of the time.In addition to fighting the Axis, the Partisans and Chetniks also fought each other Initially, the Allies began supplying the Chetniks with arms but gradually switched the bulk of their support to the Partisans, whom they judged to beeffective.Despite being dumped, the Chetniks went out of their way to rescue Allied airmen shot down on their way to bomb oil refineries in neighboring Romania By the summer of 44 there were over 500 of these, mostly American The OSS precursor to the CIA devised a plan to rescue them, over the objections of the British, who didn t wish to antagonize the Partisans The Chetniks and airmen made, by hand, a landing strip in the middle of the Serbian mountains for transport planes to land and pick up the soldiers Amazingly, it worked Yet this story is not well known, for various reasons This book seeks to clarify those reasons and set the record straight about the Chetniks.Overall, this history is well written, although repetitive in some parts It also gets a lot of Serbian phrases wrong, which is weird because it gets all the Italian ones right one of the rescued airmen was Italian American Also, since this isn t meant to be a scholarly tome, I didn t like it when the author presumes to record what s going in the mind of a subject, switching to first person If you re recording another s actual thoughts, just put quotations around the damn thing.What I did like about this book, though, is what I ll call its Game of Thrones approach It hops from person to person, revealing a littleof the overall story through each It s an excellent approach to organization and since I m writing an historical novel these days years , it gives me ideas.I m not sure how much the general reader or WWII fan will like this I dug it mostly because I know everything the book is talking about, and have even been to the area where it takes place The mountainous region of Serbia is indeed isolated One visit and it s easy to imagine resistance fighters hiding by the thousands.To be sure, the Chetniks were not angels Neither were the Partisans Nor, for that matter, were the Allies in their dealings with them But just because a group of men often do bad things doesn t mean they re incapable of doing a good thing The Chetniks put themselves at great risk hiding the downed airmen, and got nothing for it in the end At the end of the war, the Partisans were triumphant thanks to the Allies and the Chetniks were executed But in the testimonies recorded in this book, you re confronted by nothing but sincere gratitude on the part of the rescued airmen for the men who saved them, a passionate gratitude that has lasted all their lives. The subject matter of this book is very interesting and certainly worthy of learning about However, I found this author to be maddeningly juvenile in his style of writing I felt like he was writing to four year olds.After only a few pages, the author mentioned the first Ploesti raid from North Africa and said it was a high level raid, and that the subsequent raids on Ploesti were low level raids from Italy I read the book, Ploesti, some years ago which described that first raid in detail As I remember, after all of the difficulties and miscommunications, the B 24s attacked the oil fields from the north at dangerously low levels and suffered mightily for it.Another faux pas I noticed early on was that the author stated that the bombers attacking the oil fields of Ploesti flew west look it up to reach the oilfields It was then that the author s credibility waned quickly My thought was, This guy doesn t know what he is talking about At one point he describes the U.S OSS as a bastion of effete academics and communists, which may or may not have been true, but which was served up so blithely and without historical context the Soviets were our allies at the time, after all, and communism wasn t quite the dirty word in the 1930s and early 1940s that it is today that it made me wonder if I was reading the work of a right wing ideologue using 70 year old history to advance amodern, anti intellectual frame for blaming the Cold War on liberals I wonder if author ever consulted a map or is aware of the fact that North is up on maps So, the north of Yugoslavia he constantly refers to would put happenings in Slovenia or northern parts of Croatia not in Serbia, east to southeast part of Yugoslavia where it actually happened Military forces and factions operating in Yugoslavia are misplaced all over the place So, author puts Croatian ustashe in Serbian Belgrade of all places This is hilarious actually Wrong airplane descriptions and how turrets operate Unnecessary and invented reflections of airmen while suspended under canopy Anyone who ever tried to jump out of an airplane, even worse bail out, knows that things are happening so fast and are so intensive that one simply goes into automatic mode of saving life not contemplating nature and political questions while ground and 50 50 chance of braking limbs or dying are coming at you very fast During WWII the largest free territory in all occupied countries in Europe was in Tito s partisans hands stretching over large parts of Yugoslavia There was even Allied airfield from which British Spitfires operated on island of Vis Again, taking a look at the map would reveal a fact that all those airmen could have simply marched over to Tito s forces and would be out of Yugoslavia quickly That is if Mihalovich would allow them or transfer them to Tito s forces instead of using them as bargaining chips with Allies The book constantly treats readers as idiots trying to revision history by claiming that author knows facts better than British or American military of that time and all this by quoting pro chetnik sources exclusively This simply kills the joy and fun of reading about one spectacular operation If he stuck andthoroughly researched technical and military aspects of the operation instead of writing political pamphlet it could have been a good book There are manyissues in the book like Mihailovich collaborating with Nazis against partisans, not quoting relevant and official military sources of that time, claiming that all the Serbs were chetniks,etc., etc., taking sides and making arguments instead of giving us facts and letting the reader be a judge and draw conclusions.There are a number of other little errors, like the fact that the ball turret on the underside of a B 17 did not have hand cranked controls, there was no side hatch on a B 24 people bailed out through the bomb bay doors , etc He also claims that Halyard was the biggest air rescue of the war Wrong There was a airlift of 1100 airmen from an airport near Bucharest in August, 1944 that happened in THREE DAYS, under mortar fire no less The jacket copy I remember seeing hailed Freeman as having 20 years of experience as a journalist Geez, what kind of journalist