brochure “Partizanski spomenik u Mostaru” (1980)
another document or proof of the memorial stone (e.g., a photograph).
Salih R. ISLAMOVIĆ
SALIH ISLAMOVIĆ, son of RAMO, born on March 30, 1910, in Prozor. A lieutenant in the Royal Yugoslav Army, a pilot (graduated in 1930), he completed the Air Force Noncommissioned Officer School, as well as pilot and fighter pilot schools. He lived in Mostar until the capitulation of Yugoslavia. With a group of NDH (Independent State of Croatia) airmen, he defected on June 9, 1942, from Rajlovac to Turkey, from where he moved to the Middle East, where he received additional training within the ranks of the Allied forces. He fought as a Yugoslav pilot in the British RAF until the formation of the Yugoslav Partisans Air Force (Vazduhoplovstvo NOVJ), when he joined the First Squadron of NOVJ. The squadron was established on April 22, 1944, in North Africa and was part of the 352nd RAF Squadron. Yugoslav pilots trained on Harvard aircraft and later on Hurricane MK II Cs. He died in an unfortunate accident during training on May 3, 1944, in Benina near Benghazi in Libya, colliding in mid-air with pilot Aleksandar N. Marković. He was buried at the military cemetery in Benghazi, Libya, at Location 3, Row A, Grave No. 16. His wife Selveta Islamović was arrested after his escape and sent to the concentration camp.
EXCERPT FROM LITERATURE:
“The good mood turned into genuine enthusiasm when our first two pilots sat in what were now our planes. Unfortunately, our enthusiasm was short-lived. Pilots Marković and Islamović, although experienced aerial fighters from the Middle East, performed several daring maneuvers after takeoff, but at one point, they collided and crashed to the ground. We were accustomed to the deaths of our comrades and aware of the fact that one could die in aviation without combat. However, this catastrophe left us with a painful impression: we had not even started flying, and already there were two heavy casualties.”
“We arrived in Benina late at night. The camp was prepared for us, and the tents were set up. Several hundred of our aviators who had earlier separated from the refugee government and chosen the Partisans welcomed us there. Among them were Mileta Protić, Ratko Jovanović, and Aleksandar Marković. We saw the lined-up ‘Hurricanes’ that we received from the allies. These were the planes on which our mechanics would paint the five-pointed stars and our tricolor flag. In the afternoon, we attended a gathering that was exceptionally well received by our new comrades, particularly enthused by our war songs. In the evening, we gathered in front of the tents and talked for a long time – we shared stories with them about many events from the National Liberation Struggle, and they shared stories with us about the manipulations of the refugee government and the king. The next day was a flying day, and after the usual preparations, the group of ‘Hurricanes’ took off, soaring above our heads in a low flight formation. Right before our eyes, an unfortunate event occurred: the group leader, Aleksandar Marković, collided with his wingman Salih Islamović, and due to their low altitude, there was no possibility for them to bail out. They were buried at the military cemetery in Benghazi, far from their beloved homeland. This accident deeply affected us.”
“The next day, we inspected the lined-up ‘Spitfires,’ the combat aircraft of our first squadron, whose birth was imminent. On May 3, our first trio took to the sky. With satisfaction and immense enthusiasm, we watched the harmonious maneuvers of formation flying. Captain Aleksandar Marković as the group leader, Lieutenant Salih Islamović, and Milan Srdanović as wingmen. They amazed us with their flying techniques. We were visibly excited. However, all it took was one fateful moment, and our breaths were taken away – the group leader, Marković, and his wingman, Islamović, collided during a formation change. Right before our eyes, two precious and irreplaceable lives were extinguished. Involuntarily, the thought came to us: Must every beginning be accompanied by the sacrifice of the best? Čajavec in 1942, the Livanj victims in 1943, and now this.”
http://www.rafcommands.com/archive/03955.php ; http://www.vojska.net/eng/world-war-2/yugoslavia/airforce/squadron/fighter/1/ ; https://otpisani.niceboard.com/t349-stvaranje-i-razvoj-vazduhoplovstva-novj-1942-1945 ; https://www.mycity-military.com/Drugi-svetski-rat/Stvaranje-i-razvoj-vazduhoplovstva-NOVJ-1942-1945.html ; grupa autora: Spomenica Mostara 1941-1945.; Predrag Pejcic: PRVA I DRUGA ESKADRILA NOVJ (znaci.org); Vazduhoplovstvo u narodnooslobodilačkom ratu Jugoslavije, izdanje komande ratnog vazduhoplovstva, Zemun 1965.
http://istorijskenovine.unilib.rs/view/index.html#panel:pp|issue:UB_00001_19300314|page:19|query:%D0%B8%D1%81%D0%BB%D0%B0%D0%BC%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%B8%D1%9B%20%D1%81%D0%B0%D0%BB%D0%B8%D1%85; https://wingsofserbia.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Savoia-Marchetti-SM.79-The-Yugoslav-Story-Sample-Pages.pdf ; Čekić, Smail (1996): Genocid nad Bošnjacima u Drugom svjetskom ratu.
Photo of the memorial plaque: S. Demirović.
We thank the Aviation Museum in Belgrade for the material provided.
We also thank the contributors from the Commonwealth War Cemeteries Commission for providing information which was not available at the time of accessing the website. According to the Commission: “Lieutenant Islamović served in the Yugoslav Air Force, which falls under the classification of foreign nationals, which we do not display on our website.”
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