740.00/2109: Telegram

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

323. Military Attaché reports that leaves of absence for all air corps personnel were cancelled as of Friday, August 18, and that all air corps ports and stations are on a war operating basis with planes and personnel prepared to promptly take the air at any time day or night. It is further believed that leaves of absence for all army personnel in Sardinia, Sicily, Dodecanese and Libya have been cancelled and that the garrisons of these outlying possessions are on a war basis. It is also probable that territorial anti-aircraft batteries are manned although no searchlight activity has recently been in evidence in the vicinity of Rome. Up to the present there are no indications of a general mobilization of the Italian Army.

Information obtained by the Naval Attaché indicates that the Italian Navy is on a complete war footing. All leaves have been stopped, reserves have been called up, shore defenses have been manned, harbor nets or boom defenses have been rigged at Tripoli, Naples, Trieste, Livorno and probably at Cagliari. On August 19 there were no naval vessels at La Spezia with exception of one cruiser alongside a pier. La Spezia is a peacetime base and should normally be full of ships at present since maneuvers and exercises have been completed. Italian naval forces are now believed to be located at Durazzo, Naples, Gaeta and Taranto.

Both Military and Naval Attachés agreed that the above constitute precautionary defensive measures essential at a time of such acute international tension.

Inform War and Navy Departments.