No. 454
The Ambassador in Greece (MacVeagh) to the Secretary of State
No. 1213

Sir: …

. . . . . . .

… I take pleasure in enclosing a copy of Mr. Cromie’s first report in the form of a letter to me from Salonika, dated June 15th,1 together with a copy of Captain McNeill’s first report which Mr. Cromie forwarded therewith. … Captain McNeill’s report concerns partisan troop concentrations in Yugoslav Macedonia, a matter of extreme importance from the politico-psychological, as well as the military, point of view, and one regarding which it is most desirable to know the truth, if the truth can be known. Of particular note in this report would appear to be the statement that “no intensification of the autonomous Macedonian agitation in Greece has been detected” as a result of these concentrations, and the implication that Greece has more to fear, at least for the moment, from Bulgarian than Yugoslav disruptive penetration in its northern provinces.

Respectfully yours,

Lincoln MacVeagh

Partisan Troop Concentrations in Yugoslav Macedonia

Source: Brigadier Hunt, CO 11 Brigade, 4 Indian Division, Salonika.

Evaluation: A–2.

About 10 May 1945, Yugoslav Partisan troops began to move from central Yugoslavia into Yugoslav Macedonia, and by the end of the month two complete army corps were deployed within easy reach of the Greek frontier. According to information gathered by interrogation of deserters and other persons who have come across the border during the past month, both of these corps are under the command of an army headquarters established in the town of Štip. Each corps comprises at least two divisions; and they are relatively well equipped with German and Russian matériel. There is some artillery, but little or no motor transport.
Detailed dispositions of the Partisan troops are not known to the British in Salonika; but it is sure that one of the two new corps is deployed around Bitolj (Monastir) immediately to the north of Florina; and the other is located between Lake Dojran and the Vardar River, within 70 miles of Salonika. The troops are Serb and Montenegrin. They were engaged in harassing the Germans until the beginning of May, and it seems probable that they are among the best of Tito’s troops. No special effort seems to have been made to keep the movement secret, though reliable numbers and unit identifications have been difficult to establish from the vague and conflicting reports available to the British in Salonika.
In addition to the newly arrived Serbian troops, Yugoslav Macedonia is garrisoned by a division of soldiers who were recruited locally, and by a “brigade” of ELASites who fled across the Greek border following the disarmament of ELAS. The division of Macedonians is poorly equipped, having nothing but small arms. It consists of two brigades, one of which formerly manned the frontier posts in the Monastir gap, while the other guarded the border between Lake Dojran and the Vardar. About the middle of May most of the frontier posts were taken over by the newly arrived Serbs, but the Macedonian division is still stationed near the border.
The ELAS brigade is believed to be concentrated near the town of Kičevo (about 40 miles NNW of Bitolj). It consists mainly of members of Gotsi’s band (Slavic Macedonians recruited from the area around Florina, committed to the Autonomous Macedonia movement); but it has been considerably reinforced by Greeks who crossed the border individually and in small groups after the collapse of ELAS in Greece. The exact number of men belonging to this brigade is not known; but the British believe that they are not more than 2500. Morale is bad, and the ELASites are not sure whether they are in a concentration camp or whether they are a part of the Partisan army.
The arrival of the two Serbian army corps along the Greek border coincided with the period of friction between Tito and Field Marshal Alexander over Trieste, and the higher British commanders in Salonika were distinctly worried by the threat which such a large concentration seemed to offer. If Tito should wish to invade Greece, no force is available to stop him short of Salonika, and the British have made no effort to concentrate their own or Greek troops to meet an attack.
Comment. It is possible that Tito wished to threaten Salonika when he ordered two army corps into Yugoslav Macedonia. It is also possible that the movement merely reflects a readjustment of troop dispositions following the German surrender; and, if OSS reports [Page 668] of the recent increase of Bulgarian influence in Yugoslav Macedonia are well founded, it may be that the Yugoslavs wished principally to reassert their control over this disputed area. No intensification of the autonomous Macedonia agitation in Greece has been detected, as might be expected if Tito intended immediate aggression against Greece. This fact is not conclusive, however, since the Independent Macedonia propaganda organization has hitherto been largely in Bulgar hands, and Tito may not be in a position to use it, nor yet to improvise a substitute overnight.
  1. Not printed.