File No. 763.72/11547

The Ambassador in Italy ( Page) to the Secretary of State


2050. In interview with Sonnino yesterday he took up need of Italy for American troops and further Allied support. On my mentioning to him that I had found one great obstacle in general among the people I had talked with to be the fact that Italy had not placed her armies under the command of Foch and that I believed it would be to Italy’s advantage if Diaz should do what Pershing had done and offer this, as in such a case Foch would feel responsible for Italy as his right flank and would then have to do whatever was necessary to protect it, Sonnino said: “But we have agreed to this. I consent to this and Premier has told Foch that if he gave us the order to march (that is, as I understand, make an offensive) and would take the responsibility of it, we would march, and invite him to come and see for himself.” I then said: “But Pershing made the offer of his command, of course, in accordance with the views of our Government, and if Diaz would make this offer it should meet the situation.” He replied: “But we are ready to accept this and Premier has stated as much to Foch.” He then repeated the arguments showing Italy’s need of reenforcements.

I hear that Marconi in a recent interview with the King, at the front, discussed the question of the united command under Foch. The King said that he and Diaz were ready to accept the united command with the understanding that Italy would not be ordered to [Page 325] make an offensive against Austria until they had been given a sufficient number of Americans, as had been given by [to?] France at need. The King is said to have instructed Marconi to make this statement when he was in Paris and in London where he is at this moment. The demand for American military assistance is undoubtedly growing and finding expression in public press with permission of censorship. Also (I?) believe it of great importance. I hear that Sonnino pushed for an offensive but the military authorities felt it too hazardous.

Nelson Page