The United States Political
Adviser in Trieste (Sims)
to the Department of
177. British American Military Government of Trieste ended this morning at 10 a.m. when General Derenzi entered Trieste and assumed control of the new territory.
The scheduled farewell ceremonies including British, American and Italian military parade and honor guards, were cancelled by Winterton because of rain and high winds not bora2 which Winterton claimed made it necessary for British aircraft carrier to sail at 11 a.m. with last British troop contingent. General Dabney and I used our level best persuasion on Winterton not to cancel parade despite inclement weather, but to no avail. Dabney even offered embark British parade troops on American transport which was standing nearer to parade center, should British aircraft carrier be forced by adverse wind conditions to sail prior ceremonies. Winterton declined all pleas. In final effort I personally obtained promise from Winterton to appear with Dabney and meet Derenzi without parade and military honors. In meantime Winterton had sent word to Derenzi at border that parade had been cancelled. Dabney proceeded to designated place to meet Winterton and Derenzi. Shortly after arrival there, we received word from Winterton on board British destroyer that Italian police had informed him he could not get through crowds and advised him against proceeding to meeting. Italian officer assigned to escort Winterton to meeting reported to Dabney’s staff officers later that he personally assured Winterton that he could move through streets in auto and strongly urged him accept Italian police escort. This Italian officer reported Winterton flatly refused. Derenzi, having been informed by Winterton of cancellation ceremonies, proceeded to another place, unaware that [Page 585] Dabney awaited him. When Derenzi did learn true facts he telephoned regrets to Dabney. Winterton sailed 11 a.m. without coming ashore after boarding vessel yesterday.
I must report that Dabney and I had steep uphill struggle past three weeks to convince Winterton it was necessary he participate in farewell ceremony and that he should leave Trieste in dignified manner. At one stage Winterton made up his mind take no active part in final day ceremony. We were successful in persuading him change mind and ceremonial plans were made accordingly. It must be pointed out Winterton has long suffered from fear of threats on his life and this fear has increased in recent weeks as the final days drew nearer. All of us were fully aware his deep concern this regard and all plans for today were made to provide maximum security for him. I must also report that widespread anti-British feeling on part populace was another factor which undoubtedly influenced Winterton’s actions and small scale jeering demonstration did take place at dock when one British destroyer sailed. Despite the danger of an assassin’s attack on him and local anti-British feeling, Dabney and I regard Winterton’s action as inexcusable and definitely destructive to our objective of troops leaving Trieste in best manner possible.
Fortunately the key Italian officials present were able to observe good intention on Dabney’s part carry out program and I fear severe adverse publicity will be directed at Winterton. I believe this publicity will take form of criticism against Winterton as individual, rather than as principal allied representative.
I should like to report that Dabney conducted himself in today’s events in most commendable manner, demonstrating at all times a deep sense of responsibility for UK–US relations here and displaying his genuine friendliness for the Italians. He was cheered long and loud by populace as he entered auto to leave Trieste. Also public gave our troops rousing sendoff as their ship sailed.
Derenzi’s entry to city with BIS troops was widely acclaimed by jubilant crowds and city is in festive mood in spite harsh weather.