740.00119 Control (Italy)/3–846

Memorandum by the Acting Chairman of the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee (Matthews) to the Secretary of State

top secret

Subject: Situation in Venezia Giulia.

The State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee has received the following from the Joint Chiefs of Staff: [Page 876]

“The Joint Chiefs of Staff are concerned over the continued unfriendly attitude of Yugoslavia in view of existing agreements and recognition of that government by the United States. Intelligence reports indicate a strengthening of Yugoslav forces in the, Yugoslav occupied zone of Venezia Giulia and the possibility of unfavorable action by Tito’s forces should they consider the peace terms with Italy not satisfactory.

“General Morgan22 has now submitted to the Combined Chiefs of Staff an analysis of the situation in Venezia Giulia and has recommended that a joint statement be made by the British and United States Governments to the effect that it is their firm intention to maintain their position in Zone A23 until an agreed political settlement has been reached and ratified by them. The statement in effect reiterates the intention of the U.S.-British forces to fight on the Morgan Line24 in case the Yugoslavs advance. General Morgan considers that such a statement would do much to allay civilian fears and to strengthen our own position.

“Redeployment of both U.S. and British forces from Europe have depleted military strength to the point where adequate forces are not available to cope with a major incident. At present only three divisions and three regiments of British and U.S. troops are available to the Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean (SACMED) and these forces are largely deployed along the Morgan Line extending from Trieste to the Austrian border in positions which would be untenable in the face of strong attack. There are, in addition, three Polish divisions and certain Italian forces in northern Italy. From the military point of view an advance into the allied occupied zone of Venezia Giulia by strong Yugoslav forces might necessitate a withdrawal of allied forces to better positions. Such a withdrawal would result in the loss of the British Line of Communications from Trieste to Austria, which is not, however, essential from a military standpoint, and considerable, loss of prestige to both the United States and Great Britain. It must be recognized that provision of troops to assure adequate military force on the ground to implement the proposed joint statement may require either additional U.S.-British troops or utilization on the Morgan Line of Polish forces. The Joint Chiefs of Staff recognize the political difficulties involved in use of the Poles.

“The Joint Chiefs of Staff consider that if the political decision continues to be that the U.S.-British forces fight in case of a Yugoslav advance, then it is militarily desirable that the joint statement be issued. The issuance of the proposed joint statement would be of considerable assistance to General Morgan. The Joint Chiefs of Staff [Page 877] request political guidance from the State Department to assist them in the action which will probably develop in the Combined Chiefs of Staff on the matter.”

It is requested that the views of the Department of State on the above subject be furnished the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee.

For the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee:
H. Freeman Matthews
  1. Gen. William Morgan, Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean Theater.
  2. Zone A was that portion of the territory of Venezia Giulia under the command and control of the Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean Theater, and occupied by American and British forces under the terms of the Anglo-American-Yugoslav agreement respecting the provisional administration of Venezia Giulia, signed at Belgrade, June 9, 1945. Zone B of Venezia Giulia was that portion occupied by Yugoslav forces. For text of the Belgrade Agreement, see Department of State Executive Agreement Series No. 501, or 59 Stat. (pt. 2) 1855.
  3. Line dividing the zones of Anglo-American and Yugoslav administration and occupation of Venezia Giulia under the terms of the Belgrade Agreement of June 9, 1945.