By Simon C. Trew
Casting new mild on a debatable point of wartime British overseas coverage, this booklet lines the method in which the British specialists got here to supply their backing to Colonel Draza Mihailovic, chief of the non-Communist resistance circulation which emerged after the Axis invasion of Yugoslavia in April 1941. It additionally examines why British self assurance in Mihailovic used to be to that end eroded, to the purpose the place critical attention used to be given to moving help to his avowed enemies, the Communist-led Partisans.
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Extra resources for Britain, Mihailovic and the Chetniks, 1941-42
The document also emphasised the need for cooperation with the Yugoslav authorities. It is with this in mind that SOE's response to the news about Mihailovic should be interpreted, for it provides a strong rationale for the British reaction. When news about Mihailovic arrived, the attitude of SOE's sections in the Middle and Near East had already been formulated. This did not mean that it was monolithic and unchangeable, and the German invasion of the Soviet Union, which occurred after it was written, arguably gave greater leeway for restricted guerrilla warfare.
Alternatively, it is possible that the Russians were the first to learn of his activities, for at his trial in 1946 Mihailovic claimed that the first contact with the outside world was through the Soviet legation in Sofia. In any case, it is clear that he made attempts to establish links from an early stage. Mladen Zujovic, a senior Chetnik officer, later asserted that couriers were despatched with letters 'from the start', although only a few got through. 3 Unsuccessful attempts were also made to discover the location of at least one wireless set known to have been left behind by the British after the collapse.
Quite possibly the Soviet officers might have suffered a similar fate to Captain Hudson, the British officer who reached Mihailovic in October 1941 only to be largely unable to transmit information to his headquarters for six months. They might even have been murdered. But it is certain that an opportunity not only to clarify the situation in Yugoslavia, but to establish profitable cooperative procedures which could have yielded substantial results, was irrevocably lost. Within months the British and Soviets would have taken up opposing positions from which there was littie hope of achieving compromise.