860H.20 Mission/1–2644

Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State (Berle)31

The Office of Strategic Services has kindly informed us that, under date of January 19, General Wilson,32 theater commander of the Mediterranean area, asked General Donovan33 to meet with him and Ambassador Macmillan.34

Wilson revealed that he now proposed to establish a military mission at Tito’s headquarters in Yugoslavia, the mission to be responsible to General Alexander35 in Italy. He invited the OSS to participate in this mission by sending officers with it. The head of the mission was to be Brigadier General McLain [Maclean], nominally a soldier but actually a British Foreign Office man in uniform.

OSS had declined this invitation in view of the fact that the mission, though nominally military, is obviously political in character, [Page 1340] and that they would not care to send American officers to serve as juniors with a British political mission. They feel that we may wish to give immediate consideration to establishing a similar mission in Yugoslavia.

The position now is as follows:

The Soviet Government has announced that it proposed to establish a mission at Tito’s headquarters.

The British are now establishing such a mission.

Plainly we would not care to be merely part of the British mission, in which case we would share the responsibility with no power to act. If we plan to have any part in the Yugoslav picture to the extent that Tito (Marshal Broz) dominates it, we should have to have independent representation.

A mission could be arranged, presumably through Allied Force Headquarters in Italy and reporting to the War Department and to the State Department through our mission in Italy or in Algiers. The OSS is in a position to facilitate such a mission; and probably arrangements could be worked out, if desired, to either put men into uniform or use capable men presently connected with OSS. In either case, approval of the Joint Chiefs would have to be obtained, but it is to be assumed that this could be got easily, should we wish it.

I should be glad to have instructions on the subject.

My recommendation would be that we make up such a mission and send it. This would be without prejudice, of course, to our having a similar mission with General Mihailovitch should that be considered desirable.

A[dolf] A. B[erle], Jr.
  1. This memorandum was directed to the Secretary of State, the Under Secretary, Mr. Edward R. Stettinius, Jr., and to James C. Dunn, Director of the Office of European Affairs. In an attached note the Under Secretary wrote: “I am inclined to agree with the position of the Office of European Affairs on this matter which I understand to be that we would favor a purely military mission but would look with considerable question on a political mission.”
  2. Lt. Gen. Sir Henry Maitland Wilson, Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean Theater.
  3. Brig. Gen. William J. Donovan, Director of the Office of Strategic Services.
  4. Harold Macmillan, British Minister Resident at Allied Force Headquarters.
  5. Lt. Gen. Sir Harold R. L. Alexander, Commander in Chief, Allied Armies in Italy.