860S.00/6–2348: Telegram

The United States Political Advisor (Joyce), at Trieste, to the Secretary of State


364. For Ambassador Cannon.

Reur conversation with General Gaither here June 19. Five American soldiers who were apprehended by Yugoslav authorities while swimming on beach in Yugoslav Zone FTT have not yet been returned [Page 528] although incident occurred June 15. Yugoslav Zone authorities on request to return these men simply reply they will be returned unharmed in due course. It is believed here that Yugoslav authorities will endeavor use this incident for propagandist purposes probably to bolster their allegations of frontier penetrations and border incidents caused by Anglo-American forces. Already Communist newspaper Trieste has started articles indicating these soldiers are espionage agents while at same time publishing photograph showing them amicably drinking beer with Difesa Popolare guards in Yugoslav Zone.
Information in headquarters here is that these soldiers came by sea in small boat to beach in Yugoslav Zone for swimming. Their names are: T/4 George C. Wilson, T/5 Augustin Santana Jr., T/5 Jarvis L. Saulnier, Pfc Gordon J. Foster, Private Archie M. Van Why.
Inasmuch as Military Headquarters consider they have exhausted direct approaches to obtain release of this group, it would be appreciated if your Embassy could take up matter expeditiously with Yugoslav Foreign Office with view to having Yugoslav official release these five soldiers immediately.1

Sent Belgrade, repeated Department as 361.2

  1. In telegram 333 of June 25 to Belgrade, not printed, the Department instructed the Embassy to request the immediate release of the five U.S. soldiers and further to protest the untenable delay in their return (860S.00/6–2348).
  2. In telegram 781 of June 28, not printed, the Embassy in Belgrade reported that Ambassador Cannon had seen the Assistant Foreign Minister Vlahov who stated that the Foreign Office had indicated three days earlier that the men should be released, and promised an immediate investigation (860S.00/6–2848).

    In telegram 382 of June 29, not printed, Joyce in Trieste reported that the five U.S. soldiers and the civilian boatman were returned by the Yugoslavs on the 26th (860S.00/6–2948).