740.0011 EW/4–2445: Telegram

Mr. Alexander C. Kirk, Political Adviser to the Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean Theater, to the Secretary of State

1704. In view of recent military developments on Croatian front, certain military authorities here are of opinion that Fiume will fall within a few days. Since Yugoslavs now hold most of Cherso no difficulty in overrunning main part of Istrian Peninsula is anticipated as last troops have withdrawn to Fiume. Some delay may result from harbors of Arsa and Parenzo which are still in use. Port of Pola which is believed to have been developed into a fortress may withhold an attack by Yugoslavs.

As result of foregoing estimate of situation in Istria and Fiume two separate problems now arise which involve political issues in case of Yugoslav occupation of Istria.

Should present scale of air support be provided for Yugoslav operations against Istria and Fiume.
What reply should be given to any request from Tito that Allies provide naval support and LCTs83 for an amphibious operation against coast of Istria by Yugoslavs similar to those performed against northern Adriatic islands with British naval support. It is to be expected that this may occur at any time.
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In approaching these problems British feel consideration should be given to the probability of Istria and Fiume being seized rapidly by the Yugoslavs (which now seems inevitable) whether or not naval and air support is withheld. Some British here consider therefore that as far as possible such support should be given partisans with as good grace as possible. They argue that to withhold support would be regarded by Yugoslavs as complete reversal of policy in view of air support Allies are giving Fourth Army and naval support British gave in Yugoslav operations against northern Adriatic islands. In addition withdrawal of air support might result in a request for British departure from Zara and a refusal to allow MAAF84 to use its aircraft against Germans anywhere in Yugoslavia.

BAF85 has recommended that air support for Yugoslav operations in Fiume and Istria should continue on present scale and that if requested British should provide naval craft for amphibious operations against Istrian coastline.

SAC is inclined to approve BAF’s recommendations but matter will come up for discussion at political committee meeting morning of April 26.

What are Department’s views.

We cannot help but feel from observation here at AFHQ that the British persist in going to extremes to please Partisans on the ground that it is in their interests to preserve good relations with Tito.

  1. Landing craft tanks.
  2. Mediterranean Allied Air Force.
  3. Balkan Air Force.