740.00119 Control (Italy)/3–1046: Telegram

The United States Deputy Political Adviser at Allied Force Headquarters ( Byington ) to the Secretary of State

top secret

287. Reference our 261 March 5, 11 a.m.25 De Gasperi26 brought to Allied Commissioner’s27 attention reported concentration of Yugoslav troops in Zone B which according to Italian Army intelligence was as follows: 15,000 men in two units centered around Aidussina and Longatico as potential threat to Gorizia and Trieste; 25,000 men in four units centered in area Tolmino, Circhina, Chiapovano, Idria, all northeast of Gorizia and northern reaches Isonzo; 6,000 to 7,000 men in area north Dignano as threat to Poya and also as reinforcements for 15,000 men in two units centered in Umago and Bistera which are potential threat to Trieste from south.

Prime Minister stated to Admiral Stone that if Yugoslavs attack in strength, his understanding of plan was that XIII Corps would retire to Isonzo. He urged strongly that if hostilities take place involving violation of Italian frontier, units of Italian Army should be employed under Allied command, and that failure to employ Italian units would be damaging to Italian prestige, military and civil morale.

British military authorities proposed that a rather abrupt answer be sent to Stone for transmission to De Gasperi. When consulted I objected and stated that in my opinion De Gasperi’s fears were quite justified by recent Yugoslav troop movements and by general policy of intimidation which had consistently been followed by Yugoslavs in Venezia Giulia.28 British military authorities then agreed to draft [Page 878] message to Stone from SAC for De Gasperi that General Morgan was [aware of?] recent developments in Venezia Giulia and that Allies would continue to exercise all vigilance to preserve balance at present existing there.

Although he signed this message, SAC expressed some considerable indignation over attitude of Italians which he termed hysteria. He admitted, however, that he would certainly want all the troops he could get, including Italians, if Yugoslavs should attack.

Sent Dept as 287, repeated Rome as 238 and London for Dunn as 44.

Byington
  1. Not printed; it reported on Yugoslav troop movements along the Morgan Line (740.00119 Control (Italy)/3–546).
  2. Alcide de Gasperi, President of the Council of Ministers of the Italian Government.
  3. Rear Adm. Ellery W. Stone.
  4. Telegram 84, March 12, to Caserta, stated that the Department agreed with and approved Byington’s action (740.00119 Control (Italy)/3–1046).