Roosevelt Papers: Telegram

President Roosevelt to Prime Minister Churchill 1

operational priority

Number 332 from the President to the Former Naval Person secret and personal.

Referring to your No. 389 of July 302 I am in agreement that it is more likely Italy will negotiate for peace through neutral diplomatic channels but believe it necessary for Eisenhower to have precise terms of an armistice agreement which he may use in the event of his being suddenly approached by the Italian Government with a proposal to cease hostilities between the Italian forces and the United Nations forces.

I am agreeable to your proposed amendments to Naf 302,3 and suggest that Eisenhower be authorized to make the following conditions in case the Italian Government asks him for an armistice, these conditions not to be made public:

Immediate cessation of all hostile activity by the Italian Armed Forces.
Italy will use its best endeavors to deny to the Germans facilities that might be used against the United Nations.
All prisoners or internees of the United Nations to be immediately turned over to the Allied Commander in Chief, and none of these may from the beginning of these negotiations be evacuated to Germany.
Immediate transfer of the Italian fleet to such points as may be designated by the Allied Commander in Chief, with details of disarmament to be prescribed by him.
Agreement that Italian merchant shipping may be requisitioned by the Allied Commander in Chief to meet the needs of his military-naval program.
Immediate surrender of Corsica and of all Italian territory both islands and mainland to the Allies, for such use as operational bases and other purposes as the Allies may see fit.
Immediate guarantee of the free use by the Allies of all airfields and naval ports in Italian territory, regardless of the rate of evacuation of the Italian territory by the German Forces. These ports and fields to be protected by Italian Armed Forces until this function is taken over by the Allies.
Immediate withdrawal to Italy of Italian armed forces from all participation in the current war from whatever areas in which they may be now engaged.
Guarantee by the Italian Government that if necessary it will employ all its available armed forces to insure prompt and exact compliance with all the provisions of this armistice.
The Commander in Chief of the Allied forces reserves to himself the right to take any measure which in his opinion may be necessary for the protection of the interests of the Allied forces or for the prosecution of the war, and the Italian Government binds itself to take such administrative or other action as the Commander in Chief may require, and in particular the Commander in Chief will establish Allied Military Government over such parts of Italian territory as he may deem necessary in the military interests of the Allied Nations.
The Commander in Chief of the Allied Forces will have a full right to impose measures of disarmament, demobilization, and demilitarization.

It is my opinion that the question of war criminals should not be brought up by General Eisenhower in a statement of his terms for an armistice.

The war criminal problem can be taken up later, and I believe that all demands by the Allied Nations that are not essential at the present time should be postponed with the purpose of getting Italy out of the war at the earliest possible date.

If the armistice terms proposed in this message are acceptable to you I will, immediately upon the receipt of your approval, send them to Eisenhower to be used when and if he receives from the Italian Government a request for a general armistice.

I am sending a copy of this message to Eisenhower for his information.4

  1. Sent to the United States Naval Attaché, London, via Navy channels.
  2. Not printed.
  3. For the text of the proposed “short” or “military” armistice terms contained in Eisenhower’s telegram No. Naf 302, July 27, 1943, see Garland and Smyth, p. 270; Eisenhower Papers, p. 1289. This text had apparently been drafted by Harold Macmillan, British Minister Resident at Allied Force Headquarters. See Macmillan, p. 307. In the United States Government this text had been considered by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the War Department, and the Department of State. The text had been submitted also to London, and Churchill had telegraphed his comments (not printed) to Roosevelt. The revised draft text of the “short” terms contained in Roosevelt’s telegram No. 332 to Churchill represent, therefore, a distillation of British and American views in London, Washington, and Algiers. For subsequent amendments to the “short” terms, see post, pp. 522, 565, 1062.
  4. The text was quoted in Marshall’s telegram No. 3824 to Eisenhower, July 30, 1943. The introductory paragraph of that telegram stated: “He [Roosevelt] directed that it be repeated to you for your information but not for action.” (740.00119 European War 1939/7–3043; 740.00119 EW/8–143)