The Yugoslav Embassy to the Department of State


The instruction of the Yugoslav aviators in the United States coming to its completion, the War Department has suggested that these aviators should be tendered commissions in the American Air Force. It was further suggested that they be incorporated with the Ninth Air Force in the Middle East, operating as far as possible as a Yugoslav unit and having on their uniforms and on their planes the identification of Yugoslavia.

While having no objections to the proposed utilization of these aviators as part of the American Air Force in the Middle East, the Ambassador and the Military Attaché feel bound to express their [Page 1045]observations as to the suggestion that the Yugoslav aviators should accept commissions in the American Army.

This fact in itself may be very flattering for our aviators but the psychological and moral effect in the occupied country as well as in our Forces in the Middle East may be quite different. It may even leave the impression that by abandoning the Yugoslav Army to accept commissions in the American Army there are doubts about the revival of Yugoslavia. On the other hand the awareness of the fact by the Yugoslav people that a part of the free Yugoslav Army is again fighting with the great Allies would be of exceptional importance and value from a point of view of morale and would also serve to deepen even more the sentiments that the Yugoslavs have toward the great American nation. This would also remain as an evidence that the Allies generously and wholeheartedly prepared this part of the Yugoslav Army to be the first link with the fighting units of our Army which remained in the country.
There would also be legal difficulties in carrying out the proposal for the commissions since it would require a formal discharge by royal decree from the Yugoslav Army of all these men and the authorization for them to transfer to the American Army.
Such a procedure would be subject to the voluntary decision of all the men to accept commissions in the American Army. The Government has no legal right to influence the men to serve in the forces of an Allied Army because it is a personal constitutional right and duty of every Yugoslav citizen to serve in the Yugoslav Army.
Of the 42 men, 32 belong in the active service of the Regular Yugoslav Army, the other ten are reserves. All of them have acquired certain rights (promotions, pensions, etc.) which they will lose by their discharge from the active list in the Yugoslav Army. For all these reasons, even if our airmen would feel flattered and honored by this proposal, as they must be, but knowing their personal sentiments and scruples we presume that they will not be inclined to accept the commissions in the United States Army.
In the very first discussions held during the visit of His Majesty King Peter II of Yugoslavia to the United States and in all subsequent conversations, it was presumed, on our part, that our aviators would remain officers of the Yugoslav Army and after completion of their training would form a part of the American Air Force under American Command as a special Yugoslav unit.