740.0011 EW/6–2846: Telegram

The Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean Theater (Morgan), to the Combined Chiefs of Staff75

top secret

FX 68284. Naf 1166. 1. I have just completed a tour of inspection in Venezia Giulia. The situation is comparatively quiet at present but, if the current negotiations in Paris76 lead to a frontier solution which is unfavourable to the Yugoslavs, an immediate deterioration in the situation would certainly take place. This may take the form of a campaign of terrorism and sabotage designed to demonstrate to the world that the local Slovenes and Communists find the solution intolerable. Any inability on our part to maintain order would present an excuse for intervention by Yugoslav armed forces to protect their friends and brother Slavs. If on the other hand, Paris negotiations [Page 901] break down, the forces at my disposal are inadequate to maintain law and order indefinitely under existing conditions.

2. XIII Corps is at present disposed as follows:

56th Division less one brigade covering Trieste from the east and north; one brigade at Pola.
88th Division less one regiment covering Gorizia; one regiment in upper Isonzo Valley and Tarvisio.
6th Armored Division immediately west of the Isonzo facing the large gap between the left of 56th Division and the right of 88th Division.
One Polish Brigade, shortly to be demobilized, guarding Allied installations on the line of communications west of the river Taglia-mento to inclusive Venice.

3. Although morale and condition of the American and British troops is excellent they consist mainly of young soldiers without” battle experience. British units are much below strength and are very short of officers and noncommissioned officers (NCOs). U.S. units are already short of officers and combat efficiency will shortly be seriously affected by redeployment of NCOs and key specialists. Very wide frontages are held and practically no reserves are in hand either locally or in the theatre. As the available troops may have to be kept in a high state of readiness almost indefinitely, I am convinced that we should immediately take certain steps to strengthen the existing insecure military position.

4. I recommend that the following steps be taken:

The RCT which I requested as a reinforcement in Naf 115677 should be moved to Italy as soon as possible and should remain at my disposal. It is required to strengthen the left flank of 88th United States Division by covering the approaches to the vital airfields and installations at Udine and as a possible reserve.
The Yugoslav Government should be pressed to withdraw their detachment in Zone “A”. This detachment is a grave source of embarrassment owing to constant breaches of our orders, interference in local affairs and the hostile and defiant attitude of the officers and men. It is farcical to continue the pretense that it is under my command.
Provisions should now be made for the accommodation on a more tactical basis of troops of XIII Corps, plus the RCT requested in subparagraph 4 A above. This will involve an extensive hutting program which must be put in hand immediately. Details are being forwarded to the War Department and War Office separately. The only alternative would be to requisition a large number of schools and [Page 902] public buildings which are now in full use. This would have serious repercussions on the civil life of the country thereby increasing the military commitment.

5. From a purely military point of view I should very much like to withdraw our garrison from Pola. Its position is militarily indefensible and it would in any case have to be withdrawn immediately hostilities break out. I therefore request that, as a threatening situation may develop at very short notice, I be given permission to withdraw the Pola garrison at my discretion.

6. Finally, unless the measures I recommend above are taken, it is my duty to report that the United States and United Kingdom Governments are in my view taking grave military risks in Venezia Giulia.

  1. In a memorandum to the State–War–Navy Coordinating Committee dated June 28, the Joint Chiefs of Staff requested guidance “as a matter of urgency” on the political implications of complying with General Morgan’s requests contained in this telegram. By informal action on July 2, the State, War, and Navy Departments agreed that the contents of telegrams OCD 26 and OCD 27, July 1, from General Lincoln to the War Department, pp. 905 and 907, would constitute the guidance requested by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (740.0011 EW/6–2846)
  2. Reference is to the negotiations taking place in the Council of Foreign Ministers. For documentation regarding the Paris session of the Council of Foreign Ministers, April 25–May 15 and June 15–July 12, 1946, see vol. ii, pp. 88 ff.
  3. In his cable Naf 1156, June 15, to the Combined Chiefs of Staff, General Morgan pointed out the possibility of a Yugoslav coup de main in Venezia Giulia and requested that he be reinforced forthwith by one regimental combat team (RCT) from United States forces in the European Theater (740.0011 EW/6–2846).