740.00119 EW/5–3146: Telegram

The Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean Theater (Morgan) to the Combined Chiefs of Staff39

top secret
operational priority
FX 66970 (Naf 1145)
I have examined a preliminary copy of the protocol and the “agreement modifying the Italian armistice regime” received from [Page 846] the War Office London. From this examination it is evident that certain aspects of my powers as Supreme Allied Commander will require clarification when this agreement comes into force.
Internal security and the right to establish Allied Military Government.
Article 2 of the new agreement states that relationship between the 4 Great Powers and Italy shall be governed by the armistice of September 3rd 1943 “as modified by the present agreement”. While the majority of the clauses of the September 3rd armistice have been superseded by events the validity of certain others remains in doubt. This is particularly true of Para 10.
Under Para 10 the rights reserved to Supreme Allied Commander to take any measures for the protection of the interests of the Allied Forces including the establishment of Allied Military Government is predicated upon the prosecution of the war. Upon this basis the Italian Government bound itself to take such action as the Supreme Allied Commander might require.
So long as my forces have an operational commitment in Italy any disturbance affecting the internal security of the country is liable to compromise my ability to fulfil this commitment. Unless therefore the rights reserved to me by Para 10 of September 3rd Armistice are retained and placed on an unequivocal basis the Allies in Italy may be placed in a very difficult position should they be required to meet their operational commitments in Venezia Giulia.
Position of the Italian Armed Forces.
Article 3 of the new agreement provides for the employment of the Italian Navy and in Naf 1140 I have already asked for further clarification on this point. There is however no specific provision in article 3 for the employment of the Italian Air Force or Army.
The Italian Air Force by Fan 663 is under my control and for the reasons given in Naf 1103 I do not consider that it should be returned to the Italian Government at the present time.
When the return of the Italian Army to the Italian Government was effected on 14 November 1945 I reserved the right to reassume at any time control and command of all or part of the Italian Army as I might deem necessary. I considered that in the event of either serious internal disturbances affecting the internal security or possible operations in Venezia Giulia that I might require the undisputed right to decide the employment of the Italian Army.
Under the new agreement it would appear that the Italian Government might be in a position to challenge my right to decide the employment of the Italian Army and Air Force. For the reasons [Page 847] already put forward I consider that so long as my operational responsibilities in North East Italy continue it is most desirable that I should retain the right to command and employ such portions of the Italian Army and Air Force as the situation may require.
Status of Allied Military personnel in Italy other than British or United States. There are at present in Italy several military groups from countries of the United Nations in addition to United States and British Forces. Among these groups are Russians, Jugoslavs, Greeks and French in the Advisory Council for Italy and Russians, Greeks, Chinese, Belgians, Czechs and Dutch on Displaced Persons Missions. Presumably many of these will remain on official duties after the signing of the agreement. These groups now enjoy the same privileges and immunities as the United States and British including occupation of requisitioned quarters and lira advances as under Tam 24th October 1943 and Tam 721 of December 1945.
My understanding is that these rights lapse on the abrogation of the additional conditions of armistice. Neither United States or British Civil Affairs agreements authorize their respective authorities to provide for needs of other Nationals. If no arrangements are made for these other Nationals their position and that of the Italian Government may be embarrassing. If Russians for example make demands on Italians without previous agreement between governments and Italians refuse Russians might well invoke section VII of agreement modifying Italian armistice regime.
The groups in question are now accredited to Allied Agencies but the Civil Affairs agreements between the United States Government and Italy and British Government and Italy are national in character. Therefore I as SACMED am presumably without authority to furnish quarters, funds or immunities to the groups.
In addition therefore to the matters raised in Naf 1140 I request that any instructions you may send me with the official text of the agreement should include subpara A. Clarification as to which terms of the armistice of 3rd September 1943 remain in force with particular reference to para 10 and its interpretation. (2 A and 2 C refer).

Subpara B. Guidance as to my future relationship with the Italian Armed Forces with particular reference to my right to reassume command and control of the Italian Army and to continue in control of the Italian Air Force (para 3 above refers).

Subpara C. Information as to responsibilities of either British or United States Military authorities or myself as Supreme Allied Commander to furnish facilities, funds or immunities to official military groups of other United Nations.

  1. This message, sent to the War Department, Washington, for the Combined Chiefs of Staff, was also sent to the Cabinet Offices, Whitehall, London, for the British Chiefs of Staff.

    In telegram 553, May 31, 1946, Homer M. Byington, Deputy United States Political Adviser on the staff of the Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean Theater, advised the Department of State to see Naf 1145 in regard to SAC’s request for clarification of his powers under the terms of the proposed new agreement (740.00119 EW/5–3146).