World War Two: Tinian (3-13) Pre-invasion planning-Enemy defenses

Writing after the war, Admiral Spruance expressed the opinion, “The Tinian operation was probably the most brilliantly conceived and executed amphibious operation in World War II.” To General Holland Smith’s mind, “Tinian was the perfect amphibious operation in the Pacific war.” Historians have by and large—endorsed these sentiments. Much of this praise is well deserved, although a close examination of the facts reveals that these, like most superlatives, are somewhat misleading. The invasion of Tinian, like other military operations, was not entirely without flaw. Various deficiencies can be charged to both plan and execution. Yet, as an exercise in amphibious skill it must be given a superior rating, and as a demonstration of ingenuity it stands as second to no other landing operation in the Pacific war.

Situated only about 3-5 miles off the southern coast of Saipan, Tinian is the smaller of the two islands. From Ushi Point in the north to Lalo Point in the south, it measures about 12.5 miles, and in width it never extends much more than 5 miles.4 In one respect its terrain is not as formidable for would-be attackers than that of Saipan—it is far less mountainous. In the northern part of the island Mount Lasso rises to 564 feet, or only a little more than a third of the height of Tapotchau. Another hill mass of almost the same height dominates the southern tip of the island and terminates in heavily fissured cliffs that drop steeply into the sea. Most of the rest of the island is an undulating plain, which in the summer of 1944 was planted in neat checkerboard fields of sugar cane.

It was indeed the relative flatness of Tinian’s terrain that made it such a desirable objective—that and the fact that its proximity to Saipan made its retention by the Japanese militarily inadmissible. Tinian’s sweeping plains and gentle slopes offered better sites for bomber fields than its more mountainous sister island, and of course one of the main objectives of the Marianas operation was to obtain sites for air bases for very long range bombers. To a limited extent, the Japanese had already realized this possibility and near Ushi Point had constructed an airfield that boasted a runway almost a thousand feet longer than Aslito’s. In addition, smaller fields were located just south of the Ushi Point field and at Gurguan Point, and another was under construction just northeast of Tinian Town.

But if the island was well suited by nature for the construction of airfields, its natural features were also well disposed to obstruct a landing from the sea. Tinian is really a plateau jutting up from the surrounding ocean, and most of its coast line consists of cliffs rising sharply out of the water. Only in four places is this solid cliff line interrupted. Inland of Sunharon Bay, in the area of Tinian Town on the southwest coast, the land runs gradually to the sea, offering a fairly wide expanse of beach protected by the usual reef line. South of Asiga Point on the east coast there is an indenture in the cliff wall that forms a small approachable beach about 125 yards in length. The northwest coast line offers other possible routes of ingress through the cliffs over two tiny beaches about 60 and 150 yards in length, respectively.

The peculiar features of the coast line placed American planners in a dilemma. The beaches off Tinian Town were obviously the best suited for a landing operation, but by the same token they were the best fortified and defended. The other beaches, which were little more than dents in the cliff line, were obviously not desirable sites for an amphibious assault of corps dimensions. The risks of troops and supplies being congested to the point of immobility as they tried to pour through these narrow bottlenecks were considerable and alarming. For these reasons, which were just as apparent to the Japanese as to the Americans, defenses on the smaller beaches were less formidable than those elsewhere.

[N13-5 NTLF Rpt Marianas, Phase III, Incl D, G-2 Rpt, p. 32. 6 Ibid., Annex A. ]

In the end, the American planners seized the second rather than the first horn of their dilemma, chose the narrow beaches on the northwest coast, and accepted the risks that troops, equipment, and supplies might pile up in hopeless confusion at the water’s edge. Having made the choice, the planners were compelled to devise special means of overcoming the accepted risks. This involved working out novel techniques that were radical modifications of standard amphibious doctrine as it had been evolved during the war in the Pacific. Paradoxically then the invasion of Tinian was a “perfect amphibious operation” largely because it was atypical rather than typical—because of its numerous departures from, rather than its strict adherence to, accepted amphibious doctrine.

Plan for the Invasion

From the very outset of the planning for the seizure of the southern Marianas, Tinian had been considered one of the three main targets of the operation. Holland Smith’s Northern Troops and Landing Force was ordered to “land, seize, occupy and defend SAIPAN Island, and then . . . be prepared for further operations to seize, occupy and defend TINIAN Island.”

Consequently, planning for the Tinian phase commenced at the same time as that for the capture of Saipan and was continuous until the very day of the landing on Saipan. By the time Admiral Turner’s task force set sail from Pearl Harbor, maps, photographs, and charts of Tinian had been distributed and tentative arrangements had been made for loading and for resupply shipping. While at sea, Holland Smith’s staff had more leisure than earlier to concern itself with this phase of the operation, and by the time the ships reached Eniwetok a draft plan was ready for the commanding general. In devising this plan, the staff gave due consideration to the relative merits of the various landing beaches and recommended that a landing be made on northern Tinian in order to make full use of artillery emplaced on southern Saipan.

While the fighting for Saipan was in process, the Americans were afforded ideal opportunities for scrutinizing the island to the south from every angle. Beginning on 20 June, when artillery first bombarded Tinian from southern Saipan, 9 observation planes flew daily over northern Tinian. Frequent photo reconnaissance missions were flown, and many valuable documents throwing light on Tinian’s defenses were captured on Saipan. Opportunities for gathering intelligence were almost without limit, and it is doubtful if any single enemy island was better reconnoitered during the Pacific war.

With Saipan secured and the preparations for the next landing in mid-passage, a change in command within the Northern Troops and Landing Force was ordered. On 12 July General Holland Smith was relieved and ordered to take command of Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, a newly created headquarters for all Marine Corps combat units in the theater. The new commanding general of Northern Troops and Landing Force was General Schmidt, who was in turn relieved of his command of the 4th Marine Division by General Cates. Concurrently, a shift in the naval command structure took place. Admiral Hill, who had served as Admiral Turner’s second in command, took over a reconstituted Northern Attack Force (Task Force 52) and thus became responsible, under the Commander, Joint Expeditionary Force (Admiral Turner as Commander, Task Force 51), for the capture of Tinian.

As planning for Tinian went into high gear, it was becoming increasingly apparent to all hands that the original concept of landing the assault troops somewhere in the northern part of the island was sound. Members of the staff of the 4th Marine Division, notably Lieutenant Colonel Evans F. Carlson, the division’s planning officer, had already decided that an amphibious landing in this area was desirable. Working independently of the Marines, Admiral Hill had arrived at the same conclusion. All agreed that the Tinian Town area was too well defended to justify an amphibious assault there and that the advantages of heavy artillery support for landings on the northern beaches were too considerable to ignore.

All, that is, but one. Admiral Turner was still not convinced. In his mind, the Tinian Town beaches offered important advantages that should not be lightly dismissed. From the point of view of gradient and inland approaches, the Tinian Town beaches were even more favorable to the attacker than those used on Saipan and certainly far better than Tinian’s other beaches. Also, Sunharon Bay offered an excellent protected harbor for small craft and good facilities for unloading supplies, once the beachhead was secured. On the other hand, the beaches in the northern half of the island, argued the admiral, were too narrow to permit a rapid landing of a force of two divisions with full supplies and equipment, and if the weather took a turn for the worse the shore-to-shore movement of supplies in small craft from Saipan might be seriously endangered. In addition, an advance down the full length of the island would take too much time, and the troops would soon outrun their artillery support based on Saipan—an especially dangerous prospect should weather conditions forbid shifting the heavy artillery pieces from Saipan to Tinian.

In the light of these objections and out of ordinary considerations of military caution, General Schmidt ordered a physical reconnaissance of the northern beaches. The task fell to the Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion, V Amphibious Corps, commanded by Captain James L. Jones, USMCR, and naval Underwater Demolition Teams 5 and 7, commanded by Lieutenant Commander Draper L. Kauffman, USN, and Lieutenant Richard F. Burke, USN, respectively.

Their job was to reconnoiter Yellow Beach 1 on the eastern coast below Asiga Point and White Beaches 1 and 2 on the northwestern coast. Under cover of darkness the three groups were to be carried part way to their destinations by the high-speed transports Gilmer and Stringham. Then, launched in rubber landing boats (LCR’s), they would be paddled to distances about 500 yards offshore and swim in the rest of the way. The men were charged with the responsibility of investigating and securing accurate information concerning the height of surf, the height and nature of the reef shelf, depth of water, location and nature of mines and underwater obstacles, the slope of the bottom off the beaches, the height and nature of cliffs flanking and behind the beaches, exits for vehicles, and the nature of vegetation behind the beaches. The naval personnel would conduct the hydrographic reconnaissance while members of the Marine amphibious reconnaissance group were to reconnoiter the beaches themselves and the terrain inland.

After dark on 10 July, but well before moonrise, Gilmer and Stringham got under way from Magicienne Bay on the east coast of Saipan to take their respective stations off of Yellow Beach 1 and White Beaches 1 and 2. As the rubber boats approached Yellow Beach 1, the men heard sharp reports and thought they were being fired on, but went about their business anyway. Two of the men swam along the cliffs south of the beach and discovered them to be 20 to 25 feet high and un-scalable by infantry without ladders or nets. One Marine officer, 2nd Lieutenant Donald Neff, left two of his men at the high-water mark and worked his way along inland for some thirty yards to investigate the possibilities for vehicle exits. Japanese sentries were apparently patrolling the entire area, but the suspected rifle shots proved to be exploding caps being used by construction workers nearby. In any case, all hands got back to their ships without being detected.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the island, the reconnaissance of White Beaches 1 and 2 hit a snag. As the rubber boats cast off they were set rapidly to the north by a strong current that they had not been compensated for. Hence the swimmers assigned to White Beach 2, the southernmost of the two, ended up on White 1, while the second group destined for the latter beach were set ashore about 800 yards to the north. This left White 2 un-reconnoitered, and next night another group of swimmers had to return to finish the job. The information gathered during the two nights fully justified the valiant labor expended. Yellow Beach 1 was clearly unsuitable for an amphibious landing. In addition to its natural disadvantages, the beach was strung with strong double-apron wire, and large, floating, contact mines were found anchored about a foot underwater off the reef. On the other side of the island no man-made obstacles were reported on White Beaches 1 and 2. Although White Beach 1 to the north was only sixty yards in length, the bluffs that flanked it for about 150 yards on either side were only from six to ten feet in height and offered enough small breaks to permit men to proceed inland in single file without the need of cargo nets or scaling ladders.

From the reef to the shore line the water depth was never more than four feet and the gradient was slight. Of the hundred and fifty yards of White Beach 2, only the central seventy yards were approachable by amphibian vehicles, the flanks of the beach being guarded by coral barriers jutting out from the reef. Nevertheless, the barriers offered no obstacle to infantrymen, who could scramble over them and wade the rest of the way in. At two hours before high tide the water inside the reef was nowhere more than four feet in depth. In short, although the White Beaches were far from ideal for landing purposes, they were better than Yellow Beach 1, and except for their narrowness offered no known natural or man-made obstacles.

With this information in hand, Admiral Turner’s objections to a landing on the northwest coast, however strong they may once have been, were overcome. At a meeting held aboard his flagship on 12 July, General Schmidt made a forceful presentation of the case for the White Beaches. An amphibious assault against the strong enemy defenses in the Tinian Town area would be too costly; artillery could be more profitably employed against the northern beaches; Ushi Point airfield would be more quickly seized and made ready; tactical surprise could be obtained; the operation could more easily be conducted as a shore-to-shore movement from Saipan; and, finally, most of the supplies could be preloaded on Saipan and moved on amphibian tractors and trucks directly to inland dumps on Tinian. Admiral Hill concurred, and Admirals Turner and Spruance gave their consent to a landing on White Beaches 1 and 2.

The next day, 13 July, General Schmidt issued the operation plan that was to govern the invasion of Tinian. General Cates’ 4th Marine Division was assigned the task of conducting the amphibious assault over White Beaches 1 and 2 on JIG Day, which was later established as 24 July. On landing, the division was to make its main effort toward Mount Lasso and, before reorganizing, seize the Force Beachhead Line, which included Faibus San Hilo Point, Mount Lasso, and Asiga Point. Once this area was captured, it was presumed that the beachhead would be safe from ground-observed enemy artillery fire. To accomplish the division’s mission General Cates ordered the 24th Marines to land in column of battalions on White Beach 1 on the left, the 25th Marines with two battalions abreast on White Beach 2. The 23rd Marines would remain in division reserve.

The assault troops would be carried ashore in the customary fashion in amphibian tractors discharged fully loaded from LST’s. Of the 415 tractors assigned to carry troops, 225 were supplied by Army units—the 715th, 773rd, and 534th Amphibian Tractor Battalions. The remainder were Marine LVT’s from the 2nd, 5th, and 10th Amphibian Tractor Battalions. Because of the narrowness of the landing beaches, only one company of amphibian tanks could be employed in the assault, Company D, 2nd Armored Amphibian Tractor Battalion (Marine). The battalion was ordered to precede the first wave of troops, fire on the beaches after naval gunfire was lifted, and move to the flanks before reaching land. The 708th Armored Amphibian Tank Battalion (Army) was ordered to stand by off the beaches and be prepared to land and support the infantry ashore.

As before, command of the entire operation was vested in Admiral Turner as Commander, Joint Expeditionary Force (Task Force 51), under Admiral Spruance; General Holland Smith, who still retained his position of Commander, Expeditionary Troops, continued in over-all command of troops ashore. In fact, however, both of these officers had sailed aboard Rocky Mount on 20 July to be on hand for the Guam landings, which took place the next day, and did not return to the Saipan-Tinian area until the 25th. During the landing then, Admiral Hill, as Commander, Northern Attack Force (Task Force 52), commanded all naval craft and supporting forces, while General Schmidt commanded the landing forces. Even after Admiral Turner returned, Admiral Hill retained the responsibility “for offensive and defensive surface and air action” in the area and for all practical purposes Schmidt remained in tactical control of the troops.

Because most of the heavy artillery pieces could more profitably be employed from emplacements on Saipan, the 4th Marine Division would carry only 75-mm. pack howitzers in the initial assault In addition to its own two battalions (1st and 2nd Battalions, 14th Marines), it was loaned the two light battalions of the 2nd Marine Division (1st and 2nd Battalions, 10th Marines). These battalions would be carried ashore in Marine DUKW’s. Additional fire power was afforded the division by attaching the 2nd Division’s tank battalion. Army troops (1341st Engineer Battalion) would make up part of the assault division’s shore party, the remainder being provided by the 2nd Battalion, 20th Marines.

To the rest of General Watson’s 2nd Marine Division was assigned the role of landing in the rear of the assault division once the latter had cleared an initial beachhead and moved inland. Before this, the division was to conduct a demonstration landing off Tinian Town for the purpose of diverting Japanese attention from the main assault to the north.

The 27th Infantry Division, less the 105th Infantry and less its organic artillery, was to remain in corps reserve and “be prepared to embark in landing craft on 4 hours notice and land on order . . . on Tinian.”

One of the main justifications for the final decision to land over the unlikely beaches on the northwestern shore of the island was the feasibility of full exploitation of artillery firing from Saipan. Consequently, all of the field pieces in the area except for the four battalions of 75-mm. pack howitzers were turned over to XXIV Corps Artillery during the preliminary and landing phase. General Harper arranged his thirteen battalions, totaling 156 guns and howitzers, into three groupments, all emplaced on southern Saipan. Groupment A, commanded by Colonel Raphael Griffin, USMC, consisted of five 105-mm. battalions, two each from the Marine divisions and one from V Amphibious Corps. It was to reinforce the fires of the 75-mm. pack howitzers and be ready to move to Tinian on order. Groupment B, under the 27th Division’s artillery commander, General Kernan, was made up of all of that division’s organic artillery except the 106th Field Artillery Battalion. It was to reinforce the fires of Groupment A and also to be ready to displace to Tinian. Groupment C, commanded by General Harper himself, contained all the howitzers and guns of XXIV Corps Artillery plus the 106th Field Artillery Battalion. It was to support the attack with counterbattery, neutralization, and harassing fire before the day of the landing, deliver a half-hour preparation on the landing beaches immediately before the scheduled touchdown, and execute long-range counterbattery, harassing, and interdiction fire.

In addition to the artillery, the, troops would of course have the support of carrier-borne aircraft, aircraft based on Aslito field, and naval gunfire. Although all three supporting arms were to be employed against targets everywhere on Tinian, primary responsibility for the northern half was allocated to artillery while naval gunfire and air took over the southern half. The task of co-ordinating the three was vested in a XXIV Corps Artillery representative at General Schmidt’s headquarters.

The most unique feature of the plan for Tinian was its logistical provisions. Because only slightly more than 200 yards of beach were available, it was essential that precautions be taken to avoid congestion. Hence, a supply plan was developed that allowed all supplies to cross the beach on wheels or tracks and move directly to division dumps without re-handling. This entailed devising a double shuttle system in which loaded trucks and Athey trailers traveled back and forth between the base supply dumps on Saipan and division supply dumps on Tinian, and all amphibian vehicles carrying supplies between ship and shore moved directly to division dumps. The objective was to avoid any manhandling of supplies on the beaches themselves. The solution represented a marked departure from standard amphibious practice and was made possible, of course, by the proximity of Tinian to the supply center on Saipan.

The plan called for preloading thirty-two LST’s and two LSD’s at Saipan with top-deck loads of all necessary supplies except fuel. Ten LST’s were allotted to each Marine division, eight to general reserve, and four primarily to 75-mm. artillery.

All amphibian tractors and trucks available, both Army and Marine Corps, were initially assigned to the 4th Marine Division, but after the assault was over were to be distributed between the two divisions. The supplies were loaded on the LST’s in slings, and the ships carried crawler cranes on their top decks so that the slings could drop supplies into DUKW’s and LVT’s coming alongside. To carry out the shuttle system, the plan called for preloading eighty-eight cargo trucks and twenty-five Athey trailers on Saipan to be taken to Tinian aboard LCT’s and LCM’s. A special provision for fuel supply was made. Seven pontoon barges loaded with drums of captured Japanese gasoline and matching lubricants were to be towed to positions off the landing beaches to act as floating supply and fueling points for LVT’s and DUKW’s. Other fuels for initially refueling the trucks were placed on barges that were to be spotted off the beaches.

One other innovation introduced in the Tinian campaign was a special portable LVT bow ramp. Ten amphibian tractors were equipped with this device so as to provide a means for extending the narrow beach area. The ramps were so constructed that an LVT could drive up to a cliff flanking the beaches, place the ramp in position along the ledge, then back down leaving the ramp to act as a sort of causeway by which other vehicles could get to shore.

Finally, precautions were taken to supply the troops in case of unexpected bad weather after the landing. Plans were made to drop about 30 tons of supplies by parachute and to deliver 100 tons by air daily to Ushi Point airfield as soon as it had been captured.

The Enemy

As already observed, the opportunities for gaining detailed intelligence of Tinian’s defenses were superior to those enjoyed by American forces in most Pacific operations. Proof of this superiority lies in the accuracy with which General Schmidt’s staff was able to estimate Japanese strength and dispositions.

As of 13 July they predicted, on the basis of captured documents, photo reconnaissance, and other intelligence data, that the strength of the Tinian garrison came to 8,350, plus possible home guard units. The main part of this force was believed to consist of the 50th Infantry Regiment (reinforced)—about 4,000 men—and the 56th Keibitai (Naval Guard Force)—about 1,100 men—plus sundry air defense, base force, and construction personnel.

The Army troops were believed to be disposed in three sectors, northern, western, and southern, which included respectively the Ushi Point—Asiga Bay retion, the west coast north of Gurguan Point including White Beaches 1 and 2, and the southern part of the island including Tinian Town. The northern and southern sectors were thought to be defended by at least one infantry battalion each, but the western sector where White Beaches 1 and 2 were located had, it was estimated, only one company with one antitank squad. It was predicted that in each of these sectors the Japanese would first try to repulse the landing at the water’s edge and would shift two thirds of each defense force from the areas not under attack to the beaches where the actual landings were taking place. A reserve force of one battalion was believed to be located near Mount Lasso, and it too was expected to move to the specific area under amphibious attack. One artillery battalion was thought to be located in the Tinian Harbor area, one battery near Asiga Bay. These estimates, except those pertaining to artillery strength, were remarkably accurate. The defense of Tinian was in the charge of Colonel Takashi Ogata, commanding officer, 50th Infantry Regiment, which represented the bulk of the Japanese Army forces on the island.

Other important units were the 1st Battalion, 135th Infantry; the Tank Company, 18th Infantry; the 56th Naval Guard Force; and two naval antiaircraft defense units. Altogether, Ogata had four Army infantry battalions, none of which were straggler units, plus additional infantry in the 56th Naval Guard Force and other naval units. For artillery, the Japanese commander had his regimental artillery battalion, the coast artillery manned by part of the 56th Naval Guard Force, and two naval antiaircraft defense units. The 18th Infantry Tank Company had nine tanks, which constituted the entire armored strength present. Total personnel strength, as indicated in Table 1, came to a little more than eight thousand officers and men, Army and Navy. As foreseen by General Schmidt’s intelligence section, the Japanese Army plan for the defense of Tinian provided for the disposition of forces in three sectors.

The northern sector force guarding Ushi Point, Asiga Bay, and part of Masalog Point was the responsibility of the 2nd Battalion, 50th Infantry, and a platoon of engineers; the western sector, containing Mount Lasso and the northwest coast, was guarded only by the 3rd Company, 1st Battalion, 50th Infantry, and an antitank squad. Regimental reserve in the southern sector consisted of the 1st Battalion, 50th Infantry, less the 3rd Company and less one antitank squad and was located about 3,000 yards southeast of Faibus San Hilo Point. The 1st Battalion, 135th Infantry, was designated “mobile counterattack force,” and was in effect another reserve.

Ogata’s armored strength came to only nine tanks of the Tank Company, 18th Infantry, which was located on the northeast side of Marpo Well with orders to advance either to Tinian Town or Asiga Bay, wherever the landings came. In addition, this company had two vehicles rarely found among Japanese forces, amphibious trucks similar to the American DUKW.

Japanese naval personnel on the island were under the command of Captain Goichi Oya, who reported to Colonel Ogata. There was another, more senior, naval officer present on the island, but he held no position in the chain of command and had nothing to do with the defense of Tinian. This was Vice Admiral Kakuji Kakuta, Commander in Chief, 1st Air Fleet, who was responsible only to Admiral Nagumo of the Central Pacific Area Fleet. After the loss of most of his planes in the Battle of the Philippine Sea, Kakuta made several efforts to escape Tinian by submarine. Each time he failed, and in the end he apparently committed suicide.

Captain Oya appears to have made some effort to integrate his command with that of the Army. The 56th Naval Guard Force was charged with the defense of the air bases, defense of harbor installations and ships in the harbor, and destruction of enemy attack forces. The force was divided into two parts. One was to man the coastal defense guns and antiaircraft weapons and the other, called the Coastal Security Force, was to maintain small coastal patrol boats and lay beach mines. No matter what the intentions of either commander, however, it would seem that there was little real co-ordination or even co-operation between Army and Navy forces. There may have been serious interservice friction.[N3-8-37] This is at least suggested in the captured diary of one Army noncommissioned officer, who wrote: 15 June: The Naval aviators are robbers. There aren’t any planes. When they ran off to the mountains, they stole Army provisions, robbed people of their fruits and took cars. 25 June: Sailors have stolen our provisions. They took food off to the mountains. We must bear with such until the day of decisive battle. . . . 6 July: Did Vice-Admiral Kakuta when he heard that the enemy had entered our area go to sleep with joy?

[N3-8-37 4th Marine Div, Representative Translations Made on Tinian, Record and Research Sec, Hist Br, G-3 Hq USMC, Sec. I, Sec. IX, p. 3. 38 CINCPAC-CINCPOA Trans 11405, excerpts from the diary of a noncommissioned officer, a member of the Medical Administrative Unit, Mountain Artillery Battalion, 50th Infantry Regiment.]

Responsibility for coastal defense was divided about equally between Army and Navy. Because of the small number of beaches over which hostile troops could possibly land, the problem was somewhat simplified. Consequently, even with the rather limited means at hand, it was possible for the Japanese to distribute their fixed gun positions so as to place a fairly heavy guard around the only feasible approaches to the shore. The Tinian Town area boasted three British-made 6-inch coastal defense guns, two 75-mm. mountain guns,39 and six 25-mm. twin-mount antiaircraft and antitank automatic cannons.

Just up the coast from Tinian Town in the area of Gurguan Point were three 120-mm. naval dual-purpose guns and nine 25-mm. twin mounts that guarded the northern approaches to Sunharon Bay as well as the Gurguan Point airfield. The northwest coast from Ushi Point to Faibus San Hilo Point, including the area of White Beaches 1 and 2, was quite well fortified, especially considering that the Japanese had no real expectations of hostile amphibious landings in that area.

Altogether, this stretch of coast line contained three 140-mm. coastal defense guns, two 75-mm. mountain guns, two 7.7-mm. heavy machine guns in pillboxes, one 37-mm. covered antitank gun, two 13-mm. antiaircraft and antitank machine guns, two 76.2-mm. dual-purpose guns, and three 120-mm. naval and dual-purpose guns. In addition, in the hills behind and within range of this shore line were two 47-mm. antitank guns, one 37-mm. antitank gun, and five 75-mm. mountain guns. Guarding Ushi Point airfield were six 13-mm. antiaircraft and antitank guns, fifteen 25-mm. twin mounts, four 20-mm. antiaircraft automatic cannons, and six 75-mm. antiaircraft guns. On the northeast coast, between Ushi Point and Masalog Point, were seven 140-mm. coastal defense guns, three 76.2-mm. dual-purpose guns, one 37-m. antitank gun, and twenty-three pillboxes containing machine guns of unknown caliber. Except for the coastal defense guns, all of these weapons were concentrated in the area of Yellow Beach 1, south of Asiga Point. Finally, inland from Marpo Point on the southeast coast there were four 120-mm. dual-purpose guns.

The most surprising feature of the distribution of fixed positions is the relatively heavy concentration of guns within range of White Beaches 1 and 2. In spite of the fact that General Ogata assigned a low priority to the infantry defenses in that region, it is quite apparent that the Japanese were by no means entirely neglectful of the area. The figures cited here of course give no indication of the damage wrought on these positions by naval gunfire, field artillery, and aerial bombardment before the landing. But had American intelligence estimates of Japanese artillery dispositions been as accurate as they were in other respects, the plan for an amphibious landing over the White Beaches might not have been undertaken so optimistically.

More accurate knowledge of Japanese mining activities off of White Beaches 1 and 2 might also have given the American planners pause. The reports of the amphibious reconnaissance and underwater demolition groups to the contrary, the Japanese had set up a mine defense of sorts along the northwest coast.

[N3-13-39 The JICPOA report cited, lists these as 75-mm. M94 mountain howitzers. This must be an error because the Japanese had no 75-mm. howitzers and their Model 94 field piece was a 75-mm. mountain (pack) gun, (War Dept Technical Manual E 30-480, 15 Sep 44, Handbook on Japanese. Military Forces, p. 220.) ]

Off White Beach 1 they had laid a dozen horned mines, though by the time of the landing these had deteriorated to the point of impotence. White Beach 2 was mined in depth. Hemispherical mines were placed in two lines offshore, conical yardstick, and box mines covered the exits from the beach. Altogether, more than a hundred horned mines were laid in the area. In addition, there were many antipersonnel mines and booby traps concealed in cases of beer, watches, and souvenir items scattered inland. On the other side of the island, Yellow Beach 1 was protected by twenty-three horned mines and by double-apron barbed wire. In the Tinian Town area a strip about thirty-five yards wide from the pier north along the water’s edge to the sugar mill was completely mined. The beach south of the pier was laid with hemispherical mines that had steel rods lashed across the horns. Behind these were conical mines placed in natural lanes of approach from the shore line.

Until the very eve of the landing, the Japanese worked furiously to improve their beach defenses, especially in the Tinian Town and Asiga Bay areas. Even the gathering rain of American shells and bombs failed to stop them entirely, for when the pressure became too great they worked at night and holed up during the day.

Ogata was well aware that an invasion of Tinian was inevitable, and in one respect he was more fortunate than Saito. Unlike the commanding general of Saipan, he had no stragglers to deal with, and his Army troops were well trained, well equipped, and well integrated under a unified command. He had had his regiment since August of 1940. For almost four years before moving to Tinian the unit had been stationed in Manchuria, and, under the semi-field conditions obtaining there, Ogata was able to develop a high degree of homogeneity and esprit.

Ogata’s plan of defense conformed to standard Japanese doctrine at this stage in the war. The enemy was to be destroyed at the water’s edge if possible and, if not, was to be harried out of his beachhead by a counterattack on the night following the landing. “But,” read the order, “in the eventuality we have been unable to expel the enemy . . . we will gradually fall back on our prepared positions in the southern part of the island and defend them to the last man.”

Whichever of the three possible beach areas was hit by the Americans, the bulk of the Japanese forces in the two other sectors was to rush to the point of attack and close arms with the invader. Tinian Town and Asiga Bay were strongly favored as the probable landing beaches, the northwest coast being relegated to third place in Ogata’s list of priorities. Thus, when the Americans chose this unlikely lane of approach, they achieved complete tactical surprise—a rare accomplishment in the Central Pacific theater of war.

SOURCE: Campaign in the Marianas; BY: Philip A. Crowl (United States Army Center of Military History)

World War Two: Tinian (3-14) Invasion and Capture

World War Two: Saipan (2-12) Victory-Island Secure 9 July 1944

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

Badoglio’s First Moves: About 1700, 25 July, the Italian monarch summoned Marshal Badoglio, informed him of his appointment as Head of Government, and handed him the list of his cabinet members-civil servants without party connection or support that the sovereign and the Duke of Acquarone had selected. As Head of Government, Badoglio was to be responsible for civil functions only. Victor Emmanuel III resumed the supreme command of the Italian armed forces, a power that Mussolini had exercised since 11 June 1940. Ambrosio was to continue as chief of Comando Supremo, Roatta as chief of the Army General Staff, Superesercito.

 Badoglio accepted the situation and the conditions, including two proclamations already drafted, which the marshal issued over his own signature and communicated through the press and radio. The first announced Badoglio’s appointment and assured Italy and the world that “The war continues.” The second proclamation warned the Italian people, the Fascist organization, and other political parties against agitating the government with precipitate demands for wholesale political changes or for peace.

 [N15-1 Badoglio, Memorie e documenti, p. 71. Badoglio] 

[N15-2 It Processo Carboni-Roatta: L’ Armistizio e la di/esa di Roma nella sentenza del Tribunale Militare (Estratto della “Rivista Penale,” Maggio-Giugno 1949) (Rome: Societa Editrice Temi), p. 9 (cited hereafter as It Processo Carboni-Roatta).] 

The first learned later that Vittorio Emanuele Orlando, Italian Premier during World War I, had assisted in drafting the proclamations. was a clear, official announcement of the continued vitality of the treaty of alliance with Germany. Though the Badoglio government dissolved the Fascist party and began to incorporate the Fascist militia gradually into the Regular Army, the government was non-Fascist rather than anti-Fascist. The change of regime seemed to mark the first step toward a restoration of constitutional government, but the actual basis of Badoglio’s powers was in the Fascist constitutional. The King had been careful to maintain his role as a constitutional monarch, accepting Mussolini’s resignation and appointing Badoglio his successor as Capo del Governo, with all the powers of that office created by the Fascist laws of 1925 and 1926. But Badoglio refused to take any action without the explicit authorization of the King. In actuality, Italy reverted to absolute monarchy. At Badoglio’s insistence, whatever civil power he exercised was to be construed as a direct emanation of the King’s will. Whatever military commands and directives Ambrosio issued were in accordance with the King’s direct wishes.

 Relieved of the Fascist burden, the country seethed with political excitement and with the expectation of immediate peace. To check the unrest, Roatta transferred control of four divisions from himself to the Minister of War, Generale di Brigata in Riserva Antonio Sorice, who moved two from the interior of Italy to Turin and two from France to Milan. Eventually, Sorice controlled five divisions, all to be used for maintaining public order and therefore not available for defense against attack by either the Allies or the Germans.

[N15-3 Comando Supremo, I Reparto, Operazioni: Regio Esercito-Quadro di battaglia alia data del 1 luglio 1943; Quadro di battaglia alia data del 1 agosto 1943, IT 10 a-h; Roatta, Otto milioni, pp. 263-64; Rossi, Come arrivammo, pp. 94, 174-75, 404; Zanussi, Guerra e catastrote, II, 54.]

 While awaiting the return to Italy of Raffaele Guariglia, Ambassador to Turkey, who was to become Minister of Foreign Affairs, Badoglio took charge of foreign policy. In accordance with the King’s wishes, the immediate aim was to avoid conflict with the Germans. Badoglio wished to end the war, jointly with the Germans if possible. At the least, he was to try to secure German consent to a dissolution of the Pact of Steel.

[N15-4 MS #P-058, Project 46, 1 Feb-8 Sep 43, Question II; Rossi, Come arrivammo, p. 199; Roatta, Otto milioni, p. 291; Badoglio, Memorie e documenti, pp. 84-85; Rintelen, Mussolini als Bundesgenosse, p. 224.] 

At the carabinieri barracks where he spent his first night in captivity after his forced resignation, Mussolini received a note from Badoglio. The measures taken toward him, Badoglio explained, were in the interest of his personal safety, for a plot had been discovered against his life. M ussolini replied, thanking Badoglio for his consideration. He would make no difficulties, he added, but would, rather, cooperate to the fullest extent. Expressing satisfaction over the decision to continue the war, he wished Badoglio well in his task of serving the King, “whose loyal servant I remain.”

[N15-5 Badoglio, Memorie e documenti, p. 72; Mussolini, Storia di un anno, p. 20.]

 Immediately after the Feltre conference, Hitler and the OKW had felt reassured over the situation in Italy. The Italian High Command had promised to commit four additional Italian divisions in the south: one in Sicily, two in Puglia, and one in Calabria. On 22 July, Hitler had released the 29th Panzer Grenadier Division for employment on Sicily. That same day, Ambrosio had accepted the conditions laid down by Keitel at Feltre and had formally requested two additional German divisions. Field Marshal Rommel, who had been designated to command Army Group B in the ALARICH plan, was on 21 July removed from this assignment and sent to Salonika to take command of German troops in Greece. The warning orders for operations ALARICH and KONSTANTIN were suspended. 

[N15-6 OKW/WFSt, KTB, I.-3I.VIl.43, 25 Jul 43; Rommel, Private KTB, entry 22 Jul 43.]

On 23 July, Hitler issued orders in accordance with Ambrosio’s request alerting the 305th and 76th Infantry Divisions for movement from France to southern Italy. Hitler entertained no suspicion whatsoever that his friend Mussolini might secretly be searching for contact with the Western Powers. General von Rintelen did report, however, that Comando Supremo had little confidence that Sicily could be held and, on 24 July, he indicated that tension in Italy had increased rather than diminished as a result of the Feltre conference.

 [N15-7 MS #C-093 (Warlimont), pp. 40-41.]

News of the political change in Italy came as a surprise to the Germans. The first reports to reach Berlin on 25 July were not alarming. They indicated merely that the Fascist old guard had brought about the convocation of the Grand Council to urge the Duce to take more energetic measures against defeatism. Not until the next day did the Germans learn that Ciano and Grandi had led a revolt, that Mussolini had resigned, and that the King had appointed Badoglio in his place. [N15-8]

 Hitler could not believe that Mussolini had resigned voluntarily. He was sure that force had been used, and he felt that the convocation of the Grand Council had been a show carefully prepared by the King and Badoglio. He feared that these two, who in his opinion had been sabotaging the war all along, might already have done away with his friend. Hitler’s first impulse was to strike with lightning speed-seize Rome with the 3rd Panzer Grenadier Division (located near Lake Bolsena 35 miles north of the city), and the 2nd Parachute Division (to be air-transported from France to the Rome area); kidnap the King, the Heir Apparent, Badoglio, and the cabinet ministers; and discover and liberate Mussolini as the only means of rejuvenating the Fascist party. So extreme was Hitler’s anger and apprehension that he thought even of seizing the Vatican and the Pope. Goebbels and Ribbentrop, after lengthy argument, persuaded Hitler to drop this extreme measure. [N15-9]

 [N15-8 Goebbels Diaries, p. 403, entry 25 Jul 43. Ambassador von Mackensen’s early reports

did not reveal the full extent of the crisis, and he was bitterly criticized by Ribbentrop, Minister of Foreign Affairs. See MS #C-o I 3 (Kesselring), p. 5· {N15-9} Goebbels Diaries, pp. 407-409.]

The main issue was whether to act at once in Italy with the forces available or to make more careful preparations that involved delay. Hitler favored immediate action, even if improvised, in order to capture the Badoglio government before it could consolidate its power. A quick, bold stroke, he believed, would restore the prestige of Fascism.

 Rommel and others advocated caution. They feared that German moves would invite the Allies to establish themselves on the Italian mainland and that a blow against the King would turn the Italian officer corps against the Germans. Since Rommel concurred in the general belief that Mussolini’s overthrow had been carefully prepared, and since he believed that the new government had already approached the Allies with an offer of peace, Rommel thought it best to retire from Sicily, Sardinia, and southern Italy, but to hold northern Italy. He recommended that Kesselring withdraw his forces and consolidate with Rommel’s forces in the north, where all would come under Rommel’s command.

[N15-10 Min of Confs 14, IS, and 16, 25 and 26 Jul 43, in Min of Hitler Confs.]

 The first German orders prompted by Mussolini’s overthrow were issued on the night of 26 July. The general framework and outline of Plan ALARICH were at hand but the German reaction to the new situation in Italy had a large measure of improvisation. Field Marshal von Rundstedt, OB WEST, was ordered to move two divisions toward the Italian border: the 305th Infantry Division toward Nice, and the 44th Infantry Division toward the Brenner Pass. He was to carry out two operations which had formed integral parts of the ALARICH plan: KOPENHAGEN, the seizure of the Mount Cenis pass; and SIEGFRIED, the occupation of the southern coast of France in the area of the Italian Fourth Army. Field Marshal Rommel was recalled from Salonika to command Army Group B, with headquarters in Munich. Meanwhile, Ambassador von Mackensen, Field Marshal Kesselring, and General von Rintelen were instructed to learn all they could regarding the intentions of the new government.

[N15-11 OKW/WFSt, KTB, I. VIl-3 I. VII.43, 26 Jul 43; Rommel, Private KTB, entries for 25-28 Jul 43.]

 Plans against Italy began to develop at once in three main stages. First, Army Group B was to occupy north Italy. Behind the two initial divisions dispatched toward Italy, Rundstedt was to move up four more divisions from France. The II SS Panzer Corps, comprising two SS panzer divisions, was to be withdrawn from the Eastern Front to become part of Rommel’s new command. Second, Generaloberst Kurt Student was to fly to Rome, take operational control of the 3rd Panzer Grenadier and 2nd Parachute Divisions, seize the capital and the leading political personalities, and liberate Mussolini.

 Captain Otto Skorzeny, personally selected by Hitler, was to have the special mission of locating and liberating the Duce. Because earlier ALARICH planning had designated Student to occupy the Alpine passes with his XI Flieger Korps (1st and 2nd Parachute Divisions), OKW assigned this task to General der Gebirgstruppen Valentin Feurstein, who was to use troops stationed at the Mountain Training School in Mittenwald, fifteen miles north of Innsbruck. Third, as soon as all was in readiness for the stroke planned against the Italian Government, Rommel was to take command of all German forces in north Italy. Kesselring was then to withdraw the German troops from the Italian islands and from south Italy and consolidate his forces with Rommel’s command in the north. At that time, Kesselring’s command in Italy would come to an end.

 In connection with the third step, Hitler’s headquarters dispatched a naval officer to Frascati to explain Kesselring’s role in the plan. Kesselring was to halt all movements of additional troops to Sicily; prepare to evacuate all air units from Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica, destroying, if necessary, their heavy equipment; concentrate in assembly areas the 16th and 26th Panzer Divisions and that part of the 29th Panzer Grenadier Division still on the Italian mainland, suspending thereby further movements to the south; alert the 3rd Panzer Grenadier and 2nd Parachute Divisions (the latter upon its arrival near Rome) to their mission; be ready to take over all the antiaircraft defenses in Italy, repossessing the flak material furnished Italian units; and send transport aircraft to France to carry the 2nd Parachute Division to Italy.

[N15-12: 0KW/WFSt, KTB, 1-31. VII. 43, 26 Jul43] 

Kesselring took a different view of the situation from that of OKW. Optimistic by temperament and inclined to trust those with whom he worked, he had called on Badoglio on 26 July, accompanied by the German Ambassador, Mackensen. Badoglio assured the Germans that he had known nothing of the movement against Mussolini until he was summoned by the King to take office. He had insisted, Badoglio continued, on maintaining the alliance with Germany as a condition of taking office, and his proclamation made clear that the war would continue. When the Germans expressed some curiosity as to Mussolini’s fate, Badoglio showed Mussolini’s letter as proof not only of his personal safety but also of his intention to do nothing to oppose the new regime. 

When Kesselring turned the conversation to military matters and said it was necessary to overcome the sense of fatigue among Italian troops and to eliminate certain impediments to the military effort raised by the civil administration, Badoglio declared he would do everything he could to improve the co-operation of Italian civil officials. Problems of morale, however, concerned the military, and Badoglio urged Kesselring to take up the problem directly with Ambrosio, chief of Comando Supremo. 

Kesselring and Rintelen called on Ambrosio, who assured them that the political change had no effect on military operations. Like Badoglio, Ambrosio emphasized Italy’s determination to continue in the war on the side of her ally. As to improving Italian troop morale, Ambrosio observed that this was not an easy matter, it would take time. Kesselring reminded Ambrosio that Hitler at Feltre had promised to send all the reinforcements Germany could spare, and he urged measures to restore the sense of comradeship between Italian and German troops.

[N15-13 Rintelen, Mussolini als Bundesgenosse, pp. 224-25; OKW/WFSt, KTB, I.-3I.VII.43, 26 Jul 43; Min, Colloquio a Palazzo Vidoni, Roma, 26 luglio 1943, IT 3037.] 

Badoglio’s and Ambrosio’s declarations conformed with the King’s basic policy to avoid a unilateral breach of the alliance by Italy, and to take no action that would bring Italians into conflict with Germans. These assurances were not altogether dishonest. Kesselring, on his side, appreciated the Italian participation in the war. He respected Ambrosio and Roatta. Accepting the Italian statements in good faith, he bent his efforts toward maintaining the alliance.

[N15-14 Westphal, Heer in Fesseln, p. 224; MS #T-2, K I (Kesselring), pp. 6-7; Eugenio Dallmann,Roma Nazista (Milan: Longanesi & Co., 1949), p. 138.] 

Though Goebbels cynically wrote that “Kesselring fell for a well-staged show,” Kesselring felt that more was to be gained by exploiting the current willingness of the Italian Government to co-operate than by precipitating a crisis that might lead to collapse and chaos. After receiving the instructions brought personally by the naval officer, Kesselring reported to OKW his belief that the Fascist party had lost out because of its own weakness and lack of leadership and that no support could be expected from it. He thought that the measures planned by Student and Skorzeny could be executed, but not without care and consequent delay. Action against the Italian forces guarding Rome would completely alienate, he felt, all who still bore some good will toward Germany. Furthermore, an armed struggle in the Rome area would disrupt all traffic to the south, halt the movement of supplies and reinforcements, and expose the German forces in Sicily and southern Italy to the danger of being cut off. In the interest of these troops at least, he urged, the Germans should exploit the willingness of the Italian Government to receive additional German units. In contrast with Rommel’s estimate, Kesselring believed that he could, if reinforced, defend all of Italy and the Balkans, and he recommended this course of action to Hitler. 

[N15-15 OKW/WFSt, KTB, 1.-31.VII.43, 27 Jul 43;MS #C-O!3 (Kesselring), p. 13.]

Kesselring’s representations had an effect. On 28 July, OKW suspended Student’s mission, ordering him instead merely to be ready to seize the Italian Government and liberate Mussolini. [N15-16] Student and Skorzeny [N15-17] were by then at Frascati, and the first lift of the 2nd Parachute Division arrived that day at Pratica di Mare, an airfield not far from Frascati. Roatta was curious about the sudden arrival of German paratroopers, but he accepted with seeming good grace Kesselring’s explanation-they were reinforcements for the 1st Parachute Division in Sicily. While the Germans thus set the stage for Hitler’s coup-kidnapping the Italian Government-Skorzeny threw himself wholeheartedly into the mission of finding Mussolini. Dazzled by the honor of having been summoned to Hitler’s headquarters, Skorzeny had fallen under Hitler’s spell. Mussolini, the Führer had said, was the last of the Romans and his only true friend. He would go to any length to save him from being turned over to the Allies. Skorzeny vowed to be worthy of Hitler’s trust.

[N15-16: 0KW/WFSt, KTB, I.-3I.VlI.43, 28 Jul 43]

 [N15-17 Otto Skorzeny, Geheimkommando Skorzeny (Hamburg: Hansa Verlag Josef Toth, 1950), pp. 100-101. For additional material on Skorzeny see Extract From Revised Notes 1 on The German Intelligence Services, VFZI34, copy 23, 6 Dec 44, Source M.I.-6, AFHQ reel 365F, and Hq U:S. Forces European Theater, Interrogation Center, Consolidated Intelligence Report (CIR) 4, 23 Jul 45, sub: The German Sabotage Service. unprocessed files, NARS.]

 Meanwhile, on 27 July, Badoglio formulated his plan for a joint peace effort and presented it to the King, who authorized it as official policy. Badoglio then sent a telegram to Hitler proposing a meeting on Italian soil between the King and the Führer. His purpose was to explain candidly the need for a joint peace before the Axis bargaining power was diluted by divergent diplomatic courses.

 [N15-18 Badoglio, Memorie e documenti, pp. 84-85. ID Simoni, Berlino, Ambasciata, pp. 377-78; Interv, Smyth with Marras, 20 Dec 48.]

 Because Alfieri, the Italian Ambassador at Berlin, had come to Rome to attend the meeting of the Grand Council, where he had voted against M ussolini, and had not returned to his post, the Italian Military Attache at Berlin, Generale di Corpo d’ Armata Efisio Marras, received instructions to fly to the Führer’s headquarters to reinforce the request for a conference. Without knowledge of Badoglio’s intentions, Marras did not know whether Badoglio was trying to secure a joint Italo-German peace move, though the idea was not excluded. According to his instructions, Marras was to establish contact with Hitler on behalf of the new Italian Government, read a copy of Mussolini’s letter indicating his continuing loyalty to the King, propose a meeting of the heads of state, and indicate the Italian desire to withdraw the Italian Fourth Army from southern France to Italy.

The same day that Marras was getting ready to visit Hitler, 29 July, Kesselring was in conference with the Führer. There Kesselring reinforced his argument in favor of maintaining correct relations with the Badoglio government-at least until the Germans could introduce additional German divisions into Italy peaceably. On the surface at least, Hitler accepted Kesselring’s program.

He instructed Kesselring to direct all his dealings with Comando Supremo toward securing the movement of the maximum number of German troops into northern Italy. Actually, however, Hitler was using Kesselring, Rintelen, and Mackensen-the “Italophiles” as they were called In OKW-to allay Italian suspicions and to keep Badoglio in the alliance while OKW made ready to take drastic action.[ N15-20] Though all reports from Kesselring and Mackensen, and from Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, intelligence chief, as well, gave credence to the solemn declarations of loyalty to the Axis by the King, Badoglio, Ambrosio, and Roatta, the reports made little impression on Hitler. He was certain that the Italian Government was planning “treason.” A transatlantic conversation between President Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill intercepted by Germany on 29 July confirmed Hitler’s suspicions that negotiations between Italy and the Allies were under way, even though the conversation indicated no more than an expectation of receiving Italian overtures. [N15-21]

[N15-20: OKW/WFSt, KTB, I.-3I.VII.43, 29 Jul43; MS #C-093 (Warlimont), p. 79; MS #C-013 (Kesselring), p. 12.]

[N15-21: 0KW/WFSt, KTB, I.-3 I. V1Lt3, 29 Jul 43″. MS #C-093 (Warlimont), page 84, mistakenly gives credence to this alleged proof.]

Hitler received Marras at his headquarters on the morning of 30 July. Marras felt that Hitler suspected him of being Badoglio’s “torpedo” with the job of rubbing out the Führer. For while Marras delivered Badoglio’s message, he was conscious that Jodl, General Major Rudolf Schmundt, and Ambassador Walter Hewel were facing him from three different points in the room, each with his hand on a revolver in his pocket. Marras remained rigid, not even venturing to make a move for his handkerchief. Hitler, who appeared calm, criticized the sudden Italian political change in the midst of war, and asked why a military attaché should be drawn into a political matter. Accepting Badoglio’s declaration that the war would continue, Hitler saw no immediate need for a conference with the King or Badoglio, particularly because of the recent meeting with Mussolini at Feltre. Hitler suggested rather that the ministers of foreign affairs and the chiefs of staff might examine the situation from the standpoint of continuing the war. 

He made no direct reply to the proposed withdrawal of the Italian Army from southern France. He admitted that it might be useful at a later date for him to confer with the King and Badoglio, in which case the Heir Apparent-Prince Humbert-ought also to be present. [N15-22] Marras submitted his report to Badoglio on 1 August, and on the same day a telegram arrived from Hitler proposing a conference of foreign ministers and chiefs of staff at Tarvis, just across the border from Italy, on the 5th or 6th of August. Badoglio accepted Hitler’s proposal. [N15-23] Hitler refused to confer on Italian soil or to leave Germany because he feared an attempt on his life. He proposed, instead, the meeting of second echelon officials in order to avoid a discussion of what Badoglio and others considered the fundamental issue: whether or not to make peace with the Allies. Badoglio, hoping for a frank talk with Hitler in the near future, declined to initiate any approach to the Western Allies until the Germans had clearly revealed their intentions.

 [N15-22 Simoni, Berlino, Ambasciata, pp. 379-86; Tnterv, Smyth with Marras, 20 Dec 48.]

 [N15-23 Badoglio, Memorie e documenti, p. 96; Simoni. Berlino, Ambasciata, p. 387.]

By then, 1 August, OKW had a completely formulated plan, code-named ACHSE, to meet the possibility of an Italian double cross. Like ALARICH, drawn up in the latter part of May in anticipation of political change in Italy, ACHSE was based on the premise of Italian defection. Upon receipt of the code word, German units in Italy were to take over the country by force.24

[N15-24 English translation of two telegrams, 0KW/WFSt, Nrs. 661747 and 661747/43 g.k.chefs., both dated 1 Aug 43 and signed by Keitel, in ONI, Führer Directives, 1942-1945 pp. 87-88; OKW/WFSt, KlBj 1.-31 Jul.43, 1 Aug 43; MS #C-093 (Warlimont), pp. 87-90.]

Events occurring on the Italian frontier during the last days of July seemed to indicate that the ACHSE button might be pushed at any moment. 

Friction Along the Alps In accordance with OKW instructions issued during the night of 26 July, Rundstedt started to move the 305th Infantry Division from the interior of France toward Nice and the 44th Infantry Division toward the Brenner Pass. At the border, transportation was to be arranged with Italian authorities on the assumption that the divisions were destined for southern Italy in accordance with agreements concluded with Comando Supremo. 

When on 27 July the leading elements of the 30Sth Infantry Division reached Nice, which was in the area controlled by the Italian Fourth Army, they learned that Comando Supremo objected to further movement into Italy because of a shortage of railway transportation. Comando Supremo refused to provide transportation on the following day, and on 29 July the Italians informed OKW that the 305th Infantry Division would have to wait at least several days before transportation could be made available to move it to southern Italy. 

Comando Supremo at least had a good excuse and perhaps a legitimate reason. Roatta, who as chief of Superesercito had operational control over all the ground forces, German and Italian, in Italy (except those Italian troops moved to the large cities to restrain civil disturbances), conferred with Kesselring on 28 July and reaffirmed that he wanted two more German divisions in the defense of southern Italy. But he explained that railway traffic was particularly congested because of the dispatch of an Italian division northward to check civilian unrest in Milan, Turin, and Bologna. German movements had to be halted temporarily, Roatta said, otherwise situations might occur wherein German troops would find Italian forces unexpectedly blocking their way. Roatta hoped to overcome the traffic problem by prohibiting all civilian travel, and proposed that half the train space be allocated for Italian movements, half for German. Kesselring seemed placated. 

On 29 July, Mussolini’s birthday, while a rumor swept Rome that the Germans were preparing to seize the Italian capital, while Ambassador von Mackensen brought greetings to Mussolini with inquiries as to his whereabouts, and while Kesselring carried a handsome set of the works of Nietzsche as a present from Hitler to Mussolini and asked to deliver it personally, the Italian Ministry of War received three alanning telegrams from Generale di Corpo d’ Annata Alessandro Gloria, commander of the XXXV Corps at Bolzano, forty miles south of the Brenner Pass. Gloria reported German troops assembling in the German Tyrol and at least one group moving on foot toward the Brenner Pass.

[N15-27 Rpt, Admiral Canaris, Chef Ausland Abwehr, OKW/WFSt, KTB, 1-31.VII.43, 31 Jul 43; Simoni, Berlino, Ambasciata, pp. 376-377, 386; Bonomi, Diario, pp. 46-48; Telgs, Comandante XXXV Corpo d’Armata Nos. 414, 454, 472/OP., to Ministero Guerra Gabinetto, 29 Jul 43, IT 102.]

 While the Italians politely frustrated Mackensen’s and Kesselring’s attempts to discover Mussolini’s whereabouts, Comando Supremo prepared to resist the Germans on two fronts-to ward off a surprise attack against Rome and to oppose the incursion of unwanted German reinforcements into Italian territory. Summoning Roatta, Ambrosio informed him that providing for the defense of Rome against a possible German coup d’etat had priority over protecting the coast against the threat of Allied landings. He also told Roatta to oppose the movement of German units across the frontier, except those specifically requested or permitted by Comando Supremo. 

For the first mission, Roatta constituted a command called the Army Corps of Rome (the 12th (Sassari) Infantry Division, elements of the 21st (Granatieri) Infantry Division, police forces, African police troops, and depot units) under Generale di Corpo d’ Armata Alberto Barbieri to provide for the internal security of the city and to reinforce General Carboni, who a week earlier had been placed in command of the Motorized Corps (the Piave Division, the Ariete Armored Division, the remainder of the Granatieri Division, and the 131st (Centauro) Division) in the outer defenses of the city. To augment the defenses of Rome still further, Roatta had the XVII Corps move the 103rd (Piacenza) Motorized Division to positions just south of the capital, leaving only two coastal divisions to guard the nearby shore area. [N15-28] For the second mission, Roatta on 30 July sent officer couriers to the Fourth Army in southern France, to the Second Army in Slovenia-Croatia-Dalmatia, and to the XXXV Corps in Bolzano, warning them to be ready to oppose by force unauthorized German incursions and directing them to place demolition charges along the railway lines to impede frontier crossings. [N15-290]

[N15-28 Comando Supremo, Operazioni, Regio Esercito: Quadro di battaglia alia data del Lagosto 1943, IT IO a-h; Roatta, Otto milioni, pp. 274, 294, 297-99; Zanussi, Guerra e catastrofe, II, 58; Rossi, Came arrivammo, p. 204; MS #P-058, Project 46, 1 Feb-8 Sep 43, Question 7.] 

[N15-29 Zanussi, Guerra e catastrofe, II, 56; Rossi, Come arrivammo, pp. 204-05; Roatta, Otto milioni, pp. 274-75. Comando Supremo informed OKW that Italian forces had been ordered to react vigorously to whatever violation or threat. See Comando Supremo, Appunta per il Ministero AfJari Esteri, 5 Aug. 43, IT 3030. Cf. Rommel, Private KTB, entry 29 Jul 43. 300KW/WFSt, KTB, 1-31.VII.43, 30 Jul 43.] 

The 26th Panzer Division, whose entry into Italy had been authorized earlier by the Comando Supremo, was not affected by these orders. About half of that division was already in southern Italy in accordance with the joint plans of Comando Supremo and OKW for the defense of the Italian peninsula.

The remaining parts of the division crossed the Brenner Pass without incident during the late afternoon and early evening of 30 July. These troops reported evidence of demolition charges planted by Italian troops and the impression that the Italian forces in the frontier area had been reinforced.

 Hitler was outraged by this seeming manifestation of Italian perfidy. He directed the divisions moving to Italy to carry out their orders even if bloodshed resulted. Specifically, he wanted an assault group of the 60th Panzer Grenadier Division to move to the head of the 305th Infantry Division column in the Nice area and to fight its way, if necessary, across the border into Italy. But since the movement of the assault group to Nice required two days, the Nice area remained quiet.

 The test came, instead, in the Brenner area. OKW instructed Kesselring to notify Comando Supremo that divisions authorized and scheduled to enter Italy such as the 26th Panzer Division-were still crossing the border; and that to avoid aggravating the railway congestion still further, the motorized elements of these divisions were planning to move by road. But Kesselring was not to tell Ambrosio that the 305th Infantry and the 44th Infantry Divisions, units not authorized to enter, had also been instructed to make a road march into Italy, an instruction passed along to these divisions the same day. Without awaiting the result of Kesselring’s discussions with the Italians, OKW directed OB WEST to begin moving the other divisions assigned to the Army Group B from France toward Italy.

 Shortly before midnight, 30 July, General Gloria, the XXXV Corps commander at Bolzano, received a message from General Feurstein who commanded the German Mittenwald Training School near Innsbruck. Feurstein said he was coming to Gloria’s headquarters the following morning to co-ordinate the arrival of certain troops. In accordance with the OKW-Comando Supremo agreement, F eurstein stated, German elements were reinforcing Italian garrisons along the Brenner railway line. Before replying, Gloria telephoned Rome for instructions. Ambrosio made the decision early the next day. He directed Roatta “to make certain that there enter into Italy only those elements authorized, that is, the remaining parts of the 26th Panzer Division and 30 antiaircraft batteries, and their 100-200 trucks.”  

When the leading elements of the German 44th Infantry Division reached the Brenner frontier on 31 July, Gloria refused to let them pass. Feurstein appeared at Gloria’s headquarters at 1000 and the two commanders conferred about an hour. Feurstein made two points. The 44th Infantry Division, he said, was to march from the Brenner Pass to Bolzano in three days on the basis of OKW-Comando Supremo agreements. Because the British were expected to bomb the Brenner railway line heavily in the near future, German antiaircraft batteries were to reinforce the protection of the pass. After a formal and polite discussion, Feurstein returned to Innsbruck, and Gloria reported a summary of the conversation to his immediate superior command, the Eighth Army, and to the Ministry of War in Rome. The report arrived in Roatta’s operations section before noon, and from there was transmitted to Ambrosio.

Ambrosio that afternoon addressed a sharp note to Rintelen. He pointed out that the 44th Infantry Division was scheduled to move to southern Italy, not to guard the railway lines in the north. He made it plain that the congested railroads would make it impossible to move the 44th and 305th Infantry Divisions for at least ten days. He requested Rintelen to wait until rail transportation was clear before moving the German divisions into Italy. 

Kesselring called on Badoglio later that afternoon to clarify the situation. When Badoglio explained that military questions were outside his competence, Kesselring went to Ambrosio. He urged that the common war aims of the Axis Powers ought to make it possible for the two German divisions to be permitted to continue their movements. Ambrosio refused, but after a lively exchange he agreed to meet again with Kesselring the next morning. Rintelen then requested OKW to suspend the movements of the two divisions pending the outcome of the Kesselring-Ambrosio conference. Rintelen was deeply distressed by the growing Italo-German conflict. He knew beyond all doubt that Badoglio considered the war lost, and he found himself in sympathy with this point of view and with Badoglio’s policy of seeking to end the war in conjunction with the Germans. 

Not only the Italians, Rintelen was well aware, but also certain high-ranking German officers and politicians recognized that the Axis had lost the war. Before the Feltre conference some of them had secretly voiced the hope that Mussolini would take the bull by the horns, that as Hitler’s equal he would bring up the subject which they, Hitler’s subordinates, dared not suggest-a compromise peace as the only way to save Europe from communism. Now they wished, and Rintelen with them, that Badoglio would speak the words to Hitler that Mussolini had not ventured to utter. 

Disturbed by Hitler’s suspicions that Badoglio was already trying to make peace with the Allies, Rintelen urged Kesselring to resign his command rather than execute orders to occupy Italy. Plans ALARICH and ACHSE not only involved a flagrant breach of faith but also constituted a danger for the German troops in the country. How could the war continue? For certainly the execution of the plans to occupy Italy would throw the Italians into the Allied camp. Speaking by telephone with Keitel on 31 July, Rintelen requested an appointment to report personally to the Führer his views on the Italian situation. Keitel agreed. Next day, while Rintelen prepared to fly to East Prussia to see Hitler, a further crisis occurred in Italo-German relations. Momentarily expecting Hitler to give the code word ACHSE, OKW instructed Feurstein to continue to march the 44th Infantry Division through the Brenner Pass into Italy.

 In Rome, Kesselring met with Ambrosio at 0930. Following OKW instructions, Kesselring made an impassioned plea that the 44th Infantry Division be allowed to proceed, a unit being sent, he emphasized, in accordance with Ambrosio’s promise of 22 July to defend Sicily to the utmost and in accordance with Ambrosio’s request of that same day for two additional German divisions for duty in southern Italy. Ambrosio turned a deaf ear. He insisted that the German division would have to wait at the frontier until railway transportation became available.

 Soon after the conference, Generale di Corpo d’ Armata Giuseppe De Stefanis, Roatta’s deputy, telephoned Gloria at Bolzano. Gloria was to advise Feurstein to consult with OKW on the result of the conference at Rome. Gloria was to oppose the movement of the 44th Infantry Division into Italy, and he was to tell Feurstein that an outbreak of armed strife would be Feurstein’s responsibility. Gloria telephoned this information to Feurstein. 

Feurstein called back at 1550. He said that he had received word from OKW at 1100. OKW indicated that an agreement had been reached in Rome to allow the entry of the 44th Infantry Division. Twenty minutes later Feurstein called again. He reiterated the information that Rome had agreed to permit the German division to march. If Gloria opposed its movement, Feurstein said, the responsibility for initiating armed conflict would fall on the Italians.

 Though the Italians were actually in the process of changing their minds, OKW’s information was probably premature. The main factor modifying Ambrosio’s blunt stand was Badoglio, who was in frequent contact throughout the day with the Comando Supremo chief. Badoglio insisted that Ambrosio avoid any action that would bring about an Italo-German batde. He needed time, Badoglio said, to carry out his basic policy: make the Germans realize Italy’s plight and the need for a common effort to terminate the war.

[N2-15-43 MS #P-058, Project 46, 1 Feb-8 Sep 43, Questions 8 and I I; Cf. Badoglio, Memorie Ii documenti, p. 96.]

Having learned of Rintelen’s intention to see the Führer, Badoglio asked Rintelen, as an old friend, to call on him before leaving Rome. Rintelen did so, at 1600, and Badoglio explained his position. Fascism, Badoglio said, had fallen of its own weight. As an old soldier he had obeyed the call of the King. Now he wanted to meet with Hitler, who had rebuffed him. “I have given my pledge to continue the war and I stand by my word as a soldier,” Badoglio declared. “But for this I need the trust of my ally; it will go bad for both of us if we do not cooperate.” Pointing out the serious military situation, the preponderance of Allied resources, particularly in the air, which the bombings of Hamburg and Rome had made quite clear, Badoglio said that the Germans and Italians had to “work together to bring the war to an honorable conclusion.” Would Rintelen, Badoglio asked, communicate this to Hitler?

[N2-15-44 Rintelen, Mussolini als Bundesgenosse, pp. 227-32. Rintelen dispatched a telegram outlining Badoglio’s views, a copy (Telg 3706 of 1 Aug 43) of which is in West!. Mittelmeer, Chefs. (H 22/290). pp. 91-93. The text as printed by Rintelen does not exactly agree with this copy which is the copy received from the German Foreign Office.]

 Rintelen readily accepted the mission entrusted to him by BadogIio. Immediately after this conversation, Rintelen went home and wrote down a summary of the discussion. He then consulted with Ernst von Weizsaecker, German Ambassador to the Holy See. Although both men could not completely exclude the possibility that Badoglio was acting merely to win time, they agreed that Badoglio’s wish to restore mutual confidence was probably genuine.

 By then, BadogIio had probably informed Ambrosio of his conversation with Rintelen, for at 1810, 1 August, Roatta’s operations chief, Generale di Brigata Umberto Utili, telephoned new instructions to General Gloria. Gloria was to permit the head of the 44th Infantry Division column to march to the nearest railway station and there await trains for further movement into Italy. Some train space would be provided on the following morning. But the division was not to march beyond Bolzano. The elements of the 26th Panzer Division, however, could proceed by road if they wished in order to rejoin the remainder of the division already in Italy. Less than three hours later, Gloria was conferring with Feurstein’s representative and making arrangements for the continued movement of the 44th Infantry Division into Italy by rail.

[N2-15-4646 Tel Conv, 1810, I Aug 43. and Tel Conv, 2230, I Aug 43, both in IT 120; Rommel, Private KTB, entry 1 Aug 43,]

 [N2-15-47 Telg No. 636/Op, XXXV Corps to Ministry of War, Rome, 1 Aug 43, IT 102. Italian memoirs after the war all state that the descent of German reinforcements over the frontiers began on 26 July [943 and without warning. See Badoglio, M emorie Ii documenti, p. 85; Roatta, Otto milioni, p. 272; Rossi, Come arrivammo, p. 88; Zanussi, Guerra e catastrote, II, 47; Castellano, Come firmai, p, 73; and Guariglia, Ricordi, p. 576. The date 26 July appears first to have been fixed for subsequent writers in the article: Lt. Colonel Mario Torsiello, “L’aggressicme germanica all’Italia nella sua lase preliminare (26 luglio-7 settembre 1943),” Rivista MilitaTe, I, vol. 4 (Rome, July, 1945). It is solemnly stated as a matter of court record in II Processo CaTboni-Roatta, p. 14. Actually, the only German troops entering Italy between 26 July and 1 August were parts of the 26th Panzer Division (the bulk of which was already in Italy) and parts of the 2nd Parachute Division (which came by air).]

 Thus it was that Army Group B made its initial penetration with Italian consent. It was seduction, not rape. [N2-15-47] As quickly as Hitler was successful in this test case, and while Badoglio was still hoping that Rintelen’s mission would bear fruit, Hitler directed Field Marshal Kesselring to announce that two panzer divisions would follow along the Brenner line, and that another infantry division would follow the 305th Infantry Division by way of Nice. To keep the passage clear for the other troops, the 44th Infantry Division held the sector of the railway line from Brennero to Bolzano. By 2 August the infiltration of Army Group B into northern Italy was in full swing, and the first lifts of the 2nd Parachute Division had arrived near Rome, a movement substantially completed after four days. Kesselring’s explanation to Roatta now was that the division was needed in that area because of the possibility of an Allied parachute attack.

A day later, 3 August, OKW transmitted through Kesselring a formal note to explain its haste in reinforcing the troops in Italy. The Germans had feared, OKW said, that the political change in Italy might encourage the Allies to use an estimated thirteen to fifteen available divisions in a landing on the Ligurian or north Adriatic coast. OKW therefore thought it prudent to provide for the security of all forces by moving divisions first into the north, then into the south.

 The 305th Infantry and 76th Infantry, under LXXXVII Corps, were to protect the Ligurian coast. The 94th Infantry, moving through the Mount Cenis pass, as well as the 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler, the 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich, and the 65th Infantry were also to enter north Italy. OKW added that it was considering sending one or two additional armored divisions to Italy to form a reserve. It planned to reinforce the Mediterranean French coast defenses with the 715th Infantry and 60th Panzer Grenadier Division, plus two unspecified infantry divisions. All the details of co-ordination, OKW proposed, were to be settled at the conference scheduled for 6 August at Tarvis.

[N2-15-4949-0KWIWFSt, KTB, I.-3r.VIII.43, 3 Aug 43; Colloquio Generale Rossi-Generale Westphal, 1230, 3 Aug 43, Comando Supremo, Colloqui 1943, IT 104.]

 Though the Germans had not mentioned the 94th Infantry and 65th Infantry before, the Italians accepted the note without demur. They bent their efforts toward effecting such a distribution of the German divisions as to make for the least threat to Rome and to the principal northern bases of the fleet-La Spezia and Pola-and for the most appropriate dispositions to resist an Allied invasion of southern Italy. The crisis having passed, Ambrosio and Roatta faced the Germans with seeming good grace. Italo-German discussions on 3 August were friendly. Ambrosio agreed to provide transportation in the Brenner area. Roatta urged that German reinforcements be sent to the south as quickly as possible. Roatta also complained that some German troops behaved as though they believed that the Italians sympathized with the Allies, an attitude he found insulting to Italian honor. “Italy,” he declared, “is not thinking of changing course.”

 So far as Roatta knew, he had made an honest declaration. What he did not know was that attempts had already been initiated to make contact with the Allies. On the same day, Rintelen was personally delivering Badoglio’s message to Hitler, with Keitel and Jodl in attendance. After listening to Rintelen explain Badoglio’s position, Hitler exploded. “This is the biggest impudence in history. Does the man imagine that I will believe him?” “I have the impression,” Rintelen replied, “that he is honorably working for the establishment of trust.” Hitler brushed this aside, remarking that the Anglo-Americans had probably repulsed Badoglio’s effort to make peace and that Badoglio was therefore again seeking German support. After a brief discussion of the conference scheduled in a few days at Tarvis, Hitler dismissed Rintelen without a reply for Badoglio.

[N2-15-52 Rintelen, Mussolini als Bundesgenosse, pp. 233-34. A briefer statement by Rintelen is to be found in MS #T-Ia (Westphal et al.), Chapter II, page 23, where the interview with Hitler is dated the second rather than the third of August. OKHIAttachtf Abt., KTB I.III.43-3r.V. 44 (H27/s6) contains the entry that Rintelen met with the Führer on the Italian problem on 3 August 1943. Practically the same entry can be found in OKHIAttachtf Abt., Taetigkeitsberichte zum KTB, Feb. 43-IS Jun 44 (H27/s8).]

 Later that day Rintelen received some sympathy from General der Infanterie Kurt Zeitzler, an old friend in the headquarters and Chief of Staff of the German Army. Zeitzler knew that Hitler’s alleged proof of Badoglio’s negotiations with the Western Powers was not true. Rintelen also spoke with Keitel and Jodl and told them that fascism was dead, that Mussolini was a sick man, and that it was necessary to support the Badoglio government as a bulwark against communism. When Jodl mentioned this view to Hitler the next day, he was roundly cursed and abused. Rintelen, Hitler said, was a traitor.

 Rintelen had already returned to Rome, where he went directly to Kesselring’s headquarters at Frascati. Richthofen, the air commander, was somewhat surprised to see him; he had been doubtful that Hitler would allow Rintelen out of Germany.

 Badoglio felt that his hand had again been refused. His initial steps to bring about a joint peace move or to secure German understanding of the Italian situation had ended in failure. Badoglio nevertheless continued to hope that he might yet obtain German consent to a dissolution of the alliance and thereby exclude any action that might bring on Italo-German conflict.

[N2-15-54 On 24 August, Badoglio told Bonomi: “If the Germans would attack, the situation would have a solution. We cannot, by an act of our own will, separate ourselves from Germany to whom we are bound by a pact of alliance, but if attacked we shall resist and we will be able to turn for aid to our enemies of yesterday.” (Bonomi, Diario, p. 82).]

 As late as 3 September the German Naval Attaché in Rome reported: “In higher circles the opinion prevails that ever since he assumed office, Badoglio has been trying to bring the war to as favorable a conclusion as possible, but only with Germany’s consent, for Badoglio takes Italy’s honor as are Axis partner very seriously.” {ONI, translation German Naval Staff: Operations Division War Diary, pt. A, vol. 49 (September 1943), p. 37} 

The Italians, however, continued to work with the Germans to maintain the defense of Sicily and to prepare to oppose an invasion of the Italian mainland. At the same time they watched closely for a hostile German act against Rome and sought to make contact with the Allies. They were increasingly worried by the strangle-hold the Germans had on Italy. The locations of the new German divisions offered no protection to the south, where an Allied threat was real and acute. Rather, the Germans were in position to seize the Italian naval bases, to occupy the north, and to grab Rome.

[N2-15-55 Roatta gave a very clear and prophetic analysis in his memorandum, S.M.R.E., Ufficio di Capo di Stato Maggiore, N. 26/CSM di Prot., 4 Aug 43, IT 104; Cf. Roatta, Otto milioni,]

 The Italian Course is Changed

About the same time that the crisis of 29 July-1 August was being overcome by the decision of the Italian Government and High Command to accept unwanted German reinforcements, the assumption of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by Raffaele Guariglia gave a new impulse and a new direction to Italian foreign policy. Brought from his post as Ambassador to Turkey, Guariglia was uninformed on the true state of affairs in Italy and as a result had indulged in some daydreams and wishful thinking. He fancied that Mussolini, out of love for Italy, had recognized that he himself was the greatest obstacle in the way of an approach to the Allies, and had therefore made the sacrifice of removing himself from power in order to save Italy from total disaster.

 Perhaps, Guariglia thought, a secret understanding with both Germany and the Allies had preceded Mussolini’s resignation. Assuming that the first step of the Badoglio government would naturally be an approach to the Allies, he interpreted Badoglio’s proclamation of continuing the war merely as a method of gaining time. Before leaving Istanbul, Guariglia asked the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs to convey to the Allied representatives in Turkey Guariglia’s personal conviction that Italy had to change course as quickly as possible. Though he could make no commitment, he asked that the Allies have faith in Italy’s intentions and understanding of her plight. As an indication of their faith and understanding, he felt, the Allies should cease bombing Italian cities.  

After arriving in Rome late in the afternoon of 29 July, Guariglia took over his office, and then met with Badoglio. He agreed with Badoglio to limit knowledge of any negotiations for peace to the smallest circle of officials-the matter should not be discussed even in the Council of Ministers. But at this point he was rudely awakened from the dreams he had conjured up in Istanbul, for he found his position in the new Italian Government enormously prejudiced by certain stark facts: the war continued; there was no contact with the Allies. He learned also that his position had been prejudiced by Badoglio’s proposals to Germany through General Marras, and Badoglio’s acceptance of Hitler’s counterproposal of a meeting of foreign ministers, scheduled for 6 August. Scarcely had Guariglia taken his oath of office on 30 July when General Castellano presented himself and tendered a memorandum from Ambrosio, chief of Comando Supremo. Identifying Castellano as an intimate colleague who had played a certain role In the developments leading to Mussolini’s dismissal, Ambrosio’s note said that it was absolutely necessary for Italy to conclude an armistice with the Allies and that therefore immediate contact had to be made with the Western Powers.

 Guariglia tried to do so that very evening. In the greatest secrecy he visited the Papal Secretary of State and asked him to request the British Minister to the Holy See, Sir D’ Arcy Q. Osborne, to transmit a message to the British Government. Unfortunately, the British diplomatic code at the Holy See had been broken and was known to the Italians and the Germans. {The British minister received a new and safe cypher later that summer.} This ruled out that channel of communication. At about the same time, Franco Babuzzio Rizzo, a subordinate of Guariglia’s, was meeting with Harold Tittmann, assistant to Myron C. Taylor, Personal Representative of the President to His Holiness, the Pope. Rizzo wanted to get a message to the American Government. But the American office within the Vatican walls had no safe and speedy communication channel either. Though the American office could forward dispatches through Switzerland or Portugal in safety, this was a slow process.

 [N2-15-5858 Badoglio, M emorie e documenti, p. 96; Guariglia, Ricordi, pp. 586-87; Ltr, Osborne to Major Gen Orlando Ward, OCMH, 6 Jul 50; Ltr and IncIs, Tittmann to Ward, OCMH, 19 Jul] 

On the following day, 31 July, the crown council met at the Quirinal Palace. Guariglia vigorously advocated an immediate approach to the Allies for the purpose of concluding a separate armistice. He stated that he had already taken steps in that direction by speaking to the Turkish Foreign Minister and by approaching the Allied representatives to the Holy See. As he understood the situation, the decision to approach the Western Powers had already been made by the King some days ago. The crown council formally decided to separate Italy from the alliance with Germany and to seek an armistice with the Allies.

 [N2-15-59 Guariglia, Ricordi, pp. 585-86, 6 [gn; II Processo Carboni-Roatta,] 

Guariglia implemented this decision by securing approval from the King and Badoglio to send an emissary to Portugal. He chose the Marchese Blasco Lanza D’Ajeta, Counselor of the Italian Embassy at the Holy See, who through Ciano had been kept informed of the movement to overthrow Mussolini. D’ Ajeta spoke English, and was the godson of the wife of Sumner Welles, the American Under Secretary of State. Furthermore, he was of intermediate rank and his transfer from the Holy See would excite no German suspicion’s. Accordingly, the Foreign Office nominated D’ Ajeta Counselor of the Italian Legation at Lisbon. Guariglia had D’ Ajeta take along a large suitcase full of Foreign Office documents to keep them from falling into German hands. The gossip of polite circles in Rome promptly had it that D’Ajeta’s mission was to save the Countess Ciano’s jewels.

[N2-15-60 Guariglia, Ricordi, p. 587. Castellano (Come firmai, page 72) records that he knew of the D’ Ajeta mission but remains silent on whether he had any part in instigating the appointment. In any event, Castellano did not know the full scope of D’ Ajeta’s instructions.]

 D’ Ajeta received his instructions on 1 and 2 August from Guariglia, Castellano taking part in the second session. Sir D’ Arcy Osborne provided a letter introducing D’ Ajeta to his cousin, Sir Ronald Hugh Campbell, British Ambassador at Lisbon. D’ Ajeta was to make a full and candid explanation of the situation of the Italian Government, and point out that it was threatened internally by the Communists and by German occupation. He was to explain that the government wished to break with Germany, but that to do this the government needed help for its armed forces. He was to make it clear that he had no power to negotiate, but he was to suggest the desirability of military and political agreement by the Allies and the Italians in order to enable Italy to break with the Germans or turn against them. As a demonstration of faith, he was to inform the Allies of the German order of battle in Italy. Castellano carefully drilled D’ Ajeta on the name, strength, and location of each German unit in Italy and of those expected to enter the country, and D’Ajeta committed this information to memory.

D’ Ajeta flew to Lisbon on 3 August, and presented himself at once to Renato Prunas, the Italian Minister. He sent his note of introduction to Sir Ronald, and the British Ambassador requested and received from his own government authorization to receive the Italian emissary. The conference took place the following day. 

A trained diplomat, D’ Ajeta carefully carried out his instructions. After giving a candid and detailed exposition of the Italian situation, he urged the ambassador to inform the British and American Governments that Italy was most anxious to escape the German yoke and to withdraw from the conflict. He pleaded for understanding in London and Washington of Italy’s tragic situation: Italy, he said, was on the eve of a German military occupation. Besides the German divisions already in Italy, two more had begun to arrive from France on 2 August, bound for Turin, and about 200,000 German troops assembled around Innsbruck were occupying the Brenner Pass installations. 

Because Rome was in danger of immediate German seizure-an armored SS division with the most modern Tiger tanks was moving toward the capital-the King and the government had plans to escape to the island of Maddalena, off the coast of Sardinia. Some 300,000 Italian workmen were virtual hostages in Germany. After three years of warfare, Italy was on the verge of economic exhaustion. Italy, D’ Ajeta continued, wished to negotiate. Hungary and Rumania would probably follow suit.

 D’ Ajeta then gave the exact locations of the German divisions as of 2 August. He explained that Italian troops had been moved to protect Rome, thereby leaving the coast of central Italy practically undefended. To maintain its independence, the Italian Government was resolved to defend the capital against German attack, even though the only good division in the area was the reconstituted armored Ariete Division, which had only enough ammunition to furnish a total of eighty-eight shells for each of its guns. 

Emphasizing his lack of authority to negotiate, D’ Ajeta urged that his disclosure of the German order of battle be the starting point for synchronizing Italian help with the Allied political and military plans. He requested a cessation of propaganda attacks against the King and Badoglio, a halting of bombings against Italian cities. He asked that Britain and America not misinterpret the impending Italo-German conference at Tarvis. 

Ambassador Campbell listened attentively, asked several questions. D’ Ajeta warned that the German armed forces were numerous and powerful. Reports of serious cleavage between the Nazi party and the military command, he said, were to be discounted. Campbell explained that he had no instructions except to listen. His personal opinion was that the Allies had already determined their military plans and had clearly announced their political views in the unconditional surrender formula.

The Italian Government waited for an official reply to D’ Ajeta’s overture. None came. 

Meanwhile, on the day that D’ Ajeta had left Rome for Lisbon, Guariglia and Badoglio decided to send another emissary to make contact with the British Government. They directed Alberto Berio, former Counselor of the Embassy at Ankara, to fly immediately to Tangier, there to replace Badoglio’s son as Consul General. Berio’s real mission was to inform the British Consul that Italy was willing to negotiate. 

On the morning of 3 August, the day that D’ Ajeta reached Lisbon, Guariglia gave Berio his detailed instructions. Berio was to make known the fact that because the Italian Government was a prisoner of the Germans, it would be useless and damaging to the Allied cause to demand of Italy an immediate and public capitulation. The Allied armies should attack the Balkans in order to draw German troops away from Italy, thereby making it possible for the Italians to join the Allies in clearing the Italian peninsula of German forces. Finally, the Allied press campaign against the Badoglio government ought to continue in order to deceive the Germans. 

When Badoglio briefed Berio later that day, he added the point that the Allies would find it to their interest to aid the Italian Government maintain itself against the internal threat of communism. In this connection, the Allies should cease bombing Italian cities. The Marshal’s son, Mario, who was present, made an additional suggestion: the Allies should land in Italy as soon and as far north as possible.

 [N2-15-63 Alberto Berio, Missione segreta (Tangeri: Agosto 1943) (Milan: Enrico Dall’Oglio, 1947), pp. 34-42] 

In Tangier on 5 August, Berio at once made contact with Mr. Watkinson, temporarily in charge of the British Consulate. After carrying out his instructions, Berio wired Rome of his action and, like D’Ajeta in Lisbon, waited for an Allied reply.

[N2-15-64 Ibid., pp. 54-70. D’Ajeta later presented his own account of the mission in his defense at epuration proceedings. See Consiglio di Stato: Sezione speciale per l’epurazione, Memoria a svolgimento del ricorso del Consigliere di Legazione Blasco Lanza d’ Ajeta contra la decisione della Commissione per l’epurazione del personale dipendente dal Ministero degli AfJari Esteri (Rome: Tipografia Ferraiolo, 1946), pp. 79-81, 84-87; and Documenti prodotti a corredo della memorai del Consigliere di Legazione Blasco Lanza d’ Ajeta (Rome: Tipografia Ferraiolo, 1946), pp. 17-35.]

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 (2-16) Drive down the Coast

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