Department of Defense Files

The British Prime Minister ( Churchill ) to President Truman

19. Field Marshal Alexander has telegraphed to the Combined Chiefs of Staff, number Naf 932. It seems to me vital to get Trieste if we can do so in the easy manner proposed, and to run the risks inherent in these kinds of political-military operations.

The late President always attached great importance to Trieste, which he thought should be an international port forming an outlet into the Adriatic from all regions of the Danube Basin. There are many points to consider about this, but that there should be an outlet to the south seems of great interest to the trade of many states involved.

The great thing is to be there before Tito’s guerillas are in occupation. Therefore it does not seem to me there is a minute to wait. The actual status of Trieste can be determined at leisure. Possession is nine points of the law. I beg you for an early decision.

Field Marshal Alexander and his trusty lieutenant, Mark Clark, are in the process of gaining quite soon an overwhelming and timely victory in North Italy. This is the time to back our successful generals, as we are doing on the northwest front.

The plan for the Anglo-American occupation of Venezia Giulia has been hanging fire in Washington for a considerable time, with the result that Field Marshal Alexander is still without orders. I should therefore be most grateful if you would give your personal attention to this.