No. 170
The Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Bonbright) to the Chief United States Negotiator in London (Thompson)
top secret

Dear Tommy: Thanks for your letter of the 16th1 with the tipoff of what the British are trying to do with regard to General Winterton’s successor.

All of us here agree very strongly that we should not permit the British to unload on us the responsibility for taking over the command [Page 376] in Trieste at this time. I mentioned the matter to General Eddleman yesterday when he was over giving us a firsthand account of your trials and tribulations and he seemed equally solid on the issue. I also spoke to Bob Murphy about it.

We are not quite so solid on the question whether Winterton should remain or should be allowed to turn over to another Britisher. In EUR we feel that it would be a mistake to have any change in the Trieste command at this time. Bob Murphy feels less strongly about this and General Eddleman seemed to think that there was another British General (I think the head of their G–2, but I didn’t catch the name) who could take over without any difficulty. However, I am less worried about this aspect of the problem and if the British are adamant on retiring Winterton I suppose we could yield on this as long as we remain firm that his successor will continue to be a Britisher and not an American.

We got the impression from General Eddleman that you might feel there was a lack of appreciation here of the difficulties of your negotiating position. I can only assure you that this is not the case and that we realize only too well what a tough position you are in, particularly in the light of the tactics which Velebit has been following. I only hope that the material which we have been sending you in the last few days and which will permit you to be more forthcoming in the way of exploring more concrete positions with the Yugoslavs will be helpful.

I wish I could be more optimistic concerning the prospects for your resumption of a normal home life but in all honesty I don’t see how I can.

As you probably know, Julius’ difficulties emerged into the open on Tuesday.2 There is no way of knowing how soon they will be resolved or what the upshot will be. In the circumstances any hope that he might be able to relieve you now seems extremely remote so that the question hinges pretty much on how rapidly progress can be made in reaching a position with the Yugoslavs which we would feel justified in trying to sell to the Italians.

Best regards.

As ever,

  1. Supra.
  2. Reference is to the announcement on Tuesday, Feb. 23, that Holmes had been charged by the Justice Department with defrauding the U.S. Government in surplus ship transactions. See Document 163.