World War Two: Sicily (2-14) Mussolini Overthrown-Planning mainland invasion

Sardinia Versus the Mainland: The successful invasion of Sicily clarified strategic problems and enabled the Allies to tum from debate to decision. The Combined Chiefs of Staff at the TRIDENT Conference in May had directed General Eisenhower to knock Italy out of the war and contain the maximum number of German forces, but they had not told him how. Preparing to launch operations beyond the Sicilian Campaign, AFHQ had developed several outline plans: BUTTRESS, invasion of the Italian toe by the British 10 Corps; GOBLET, a thrust at the ball of the Italian foot by the British 5 Corps; BRIMSTONE, invasion of Sardinia; and FIREBRAND, invasion of Corsica. But a firm decision on the specific course of action to be taken was still lacking.

 [N14-1 Memo, G-g AFHQ for AFHQ CofS, 1 Jun 43, sub: Opns After HUSKY, 0100/I-C/5g4,1I; AFHQ Directive to Comdrs of Naval, Ground, and Air Forces, 5 Jun 43, 0100/12C/534.II. For details of planning the invasion of Italy prior to the evolvement of AVALANCHE, see Martin Blumenson, Salerno to Cassino, a volume in preparation for the series UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II. See also Matloff, Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare, 1934-1944, pp. 15 2- 61 , 245-46.] 

The four plans, Eisenhower had explained to Churchill during the Algiers meetings in June, pointed to two broad alternative courses. If the Axis resisted vigorously in Sicily, thereby forecasting high Italian morale and a bitter and protracted struggle for the Allies, then BRIMSTONE and FIREBRAND, insular operations, were preferable. Otherwise, operations on the Italian mainland were more promising. Despite Churchill’s articulate enthusiasm for the latter course, Eisenhower had made no commitment. He awaited the factual evidence to be furnished in Sicily.

 Meanwhile, the Americans and British continued to argue over strategy. The Americans remained intent on guaranteeing a cross-Channel attack in 1944 and also advocated operations in Burma. The British were still intrigued by Mediterranean opportunities. The crux of the argument hinged on resources. 

Conscious of theater requirements after Sicily, no matter what operations were launched, General Eisenhower on 29 June asked the Combined Chiefs whether two American convoys could be diverted to his command. He requested a total of 13 combat loaders (9 for personnel, 4 for cargo) for retention in the theater. He recommended retaining 15 American destroyers in the area. He forecast his need for 930 military government officers in case of rapid Italian collapse. He again sought assurance that 40 ships per month were to be allocated to meet civilian supply requirements in Italy. 

The Combined Chiefs made no Immediate commitment, for they too were awaiting the initial results of the Sicily invasion. Not until 15 July-five days after the invasion-did the Combined Staff Planners draft a proposed reply to Eisenhower’s requests, and they favored granting Eisenhower’s wishes. Still, the divergence of American and British views prevented acceptance. The U.S. planners called attention to requirements elsewhere in the world. The British planners saw “the potential results” in the Mediterranean “so great” as to make unthinkable denying Eisenhower the resources he wished.

Discussing their planners’ recommendations on 16 July, the CCS decided to defer action on Eisenhower’s requests for resources, even though the news from Sicily was good. At Admiral Leahy’s suggestion, the Combined Chiefs agreed to accept Eisenhower’s strategic concept (as embodied in AFHQ’s four outline plans,) but only “for planning purposes,” and at General Marshall’s suggestion, they informed Eisenhower of their interest in a direct landing at Naples in place of an invasion of Sardinia, “if the indications regarding Italian resistance should make the risks involved worthwhile.” 

Indications of crumbling Italian resistance continued to encourage the Allies. With increasing frequency, reports from Sicily made clear the advanced state of disintegration in the Italian Army. In contrast, German units were displaying “their traditional determination and skill,” probably stimulated, AFHQ guessed, by the “poor performance of their Allies.” Looking to the Italian mainland, AFHQ believed that the Germans would reinforce the Italians and prepare for a strong defense of the Italian heel because of its proximity to the Balkans. In contrast, AFHQ planners underestimated the importance of the toe, Calabria, to the Axis.

 The planners felt that the terrain was not suitable for employing large forces, supply routes were vulnerable to Allied air attack, the Germans would find air support of their ground troops almost impossible, and their forces in that area would be continually threatened by the possibility of successive Allied seaborne outflanking movements. AFHQ estimated that the Germans would elect to defend Italy south of Naples but would place only small forces in Calabria. 

Disintegrating Italian morale, the expectation of finding small enemy forces in Calabria, and the relatively light losses in landing craft during the invasion of Sicily prompted AFHQ to become somewhat bolder in its strategic thinking. Allied success achieved in Sicily as early as the first three days of operations gave rise to the hope that the British Eighth Army would sweep rapidly up the east coast to Messina, making unnecessary the commitment of the British 78th and 46th Infantry Divisions as planned. AFHQ decided to employ these divisions to gain lodgment in Calabria, and approved a plan called BAYTOWN, which was, in effect, an ad hoc BUTTRESS. This projected an assault on the tip of Calabria, in the Reggio area, five days after the capture of Messina, by a brigade of the British 13 Corps assisted by paratroopers and commandos. The 78th and 46th Divisions were then, soon afterward, to make an assault landing on the shore of the Gulf of Gioia. [N14-7] 

But the tenacious defense conducted by the Germans around Catania blocked the British sweep toward Messina, and in conformity with original plans the 78th Division was committed in Sicily. The formal BUTTRESS and GOBLET, plans to be executed by the British 10 and 5 Corps remained valid. [N14-8] 

In addition, AFHQ began seriously to consider alternative plans leading to a rapid build-up of forces in the Naples area-MUSTANG, a rapid overland drive from Calabria, and GANGWAY, a seaborne landing to reinforce those troops that had seized Naples after an overland advance. More important was Eisenhower’s directive to General Clark, the U.S. Fifth Army commander, on 16 July: if the Allies landed in the toe, Clark and his army were to be ready not only to invade Sardinia but also “to support Italian mainland operations through Naples.” [N14-9] 

[N14-7 Min of Third Weekly Exec Planning Sec, 14 Jul 43, item 22, job 61C, reel IS3C: Alexander, Allied Armies in Italy, vol. I, p. 10; Eisenhower, Italian Dispatch,]

 [N14-8 Eisenhower, Italian Dispatch, p. 10; Memo, AFHQ for multiple addressees, 2S J un 43, sub: Chain of Command for, and Channels of Communication for Mounting, Opns BRIMSTONE, BUTTRESS and GOBLET, OIOO/I2C/S34,II; Ltr, MIDEAST to AFHQ, IS Jul 43, sub: BUTTRESS and GOBLET Order of Battle, same file. Directive, CofS AFHQ to CG Fifth Army,] 

On 17 July, after meeting with his chief subordinates, Tedder, Alexander, and Cunningham, General Eisenhower came to a Major decision. He canceled the invasion of Sardinia in favor of operations on the Italian mainland, the best area for “achieving our object of forcing Italy out of the war and containing the maximum German forces.” Though the situation had not sufficiently crystallized to permit informing the CCS precisely how the mainland was to be attacked or even the dates on which operations might be undertaken, the commanders discussed, as suggested by the Combined Chiefs, the possibility of a direct amphibious assault on Naples. This appeared impractical for two reasons: Naples lay beyond the limit of effective land-based fighter support, and too few landing craft would be available for such an assault in addition to BUTTRESS and GOBLET. MUSKET, on the other hand, a plan to invade the heel near Taranto, now appeared feasible even though it had earlier been rejected. The unexpectedly light losses of landing craft in Sicily would compensate for the difficulty of furnishing air protection over the Taranto assault area. Eisenhower therefore instructed Clark to plan MUSKET as an alternative to GANGWAY, which was oriented on Naples. [N14-10] 

[N14-9 sub: Opns on Italian Mainland. 16 Jul 43. Fifth Army Reds, KCRC, Opn GANGWAY, cabinet 196, drawer 4.] 

[N14-10 Rcd of Mtg at La Marsa, 1430, 17 Jul 43, job 26A, reel 22SB; Telg, Eisenhower to CCS, NAF 26S, IS Jul 43, Salmon Files. S-B-I (NAF, I J un 43-3 I Dec 43): Directive, Major General J. F. M. Whiteley, DCofS AFHQ. to CG Fifth Army, sub: Opns on Italian Mainland, 22 Jul 43, printed in Alexander, Allied Armies in Italy, vol. 1. pp. 66-67. The outline plan for Operation MUSKET (AFHQ P/96 Final, 24 Jul 43) is found in job 10A, red 13C.]

The crucial aspect of this project was the great distance of the Bay of Naples from the airfields which the Allies would be able to use-those in Sicily and those in Calabria to be seized in the initial attack on the mainland. Auxiliary aircraft carriers were not feasible for reinforcing land-based fighters because they could not launch modern fighters. In contrast, the Axis air forces, able to use airfields around Naples and Taranto, would have an extreme advantage. The P-39’s (Airacobras) and P-40’s (Kittyhawks) had short ranges. The P-38’s (Lightnings) and A-36’s (Mustangs) had the required range but lacked other desired characteristics. Spitfires, the best of the available fighters, if equipped with auxiliary ninety-gallon gasoline tanks, could reach the target areas but would not be able to operate over Naples for long. Only one aircraft carrier was operating in the Mediterranean, and this could not furnish enough planes to adequately support an amphibious operation N14-11]

 Despite the problem of air cover, enthusiasm grew in Washington and London for a direct attack against the Naples area, with the American and British Chiefs united and drawn toward this bold course by the manifest weakness of Italian resistance. But the argument over the allotment of resources continued. The British wished to pour into an invasion of the Italian mainland everything that could be made available, the better to guarantee success. The Americans, while recognizing the opportunity for aggressive action, insisted on holding to the previous over-all decisions limiting Mediterranean resources so as to make possible operations in northwest Europe and the China-Burma-India Theater.[N14-12] 

[14-11 Notes on the Air Implications of an Assault on Italian Mainland-Naples Area, 25 Jul 43, printed in Alexander, Allied Armies in Italy, vol. I, pp. 68-71. See also Craven and Cate, eds., vol. II, Europe: TORCH to POINTBLANK, pp. 489-91]

 Reports on disintegrating Italian morale continued to come in. In Greece and the Balkans at least five instances came to Allied attention of Italian commanders who indirectly approached British representatives attached to the patriot forces in Greece and in Yugoslavia. Italian war-weariness and a desire to come to terms seemed quite obvious from such overtures as well as from negotiations which some Italian officers were conducting with Mihailovitch, the Yugoslav Partisan leader. The Germans, appreciating clearly the danger of defection, had begun to occupy vital areas formerly held exclusively by Italians, thereby hoping to stiffen such areas, particularly those vulnerable to invasion. As the Allies continued in their conquest of Sicily and as the collapse of Italy seemed to draw ever nearer, the Allies believed that the Italian troops in the Balkans would remain passive except to defend against guerrilla attack; the Germans, in contrast, would remain staunch. [N14-13]

[N14-12 CCS 268/3, sub: Post-HUSKY Opns North African Theater, Memo by the Representatives of British Chiefs of Staff, 19 Jul 43, ABC 384 Post-HUSKY (14 May 43), Sec. 3; Matloff, Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare, 1943-1944, pp. 158-60; Bryant, The Turn of The Tide, pp. 549-51.).]

[14-13 Telg, MIDEAST to TROOPERS, repeated to FREEDOM, sub: Enemy Morale in the Balkans, 1/83652, 19 Jul 43, job 24, reel 188D. Cf. Butcher, lily Three Years With Eisenhower, p. 274 (entry for 2 Aug 43]

 With the benefit of such intelligence, the CCS came to partial agreement. On 20 July they approved General Eisenhower’s decision to invade the Italian mainland, and then instructed him to extend his amphibious operations “northwards as shore-based fighter cover can be made effective.” [N14-14]

The British, however, were not satisfied. On the next day, 21 July, the British Chiefs wired their representatives in Washington that the “Italian will to continue the war may be within measurable distance of collapse.” They urged Immediate bold action, specifically an amphibious attack against Naples. A day later the British Chiefs went further. They provided a plan, code-named AVALANCHE, for such an invasion and suggested the last week of August as a favorable, if fleeting, moment. The prospect of success, they admitted, depended largely on the adequacy of air cover, and they proposed allotting Eisenhower four escort carriers and one large British carrier, plus about forty cargo vessels over and above the TRIDENT allocations. Until General Eisenhower indicated his requirements for an attack in the Naples area, the British Chiefs urged that orders be issued to stop the movement of forces away from the Mediterranean theater.[N14-15]

[N14-14 CCS 268/4, 20 Jul 43, sub: Post-HUSKY Opns North African Theater, Rpt by Combined Staff Planners, 20 Jul 43; Min, 97th Mtg JCS, 20 Jul 43, item 12; Telg, CCS to Eisenhower, FAN 169, 20 Jul 43, Salmon Files, S-B-I.]

[N14-15 CCS 268/6, 21 Jul 43, sub: Post-HUSKY Opns North African Theater, Memo by Representatives of British Chiefs of Staff; CCS 268/7, 22 Jul 43, sub: Post-HUSKY Opns North African Theater, Msg From British Chiefs of Staff.]

 The Americans did not consider additional resources necessary. AFHQ already had, they believed, sufficient means to take Naples, and, if not, “reasonable hazards could be accepted.” They therefore proposed that the CCS instruct Eisenhower to prepare a plan, as a matter of urgency, for such an invasion, but using only the resources already made available for operations beyond Sicily. This meant an assault in the strength of about four divisions, as compared with the seven mounted for Sicily.

 The British were “most disappointed.” The Sicilian Campaign, it seemed to them, was even stronger proof that Italy could be eliminated from the war. This, they believed, would increase the chances not only for a successful but a decisive cross Channel attack into northwest Europe. Italian defeat the British regarded as the best if not the essential preliminary to the earliest possible defeat of Germany. And AVALANCHE, if feasible, was the best and quickest way to knock Italy out of the war.

 By this time AFHQ had made a formal study of the possibility of landing in the Naples area. General Rooks, the AFHQ G-3, on 24 July suggested the beaches fronting the Gulf of Salerno as the most suitable for an initial assault. He proposed that Clark’s Fifth Army start planning the operation as an alternative to MUSKET, a landing near Taranto. He thought an assault force of about four divisions would be enough, if provision was made for rapid follow-up and buildup. He felt that the Allies should make their main effort and strike their first blow in Calabria, by means of BUTTRESS and GOBLET. If as the result of these operations the Allies held the toe of Italy by the beginning of October, they could go ahead AFHQ’s conservative and deliberate approach to an invasion of the Italian mainland changed radically because of a revolutionary event which occurred on the next day and launch an invasion in the Naples area at Salerno.

[N14-17 CCS 268/8, sub: Post-HUSKY Opns North African Theater, Memo by Representatives of British Chiefs of Staff, 24 Jul 43.]

[N14-18-AFHQ P/G8 (Final), 24 Jul 43. sub: Appreciation of an Amphibious Assault Against the Naples Area, job 10A. reel 13C.]

The Overthrow of Mussolini

Soon after the Italian delegation returned from the Feltre conference to Rome on 20 July, Mussolini told Ambrosio that he had decided to write a letter to Hitler to request termination of the alliance. Because Mussolini’s abject behavior at Feltre had dispelled Ambrosio’s last illusions that the Duce might break away from Germany, Ambrosio made a sharp rejoinder. The opportunity of the spoken word, Ambr6sio said, had been lost at Feltre. Declaring that he could no longer collaborate in a policy that jeopardized the fate of Italy, Ambrosio offered Mussolini his resignation. Mussolini refused to accept it and dismissed the chief of Comando Supremo from the room.

[N14-1919 MS #P-058. Projeet 46, 1 Feb-8 Sep 43, Question 4; Castellano, Come firmai, pp. 56-57; Badoglio, Memorie e dotumenti, p. 65. 263]

 At this time, arrangements began to take definite form in Comando Supremo for a coup d’etat against the Duce as the essential step for getting Italy out of the war. Yet in a curiously inconsistent policy, Ambrosio made arrangements with OKW to reinforce the troops in Sicily. Either on 21 or 22 July, the decision was made to fight the campaign in Sicily to the limit. Formal assurance was made to OKW and the request forwarded for two additional German divisions 

Comando Supremo promised to do all within its power to this end and Ambrosio asked that German coastal and antiaircraft artillery be shipped to the Messina Strait area immediately, and that the 29th Panzer Grenadier Division be transferred from Calabria to Sicily, [N14-20] The Germans replied on 22 July. The 29th Panzer Grenadier Division would immediately be sent to Sicily. [N14-21] Two days later, Ambrosio conferred with Kesselring on getting more German divisions. Kesselring named the 305th and 76th Infantry Divisions as available. Both were in France but ready for transportation to Italy. Roatta had already discussed their commitment with Kesselring; he planned to place one in Calabria, the other in Puglia. Thus, while some Italians intrigued to get rid of Mussolini and the German alliance, others-in some instances the same ones were permitting the Germans to tighten their military grip on Italy. 

[N14-20 Ltr, Ambrosio to RinteIen, Comando Supremo, Prot. N. 15112, 22 Jul 43, IT 3029, folder IV, an. 4bis. There is another copy in Operazioni in Sicilia dal 20 al 31 luglio 1943, Narrativa, Allegati, It 99b, an. 67 (hereafter referred to as IT 9gb). See also OKW/WFSt, KTB, I.-3I.VlI.43. 23 Jul 43.]

 [N14-21 Ltr, Lt. Colonel Jandl (on behalf of Rintelen), fa No. 0641143, Rome, 22 Jul 43, Comando Supremo, Proiezione vie comunicazione del Brennero, 1943, IT 102.]

 At the beginning of July 1943 there were still three distinct groups in Italy who were actively working and plotting for Mussolini’s overthrow: dissident Fascists; the anti-Fascist opposition; and the military conspiracy. The dissident Fascists were led by Count Ciano and Dino Grandi. They were in touch with the Duke of Acquarone (the King’s private secretary) and, through him, with the King. Their hope was to supplant Mussolini but to retain the Fascist system. 

The underground anti-Fascist parties were held together by Ivanoe Bonomi. Their minimum program was a complete overthrow of the Fascist system and an immediate return to the pre-Fascist, parliamentary system of government. General Castellano and the small group associated with him in Comando Supremo were, like the others, in frequent contact with Acquarone and waited only for the King to give the word. For this group, the questions of institutional changes were altogether secondary to the problem of terminating the war, but they wished the command of Italy’s armed forces restored to the King in accordance with the Statuto. All three groups thought alike with respect to the German alliance. Dino Grandi wished an immediate break of the alliance following Mussolini’s dismissal, and a simultaneous approach to Great Britain for a separate peace. Bonomi advocated overtures to the Allies as soon as the new government was formed. Castellano’s whole purpose in plotting against Mussolini was to permit Italy to make a quick and direct approach to the Western Powers to end the war.

Among the small groups who had access to the Royal Palace, it was known that the King was considering a change in the head of the government, but he had not yet definitely made up his mind. On 5 July he mentioned to his aide de camp, Generale di Divisione Paolo Puntoni, that Ambrosio was making preparations for the removal of Mussolini which would be followed by a military dictatorship headed by either Maresciallo d’ Italia Enrico Caviglia or Marshal Badoglio. The King was not happy about either choice: he did not trust Badoglio’s character; he thought that Caviglia in power would mean a revival of freemasonry and rapprochement with the Anglo-Americans. Victor Emmanuel did not want to overthrow fascism at one stroke: he wished for gradual changes only. He recognized that Badoglio had a certain following among the masses which would be useful if Mussolini were dismissed. The King remarked to Puntoni that Ambrosio was undertaking too much and was having too many contacts outside military circles. 

Alessandro Casati, an intimate of Bonomi, spoke with Acquarone on 12 July and learned that the King’s private secretary was a gradualist, opposed to approaching the Allies at the same time that Mussolini was removed from power. 

Hoping to get Badoglio to change Acquarone’s position, Casati and Bonomi had a long conversation with the marshal on 14 July. Badoglio agreed that denunciation of the alliance with Germany should immediately follow the formation of a new government. He agreed that the new government would need the support of all the anti-Fascist parties; Liberal, Christian Democrat, Socialist, Communist, Actionist, and Democracy of Labor. He agreed with Bonomi that the proper solution was a politico-military cabinet that would eliminate fascism and break with Germany. He agreed to become -the head of the prospective government and to name the military members of the cabinet while Bonomi selected the civil members and served as vice president. But he objected to Bonomi’s desire for Della Torretta as Foreign Minister, insisting instead on Raffaele Guariglia, Ambassador to Turkey. Bonomi acceded on this point after some heated argument.

 At an audience with the King on 15 July, Badoglio presented a proposal for a new government under himself and the inclusion of Bonomi and other politicians in the cabinet. The King seemed to be decidedly averse to the proposal. He said he did not want any politicians. 

The men whom Badoglio proposed were all old, the King said, and they would simply give the appearance of a return to the pre-Fascist system. Unwilling to admit that he was even thinking of moving against Mussolini, Victor Emmanuel remarked that prearranged coups had little chance of success, particularly in Italy where people were not accustomed to keeping secrets. He terminated the audience without coming to a decision. Two days later, when Badoglio discussed with Bonomi and Casati the royal reception of his idea, he was only lukewarm on the feasibility of forming a government based on party support. Either the King would accept the Badoglio-Bonomi proposal, said the marshal, or else he, Badoglio, would withdraw the suggestion, thereby letting everyone resume his liberty of action. Sometime during the next few days, he sent personal and unofficial representatives to Switzerland to inform the British Government that he desired to make contact with the Western Allies. 

On 18 July, Acquarone let it be known that the King was preparing to act against Mussolini but that he wanted the new cabinet to consist of nonpolitical civil servants. Bonomi was greatly alarmed. The mere dismissal of Mussolini would leave the problem of the war and the German alliance unsolved. Calling on Badoglio on 20 July, Casati and Bonomi learned that Badoglio had been won over to the course of gradualism favored by Acquarone and the King. To warn the sovereign that gradualism would not solve the pressing problems of breaking the alliance and getting out of the war, Bonomi and Casati on 22 July submitted a memorandum to Acquarone. The memorandum was prescient though without effect. It pointed out that Germany would have no doubt of Italy’s real intentions once Mussolini was eliminated from power; that a gradualist policy would give Germany time to prepare for action against a new Italian Government; that a cabinet of civil servants devoid of political tendencies would be viewed as an enemy by Fascists, yet would find no support in the anti-Fascist circles; that the Anglo-American coalition would not be favorably disposed to such a cabinet because it would lack men of guaranteed anti-Fascist reputations; that in choosing politicians representing the people the King would follow custom, but in appointing civil servants he would draw upon himself the responsibility for the policies of that cabinet. 

Badoglio had several conversations with Ambrosio, who brought him up to date on the military situation and who carefully explained that Italy’s position toward Germany excluded a unilateral Italian declaration of withdrawal from the war because Italy had insufficient forces to back up an immediate breach of the alliance. Badoglio cautioned Ambrosio to do nothing without the express approval of the King. But in one of their discussions attended by Acquarone, they agreed that two things were necessary for the good of the country : to arrest Mussolini and half a dozen leading Fascist officials; and to use the Regular Army to neutralize the force of the Fascist militia. Acquarone carefully reported this discussion to the King.

 On 20 July, under the impact of Mussolini’s failure at Feltre and of the American bombing of Rome, the King made up his mind to act. He told Puntoni : “It is necessary at all costs to make a change. The thing is not easy, however, for two reasons: first, our disastrous military situation, and second, the presence of the Germans in Italy.” Two days later Victor Emmanuel apparently tried to induce Mussolini to offer his resignation. 

[N14-27 Badoglio, Memorie e documenti, pp. 62-63, 7[, 76; Castellano, Come firmai, pp. 51-52; MS #P-058, Project 46, [ Feb-8 Sep 43, Question 6. Castellano (Come firmai, page 49) states that at this time the German reaction appeared less of a danger than that of the Fascists.]

 There was a long discussion between the Duce and the King who subsequently told Puntoni: I tried to make the Duce understand that now it is only his person, the target of enemy propaganda and the focal point of public opinion, which impedes an internal revival and which prevents a clear definition of our military situation. He did not understand and he did not wish to understand. It was as if I had spoken to the wind.

 Through Acquarone, the sovereign informed General Castellano that he had made up his mind to appoint Badoglio as Mussolini’s successor. All preparations for the change in regime would have to be completed within six or seven days. Acquarone said that Mussolini had an audience scheduled with the King for 26 July, and Castellano made plans to have the Duce arrested shortly after that event.

 Another critical step was to protect the new government against a reaction by the Fascist militia. Comando Supremo therefore moved the 10th (Piave) Motorized Infantry Division and the 135th (Ariete) Armored Division to the Rome area, both to constitute a special corps under General Carboni. An intimate of Count Ciano and at the same time of Castellano, Carboni was ambitious. Though he had at times been a difficult subordinate, he was strongly anti-German and pro-Ally. No measures were planned in advance against a possible German reaction. The King intended neither to create an Immediate rupture in the Axis alliance nor to make an immediate approach to the Western Powers.

 As for Badoglio, in deciding to accept the high office, he acted with a soldierly sense of duty toward his sovereign. Whatever course the King wished to follow, Badoglio made clear that he, Badoglio, would execute. If the King commanded continuance of the war in alliance with Germany, Badoglio would loyally carry out that policy. If the King directed an approach to the Allies, Badoglio would undertake that course. The responsibility, Badoglio also made clear, would remain with the King.

 Victor Emmanuel was not happy to have the responsibility placed on his royal person, and he almost regretted the imminent change. Things were much easier with Mussolini, he thought, who was very clever and who took responsibility upon himself. The appointment of Badoglio meant, not a return to pre-Fascist constitutional procedures, but a return to absolute monarchy. While Mussolini as Capo del Governo claimed for that office all the power he could grasp, Badoglio deliberately restricted himself to the role of the King’s executive secretary. 

[N14-30 Roatta, Otto milioni, pp. 262-63; Rossi,Come arrivammo, p. 204. For unfavorable comments on Carboni as a general officer, see Generale Comandante di Corpo d’Armata Carboni, Giacomo, IT 972; for his early friendship with Ciano and Castellano, see Castellano, Come firmai, pp. 22ff]. 

[N14-31 See the penetrating comments in Telg, Colonel Helfferich, Rome, Chef. Amt Ausland Abwehr, 22 or 23 Jul 43, OKW/Amtsgruppe Ausland, 19.IV.-I.XI.43 (OKW/IOoo.2).] 

Curiously enough, Mussolini himself helped set the stage for his overthrow. Early in July, Carlo Scorza, the new Fascist party secretary, had planned a series of mass meetings in the principal cities of Italy and invited leading Fascists to exhort the people to determined resistance. Largely at Dino Grandi’s instigation, quite a few party officials refused the invitation. Several of these men saw Mussolini on 17 July, expressed their dissatisfaction with the situation, and proposed convening the Grand Council of Fascism, which had not met for more than three years. Surprisingly enough, five days later, on 24 July, after returning from the Feltre conference, Mussolini called the Fascist Grand Council to a meeting on 24 July. 

Aware of the King’s intention to oust Mussolini, Grandi skillfully lined up a Majority of the council members against the Duce. He drew up a resolution calling for the King to resume command of the armed forces. Some members signed it in the belief that it would merely force Mussolini to relinquish the military power he had exercised since the beginning of the war. Grandi and others hoped that a Majority vote favoring his resolution would be taken as a lack of confidence in Mussolini’s leadership and would induce the King to replace Mussolini by a triumvirate: Grandi, Ciano, and Federzoni (president of the Royal Academy) . The Grand Council of 28 members met at 1700, Saturday, 24 July. The debate on Grandi’s resolution lasted almost nine hours. Around 0300, 25 July, Mussolini acceded to Grandi’s demand for a vote. Of the 28 members, many of whom had remained silent during the course of the debate, 19 voted with Grandi against Mussolini.

 Neither Mussolini nor Grandi immediately realized what had happened. The Grand Council meeting was but a sideshow designed to furnish an appropriate occasion, a constitutional crisis, for dismissing the Head of Government. When Mussolini saw the King after the fateful poll, he told the monarch that the Grand Council vote did not require his resignation. The King would not listen. Coldly he told Mussolini that he had to resign-Marshal Badoglio would take his place. On leaving the palace, Mussolini was unable to find his car. Accepting the help of a carabinieri officer, he was escorted into an ambulance and whisked away. Not until later did he realize that he was under arrest. 

Grandi hung around all day waiting to be called to an appointment in the new cabinet. Like Bonomi, he believed in making immediate contact with the Allies, and to this end he sought permission to leave for Spain at once. Grandi wished to talk to the British Ambassador at Madrid, Sir Samuel Hoare, whom Grandi had known when he was Mussolini’s Ambassador to London. But Grandi had already played the part deftly assigned to him by Acquarone, and Grandi cooled his heels in Rome. Not until several weeks passed did the new government permit Grandi to go to Madrid, but without instructions, credentials, or power. As it turned out, Grandi’s trip proved to be of value, but as a red herring, for the Germans, who were hot on Grandi’s trail, failed to pick up the scent of the official mission dispatched to make contact with the Allies.

[N14-34 “Count Dino Grandi Explains,” Life, vol. 18, NO.9 (February 26, 1945), pp. 81-82; Badoglio, Memorte e documenti, pp. 73-74, 82. {N14-35}” Mussolini, Storia di un anno, pp. di …. 18; Bonomi, Diario, pp. 30-32. {N14-36} Mussolini, Storia di un anno, pp. 19-20; Monelli, Roma 1943, pp. 188-94; Puntoni, Vittorio Emanuele III, pp. 143-45.] 

The meeting of the Fascist Grand Council on 24 July gave the Roman public a sense of the political crisis. When news of Mussolini’s dismissal raced through the city on 25 July, people embraced each other in joy, danced in the streets, and paraded in gratitude to the King. Mobs attacked Fascist party offices. Fascist symbols were torn down.

 With one stroke the House of Savoy had removed the great incubus that had brought Italy into the war on the losing side, and everyone expected the new government to bring about an immediate peace. Never was a people’s faith in royalty destined to be more bitterly disappointed. No one paid much attention to the Germans, who disappeared from public view.

Allied Reaction

The overthrow of Mussolini took the Allies by surprise. At the TRIDENT Conference the Americans had argued that the Allies might bring about the collapse of Italy without invading the Italian mainland. The conquest of Sicily and intensified aerial bombardment of the mainland, they believed, might be enough. The British felt that only an invasion of the Italian mainland would guarantee Italian surrender, and this course of action had become the basic Allied concept continuing ground force operations beyond Sicily in order to knock Italy out of the war.

 The U.S. Department of State had as yet scarcely discussed the peace terms to be imposed upon a vanquished Italy. On 26 July, if it had been necessary, the Allies would have found it impossible to state their basic terms for peace-aside from unconditional surrender. The Allies even lacked a set of armistice terms for an Italy offering to surrender.

 They had discussed this matter but without reaching agreement. The British had proposed a long and detailed list of conditions to be imposed upon a defeated Italy. The Americans had not concurred because the British list did not mean total surrender. They had instead proposed a series of diplomatic instruments to obtain unconditional surrender and allow the extension of Allied military government over the whole of Italian territory. Differences in ultimate objectives effectively hindered Anglo-American agreement. The Americans had no qualms about putting the House of Savoy into protective custody and undertaking the political reconstruction of the country. To the British, the prospect of another dynasty going into discard was too painful to contemplate. Transatlantic discussions were continuing without definite conclusions when the developments on the Tiber made a decision vital.

Contradictory crosscurrents further complicated the discussions. The troublesome Italian Fleet had aroused British passion for revenge, and Churchill’s and Eden’s bitter experiences with Mussolini made them endorse a complete Italian surrender. American feeling against Mussolini had never reached a boiling point; the U.S. Government had no wish to gain territory at Italian expense, and a significant element in the American electorate was of Italian descent or origin and could not be ignored. These factors exerted a moderating influence on U.S. policy. 

The Combined Chiefs of Staff held a special meeting on 26 July, the day after Mussolini’ s overthrow; greatly elated by the news, they reached a decision of some import. Though the Americans refused to alter their stand on resources for an attack on Naples, they did not object when the British added one heavy and four escort carriers to the Mediterranean resources. The CCS agreed to expedite the elimination of Italy from the war by authorizing Eisenhower to launch AVALANCHE at the earliest possible date and with the resources available to him. 

In Tunis, also heartened by word of Mussolini’s downfall, Eisenhower was meeting with his principal subordinates to review the new situation. They decided that promising conditions called for a bolder course of action. Upon receipt of the CCS directive authorizing an invasion in the Naples area, Eisenhower ordered Clark to draw detailed plans for executing AVALANCHE. He also instructed Clark to prepare one division to sail directly into Naples and seize the port in conjunction with an airborne operation. Sensing the prospects of securing a speedy capitulation of the Italian Government, Eisenhower looked forward to occupying rapidly key points on the Italian mainland with Italian consent. 

By this time, Allied intelligence reports of Italian morale in the battle for Sicily were caustic. One stated: For the most part the Italian field formations have not shown a standard of morale and battle determination very much higher than that of the coastal units whose performance was so lamentably low …. Sheer war weariness and a feeling of the hopelessness of Italy’s position have, however, obviously been more potent influences and these have moreover permeated the field army to a considerable degree, with the result that a sense of inferiority and futility has destroyed its zest and spirit. 

To exploit the new political situation and Italian war weariness, General Eisenhower decided to pull all the stops on the organ of psychological warfare. If he could, by offering a simple set of armistice terms, eliminate Italy as a belligerent, the Allies would be able to use Italian territory in the war against Germany. Therefore, Eisenhower asked CCS approval of a radio message he proposed to broadcast constantly to the Italian people. 

He wished to commend the Italians and the Royal House for ridding themselves of Mussolini; to assure them that they could have peace on honorable conditions; to promise Italy the advantages of the Atlantic Charter and the Four Freedoms and also a voice in the final negotiations for world peace; to suggest that if the King remained at war with the Allies much longer, British and American odium concentrated on Mussolini would be transferred to the monarch, thereby making an honorable surrender difficult. The radio broadcasts, Eisenhower proposed, should urge the King to make immediate contact with the Allied commander in chief.  

[N14-43, Salmon Files, 5-B-r; Directive, DCofS AFHQ to CG Fifth Army, sub: Opns on the Italian Mainland, 27 Jul 43, Personal Papers of Colonel Robert J, Wood, file Outline Plan, Operation AVALANCHE; Min of Exec Planning Mtg 5, 27 Jul 43, job 6rC, reel r83C. 41 AFHQ G-2 Weekly Intel Sum 48, 27 Jul 43, job g, reel 23A.]

Armistice terms

General Eisenhower also drafted a set of armistice terms:

  1. Immediate cessation of all hostile activity by the Italian armed forces with disarmament as dictated by the C-in-C, and a guarantee by the Italian Government that German forces now on the Italian mainland will immediately comply with all provisions of this document.
  2. All prisoners or internees of the United Nations to be immediately turned over to the C-in-C, and none of these may, from the beg-inning of these negotiations, be evacuated to Germany.
  3. Immediate transfer of the Italian fleet to such points as may be designated by the C-in-C Med., with details of disarmament and conduct to be prescribed by him.
  4. Immediate evacuation from all Italian territory of the German Air Force.
  5. Immediate beginning of the evacuation of German land forces from the Italian mainland on phase lines to be so prescribed by the Allied C-in-C that the evacuation from all Italy will be complete within one month. German forces in Sicily are not affected by this armistice and will either surrender unconditionally or will be destroyed.
  6. Immediate surrender of Corsica and of all Italian territory, both islands and mainland, to the Allies, for such use as operational bases and other purposes as the Allies may see fit.
  7. Immediate acknowledgment of the overriding authority of the Allied Commander-in-Chief to establish military government and with the unquestioned right to effect, through such agencies as he may set up, any changes in personnel that may seem to him desirable.
  8. Immediate guarantee of the free use by the Allies of all airfields and naval ports in Italian territory, regardless of the rate of evacuation of the Italian territory by the German forces. These ports and fields to be protected by Italian armed forces until the function is taken over by the Allies.
  9. Immediate withdrawal of Italian armed forces from all participation in the current war from whatever areas in which they may now be engaged.
  10. Guarantee by the Italian Government that if necessary it will employ all its available armed forces to insure prompt and exact compliance with all the provisions of this armistice.

General Eisenhower proposed that this set of terms serve as the basis for a CCS directive, and that it also be broadcast to Italy. Knowledge of the terms and the assurances therein of honorable conditions of peace, he believed, would make the Italian population force the government to sue for an armistice. He did not envisage the active co-operation of Italian troops in the war beyond the enforcement of German withdrawal from Italian soil, for he believed that “they would deem it completely dishonorable to attempt to turn definitely against their former allies and compel the surrender of German formations now III the mainland of Italy”. His terms were an attempt to meet an Italian request for armistice before an Allied invasion of the mainland, and he made no mention of unconditional surrender.

[N14-43, Capitulation of Italy, p. ‘4 (a bound file of copies of telegrams and other documents relating to the Italian surrender, assembled for Major General Walter B. Smith, Chief of Staff, AFHQ).]

 Neither did President Roosevelt urge the unconditional surrender formula when he heard the news of Mussolini’s downfall. Cabling Churchill immediately, he suggested that if the Italian Government made overtures for peace, the Allies ought to come as close to unconditional surrender as possible and then follow that capitulation with good treatment of the Italian people. Roosevelt thought it essential to gain the use of all Italian territory, the transportation system and airfields as well, for the further prosecution of the war against the Germans in the Balkans and elsewhere in Europe. He wished provision made for the surrender of Mussolini, “the head devil,” and his chief associates, and he asked the Prime Minister for his Views on the new situation.

 As Minister of Defense and with the approval of his War Cabinet, Mr. Churchill sent the President his proposals on how to deal with a defeated Italy. Considering it very likely that the dissolution of the Fascist system would soon follow Mussolini’s overthrow, Churchill expected the King and Badoglio to try to arrange a separate armistice with the Allies. In this case, he urged that every possible advantage be sought from the surrender to expedite the destruction of Hitler and Nazi Germany.

 The text of Churchill’s proposals reached AFHQ soon after Eisenhower had dispatched his draft of terms to the CCS. Both sets of terms were closely similar. Both required the use of all Italian territory; insisted on control of the Italian Fleet; stipulated the return of prisoners of war to prevent their transfer to Germany; demanded the withdrawal of the Italian armed forces from further participation in the war against the Allies; and assumed that the Italians on Italian soil would be able to enforce German compliance with the terms of surrender.

 There were some differences. Using phraseology originally suggested by Roosevelt, Churchill called for the surrender of Mussolini and the leading Fascists as war criminals. Churchill thought of gaining the active aid of Italy’s armed forces against the Germans. If the Italian Fleet and Army came under Allied control by the armistice, the Prime Minister apparently would have been willing to acquiesce in the retention of sovereignty by the Italian Government (the monarchy) on the mainland. Eisenhower, in contrast, wished not only the power to establish military government but also an overriding authority over the Italian Government with power to appoint and dismiss officials. 

Eisenhower on 27 July explained to the CCS why he preferred his own conditions to Churchill’s. He wished to have a simple set of terms that could be broadcast directly to the Italian people. Hope for an honorable peace among the population, he thought, would make it impossible for any government in Italy to remain in power if it declined to make peace. But he did not wish to ask Italy to turn against the Germans, for he doubted the existence of much “fury” among the Italian people. Requiring active aid against the Germans would be offering the Italians merely a change of sides, whereas the great desire of the Italian people, he felt, was to be finished with the war.

[N14-47 Telg 383, Prime Minister to President, 26 Jul 43, ABC 381 Italy-Arm-Surr (5-9-43), Sec I-A; a copy of this telegram, No. 4116, which was forwarded by General Devers (in England) to Eisenhower was received at AFHQ at 0850, 27 July 1943, Capitulation of Italy, p. 9; Churchill (Closing the Ring, pages 56-58) prints the whole message.]

 Eisenhower’s program of psychological warfare, designed to bring the Badoglio regime to prompt capitulation, came under close scrutiny and eventual change by the heads of the British and American Governments. On the same afternoon, 27 July, that Eisenhower renewed his recommendation for a simple set of terms, the Prime Minister, in the House of Commons, was making the first official public declaration in response to Mussolini’s downfall.

 Churchill said: We should let the Italians, to use a homely phrase, stew in their own juice for a bit, and hot up the fire to the utmost in order to accelerate the process, until we obtain from their Government, or whoever possesses the necessary authority, all our indispensable requirements for carrying on the war against our prime and capital foe, which is not Italy but Germany. It is the interest of Italy, and also the interest of the Allies, that the unconditional surrender of Italy be brought about wholesale and not piece meal.

[N14-48 Telg 4894, Eisenhower to Devers for Prime Minister, 27 Jul 43, Capitulation of Italy, p. 17. {N14-49} Onwards to Victory: War Speeches by the Right Hon. Winston S. Churchill, compiled by Charles Eade (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1944), pp. 186-87.]

As he explained to Eisenhower privately, Churchill saw “obvious dangers in trying to state armistice terms in an attractive, popular form to the enemy nation.” It was far better, he said, for all to be “cut and dried and that their Government should know our full demands and their maximum expectations.” On the following day, 28 July, President Roosevelt in a public address reiterated the strong stand to be taken with Italy. He said: Our terms for Italy are still the same as our terms to Germany and Japan-‘Unconditional Surrender.’ We will have no truck with Fascism in any way, shape, or manner. We will permit no vestige of Fascism to remain.

The arguments seemed to be a luxury in view of the immediate prospect of getting Italy to surrender, and General Marshall explained the difficulty involved. The British Government, he telegraphed Eisenhower, had the attitude that a surrender involved political and economic conditions as well as military stipulations. The British therefore viewed Eisenhower’s authority as limited to purely local surrenders. And the President agreed that the Allied commander should not fix general terms without the approval of both governments. 

Eisenhower replied by asking for a directive from both governments empowering him to state general terms. There might be, he wrote, a fleeting opportunity to gain all objectives. Most important, he felt, was the prospect of obtaining Italian co-operation in seizing vital ports and airfields. But he had to be able to speak precisely and authoritatively to the commander in chief of the Italian forces. If economic and political matters could be settled later, he might by the use of military terms alone be able to bring the campaign in the Mediterranean to a rapid conclusion, thus saving resources for operations elsewhere.

[N14-51 United States and Italy 1936-1946: Documentary Record, U.S. Department of State Publication 2669, European Series 17 (Washington, 1946), p. 45]

 At the same time, he sent a message to Mr. Churchill, explaining his request for a directive on a slightly different ground. Because he was conducting the war in the Mediterranean in accord with the CCS instruction to force Italy out of the war, he felt it his duty to take quick and full advantage of every opportunity. Meanwhile, the British Foreign Office on 27 July had informed the U.S. State Department that the British considered the King of Italy or Badoglio acceptable for the purpose of effecting surrender. What continued to be a problem was whether the surrendering authority should be permitted to continue in office.

 The Combined Civil Affairs Committee took up the surrender matter on 29 July, but was unable to reach a decision or to make any positive recommendations. The British representative urged that the earlier proposal, the lengthy draft of detailed conditions known as the Long Terms, be approved by both governments so that General Eisenhower could present civil as well as military terms. The Americans objected, as they had previously, on the ground that the Long Terms did not provide for unconditional surrender.  

On the same day, the British Defense Committee cabled its views to the CCS. Unconditional surrender, the British believed, had political and economic, as well as military, connotations. The armistice terms should therefore be comprehensive and inclusive. They recommended that General Eisenhower be authorized to accept a general surrender, but urged that the Long Terms be used as the surrender instrument. Considering it rather unlikely for the Italians to approach General Eisenhower directly, they anticipated as more probable an Italian bid for peace through the Vatican or some neutral state. The proposal to secure an initial surrender on the basis of military terms, this to be followed by agreement to economic and political terms, struck the British as faulty. What if the Italian Government refused to sign at the second stage? Precise terms were needed, and civil as well as military conditions would have to be included. And toward that end, the British planned in the near future to submit to the U.S. Government a comprehensive draft of terms in the expectation that the two Allied governments would reach agreement in plenty of time for AFHQ to conduct the actual negotiations.  

[N14-56 Min, 3rd Mtg CCS, 29 Jul 43, ABC 381 Italy-Arm-Surr (5-9-43) Sec I-A, item 6. {14-57:}Telg 4995, Foreign Minister Eden to Viscount Halifax (repeated to British Resident Minister, Algiers), 29 Jul 43; Telg 387, Churchill to Roosevelt, 29 Jul 43, both in OPD Misc Exec 2, item 5; Telg 4157, Churchill to Eisenhower. 29 Jul 43, Capitulation of Italy, pp. 43-44; Cf. Churchill, Closing the Ring, pp. 60-61.] 

At this juncture President Roosevelt, though concurring m the British view that the precise armistice terms should not be broadcast, urged that General Eisenhower’s recommended draft of surrender articles be accepted. [N14-58] He seemed mainly impressed by Eisenhower’s argument that great military gains would accrue at little cost if a simple set of terms of surrender could be used to secure the rapid elimination of Italy from the war. Thus, although he had publicly proclaimed his adherence to unconditional surrender, and although he had left the American members of the CCS with the impression that he was standing by that formula, he did not mention the phrase in his correspondence with Churchill Furthermore, he recognized that insisting on having Mussolini turned over as a war criminal might prejudice the primary objective of getting Italy quickly out of the war, and he did not recommend a modification of Eisenhower’s draft on this point.

 As Mr. Roosevelt explained to the press, he did not care with whom he dealt in Italy so long as that person-King, prime minister, or a mayor-was not a member of the Fascist government; so long as he could get the Italian troops to lay down their arms; and so long as he could prevent anarchy. At the same time, the President warned neutral nations against sheltering Axis war criminals.

[N14-58 The President stipulated one slight change dealing with the withdrawal of the German forces on the Italian mainland. Telg 330, Roosevelt to Churchill, 29 Jul 43, ABC 381 Italy-ArmSurr (5-9-43), Sec I-A.]

 Meanwhile, the British and American Governments had approved an emasculated version of Eisenhower’s draft message to be broadcast to the Italian people. References to the Atlantic Charter and to peace conditions were dropped. The return to Italy of Italian prisoners captured in Tunisia and Sicily was promised if all Allied prisoners held by the Italians were repatriated. On 29 July, therefore, AFHQ began to transmit the following broadcast to Italy: We commend the Italian people and the House of Savoy on ridding themselves of Mussolini, the man who involved them in war as the tool of Hitler, and brought them to the verge of disaster. The greatest obstacle which divided the Italian people from the United Nations has been removed by the Italians themselves. The only remaining obstacle on the road to peace is the German aggressor who is still on Italian soil.

 You want peace. You can have peace immediately, and peace under the honorable conditions which our governments have already offered you. We are coming to you as liberators. Your part is to cease immediately any assistance to the German military forces in your country. If you do this, we will rid you of the Germans and deliver you from the horrors of war. As you have already seen in Sicily, our occupation will be mild and beneficent. Your men will return to their normal life, and to their productive avocations and, provided all British and Allied prisoners now in your hands are restored safely to us, and not taken away to Germany, the hundreds of thousands of Italian prisoners captured by us in Tunisia and Sicily, will return to the countless Italian homes who long for them. The ancient liberties and traditions of your country will be restored.

 [N14-61 The revision and clearance with the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the broadcast to Italy can be traced in: Telg 327, Roosevelt to Churchill, 27 Jul 43,]

 The day this broadcast hit Italy, 29 July, Hitler was directing the new divisions for Rommel’s Army Group B to make their way across the borders into Italy through use of force if necessary. Roatta, chief of the Italian Army, was drafting instructions to commanders in northern Italy to mine the railways against German incursion. Guariglia, the new Foreign Minister, had just returned to Rome where rumors were current of an impending German descent upon the capital in force. In Sicily, where the U.S. Seventh and British Eighth Armies were pressing forward vigorously all along the line, Italian resistance had virtually collapsed. Throughout Italy the population expected Badoglio to bring about an end to the war. Though the Badoglio government beamed Eisenhower’s broadcast from publication, the message in mimeographed form quickly appeared on the streets of the principal cities, where it became the chief topic of discussion in street cars and cafes. According to one competent observer, the Allied broadcast was the straw that broke the camel’s back. 

As Churchill and Roosevelt clearly wished, the psychological warfare beamed to Italy from the Allied headquarters in Algiers was sharply differentiated from the problem of agreeing on suitable articles of capitulation. There was a difficult problem regarding armistice terms, General Marshall telegraphed General Eisenhower on the 28th, because the attitude of the British Government was that political and economic conditions were involved as well as strictly military stipulations. Meeting on 30 July, the British War Cabinet agreed to accept Eisenhower’s draft conditions for Italian capitulation, subject to several amendments.

[N14-Italy, pp. 20-21, 31, 46. The Italian text as received in Italy is printed in: Ministero degfiafjari Esteri, Il contributo itafiano nella Guerra contro fa Germania (Rome: Istituto Poligrafico Dello Stato, 1946), p. 1. See also Telg 324, Roosevelt to Churchill, 25 Jul 43, and Telg Roosevelt to Eisenhower, 28 Jul 43, both in OPD -00.6 Security (OCS Papers).]

 The British wished to omit all references to German forces and to add a stipulation that the Italians must do their best to deny to the Germans facilities useful to the Allies. They proposed to augment Eisenhower’s power by enabling him to order the Italian Government to take such administrative or other action as he might require-this in addition to his authority to establish military government. They wanted greater clarity in spelling out the power to prescribe demobilization, disarmament, and demilitarization. They wanted provision made for the surrender of Italian war criminals, and for the disposition of Italian merchant shipping.

 With these changes, the cabinet was willing to authorize Eisenhower’s terms as an emergency arrangement-if the Italians suddenly sued for peace and if military developments required immediate acceptance. If it turned out that the Allies had time to negotiate through diplomatic channels, the British desired the Americans to give careful consideration to the formal set of articles-the Long Terms-proposed earlier by the British.

 On the following day, the last day of July, the President and Prime Minister approved the short military terms. Nothing was to be said about war criminals, for Roosevelt believed that problem might better be taken up later. Churchill suggested two changes of wording for the sake of precision; emphasized his government’s agreement to the short terms only to meet an emergency situation; and revealed that London found puzzling Washington’s lack of reference to the original British terms, a comprehensive and more carefully worded version of the armistice terms. 

On the same day Churchill suggested to Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden that concluding an armistice with Italy in two stages-initially the short military terms, later the signature of the long terms might be a sound procedure. Even in the event of a diplomatic approach, Churchill felt, the military conditions might serve very well, for the short terms would be more easily understood by an Italian envoy. The British Foreign Office was not particularly receptive to Churchill’s thought. Eden preferred unconditional surrender. 

General Eisenhower now had, by the end of July, a draft of armistice terms ready for presentation to Badoglio if the latter should seek to get out of the war, as he was expected to do. But it was still not clear between London and Washington what should happen to the Italian Government after acceptance of the short terms. President Roosevelt studied the British draft of comprehensive terms, but he did not wish to use it. He wired this view to Churchill: that in the future he preferred to let Eisenhower act to meet situations as they might arise. A copy of this message was given to the American Joint Chiefs and to the British Joint Staff Mission for their guidance. At the same time, in deference to Churchill’s inquiries, President Roosevelt directed the Joint Chiefs to re-examine the British draft of the Long Terms. 

[N14-64 Telg, Roosevelt to Churchill, 31 Jul 43, ABC 381 Italy-Arm-Surr (5-9-43), sec. I-A, (copy to Eisenhower in Telg 3824, Marshall to Eisenhower, 31 Jul 43, Capitulation of Italy, pp. 59-60); Telg, Churchill to Roosevelt, as given in Telg 4222, Devers to Eisenhower, 31 Jul 43, Capitulation of Italy, pp. 66-67.]


On 3 August, the Joint Chiefs again studied the Long Terms, the British proposal which had first been considered in the Combined Chiefs of Staff meeting of 16 June. The Joint Chiefs submitted four objections to the British proposal: there was no statement or reference to unconditional surrender; it referred to the “Supreme Command of the United Nations,” a position which did not exist; the document did not deal with German troops in Italy; and it provided for implementation by a Control Commission under the authority of the United Nations, rather than by Eisenhower under the authority of the United States and British Governments through the Combined Chiefs of Staff. The Joint Chiefs expressed agreement with President Roosevelt’s view that Eisenhower be permitted to act to meet situations as they arose, using the terms already furnished him as he saw fit. They conceded that the British proposal, with appropriate amendments to meet U.S. objections, might serve a useful purpose for later phases of the Italian situation, since it did embrace in a single document many well-considered military, political, and economic conditions to be imposed on Italy.

[N14-66 Memorandum for General Marshall, Admiral King, and General Arnold, 2 Aug 43, sub: Surrender Terms, OPD Exec 2, item 5, tab 25 (copy in OPD 300.6 Security (OCS Papers).] 

The British Government now reintroduced its draft of the Long Terms, with changes of wording to meet the American objections, particularly in regard to unconditional surrender. At its fourth meeting, the Combined Civil Affairs Committee again considered terms for Italian surrender. The British members presented the British War Cabinet’s point of view: a comprehensive and all-inclusive statement of terms would be necessary in addition to the terms which General Eisenhower already possessed and they submitted the revised and amended British draft of the Long Terms for this purpose. The committee agreed that additional terms dealing with political and economic matters would be necessary at a later date. The American members pointed out that the short terms did not include any saving clause empowering General Eisenhower to impose the political as well as military conditions. The committee then recommended the inclusion of such a saving clause. No other decision was made. 

[N14-67 JCS Memo for President, 3 Aug 43, sub:Draft Instrument of Surrender of Italy, ABC 38 I Italy-Arm-Surr (5-9-43), sec. I-A. 68 Memo for rcd, Surrender Terms for Italy, n.d., Document A, n.d., ABC 381 Italy-Arm-Surr (5-9-43), sec. I-A. Document A is the revised version of CCS 258 with Article 30 filled out, and with the formula for unconditional surrender incorporated in the preamble. The Civil Affairs Division of the War Department and the Strategy and Policy Group of OPD made the suggestions for the rewording.]

On 6 August, the Combined Chiefs accepted the committee’s suggestion for a saving clause, and instructed General Eisenhower that if he employed the draft terms which he already had, he should make it clear that they were purely military and that other conditions, political, economic, and financial, would follow. 

Mussolini’s downfall, therefore, marked no turning point in Allied strategy. It merely hastened the decision to invade the Italian mainland, but it in no sense brought about the decision itself. At American insistence, operations in the Mediterranean beyond Sicily were to be limited-subordinate to the main effort to be launched later in northwest Europe. With his resources consequently curtailed, General Eisenhower was to find that the success or failure in the campaign after Sicily would depend not on the power marshalled in support of the invasion but rather on negotiations to eliminate Italy as a belligerent. The blow at the Italian mainland, originally conceived as a means of forcing the Italians to surrender, was to become contingent on first eliminating Italy from the war as the result of military diplomacy.

Rome: Open City

During the last few days of July, while working out the terms of military diplomacy to induce Italy to quit the war, while broadcasting to the Italian people a program of psychological warfare, and while expecting word from the Badoglio government on the prospect of peace, General Eisenhower had suspended heavy air raids on Italian cities. The lull coincidentally served another purpose. The Mediterranean Allied air forces had been operating at close to full capacity for a long time, and air commanders wished to give their crews a rest. 

On the first day of August, after conferring with Tedder, Eisenhower decided to resume air bombardments, particularly in the Naples area and on the railroad marshaling yards around Rome. Before doing so, he broadcast his intention a day earlier. Another Algiers radio broadcast on 2 August warned the Italian people of dire consequences if the Badoglio government made no move to end the war.

 The Allied air forces then bombed the Italian mainland. U.S. Flying Fortresses attacked Naples twice, night-flying British Wellingtons raided Naples three times during the first week of August. An operation planned against the Rome marshaling yards for 3 August was canceled at the last minute because AFHQ received word from the Combined Chiefs that the Italian Government had requested a statement of conditions necessary to recognize Rome as an open city.

 The Italian attempt to gain for Rome the status of an open city was the first diplomatic approach received by the Allies. The Initiative apparently had come from the Holy See, for on 31 July the Vatican received in response to its request, a written statement from the Italian Government that the decision had been made to declare Rome an open city. Transmitting this information, the Apostolic Delegate in Washington informed Sumner Welles, Under Secretary of State, on 2 August that the Papal Secretary of State wished to ascertain what conditions the Allies deemed necessary for regarding the Italian capital in this light. The State Department informed the British Government and General Marshall, and the latter advised Eisenhower, suggesting that air bombardment of Rome be halted for the moment. It was then that General Eisenhower canceled the bombardment planned for 3 August. Next day Eisenhower learned that he was free to attack airfields near Rome being used by Italians and Germans, but bad flying weather around the Italian capital caused him to cancel the mission.

 [N14-71 Telg W-6503, Eisenhower to Marshall, 4 Aug 43, and Telg 4115, Marshall to Eisenhower, 3 Aug 43, both in Smith Papers, box 4. See also Butcher, My Three Years With Eisenhower, pp. 382-83. Telgs W-6406 and W-6509, Eisenhower to Marshall, 3 and 4 Aug 43, and British Resident Minister in Algiers to Churchill, 4 Aug 43, Smith Papers, box 4; New York Times, August 3, 1943, p. I.]

[N14-73 Coles, USAAF Hist Study 37, pp. 163-64; Telgs W-6406 and W-6509, Eisenhower to Marshall, 3 and 4 Aug 43, and Telg W-6516/7711, AFHQto AGWAR, 4 Aug 43, all in OPD Exec 2, item 6; see also, Butcher, My Three Years With Eisenhower, pp. 378-79.] 

The War Department, meanwhile, on 2 August had submitted to the President and to the State Department a list of seven conditions considered essential for recognizing Rome as an open city. Churchill and his War Cabinet vigorously opposed such recognition. Apprehensive lest such a move be taken by the Allied public as an abandonment of the principle of unconditional surrender and as a willingness to make a patched-up peace with the Badoglio regime, Churchill also suspected that the Italian Government might be taking the first step toward trying to secure recognition of all of Italy as a neutral area so that the government could withdraw painlessly from the war. Believing that Allied troops would be in Rome within a few months, Churchill saw the city’s communication and airfield systems as a requirement for further advance up the Italian peninsula. 

[N14-74 Ltr 492/42, Archbishop Cicognani to Sumner Welles, 2 Aug 43, OPD Exec 2, item 6; Memo, Colonel Hammond for President, White 22, 2 Aug 43, OPD Exec 2, item 5; Memo, Sumner Welles for Marshall, 2 Aug 43, inclosing request from Apostolic Delegate; Memo, Marshall for Handy, 2 Aug 43, sub: Rome an Open City; Telg, Marshall to Eisenhower, FAN 181, 2 Aug 43; Memo, Colonel Hammond for President, White 25, 2 Aug 43; Memo, Col Hammond for Marshall, 3 Aug 43, all found in OPD 300.6 Security (OCS Papers)]

 Though agreeing with the Prime Minister’s objections, the JCS recommended that the President avoid making a direct denial to the Holy See’s request. In accordance with the suggestion, Mr. Sumner Welles on 5 August told the Apostolic Delegate that the matter was receiving the fullest consideration by the highest American authorities. He concluded: “I am instructed by the President to state that, in accordance with the accepted principles of international law and of pertinent international agreements, there is nothing to prevent the Italian Government from undertaking unilaterally to declare Rome an open city.”

[N14-7676 Memo, JCS for President, 5 Aug 43, and for General Hull, 19 Aug 43, both in OPD Exec 2, item 6; Telgs, Eisenhower to Marshall and Marshall to Eisenhower, Smith Papers, box 4.]

 The first diplomatic move made by Italy toward the Allies, tentative and tangential though it was, thus received an ad hoc reception that was rather cold. Without further communication, the Italian Government on 4 August formally declared Rome an open city. 

[N14-7r. Msg 403, Churchill to Roosevelt, 4 Aug 43, OPD Exec 2, item 6; Telg 401, Churchill to Roosevelt, 3 Aug 43, and Telg 402, Churchill to Roosevelt, 4 Aug 43, OPD 300.6 Security (OCS Papers). There were some reports of this plan in the press. See Associated Press dispatch of July 31, 1943, Berne, Switzerland, in New York Times, August 1, 1943, and article by Edwin L. James, p. E-3.]

 At first the CCS instructed Eisenhower to make no further air attacks against the Italian capital until its status could be clarified. But on the following day, 15 August, the CCS decided that the Allies should not commit themselves on the matter, and they thereby left Eisenhower free to bomb such military objectives in the Rome area as he judged necessary.

 [N14-77 CCS-G06, 14 Aug 43, Rome an Open City; Min, 108th Mtg CCS. 15 Aug 43, item II; Telg,CCS to Eisenhower, FAN 191, 14 Aug 43, and Telg, CCS to Eisenhower, FAN 194, 15 Aug 43,OPD Exec Il, item 6; Te1g 5309 Marshall to Eisenhower, 14 Aug 43. and Telg 1682, AFHQto KKAD, Quebec, 15 Aug 43, both in Smith-Papers, box 4.]

SOURCE: Sicily and the Surrender of Italy: BY; Lieutenant Colonel Albert Nutter Garland & Howard McGaw Smyth (United States Army Center of Military History)

World War Two: Sicily (2-15) Dissolution of the Rome-Berlin Axis-Contacting the Allies

World War Two: Sicily (2-13) Fellre Conference – Drive on Palermo


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