huttle missions over Soviet-controlled territory from Italy and the UK were issued blood
chits and language aids in English, Russian, and Eastern European languages. Red Army
troops were notorious for being trigger-happy and would often shoot first and then
check for identification later. An excerpt from an intelligence briefing cautioned that
crews should "be familiar in a general way with the front lines," carry an identification
card, and "try to memorize some phrases of Russian." To aid in their identification,
some crews were issued arm bands showing the American flag, similar to those used
by American troops in the Normandy invasion.

"If down in [a] zone of operations of the Red Army," a mission briefer was instructed
to state, "do not arouse suspicion of Red Army troops by any overt action, do not
attempt concealment, and do NOT bear arms in your hands. Raise your hands on the
approach of Red Army troops. Indicate or display your identification card."

Prompt Payment Required

A vital factor in the World War II blood chit program was prompt payment when chits
were presented by indigenous personnel and their stories authenticated. The awards at
first varied among the war theaters and their commanders. Payment of $50 in
equivalent local currency for each bona fide chit was eventually established as standard
payment for France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Norway, New Guinea, and the
Philippines. For reasons not explained, the standard payment in the CBI, Greece, and
North Africa was a $100 equivalent.

These payments were in addition to expenses incurred for lodging, food, and
transportation of downed airmen. Payments were made by Allied occupying forces in
Money Bags

There was no better incentive to provide help than for a downed crewman to produce
some currency or coins on the spot. Small pouches containing paper money and silver
and gold coins were issued before each mission to American, Australian, and Dutch
airmen operating over the Netherlands East Indies. They were to be opened only when
the user was forced down and needed the contents to gain assistance and reward his

Other NEI kits contained blood chits, glossaries, letters to village chieftains, and
promissory notes to be filled in by the airman with name, rank, serial number, and
description of the assistance he received. In areas where money was not used, barter
kits were provided that contained small objects like pearl buttons, razor blades, twist
tobacco, safety pins, and plastic trinkets. Emergency Currency Certificates, called
"guerrilla currency," promising payment when the war was over, were among the
currencies included in survival kits for operations in the Philippines.

Evasion kits issued to Army Air Forces and Navy crews in the Pacific became more
sophisticated as the war progressed. Robert S. McCarter, a P-51 pilot in Fifth Air Force
recalled: "The escape kit was carried only on long missions and was given back to the
personal equipment officer afterwards. I first used the kit in early 1945 when we were
based in Luzon. This was for missions to Hong Kong or to Formosa. ...

"The kit contained a silk blood chit with the American flag and another silk chit with the
Chinese flag. There were three paper items: one is a picture of a downed flier facing a
Chinese coolie and showing his open flight jacket with the chit of the American flag;
another shows the insignia of the Fifth, Thirteenth, and CBI air forces surrounding a
paragraph written in Chinese; the third is a typewritten sheet of 10 questions in English

A Debt Is Owed

When Chennault became an advisor to
China’s air force in 1937, foreign pilots
were issued the rescue patches called "hu
chao." They bore the Chinese Nationalist
flag, the chop of the Chinese air force
headquarters, and Chinese lettering that
read: "This foreign person has come to
China to help in the war effort. Soldiers
and civilians, one and all, should rescue,
protect, and provide him medical care,"
implying that a debt was owed to anyone
who helped save an Allied airman from
capture by the Japanese. The rescue patches issued to the Americans in the Flying
Tigers in 1941 were identical except that the chop was that of the Chinese aeronautical

Robert E. Baldwin and Thomas W. McGarry, authors of the book Last Hope: The
Blood Chit Story, noted that the lack of literacy among much of China’s rural
population often presented a problem in reading the Chinese characters. Ken Jernstedt,
former Flying Tigers member, noted that the majority of the peasants were illiterate,
and the residents of the next valley over the mountains from Kunming were not even
aware of the existence of oceans, let alone what an American or Japanese person
looked like.

(Baldwin is the director of the International Blood Chit Museum in Berkeley, Calif.,
dedicated to "the preservation of the artifacts and documentary history of the Escape
and Evasion efforts of the United States, Britain, and the Commonwealth nations."
Baldwin provides consultation and lends escape and evasion artifacts to other museums
for temporary exhibit.)

The realization of the need for more detailed communication between downed airmen
and native peoples led to the publication of small Pointie Talkie booklets. These were
first made by US and British escape and evasion agencies in Asia.

Printed in English and the languages most likely to be needed, phrases, questions, and
answers were listed side by side in both languages so an airman could point to a
assist a downed flier. In the early days of World War II, the British routinely issued
blood chits to their aircrews, including several types in 1940 to fliers in Ethiopia. When
the US entered the war, the American air services adopted the practice and they were
eventually issued in all theaters of combat operations by all the western Allies. Blood
chits were duly honored and the helpers were rewarded with money or gifts. Later,
chits were printed in nearly 50 languages, including many European, North African, and
Asian tongues. Not all of them contained the same statements, but all were bona fide
government IOUs promising to reward those who assisted Allied airmen.

The concept of using chits did not originate with Chennault’s units in China. Royal Air
Force units serving in India and Mesopotamia during and after World War I were the
first to use them in a systematic way. Originally called "ransom notes," these were
cards or certificates given to pilots and observers. They were written in Urdu, Farsi,
Pashto, Arabic, and other local languages. They were sometimes handwritten and
promised considerable monetary rewards for the safe return of airmen to the nearest
British outpost. Blood chits were often issued along with phrase cards containing short
phonetic or written Arabic phrases. All legitimate chits presented for reward were
promptly paid in cash or "in kind."
In many languages and various forms—jacket
patches, cards, letters—they were official IOUs
to those who helped downed fliers.

Remember those photos of Lt. Gen. Claire L.
Chennault’s Flying Tigers, having cloth patches
depicting the Chinese flag and some Chinese
lettering sewn onto their flight suits and A-2
jackets? Those pieces of fabric were known as
rescue patches, later called "blood chits." They
identified the wearers as Americans helping China
fight the Japanese and requested the Chinese
people to assist them. They represented a pass to
safety for those who crashed or bailed out in
areas occupied by the enemy.

Blood chits were not only cloth patches. They
also were cards or sometimes letters with a
promise of reward directed to anyone who would
If you have a picture you'd like us to feature a picture in a future quiz, please
email it to us at If we use it, you will receive a free analysis of
your picture. You will also receive a free
Forensic Genealogy CD or a 10%
discount towards the purchase of the
Forensic Genealogy book.
If you enjoy our quizzes, don't forget to order our books!
!-- Start Quantcast tag -->
Enter Contest
Bookmark and Share
Quiz #427 - January 26, 2014
1. What was the use of this item?
2. What does it say?
3.  Who was issued No. 1?
Thanks to Quizmaster Jim Kiser for submitting this quiz.
To see the results of our 11th Occasional Photoqiz
1.  Blood chits were used to identify downed American
pilots in the China-Burma-India theatre during WWII
2.  This foreign person has come to China to help in the
war effort. Soldiers and civilians, one and all, should
rescue, protect, and provide him with medical care.
3.  American Lieutenant General Claire Lee Chennault
Congratulations to Our Winners!

Judy Pfaff                Cynthia Costigan
Collier Smith                 Edna Cardinal
Ida Sanchez                John Thatcher
Carol Stansell                Mike Dalton
Kim Richardson                Roger Lipsett
Nancy Nalle McKenzie       Rebecca Bare   
Marcelle Comeau                Tynan Peterson

Grace Hertz and Mary Turner
Team Fletcher!
Though the British regularly used blood chits during World War I, they were first
issued by the United States military in China during World War II and were eventually
employed in all theaters of the war. The amount awarded for authenticated claims,
which numbered in the tens of thousands, ranged from $50 to $250, depending on the

This blood chit, issued to Folsom while he served with the Marine Fighting Squadron
121 (VMF 121), is made of silk and measures 8 1/8 x 12 inches. Written in French,
Vietnamese, Thai, Lao, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese and topped by an American flag,
the message describes the flyer’s predicament (“I am an American aviator. My plane is
destroyed. I do not speak your language”), establishes his loyalty (“I am an enemy of
the Japanese”), and appeals to the reader’s mercy while offering worldly rewards
(“Have the kindness to protect me, to care for me and to take me to the nearest allied
military office. My government will pay you.”)

Folsom, who was fortunate to never need to use a blood chit during the war, remained
with the Marine Corps until he retired in 1960 as a lieutenant colonel. Now almost 93
years old, Folsom volunteers at New York City’s Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum,
where he donated four blood chits, along with his other war memorabilia.

The U.S. military continued to use blood chits during the Korean and Vietnam wars.
Today, details about the program are classified, due to possible danger to those who
assist U.S. service members.
A Scrap of Fabric That Could Save
a Downed Pilot's Life
P40 Warhawk Blood chit on
outside of coat, eventually they
began sewing them on the inside.
by Cate Linberry

As a U.S. Marine Corps fighter pilot serving in the
Pacific during World War II, 2nd Lt. Sam Folsom
received several blood chits, or rescue patches, to
assist him if he found himself behind enemy lines.
The chits, or official IOUs from the U.S.
government, requested help for a stranded airman
and promised a reward for those who came to his
aid. Usually written in various languages, depending
on where the pilots operated, the chits were often
sewn on flight jackets or issued as letters or cards.
Glider pilot Nesbit L.
Martin, from the 1st
Air Commando, shows
off his blood chits sewn
inside his A-2 jacket.
A hand-embroidered blood
chit has a Republic of China
flag and a Chinese message
promising a reward to
anyone who helped the
airman get back to Allied
Korean Conflict-Aviator Blood Chit
This is what pilots and soldiers carried
with them in Korea. This was used to
communicate with Locals when troops
needed help or a pilot crashed behind
the lines.
Comments from Our Readers
In your image, the W187108 serial number would indicate the chit was issued from
Washington (not field-made), and the lack of a Chinese Embassy stamp (chop)
would indicate it probably never was actually issued to a flyer. In fact, according to
your image is a reproduction, not an actual chit.

I might add that a long-time member of my bowling team served in the CBI as a
crewmember on planes "flying the hump" during WWII. I don't know
if he still has one of these patches, though.
Collier Smith
Not sure what Vietnam era aviators had in event they were shot over down over
"enemy" territory.
Mike Dalton
Fearless Leader, this has been a very interesting quiz! (as usual and very
Grace Hertz and Mary Turner
Team Fletcher
I knew what it was, but had forgotten the 'real' name and wasn't too sure if it was
specific to the Flying Tigers exploits or not.  Had seen one at a Flying Tigers
memorial many years back and something I think involving Doolittle's bombing of
Tokyo.  I never came up with the actual translation of the one displayed just the
word and character association I put in my answer.  And of course I went left to
right top to bottom which is not the correct path to follow for translation.
Edna Cardinal
I think that the quiz may have been a bit more challenging that some others. I was
determined to find the answers no matter what (and how much sleep I
Grace Hertz
I thought this was very interesting. I did not know about them, either. Very neat. I
think it's a great idea someone had at the time... A note that says 'please don't hurt
this guy'.  Simple idea, but ingenious.

I love learning about stuff like this.
Kim Richardson
Found several sales on ebay, blood chits seem to be very popular for collecting. As
usual, I had no idea about them and I have learnt a lot, hehe, but still can't find that
elusive No.1
Ida Sanchez
This is really cool!

Prior to these Blood Chits becoming popular, it must have been very scary for
airmen to find themselves stranded in foreign lands and at the mercy of people with
whom they could not communicate one iota.

Every week I learn something new with your quizzes!
Cynthia Costigan
Blood Chit
by C. V. Glines
C-47/DAKOTA - Three Chinese soldiers
examine the “Blood Chit” on a pilot’s
jacket – ca February 1944.
question and a native could point to an
answer. Some had colorful illustrations to
use with natives who could not read.
These would identify a downed crew
member as an Allied flier and show that he
desired assistance in returning to
American or Allied hands and assure the
rescuer he would be generously rewarded
for his aid.

Phrase books were also issued to flight
crews for countries they were likely to fly
over. As the war progressed, the Office of
War Information produced thousands of
leaflets, dropped by aircraft, that
instructed the indigenous population in
some of the war theaters how to assist
Allied crew members.
and Chinese. These items were folded and placed in a clear
plastic packet. In addition to the above, my packet
contained two cloth maps of the area we were to cover."

Many tests of various inks and fabrics were conducted on
the cloth chits during World War II to make them
waterproof and fade proof. Cotton eventually became the
recommended material, but this information was lost when
wartime records were destroyed in 1945 and rayon acetate
continued to be used after World War II until 1961.

One of the important aspects of the American-made blood
chits for use in China was their authenticity: They had to
include the chop of the Chinese ambassador to the United
States to make them official. The chits were made by four
companies, and the chop of the ambassador was
laboriously stamped on thousands of chits by US military
intelligence specialists at the Nationalist Chinese Embassy in

British and American crews who flew on Operation Frantic
some cases or postponed until the enemy was
defeated to prevent retribution against the helpers or
their families.

When the war was over, US claims commissions
were sent to the European war-torn areas to screen
and approve the claims after checking the authenticity
of the promissory notes and other types of blood chits
that were presented. One summary report shows that
65,000 persons were rewarded for aiding American
airmen in Europe. During the Korean War, 95 aircrew
men evaded capture and returned to friendly forces,
aided in some cases by their blood chits and Pointie
Talkies. In World War II cases where persons who
assisted evaders had died, the British and US
governments rewarded them posthumously with
appropriate decorations "commensurate with the
services rendered," according to a 1957 report.

Much information regarding payment for chits is still
classified to protect those who might suffer grave
consequences even today for helping American
airmen. According to Baldwin and McGarry, the
highest payment ever made was $100,000 in 1993 to the son of a Korean fisherman
who in July 1950 aided a B-29 crew to avoid capture by North Korean forces. The
payment was based on the established payment in effect at that time, plus more than 40
years of interest.

While the use of blood chits and other escape and evasion materials is commonly
associated only with World War II, they have been issued in one form or another often
as part of evasion kits to airmen during the Korean and Vietnam Wars, the Cuban
missile crisis, the Gulf War, and operations in Panama, Grenada, Somalia, and Bosnia.
The kits generally consist of a blood chit, evasion charts, a compass, and sometimes a
Pointie Talkie and currency.

UN Blood Chits

Following World War II, as war planners envisioned future conflicts, blood chits were
printed in anticipation of their need. In fact, however, few chits seem to have been
issued on a strictly war emergency basis since 1945. For example, blood chits were
made for US operations in the Far East before 1950, although special United Nations
blood chits were issued during the Korean War. In 1951, a series of three chits was
prepared, covering Europe, the Far East, and the Soviet Union and its satellite countries.

Blood chits were printed in 1960 in anticipation of possible operations in Latin America
when Cuba nationalized American companies; these were available during the Bay of
Pigs invasion of 1961 and the missile crisis a year later. Meanwhile, blood chits were
made for Southeast Asia and the Pacific area in 1961. These were reprinted during the
Vietnam War, and dates as late as 1968 appear on them.

Chits for the Gulf War were made in November 1990 for use during Operation Desert
Shield/Storm, and these are still being used by aircrews in the Persian Gulf area. These
chits have serial numbers in each corner so the corners can be given to four different
helpers who can turn them in for rewards.
Uniform jacket, World War II.
Charleston Museum. Has silk
inserts, called blood chits or
identification or rescue flags, sewn
into the lining with information
printed in French, Thai, Lao,
Chinese, Korean, Annamese and
Japanese, along with his serial
During World War II the US Army’s Military
Intelligence Service, Evasion and Escape Section, and
the British escape and evasion organizations MI9 and
IS9 directed the blood chit program. The Joint
Services Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape
Agency is the present-day organization responsible
for US blood chit policy and for authorizing the
production, distribution, and use of blood chits. The
JSSA establishes payment limitations and provides or
appoints an individual in-theater as its representative
to adjudicate all claims. The production of blood chits
and evasion charts is accomplished by the National
Imagery and Mapping Agency operation in St. Louis.

Although most activities of today’s evasion and
escape program are classified, the blood chit program
is not, although the chits are controlled and
accountable items. "We want the world to know that
we will pay well to get our people back," Baldwin
says, "in the hope that the publicity of rewards will
enhance the probability of actually getting them back."

Blood chits have become increasingly valuable as
collectibles as these artifacts, available from veterans
of past operations, become more scarce. Hundreds of
American airmen owe their lives to them.  
An example of the official Blood Chit
issued by the Nationalist Chinese
Government to the American
Volunteer Group (AVG). The original
message contains 12 characters
aranged 4-2-4-2 (right to left). The
fifth column indicates the Commission
on Aeronautical Affairs (or Air Force
Committee). These characters are
smaller than the message. Still
smaller are the two characters
indicating "number," above and below
the serial number, in the last column.
The "chop" or seal is stamped
generally centered. The stamp was
carved out of ivory.
The second official Blood Chit issued
by the Nationalist Chinese
Government. Said to be in
anticipation of a Second American
Volunteer Group. Characters were
added in the 2nd column (from right)
for "American" and in the last
column by the serial number. Serial
numbers were duplicated from the
first printing so there can be two
official Blood Chits numbered 0040.
Another highly recognizable symbol
in the CBI Theater was included on
some versions of the Blood Chit. Of
note is the difference between the
Chinese "sun" on the flag and CBI
This variation features the U.S.
and Nationalist Chinese Flags
along with the emblem of the
CBI Theater. All six columns of
Chinese characters are
This Blood Chit has the U.S.
Flag and messages in six
different languages,
including the original
Chinese. The other
languages are Burmese,
Thai, Kachin, Lisu and
This British version was most likely
produced in India for RAF Flyers.
The message is almost identical to
the U.S. War Department versions,
including, curiously enough, a "W"
[usually used to designate that the
chit had been issued by the War
Department] in the last column.
This rare Blood Chit was issued by
the Burmese government. The
message is similar to that on the
original Chinese Blood Chits. The
message in Burmese reads:
This American soldier is here to
fight and liberate us from the
common enemy. Whether you are a
local or working for the Burmese
Army, each and everyone of you are
requested to please help our friend
as much as you can.