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Blood chit

Definition A blood chit is a document carried by military personnel, typically aviators, providing identification and a request for assistance in case they become stranded or injured in enemy territory. These documents often include text in multiple languages, asking for protection, medical assistance, and safe return to friendly forces. The term “blood chit” originates from […]


A blood chit is a document carried by military personnel, typically aviators, providing identification and a request for assistance in case they become stranded or injured in enemy territory. These documents often include text in multiple languages, asking for protection, medical assistance, and safe return to friendly forces. The term “blood chit” originates from British India, with “chit” being a Hindi derivative of the English word “ticket” or “note.”

Key Takeaways

  1. A blood chit is a document carried by military personnel with a message in local languages explaining their non-combatant status, asking for assistance, and promising a reward in return.
  2. It has been used historically by pilots, special forces, and other military members who find themselves isolated in enemy territory or unfamiliar regions during conflicts.
  3. Blood chits are especially useful when communication is a challenge due to language barriers, and they typically contain national insignia and contact information for the issuing organization.


The term “Blood Chit” holds significant importance in military operations as it serves as a crucial safeguard for military personnel, particularly pilots, operating in foreign territories.

Essentially, a blood chit is a document containing a written appeal in the local language(s), accompanied by the issuing country’s symbols, asking for assistance and protection for the bearer in case they are shot down or stranded behind enemy lines.

In return, it often promises rewards to those who provide aid.

Historically, blood chits have greatly facilitated the survival and safe return of military personnel, strengthening diplomatic relations, and building trust between nations during times of conflict.


The purpose of a blood chit is to serve as an essential and potentially life-saving tool for military personnel, primarily aviators and special forces operatives, who may find themselves in hostile territory or behind enemy lines. Essentially, a blood chit is a document that contains a message written in multiple languages, requesting assistance and safe passage for the bearer in case they come in contact with locals or allied forces.

Typically, the blood chit assures that the individual offering assistance to the bearer will be rewarded. It provides crucial communication and assurance for military personnel when verbal communication is impossible due to language barriers or injury.

Blood chits are used for mitigating risks and facilitating the rescue or escape of stranded service members. With its first recorded use dating back to World War I, the practice has evolved over time to include essential information such as the bearer’s nationality, a serial number, and/or a statement of gratitude and assurance of reward for the helper, all printed on either cloth or paper.

Blood chits have been instrumental in numerous rescue and evasion incidents during wartime, where local populations have provided shelter, food, and guidance to facilitate safe return. The use of blood chits underscores the importance of fostering trust and collaboration between military personnel and local communities, ultimately contributing to the safety and successful completion of military operations.

Examples of Blood chit

World War II (China): During World War II, blood chits were used by American pilots flying in China. These pilots were part of the Flying Tigers and Doolittle Raiders, who provided air support to the Chinese forces fighting against Japan. Blood chits contained a message in Chinese, promising a reward to any local who assisted the downed pilots in evading capture or returning to friendly forces.

Korean War: Blood chits were also employed during the Korean War. They were issued to United Nations (UN) pilots and aircrew members, including those from the United States, United Kingdom, and other allied countries. The message on these chits was typically written in Korean, promising assistance or compensation to any civilian who helped the pilot return safely to UN forces.

Vietnam War: During the Vietnam conflict, blood chits were issued to US servicemen, including pilots and aircrew members who were at risk of being shot down over enemy territory. These chits contained messages in Vietnamese and other local languages (such as Thai, Lao, and Cambodian) pledging rewards for civilians who rescued and protected downed pilots or assisted them in returning to friendly forces. Blood chit use continued throughout the duration of the war, providing a valuable means of obtaining help from local populations in an adverse and unfamiliar environment.

Blood Chit FAQ

What is a blood chit?

A blood chit is a small document or cloth carried by military personnel, which contains a message written in different languages, requesting help and protection from civilians if the carrier is in distress or stranded. Blood chits are typically used by pilots and aircrew when they have to eject or crash land in unfamiliar territory.

How did blood chits originate?

The concept of blood chits dates back to World War I, but the term “blood chit” was first used during World War II. Initially, British pilots carried small silk maps with a message written on them in several languages, which later evolved into proper blood chits. The practice soon spread to other nations, including the United States and China.

What is the purpose of a blood chit?

The primary purpose of a blood chit is to communicate to local civilians that the bearer is a friendly military personnel in need of assistance. The message in the blood chit typically requests safe passage, food, water, and medical help, while promising a reward or compensation for the civilians’ help. Furthermore, blood chits assure the locals that the bearer’s government will provide protection and assistance to them in return for their help.

Are blood chits still used today?

Yes, blood chits are still in use today by many countries’ militaries. While advancements in technology such as GPS and satellite communication have made evading or escaping enemy territories easier, blood chits remain a valuable backup plan for aircrew members operating in remote or hostile locations where such devices might be unreliable or compromised.

What should a blood chit contain?

A typical blood chit should contain a clearly written message requesting help and protection for the bearer, the flag or insignia of the bearer’s country, and crucial information such as the name, rank, and serial number of the bearer. The message should be translated into several languages relevant to the region where the bearer is operating. Additionally, the blood chit should contain a contact number or address for the authorities who will provide compensation and protection to the rescuer.

Related Military Operation Terms

  • Emergency Evasion Plan
  • Personnel Recovery
  • Search and Rescue (SAR)
  • Downed Airmen
  • Escape and Evade (E&E)

Sources for More Information

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