Memorandum by the Assistant Chief of the Division of European Affairs (Hickerson) to the Under Secretary of State (Welles)

Mr. Welles: After his conversation with you this morning91 Mr. Fotitch called in Eu92 and in the course of his conversation again referred to the matter of the Yugoslav aviators.

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He thinks there will be some very real difficulty about separating these men from the Yugoslav army in order that they might legally accept commissions in the United States Army. He naturally has still more in mind the political import of having a “Yugoslav unit.” He also feels that if we are to oblige those officers to accept commissions in our army it would not be in accordance with the understanding reached a year ago, before the arrangements were made to bring these fliers to the United States for training. An excerpt from Mr. Fotitch’s memorandum for Colonel Donovan, dated August 11, 1942, which, Mr. Fotitch says, was the basis of this understanding, is attached.93

It has occurred to Eu that in conversations with the War Department we might suggest a formula by which these officers could be considered as on detached duty from the Yugoslav army and attached to the United States army; they would be subject to American regulations and discipline; have American equipment and even American uniforms, if necessary; but retain their respective ranks in their own army.

The practical inconveniences of all this are apparent. It surely was recognized from the beginning, however, that it was primarily a political and psychological project, and that the expense and trouble of transporting and training this handful of men could never at any time have been justified as a purely military transaction.

J[ohn] D. H[ickerson]
  1. See memorandum supra.
  2. Division of European Affairs.
  3. Not printed.