World War Two: Italy; The Second Capitulation (3-29)

Mission to Brindisi: At Brindisi, the King and his entourage found it difficult even to find accommodations and to organize a mess. Clearly the government was one in name only. Four-fifths of the country was under German control. The Allies on the Salerno beaches seemed perilously close to defeat. Yet the Badoglio government could claim some legitimacy because surrender had brought it Allied recognition as the government of Italy. 

Contact with the Allies, therefore, was of critical importance to the King and Badoglio. And fortunately, the royal party had the radio and code originally given to Castellano in Lisbon. This made it possible to communicate with AFHQ. But there were no real facilities at Brindisi for maintaining contact with the rest of the country-Radio Bari was so weak that its emissions scarcely reached Rome. 

After receiving from General Eisenhower on 11 September the message from Roosevelt and Churchill urging him to lead the Italian people in a crusade against the Germans, Badoglio asked Eisenhower to send a liaison officer to help maintain close relations. [n29-1] Eisenhower agreed and promptly selected for the post Lieutenant General Sir Noel Mason-MacFarlane, the Military Governor of Gibraltar. He directed Mr. Murphy and Mr. Macmillan, the American and British political advisers at AFHQ, to accompany Mason-MacFarlane, whose task would be the establishment of official contact with the Badoglio government.[n29-2] 

[n29-1 Msg 38, “Monkey” to “Drizzle,” II Sep 43, Capitulation of Italy, p. 434: Badoglio, Memorie e documenti, pp. 123-24.]

After expressing his pleasure over the choice, Badoglio suggested that Eisenhower and his staff meet with him and his military staff “to discuss further operations in Italy, a theater of war which we [Italians] naturally know perfectly.” [n29-3] 

The suggestion was not well received. Still grievously disappointed in the performance of the Italian Government from the time of the armistice announcement, Eisenhower was in no mood to confide his plans to members of that government. It seemed hardly logical, now that the Italian Fleet had surrendered and the Army had dissolved into virtual nothingness, for Badoglio to tell Eisenhower how to wage the war and for Eisenhower to listen. What seemed very clear was that “Castellano had been the moving spirit in military armistice,” not Badoglio or any member of Badoglio’s cabinet. Why had Castellano brought the negotiations to a head? Probably, AFHQ speculated, “chiefly due to his treatment by the Germans who apparently ignored the Italians militarily and told them nothing about operations.” [n29-4]

[n29-2: Capitulation of Italy, pp. 440-41, also in file 10,000/100/1; Msg 5646, AFHQ to TROOPERS, 17 Sep 43, 0100/4/411. See the nine page typewritten account of the establishment and operations of the Allied Military Mission at Brindisi covering the period 3 Septembcr-17 November 1943. 10,000/100/j6.]

[n-29-3 Msg 46, “Monkey” to “Drizzle,” 12 Sep 43, Capitulation of Italy, p. 453; Ltc Whiteley to Mason-MacFarlane, 13 Sep 43. 10,000/100/1.]

But whatever the reason, it was of little import compared to the problem of gaining some benefit from the surrender. On the day when the Allies at Salerno were closest to defeat, 13 September, General Eisenhower wrote General Marshall to depict how hollow a shell the Allies had inherited as a potential ally: Internally the Italians were so weak and supine that we got little if any practical help out of them. However, almost on pure bluff, we did get the Italian fleet into Malta and because of the Italian surrender, were able to rush into Taranto and Brindisi where no Germans were present ….The Sardinian and Corsican situations show how helpless and inert the Italians really are. In both those places they had the strength to kick the Germans into the sea. Instead they have apparently done nothing, although here and there they do occupy a port or two.

 Badoglio wants to see me and has suggested Sicily as a meeting place. I am telling him he has to come here. He also wants to bring along some of his general staff but I can’t make out what his general staff can possibly be directing just now. A few Italian artillery units arc supporting the British Airborne Division in Taranto. Aside from that there has been some local battling throughout the peninsula. This has of course, served to keep the Germans preoccupied, but there has been nothing like the meeting produced that was easily within the realm of possibility.  

[n29-4 Telg 441. FAIRFIELD REAR G-2 for Strong. FREEDOM, 10 Sep 43. Capitulation of Italy, p. 412. Ltr, Eisenhower to Marshall. 5 Sep 43. Diary. Office CinCo Book VIII. pp. A-765-A-767. See also Telg 009. Mason-MacFarlane to Eisenhower. 18 Sep 43, 10,000/100/1.]

 Despite his low expectations, Eisenhower was not giving up in his effort to salvage something practical out of the surrender, and Mason-MacFarlane’s mission to Badoglio’s government was to be his instrument. Eisenhower defined Mason-MacFarlane’s task as the transmission of Eisenhower’s instructions to the Italian Government; the collection of intelligence information; and the arrangements “for such coordinated action as the Italian armed forces and people can be induced to take against the Germans.” Mason-MacFarlane and his subordinates were to bear in mind “the extreme importance of inculcating in the Italian Government, armed forces and people, the will to resist and hamper in every way the German forces in Italy and the Italian possessions.” Mason-MacFarlane received for guidance copies of the short military terms of the armistice and the long comprehensive conditions, but because the Italian Government had not yet officially received the latter, he was not to discuss the contents of the long terms.[n29-6]

[N29-6: Instrs for Mil Mission with the Italian Government, 12 Sep 43, Capitulation of Italy, pp.460-61. General Taylor (82nd AB Division) was the senior American representative and apparently handled administration and communications. See Memo, AFHQ for Taylor. 12 Sep 43. sub: :–notes for Allied Mil Mission; Organizational Chart for Mission; and Ltr. Taylor to Whiteley. 15 Sep 43. all in 10.000/100/1; see also Telg)84. AFHQ to FATIMA (MacFarlane Mission). 25 Sep 43. and Telg 9907, AFHQ to FATIMA. 26 Sep 43. both in 10,000 / 100/10; Decisions Made by CinC in Mtgs. Bizerte, 9 Sep-22 Sep 43, 0100/4/168; Notes for Mason-MacFarland, 11, Sep 43,. 10,000/100/16.]

 On the day that the mission established its first official contact, 15 September, the British Government proposed that the Allies secure Badoglio’s signature to the long terms and asked for Eisenhower’s views on the proposal. In reply, General Eisenhower acknowledged the desirability of obtaining the signature but recommended delay. He also urged strongly the omission of the unconditional surrender formula, for he still had hope of gaining some practical benefits from the capitulation.[n29-7] For their part, the Italians were also disappointed. The members of the Italian Government had attributed extraordinary military capabilities to the Allies. They had entertained visions of an Allied landing in great strength near Rome. Thus, they felt that the Allies were responsible-at least morally-for the hasty abandonment of the capital. The Allies, they thought, had advanced the timing of the armistice announcement and had come ashore at the wrong place. “They all say we should have landed north instead of south of Naples,” Mason-MacFarlane reported. “On this point I tell them they know nothing about it and to shut up.” [n29-8] The impression made by the Italian Government prompted pity rather than confidence. The King appeared pathetic, very old, and rather gaga; 74 years old; physically infirm, nervous, shaky, but courteous, with a certain modesty and simplicity of character which is attractive. He takes an objective, even humorously disinterested view of mankind and their follies. 

[n29-7 Telg 4929, Gilmer to Smith. 15 Sep 43, and Telg 478, FAIRFIELD REAR to FREEDOM, 16 Sep 43, both in Capitulation of Italy, pp. 501, 526.]

[n29-8 Msg 477. Mason-MacFarlane to Whiteley, 15 Sep 43 .. Capitulation of Italy, pp. 503-04; see also Ltr, Mason-MacFarlane to Whiteley, 14 Sep 43, and Diary Notes of Mason-MacFarlane Mission, 12-2 J Sep 43, both in 10,000/ 100/ 1; Diary Notes of Mason-MacFarlane Mission, 22 Sep-4 Oct 43, 10,000/100/2.] 

‘Things are not difficult,’ he said, ‘only men.’ I do not think he would be capable of initiating any policy, except under extreme pressure, e.g. Mussolini’s march on Rome and the Communist threat, which led to his decision of 1920 [sic]; the hopeless state of the Fascist regime which led to his decision of July 25, 1943; the German threat to Rome, which led to his decision on September 9, 1943. 

Badoglio seemed old, benevolent, honest and very friendly. Said all the right things. A loyal servant of his King and country, without ambitions …. He is a soldier and clearly without much political sense, believing that he has the popular support at the moment and that it can all be concentrated in a military movement without a political side. Ambrosio was “intelligent and friendly,” though “depressed and lacking in enthusiasm.” Roatta was “a good linguist” and “the perfect military attaché” but with questionable loyalty “to any cause that should show remote signs of becoming a lost one.” Zanussi’s “position in this rather dreary military hierarchy is rather low.” [n29-9]

[n29-9 Msg 477, Mason-MacFarlane for Whiteley, 15 Sep 43, Capitulation of Italy, pp. 503-04.] 

The prospect of getting help from the Italians did not seem bright. All that remained of the Italian Army were: in southern Italy-the Mantova Division near Crotone, the Piceno Division near Brindisi, part of the Legnano Division north of Brindisi, and some coastal formations; in Sardinia-four divisions in a “recuperative” stage; in Cephalonia and the Dodecanese-one division each. The rest of the Italian Army, according to Ambrosio, was “surrounded by the Germans and finished.” It could be “written off.” Of the divisions in southern Italy, all had “hardly any motor transport left,” their armament was “mostly 1918″ type, they had “practically no petrol,” very little ammunition, and were “very short of boots.” Except for the fleet, “the genuine military help we are likely to get,” Mason-MacFarlane estimated, “is going to be practically nil.” [n29-10] 

As for the political side of the picture, the Brindisi group was hardly worthy of being called a government. It was important only because of its unchallenged claim to legality-“except for the Fascist Republican Party now being organized in Germany by Mussolini and his gang, no other Government has so far claimed authority.” [n29-11]

The Long Terms

While Mason-MacFarlane and the military members of his mission remained at Brindisi, the political advisers-Murphy and Macmillan-returned to report to General Eisenhower. On 18 September, after conferring with these men, Eisenhower informed the Combined Chiefs of Staff of the problem he faced at this juncture of the surrender developments. 

[n19-10 Memo, Mason-MacFarlane for AFHQ, 16 Sep 43; Telg-11, Mason-MacFarlane to AFHQ, 16 Sep 43; and Ltr, Mason-MacFarlane to Eisenhower, 20 Sep 43, all in 10,000/100/1; Msg 5986, AFHQ to USFOR, I7 Sep 43, 0100/4/411.]

[n19-11 Rpt of Macmillan, 17 Sep 43, Diary Office CinC, Book VIII, pp. A-790-A-796; see also Telg 548, Macmillan to Mason-MacFarlane, 22 Sep 43, 10,000/100/2.]

The chief question, as Eisenhower saw it, and one that would have significant influence on Allied military operations in Italy, was the status to be accorded the Badoglio government. Determination of the status of Italy would dictate all “executive and propaganda action” in the military, political, spheres.

Eisenhower had instructions covering support to be given to Italian units and individuals who resisted the Germans, and to this end he was planning to group three Italian divisions in the Calabria-Taranto area into a corps to be placed under British Eighth Army control for the purpose of defending ports, lines of communications, and vital installations; two or three divisions would become available in Sardinia, and Eisenhower contemplated using them for similar duties; Italian divisions in Corsica were collaborating with French forces landed there and conducting anti-German operations; two Italian cruisers were transporting troops and supplies from North Africa to Corsica “at considerable risk.” Yet all this activity, though desirable and even necessary to the Allies, was inconsistent with the terms of the armistice, which called for the Italians to be disarmed and disbanded. Because Eisenhower would soon have to confer directly with Badoglio, he wished to be able to reassure him on a number of matters Badoglio was sure to raise, matters having “a profound effect on our military relations with Italy during the period of active hostilities.” Instructions from the CCS, the dictates of military necessity, and his own judgment provided him the answers to most points. 

But these, Eisenhower found, were “not at all consistent with the provisions of the Long Term Armistice conditions” he was supposed to get Badoglio to sign. Badoglio, he had learned, did not understand the need to sign further terms, for additional conditions were illogical if the Allies expected active Italian co-operation in the war effort against Germany. Finally, drawing up an effective propaganda program to be addressed to the Italian people was impractical “until the government structure and the Italian status are clarified.” [n29-12] 

His recommendation, Eisenhower continued, was to institute a new Allied policy toward Italy. Could the Allied governments consider giving the Badoglio administration “some form of de facto recognition … as a co-belligerent or military associate” provided the Italians would strengthen the national character of the administration; restore the former constitution and promise free elections after the war for a constitutional assembly; consider possible eventual abdication of the King in favor of his son or grandson; adhere to whatever military requirements the Allies might decide on; and accept an Allied organization in the nature of an armistice commission, but with a different title, from which the Italian administration could accept guidance and instructions? “What prompted Eisenhower to make such a recommendation was the hard and risky campaign before us.” Italian assistance might spell the difference between complete and only partial success. 

Since he could defer a meeting with Badoglio for not more than ten days, he wished answers to his questions as soon as possible. And because he realized that his suggestion would “provoke political repercussions” and perhaps “arouse considerable opposition and criticism,” he recommended that “the burden be placed upon us, on the ground of military necessity, which I am convinced should be the governing factor.” [n29-13] 

[n29-12 Telg, AFHQ to CCS, NAF 409, 18 Sep 43, Capitulation of Italy, pp. 538-42; see also Ltr, Mason-MacFarlane to Eisenhower, 20 Sep 43, 10,000/100/76; Telg 7074, Eisenhower to Mason-MacFarlane, 20 Sep 43.. 10,000/ 100/ 1; Telg, AFHQ to CCS, NAF 377, 22 Sep 43, 0100/4/3,111; Msg 8636, AFHQ to MIDEAST, 23 Sep 43, 0100/4/411.]

[n29-13 Telg, AFHQ to CCS, NAF 409, 18 Sep 43.]

After another day of reflection, General Eisenhower dispatched another message to the Combined Chiefs. There were, he said, only two alternatives: either to accept and strengthen the legal government of Italy under the King and Badoglio; or to sweep that government aside, set up an Allied military government over an occupied Italy, and accept the heavy personnel and administrative commitment involved in the latter course. He recommended very strongly the first line of action. As a cobelligerent, the legal government would have to declare war on Germany and on the Fascist Republican Government. It would thereby become the natural rallying point for all elements wishing to fight against fascism.[n29-14] 

The first Major indication of the effect of Eisenhower’s recommendation came on 21 September, when Prime Minister Churchill, speaking in the House of Commons, reviewed the war in the Mediterranean and revealed much of the Italian surrender negotiations. Justifying the conduct of the Badoglio government, and noting the threat of civil war arising from Mussolini’s escape to Germany, he urged the necessity “in the general interest as well as in that of Italy that all surviving forces of Italian national life should be rallied together around their lawful Government. . . .” [n29-15] 

[n29-14 Telg 502, Eisenhower to Smith, forwarded to CCS, 20 Sep 43. NAF 410, Capitulation of Italy, pp. 544, 548; see also Memo, Whiteley for Mason-MacFarlane, 21 Sep 43, 10,000/100/1.]

[n29-15 Churchill, Onwards to Victory, p. 267.]

With the assent of his War Cabinet, Churchill on the same day telegraphed President Roosevelt. He recommended that the Allies build up the authority of the Brindisi administration and make it “the broadest-based anti-Fascist coalition Government possible.” Rejecting an Allied status for that government, he felt that co-belligerency was sufficient. Yet he did not relinquish his wish for Badoglio to sign the full instrument of surrender.[n29-16] Churchill informed Stalin of his desires, perhaps as a bid in advance for Stalin’s support should Roosevelt be reluctant to have the comprehensive surrender terms imposed. “I am putting these proposals also to President Roosevelt,” Churchill wired the Russian, “and I hope that I may count on your approval.” [n29-17]

[n29-16 Churchill, Closing the Ring, pp. 189-90.]

[n29-17 Ibid., pp. 192-93] 

President Roosevelt was, indeed, reluctant. Yet he appreciated Eisenhower’s need for a clear and firm directive. On 21 September, therefore, he sent Churchill his Views In a message that crossed Churchill’s telegram to him. Except with regard to the long terms, the views of the two were similar. With Churchill’s concurrence, consequently, Roosevelt on 23 September laid down the basic policy for Eisenhower’s guidance in dealing with the Italian Government. Eisenhower was to (1) withhold the long term armistice provisions until a later date; (2) recommend from time to time the relaxing of the military terms to enable the Italians to fight more effectively against the Germans; (3) permit the Italian Government to assume the status of a trusted cobelligerent in the war against Germany if that government declared war on Germany and if it promised to give the people the right to decide the form of government they wished, though not before the Germans were evicted from Italian territory; (4) merge the functions of the Allied military government and of the contemplated armistice control commission into an Allied commission under himself, with the power to give guidance and instructions to the Badoglio government on military, political, and administrative matters; (5) make vigorous use of the Italian armed forces against Germany; and (6) inform the French military authorities of these new instructions to the “extent that you deem advisable.” [n29-18] 

President Roosevelt also forwarded to Eisenhower the text of Churchill’s views. And in response to Eisenhower’s suggestions, slight modifications were made in the text of the long terms. Furthermore, invitations previously issued to the other United Nations governments to send representatives to discuss the signature ceremony were not to be renewed.[n29-19] 

Upon receipt of the Presidential directive, Eisenhower instructed Mason-MacFarlane to make arrangements for a formal conference between him and Badoglio. The conference, to take place no earlier than 26 September, was to be restricted to the five basic items of the presidential directive. The long terms were not to be discussed. Badoglio was to be informed that additional terms or instructions of a political, financial, and economic nature would be communicated to him from time to time.[n29-20] 

[n29-18 Telg 8432, Presidential Directive, 21 Sep 43, Capitulation of Italy, pp. 560-62; see also Churchill, Closing the Ring, pp. 190-91, and Memo, Hammond for Hull and Marshall, 20 Sep 41, OPD 100.6 (OCS Papers).]

[n29-19 Revised Proposals for the Signature of the Long Armistice Terms, 21 Sep 41, Capitulation of Italy, pp. 563-64; see also Telg 550. Eisenhower to Mason-MacFarlane, 23 Sep 43, 10,000/100/2.]

[n29-20 Telg 565, Smith to Mason-MacFarlane, 24 Sep 43, Capitulation of Italy, p. 583; see also Telg 714, AFHQ to Mason-MacFarlane. 20 Sep 43; Telg 37, Mason-MacFarlane to AFHQ, 20Sep 43; and Telg 110, Mason-MacFarlane to Smith, 25 Sep 43, all in 10,000/100/1; Telg 57,Mason-MacFarlane to Eisenhower, 22 Sep 43.10,000/100/2.]

Meanwhile, the naval members of the Mason-MacFarlane mission had worked out the disposition of the Italian Fleet and merchant marine. All ships were to continue to fly the Italian flag. The battleships were to go into a care and maintenance status. Cruisers and small craft, both naval and maritime, were to serve the Allied cause by acting in accord with instructions that Admiral Cunningham would issue to the Italian Ministry of Marine through a liaison officer attached to the Badoglio government.[n29-21] 

About this time, Mr. Macmillan sent a personal message to Churchill. He said he thought it might be possible, if the Allies acted promptly, to secure Badoglio’s signature to the long terms. With this estimate in hand, and with Stalin’s support, the Prime Minister again urged President Roosevelt to agree to Badoglio’s signing the comprehensive document. Informed of Churchill’s action, Eisenhower instructed Mason-MacFarlane to suggest the 29th of September as the day for his conference with Badoglio. By then, surely, the issue of the long terms would be settled. [n29-22] 

[n29-21 Cunningham, A Sailor’s Odyssey, pp. 572-73; see Telg, F.O. “Z” Ito CinC Med, 12 Sep 43, and Telg, F.O.T.A. to CinC Med, 16 Sep 43, both in 10,000/100/ I; Memo on Agreement of Employment and Disposition of the Italian Navy and Merchant Marine, No. Med 00380/170, 23 Sep 43, 10,000/100/76; Telg 066, Mason-MacFarlane to Eisenhower, 23 Sep 43; Telg 061, Mason-MacFarlane to Eisenhower, 22 Sep 43; Telg 560, Eisenhower to Mason-MacFarlane, 24 Sep 43; Telg 583, Smith to Mason-MacFarlane, 24 Sep 43, all in 10,000/100/2.]

[n29-22 Memo, Macmillan for Smith, 25 Sep 43. And Telg 583, Smith to Mason-MacFarlane, both in Capitulation of Italy, pp. 585, 590; Msgs, Churchill to Roosevelt, 24 and 25 Sep 43, in Churchill, Closing the Ring, p. 194.] 

President Roosevelt had pretty much had his way in the directive of 23 September, and he had placed a heavy mortgage on the postwar continuance of the Italian monarchy. Although the Prime Minister made no secret of his preference for monarchical government, he had concurred in Roosevelt’s directive and had endorsed in the House of Commons the principle of free choice by the Italian people on their form of government at the end of hostilities. It was now the President’s turn to defer to Churchill’s enthusiasm in favor of the long terms. Late on 25 September, therefore, Roosevelt gave his assent to using the “long set of terms,” if Badoglio’s signature could be obtained quickly.[n29-23] 

The final decision having been made, General Smith, AFHQ’s chief of staff, decided to go to Brindisi himself, together with Murphy and Macmillan, and try to insure by careful preliminary discussion the smoothness of the Eisenhower-Badoglio conference. Instructing Mason-MacFarlane to arrange for his reception at Brindisi, Smith intended to have preliminary talks with the Italians in preparation for the formal meeting, scheduled for the 29th.[n29-24]

 [n29-23 Msg, President to Prime Minister, 25 Sep 43, in Churchill, Closing the Ring, p. 194; Telg 8611, Roosevelt to Eisenhower, 25 Sep 43, Capitulation of Italy, p. 593; Memo, Hammond to Stimson, 25 Sep 43, OPD 300.6 (OCS Papers).

[n29-24 Telg 583, Smith to Mason-MacFarlane, 25 Sep 43; see also Telg 565, Smith to Mason-MacFarlane, 24 Sep 43, 10,000/100/10; Telg 9780, Smith to Mason-MacFarlane, 26 Sep 43, and Telg 118, Mason-MacFarlane to Smith, 26 Sep 43, both in 10,000/100/2; Telg 120, Mason-MacFarlane to Eisenhower, 26 Sep 43, 10,000/100/76.]

By this time a rift had developed between the King and Badoglio. Victor Emmanuel III opposed the whole program that AFHQ presented, and the issue came to a head on 26 September, the day before General Smith was due to arrive at Brindisi. On that day the King asked to see General Mason-MacFarlane alone. In conference with Mason-MacFarlane, the King made known his opposition to an immediate declaration of war against Germany. He alone, the King said, could declare war, and then only if a properly constituted government upheld the declaration. The King did not feel he could declare war on Germany until he returned to Rome and constituted a new government.

 Otherwise, a declaration of war would be unconstitutional. Furthermore, the King was hardly in favor of letting the people decide the form of government they wanted. “It would be most dangerous,” the King said, “to leave the choice of post-war government unreservedly in the hands of the Italian people.” The King also wanted to know whether the Allies would insist on Badoglio as Prime Minister for the duration of the war. Mason-MacFarlane said he thought so. The King pointed out that it might be very difficult, in that case, to form a representative anti-Fascist government. The sovereign then stated his wish for Italian troops to be among the first when the Allies reached Rome. Mason-MacFarlane suggested that if the King desired to pursue these points, he should instruct Badoglio to raise them during the scheduled conference with Eisenhower.[n29-25]

 The King did more than consult with Mason-MacFarlane. Writing in his own name directly to the King of England and to President Roosevelt, Victor Emmanuel III made known his wish for the immediate status of an allied power. President Roosevelt replied that he considered the request premature. Churchill, replying on behalf of his King, stated that there had never been any question of an alliance.[n29-26]

 [n29-25 Telg 121, Mason-MacFarlane to Eisenhower, 26 Sep 43, Capitulation of Italy, p. 601; Telg 136, Mason-MacFarlane to Eisenhower, 26 Sep 43, 10,000/100/2; Puntoni, Vittorio Emanuele III, p. 173]

 Badoglio’s position was quite different from that of the King. Badoglio saw clearly the necessity for Italy to declare war on Germany, not only to regularize the status of Italian soldiers who fell into German hands, but also as a prerequisite for improving Italy’s position with the Western Powers. Though Badoglio urged the King to make the declaration of war, the monarch refused. The King feared “that the Germans, who now occupied more than five-sixths of Italy, would certainly be induced to barbarous reprisals against the population.” And the King took comfort in the fact that Acquarone stood with him on this issue.[n29-27]

 Victor Emmanuel III did not easily grasp the implications of his new role as titular leader of the anti-Fascist effort for which he had been cast by Churchill and Roosevelt. To Badoglio’s chagrin, the first royal proclamation from Brindisi made no acknowledgment, implicit or otherwise, that significant changes had occurred-the sovereign issued the proclamation in the name of His Majesty the King of Italy and Albania, Emperor of Ethiopia. At Mason-MacFarlane’s insistence, the monarch agreed to refer to himself only as the King of Italy. But Victor Emmanuel III insisted stubbornly that he could not surrender his titles without an act of parliament and such an act could not be passed until a constitutional parliament was elected and assembled.[n29-28] The Allied representatives at Brindisi had scarcely regained their equanimity in the face of this royal gaucherie when the King requested General Eisenhower to forward a message to Dino Grandi, believed to be somewhere in Portugal. Because Guariglia was in Rome, the King wanted Grandi to come to Brindisi to assume the portfolio of Foreign Affairs. According to the King, Grandi was a symbol of anti-Fascism, his presence in the Badoglio government would create a schism in the Fascist Republican ranks. Furthermore, Grandi could produce and develop an active pro-Allied propaganda program among the Italian people.[n29-29] 

[n29-26 Badoglio, M emorie e documenti, pp. 131-32; Cf. Churchill to Roosevelt, 21 Sep 43, in Churchill, Closing the Ring, p. 189. See also Telg, AFHQ to CCS, NAF 379, 23 Sep 43, reel R-67-K; Telg, AFHQ to AGWAR, No. W-993, 26 Sep 43, 0100/4/ 411. Copies of the letters from the President and from King George VI to Victor Emmanuel III found in 10,000/100/2.]

[n29-27 Badoglio, Memorie e documenti, pp. 133-34] 

Meanwhile, General Smith, accompanied by the two AFHQ political advisers, arrived at Brindisi on 27 September with copies of the long terms as most recently revised. Together with General Mason-MacFarlane, they had a lengthy conference with Badoglio that afternoon. Mason-MacFarlane presented two copies of the long terms document to Badoglio, reminding him that they were the additional conditions mentioned in the armistice terms signed at Cassibile. The signature of the long terms, he said, was to be the principal item at the conference with General Eisenhower scheduled for Malta on the 29th. The preamble, as the marshal would note, had been amended. But the Allies required the signature, Mason-MacFarlane explained, for two basic reasons: to satisfy Allied public opinion and to avoid any possibility of later misunderstanding. General Eisenhower had the power to modify the application of the terms as he saw fit, Mason-MacFarlane continued. Already the Allies recognized the course of events had outdated some of the clauses. In any case, the Allies would apply the terms as a whole in the spirit of the declaration made by the President and Prime Minister. Badoglio agreed to discuss the terms with the King that evening and to meet again with the Allied representatives the next morning. 

[n29-28 Telgs 104. Mason-MacFarlane to Eisenhower, 25 Sept 43; unnumbered, 25 Sep 43; and 124, 26 Sep 43, all in Capitulation of Italy, pp. 586, 594, 603. Cf. Churchill, Closing the Ring, p. 195· See also Telg 9525, Eisenhower to Mason-MacFarlane, 25 Sep 43, 10,000/ 100/1, and Telg 109, Mason-MacFarlane to Eisenhower, 25 Sep 43, 10,000/100/2.]

[n29-29 Telg 161, FATIMA to Eisenhower, 28 Sep 43. Capitulation of Italy. p. 647; Summary of Visit by General Taylor to Italian Supreme Command, 28 Sep 43, and Telg 161, Taylor to Eisenhower, 28 Sep 43, both in 10,000/100/2.] 

General Smith then took up the other points on the agenda-the coming Malta conference with General Eisenhower, and the program for Italy as outlined by President Roosevelt in his directive of 23 September, which Mason-MacFarlane had discussed with the King the day before. 

In favor of declaring war on Germany, Badoglio appreciated Smith’s arguments; i.e., a declaration of war would give Italian soldiers regular status, and would prepare Allied public opinion for future modifications of the armistice terms. Smith suggested that such modifications might include changes in Allied military government and return of the administration of Sicily to the Badoglio government. The marshal was willing to accept the status of co-belligerency for his country. As for broadening the royal government, Badoglio felt it could be done effectively only after the King returned to Rome. But Badoglio did not want a specific commitment giving the Italian people the right to choose their form of government after the war. He suggested that the Italian leaders pledge only: “It should be understood that free elections will be held after the war.” He did not think the King and his government ought to throw open by their own act the question of the monarchy. He doubted that the Italian people were adapted to a republican form of government. The monarchy, in his opinion, was necessary for maintaining the stability and unity of Italy.[n29-30] 

The King remained stubborn. Though authorizing Badoglio to sign the long terms, he refused to declare war on Germany, to make a pledge to broaden his government, or to promise to permit the Italian people to choose their own form of government at the end of the war. He repeated his request for Grandi to serve as Foreign Minister. 

Nonetheless, his approval for Badoglio to sign the comprehensive surrender document was a significant step. As for Grandi, President Roosevelt had his own ideas of the type of man that Italy needed. On the day that Badoglio was meeting with Eisenhower at Malta, Count Carlo Sforza, a distinguished anti-Fascist politician who had fled Italy years before, got War Department clearance, at the President’s instigation, to go to England, thence to North Africa, and General Eisenhower was so notified.[n29-31] 

[n29-30 Memo by Robert Murphy, Brindisi, 27 Sep 43, Capitulation of Italy, pp. 610-11.]

[n29-31 Msg W-9586, AFHQ to AGWAR, 9 Sep 43, 0100/4/4,11; Telg 575, Eisenhower to Mason-MacFarlane, 25 Sep 43, and Telg 155, Mason-MacFarlane to Eisenhower, 28 Sep 43, both in 10,000/100/2; Telg, Marshall to Eisenhower, No. 8935, 30 Sep 43, Reel R-67-K;]


The last act of the Italian surrender was anticlimactic. Aboard the British battleship H.M.S. Nelson, in Valetta harbor, Malta, around 1100, 29 September, Marshal Badoglio, accompanied by Admiral De Courten, Generals Ambrosio, Sandalli, and Roatta, and four officers of lesser rank, met General Eisenhower. The Allied commander had with him Lord Gort (the Governor of Malta); Admiral Cunningham; Generals Alexander, Smith, Mason-MacFarlane, and Major General A. A. Richardson; Air Chief Marshal Tedder and Air Vice Marshal Keith Parks; Messrs. Murphy and Macmillan; and a number of lesser ranking officers. Badoglio and Eisenhower placed their signatures on the long terms.

 General Eisenhower then handed Badoglio a letter, which read: The tenuis of the armistice to which we have just appended our signatures are supplementary to the short military armistice signed by your representative and mine on the 3rd September, 1943. They are based upon the situation obtaining prior to the cessation of hostilities. Developments since that time have altered considerably the status of Italy, which has become in effect a cooperator with the United Nations. 

It is fully recognized by the Governments on whose behalf I am acting that these terms are in some respect superseded by subsequent events and that several of the clauses have become obsolescent or have already been put into execution. We also recognize that it is not at this time in the power of the Italian Government to carry out certain of the tenues. Failure to do so McCloy for Admiral Leahy, with draft of cable, because of existing conditions will not be regarded as a breach of good faith on the part of Italy. However, this document represents the requirements with which the Italian Government can be expected to comply when in a position to do so. It is to be understood that the terms both of this document and of the short military armistice of the 3rd September may be modified from time to time if military necessity or the extent of cooperation by the Italian Government indicates this as desirable. 

[NOTE: 1 Oct 43, OPD 300.6 Sec (OCS Papers); telg, Eisenhower to Mason-MacFarlane, No. 2580, 3 Oct 43, 10,000/100/2; Puntoni, Vittorio Emanuele IiI, p. 174.]

[n29-32 The text is printed in U.S. Department of State, Treaties and Other International Acts, Thus, the Italian Government surrendered unconditionally, but in the hope of redemption. The Allies had wanted the conference to serve as the point of departure for charting the new course of co-belligerency. But the conferees did no more than discuss the program outlined in President Roosevelt’s directive. The Series 1604, Armistice with Italy 1943 (Washington, 1947), p. 22. See further, file 10,000/136/548, sub: Ltrs, Badoglio, Armistice; Telg 151, Mason-MacFarlane to Eisenhower, 28 Sep 43, 10,000/100/2.]

The long terms of surrender remained secret until 6 November 1945. Eisenhower-Badoglio conference was exploratory and reached no agreement. Still underlying the discussion was the frustration imposed by the obduracy of the King. 

Badoglio opened the plenary conference with a general statement conveying his own desire to see the formation of a government with a broad, liberal base. But he made no commitment. He stated that the King would determine the new members of the government. Declaring himself to be only a soldier, Badoglio said he could not advise the sovereign with respect to politicians. And to General Eisenhower’s question whether the royal government would promptly be given a definitely anti-Fascist character, Badoglio avoided a direct answer. Eisenhower made it clear that the Italian Government would have to take on an anti-Fascist complexion before it could join the Allies in combat. Badoglio replied simply by saying that the King planned to invite the leaders of the political parties to take part in the government. 

At the King’s direction, Badoglio renewed the request for Dino Grandi as Foreign Minister. Explaining that such an appointment would find no sympathetic response in Allied public opinion, Eisenhower made known the message he had received from Washington–the Americans desired Count Sforza to visit Brindisi in the near future. Badoglio said that the King had a distinct antipathy for Sforza because of Sforza’s remarks about the monarch. 

Badoglio stated his own desire for a declaration of war against Germany as soon as the Italian Government returned to Rome. He added that until then he personally considered the Italian forces to be in a de facto state of war with the Germans in Corsica, Dalmatia, and elsewhere. Eisenhower again urged an immediate declaration of war and said he would turn over to Badoglio the administration of Sicily and other liberated areas if his government took such a step. The marshal would make no commitment. Under Italian law, he said, only the King could declare war. 

Toward the end of the conference, venturing the hope that General Eisenhower considered him a complete collaborator, Badoglio asked to be initiated into Allied plans. He requested that Italian troops be permitted to participate in the entry into Rome, an event expected, not only by the Italians but by the Allies as well, to take place in the near future. Eisenhower was evasive on sharing military plans with the Italians, but he promised a token participation of Italian troops in the liberation of the capital if Italy declared war on Germany and co-operated with the Allies. 

In conclusion, General Eisenhower expressed his thanks to Badoglio and said he hoped that great good would come from the meeting. In reciprocating, Badoglio referred to the situation prevailing in 1918, when the Italians, he said, gave the decisive blow to the Germans-operating with the Italian Army had been three British divisions and one American, and all had co-operated closely to bring about the German defeat.[n29-33] 

[n29-33 Robert D. Murphy, Notes of the Conference Aboard H.M.S. Nelson in Valctta Harbor. Malta, 11 a.m. September 29, 1941, Capitulation of Italy, pp. 658-59; see also Telg 1647, Phillips to Mason-MacFarlane, 30 Sep 43. And Telg 192, :Mason-MacFarlane to Eisenhower, 1 Oct 43, both in 10,000/100/2; Memo, McCloy for Leahy. 30 Sep 43; Telg, AFHQ to CCS, NAF 426, 30 Sep 43; and Telg 9081, Marshall to Eisenhower, 1 Oct 43, all in OPD 300.6 Sec (OCS Papers); Msg, AFHQ to CCS, NAF 43 10 Sep 43, 0100/4/4,11; Ltr, Badoglio to President Roosevelt, 20 Nov 43, 10,000/136/854.]

On that day, 29 September 1943, Allied troops were at the gates of Naples, the Germans were withdrawing to the Volturno River and trying to establish a defensive line across the Italian peninsula. With the Germans retiring northward, with the Allies having established two armies on the Italian mainland (Clark’s U.S. Fifth and Montgomery’s British Eighth), the prospects for advancing rapidly to Rome appeared to be good. The Allies did not yet realize the extent to which the Germans could use the Italian winter weather, the Italian terrain, and the skill of their own outnumbered troops to deny the Allies, and incidentally the Italians, quick entry into the capital. 

Crossing the Strait of Messina had been easy, securing a beachhead at Salerno more difficult. But no one could foresee the bitterness ahead of the fighting at the Volturno and the Sangro Rivers, on the approaches to the Liri valley, along the Rapido and Garigliano Rivers, in the shadow of Cassino, and in, the Anzio beachhead. No one could anticipate the expenditure of men and materiel that would be necessary before Rome fell to Allied arms. Least of all the Italians, who on 13 October 1943 finally declared war on Germany.


What had the Allies gained by the surrender of Italy? A cobelligerent of doubtful value if judged in terms of material military resources-the Army was virtually ineffective; the Air Force was obsolete; only the Navy and merchant marine made substantial contributions to Allied power.

The surrender had eliminated a ground force of tremendous size that, even though ill-equipped and low in morale, had confounded and troubled Allied planners and intelligence experts. Had the Italian Government not surrendered before the Salerno invasion, the Italian units manning the coastal positions along the Salerno beaches, acting in concert with the Germans, perhaps might have increased Allied casualties. Unless, to take the opposite viewpoint, the Germans were relieved by the surrender because they no longer had to bother even to be polite to an ally of dubious worth. Did the Germans, therefore, resist the Allies more effectively without the Italians? Was this perhaps at least part of the reason why the landings at Salerno were more difficult for the Allies than those made on the beaches of Sicily? 

What the Allies really achieved by the Italian capitulation was an enormous psychological victory, not only in the eyes of the world, but, more important, for the fighting man. One of the three Major enemy powers had fallen to the combined weight of joint Allied arms, and this gave increasing hope that the end of the conflict would not be far distant. 

This had been brought about by military diplomacy. Not a new phenomenon, this particular performance showed great ingenuity and unusual perception. A military command and staff had played the role of the diplomatist with considerable skill.

 If the Allies were taken in during the negotiations by their belief that the Italian Government was eager to change sides in the war, it was because the Italian representatives-D’ Ajeta, Berio, Castellano, and Zanussi-all of them, had misrepresented, perhaps unwittingly, the desires of their government. Though Churchill credited the King and Badoglio with the initiative in Mussolini’s downfall and the subsequent switch to the Allied side, the real motivation was a desire to choose the lesser of two evils-to be crushed by Germany or to be redeemed by the Allies. “If the Germans would [only] attack [us] ,” Badoglio had said late in August, “the situation would have a solution.”

 Along with his fear of German armed might was the question of honor. “We cannot, by an act of our own will,” Badoglio had said, “separate ourselves from Germany with whom we are bound by a pact of alliance.” Only a German attack could relieve Italian pangs of conscience and make it easy to go over to the Allies and “turn for aid to our enemies of yesterday.” [n29-34]

 As late as 3 September 1943, the day Castellano signed the armistice at Cassibile, the German naval attache in Rome was reporting to his superiors: “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 an Axis partner very seriously.”  

[n29-34 Bonomi, Diario, p. 82. 350NI, Translation of German Naval Staff Operations Division War Diary, pt. A, vol. 49 (September, 1943), p. 37.]

The King, too, felt this way. Despite the fears he expressed of German reprisals on the Italian population, he was also motivated by the desire to be a man of honor. Even after the Germans had destroyed most of the Italian Army, he refused to take the ultimate step of breaking with his former ally. And only as the result of continued Allied pressure, when his government was practically a prisoner of the Allies, did he make his final capitulation and declare war on Germany. The campaign on Sicily that led to the capitulation of Italy proved several things. Like the invasion of North Africa, the Sicilian landings showed that Axis-held Europe was vulnerable to amphibious and airborne attack. It demonstrated the superiority of Allied weapons and equipment. 

It illustrated the resourcefulness and skill of the German foot soldier, who, despite numerical and technological inferiority, demonstrated once again the fundamental importance of terrain and its use in a struggle between ground forces. It gave the American field commanders in Europe experience, and particularly with respect to the British ally, a maturity not achieved before. Most of all, the Sicilian Campaign, by making possible the Italian surrender, marked a milestone on the Allied road to victory.

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: Italy; Salerno-The Preparations (ISC-3)

World War Two: Italy (3-28) The Dissolution; Ex-allies Fight


World War Two: Aitape-Deployment for Battle; PERSECUTION Task Force (AP-6)

Prior to 22 April the PERSECUTION Task Force had little information concerning the intentions of the 18th Army, but soon after that date the task force learned that the Japanese unit had planned to move from Wewak toward Hollandia. In May and June, East Sector operations had produced many indications that a westward displacement of the 18th Army was in full swing.

The Decision to Reinforce Aitape

For some time the G-2 Section of Headquarters, ALAMO Force, did not believe that the movements noted by the PERSECUTION Task Force presaged a Japanese attack on the Aitape perimeter. Instead, ALAMO Force considered it more probable that the 18th Army was merely establishing strong points along the coast west from Wewak in order to delay Allied pushes eastward or to provide flank protection for the main body of the 18th Army which might attempt to bypass Aitape and Hollandia to the south and join the 2nd Army in western New Guinea.[N6-1]

Strength was added to these beliefs when patrols of the Allied Intelligence Bureau (AIB), [N5-2] operating far inland beyond the Torricelli Mountains, reported westward movement of many small Japanese parties along inland trails.[N5-3] Because more definite information was lacking, ALAMO Force, until mid-June, clung to the idea that the 18th Army might bypass Aitape.[N5-4]

The first identifications of organized enemy units east of Aitape had been secured during operations near Marubian in mid-May, when it was found that elements of the 20th Division were operating in that area. [N5-5] Later the same month the PERSECUTION Task Force discovered from captured documents and prisoners that elements of both the 20th and 41st Divisions were along the Dandriwad River. [N5-6] Documents captured by AIB patrols at the end of May indicated that the two divisions were to attack both Hollandia and Aitape. At that time the ALAMO Force G-2 Section estimated that the 18th Army might be mounting a two-pronged assault on Aitape, [N5-7] and by early June the G-2 Section believed that the 20th Division was in place east of Aitape, waiting only for the 41st Division to move up before launching an assault against the PERSECUTION Task Force. The other division of the 18th Army, the 51st, was thought to be at Wewak, and it was believed that the unit was not to move westward. Thus, by early June it seemed evident to ALAMO Force that the Japanese parties previously encountered south of the Torricelli Mountains comprised service troops no longer needed at Wewak or troops who had started moving westward before 22 April.

[N5-1 ALAMO Force, G-2 Wkly Rpt 40, 10 May 44, copy in G-2 Dof A files.]

[N5-2 The AIB was an operating agency of G-2 GHQ SWPA. It sent patrols behind enemy lines to gather information by a variety of means. Most of the white personnel of AIB parties operating in eastern New Guinea were Australians familiar with the terrain by reason of prewar residence or exploration. Native police were also used, but only occasionally were American personnel attached to the AIB parties in eastern New Guinea. In the Aitape area, the PTF sent out a few long-range American patrols. A few radio intelligence teams, operating to some extent under PTF direction and for other purposes on missions for GHQ SWPA, were also sent inland from the Tadji perimeter.]

[N5-3 ALAMO Force, G-2 Daily Rpt, 18 May 44, in ALAMO G-2 Jnl Hollandia, 10 May-15 Jun 44.]

[N5-4 ALAMO Force, G-2 Wkly Rpt 45, 14 Jun 44, copy in G-2 DofA files, indicates a final change of attitude on the part of the ALAMO G-2 Section.]

[N5-5 Rad, PTF to ALAMO, AE-3134, 15 May 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 14-15 May 44; Rad, PTF to ALAMO, AE-3361, 16 May 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 16-18 May 44.]

The ALAMO Force G-2 Section expected that the 20th and 41st Divisions could be in position to attack the PERSECUTION Task Force by the end of June.8 General Krueger believed that a Japanese assault could gain only temporary containment of Allied forces at Aitape and that an attack would be a diversionary measure aimed at delaying further Allied advances in western New Guinea. Such action would have much to recommend itself to higher Japanese headquarters which, the ALAMO Force G-2 Section correctly believed, had already become reconciled to the loss of the 18th Army.[N5-9]

On 17 June General MacArthur questioned ALAMO Force concerning the advisability of reinforcing the PERSECUTION Task Force. Though he considered it improbable that an 18th Army assault could seriously menace the Allied position at Aitape, he thought it possible that the PERSECUTION Task Force might need reinforcing if the 18th Army should muster all its available strength for an attack. He informed General Krueger that the 43rd Infantry Division was scheduled for an early move to Aitape in order to stage there for operations farther west. But that division could not arrive at Aitape before the end of the first week in July. General MacArthur therefore suggested that if it appeared necessary to reinforce the PERSECUTION Task Force before July, a regiment of the 31st Infantry Division might be made available immediately.[N5-10]

To these suggestions General Krueger replied that many preparations had already been made at Aitape to meet any attack by the 18th Army. For instance, both ammunition supply and hospitalization facilities had recently been increased. General Krueger believed that the forces already at Aitape could, if properly handled, beat off any Japanese attack that might occur prior to the 43rd Division’s arrival. If it looked necessary, however, he might send the 112th Cavalry Regimental Combat Team to Aitape. He considered that unit preferable to a regiment of the 31st Division, since he wanted to keep that division intact for a future operation. He requested an early decision from General MacArthur as to which unit should be moved to Aitape.[N6-11]

[N6-6 Rad, PTF to ALAMO, AE-958, 21 May 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 19-21 May 44; Rads, ALAMO to GHQ SWPA, WF-3604 and WF-3526, 22 May 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 22-25 May 44; Rad, PTF to ALAMO, AE-1152, 29 May 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 26-29 May 44.]

[N6-7 Rads, ALAMO to PTF, WF-5374 and WF-6412, 30 May 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 30 May-2 Jun 44; ALAMO Force, G-2 Wkly Rpt 43, 31 May 44, copy in G-2 DofA files.]

[N6-8 Rad, PTF to ALAMO, AE-1450, 10 Jun 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 7-12 Jun 44; Rad, PTF to ALAMO, AE-1491, 12 Jun 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 13-19 Jun 44; Rad, ALAMO to GHQ SWPA, WF-3097, 15 Jun 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 13-19 Jun 44; ALAMO Force, G-2 Wkly Rpt 45, 14 Jun 44, copy in G-2 DofA files.]

[N6-9 Rad, ALAMO to PTF, WF-6412, 30 May 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 30 May-2 Jun 44; ALAMO Force, G-2 Wkly Rpt 43, 31 May 44, copy in G-2 DofA files.]

[N6-10 Rad, GHQ SWPA to ALAMO, CX-13847, 17 Jun 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 13-19 Jun 44. The 43rd Division had previously been in combat in the South Pacific Area. The 31st Division had not yet been in action and was finishing amphibious and jungle training at Oro Bay, New Guinea.]

While higher headquarters was reaching a decision concerning reinforcements, new information obtained by the PERSECUTION Task Force prompted a change in plans. Documents captured after mid-June indicated that the Japanese were to complete a thorough reconnaissance south, southeast, and east of the PERSECUTION Task Force’s perimeter by the end of June in preparation for an attack by the 20th and 41st Divisions. This attack, it now appeared, awaited only the completion of the reconnaissance and the arrival of the bulk of the 41st Division in the forward area. [N6-12]

By this time the PERSECUTION Task Force’s 155-mm. artillery had been sent to new operational areas in western New Guinea and tentative plans had been made to send the Beaufighter and Beaufort squadrons of No. 71 Wing westward also. General Gill, upon receiving the new information concerning enemy intentions, requested that the air support squadrons be retained or replaced; that a battalion of 155-mm. howitzers be sent to Aitape; and that the 112th Cavalry Regimental Combat Team be moved forward immediately.[N6-13]

A few days later General MacArthur’s headquarters, which had secured the information from radio intercepts, informed General Krueger that the 18th Army planned to attack about the end of the first ten days in July, employing 20,000 troops in the forward area and another 11,000 in reserve.[N6-14] ALAMO Force and the Allied Naval Forces immediately rounded up ships to send the 112th Cavalry Regimental Combat Team to Aitape, where the unit arrived on 27 June. A 155-mm. howitzer battalion was shipped to Aitape a few days later and No. 71 Wing was ordered to remain there. At the same time General Krueger reconsidered his decision not to employ part of the 31st Division and ordered preparations made to move the 124th Regimental Combat Team of that division to Aitape. Efforts were also made to speed the shipment of the 43rd Division from its New Zealand staging area to Aitape. [N6-15]

[N6-11 Rad, ALAMO to GHQ SWPA, WF-3592, 18 Jun 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 13-19 Jun 44. The 112th Cavalry RCT comprised the 112th Cavalry Regiment, the 148th Field Artillery Battalion, and supporting troops. The RCT, which was a separate unit not part of any division, had been in action on New Britain. ]

[N6-12 Rad, PTF to ALAMO, AE-1659, 19 Jun 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 13-19 Jun 44; Rad, PTF to ALAMO, AE-1694, 20 Jun 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 20-25 Jun 44; ALAMO Force, G-2 Wkly Rpt 46, 21 Jun 44, copy in G-2 DofA files.]

[N5-13 Rads, PTF to ALAMO, AE-1699 and AE-1711, 20 Jun 44, and AE-1806, 24 Jun 44- Rads, ALAMO to PTF, WF-3970, 20 Jun 44, and WF-4060, 21 Jun 44. All in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 20-25 Jun 44.]

[N6-14 Rad, GHQ SWPA to ALAMO Adv Hq, C-14133, 24 Jun 44, and Rad, ALAMO Rear Hq to ALAMO Adv Hq, WF-4646, 24 Jun 44, both in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 20-25 Jun 44. At this time ALAMO Advance Headquarters was at Hollandia, while the rear echelon of the headquarters remained in eastern New Guinea.] 

[N6-15 Rads, ALAMO to PTF, WF-3970, 20 Jun 44, and WF-4060, 21 Jun 44, both in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 20-25 Jun 44.]

When all the reinforcements arrived, the PERSECUTION Task Force’s strength would equal two and two-thirds divisions. General Krueger therefore decided that a corps headquarters would be needed at Aitape. He chose for the command at Aitape Major General Charles P. Hall who, together with his staff of XI Corps headquarters, had recently arrived in New Guinea from the United States. The change in command was not to entail a change in the principal mission of the PERSECUTION Task Force—defense of the Tadji airstrips. To carry out his mission, General Hall was instructed to break the initial impetus of the apparently impending 18th Army attack and, when the strength of the PERSECUTION Task Force and the tactical situation permitted, undertake a vigorous counterattack. With these instructions in mind, General Hall assumed command of the PERSECUTION Task Force as of midnight 27-28 June.[N6-16]

While this change in command was being effected, more information concerning the plans of the 18th Army was obtained from radio intercepts and captured documents. It became known that the 20th Division was to cross the “Hanto” River on 29 June, executing attacks toward Afua and East Sector headquarters installations, which were located at Anamo, on the beach just west of the Driniumor’s mouth.[N6-17] General Headquarters forwarded this information to ALAMO Force with little attempt at interpretation, but the ALAMO Force G-2 Section decided that the Hanto River was probably the Driniumor. The prospective attack, ALAMO Force believed, would be launched during the night of 28-29 June at a point about two miles inland from the mouth of the Driniumor. It was considered probable that the 78th Infantry, 20th Division, would aim for control of the Afua-Palauru trail, while the 80th Infantry moved on Anamo. Assuming the success of its initial attack, the 20th Division apparently planned to assemble at “Hill 56,” tentatively located about 4,000 yards northwest of Afua, and then push on toward the Tadji airfields. ALAMO Force estimated that the maximum strength with which the 20th Division could attack was about 5,200 men.[N6-18]

If this interpretation of available information was correct, General Hall had but one day to prepare his new command to meet the attack of the 18th Army. Reorganizations and Redisposition’s As soon as General Hall and the few members of his XI Corps staff that he had brought forward became acquainted with the situation in the Aitape area, Headquarters, XI Corps, assumed the role of PERSECUTION Task Force Headquarters, using many men of Headquarters, 32nd Division, until the rest of the corps staff could reach Aitape. Next, the command structure of the task force was rearranged, some changes in names were made, and several troop redispositions were effected.

[N6-16 Ltr OI, Comdr ALAMO to CG XI Corps, 25 Jun 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 27-29 Jun 44.]

[N6-17 Rad, GHQ SWPA to ALAMO, C-14205, 26 Jun 44, and Rad, PTF to ALAMO, AE-1884, 28 Jun 44, both in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 27-29 Jun 44.]

[N6-18 Rad, ALAMO to PTF, WF-1027, 27 Jun 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 27-29 Jun 44.]

The western part of the main line of resistance around the airfields—the area previously assigned to the West and Center Sectors—became the responsibility of the Western Sector, under Brigadier General Alexander N. Stark, Jr. The eastern section of the main line of resistance was held by the Eastern Sector under General Gill. This unit also set up an outpost line of resistance along the Nigia River. General Martin’s command, re-designated the PERSECUTION Covering Force, was to continue to hold the delaying position along the Driniumor River. The western boundary of the covering force was a line running south from the coast along Akanai Creek and the X-ray River, a little over halfway from the Driniumor to the Nigia.

Since no attacks were expected from the west, troops assigned to the Western Sector comprised principally engineers. The Eastern Sector was composed of the 32nd Division less those elements assigned to the PERSECUTION Covering Force. Supply, administration, and evacuation for the covering force were responsibilities of Headquarters, 32nd Division, which, for these purposes, acted in its administrative capacity rather than in its tactical role as Headquarters, Eastern Sector. All three tactical commands operated directly under General Hall’s control.[N6-19]

While these changes were being made, the 112th Cavalry Regimental Combat Team (less the 148th Field Artillery Battalion) had arrived at Blue Beach and had been assigned to General Martin’s operation control. The combat team was commanded by Brigadier General Julian W. Cunningham, while the dismounted (and oft disgruntled about it) men of the 112th Cavalry Regiment were led by Colonel Alexander M. Miller, III. [N6-20]

The cavalry regiment was about half the strength of an infantry regiment. It comprised only two squadrons, each composed of three troops, as opposed to the three battalions of four companies each in an infantry regiment. Instead of the three heavy weapons companies organic to the corresponding infantry unit, the 112th Cavalry had only one heavy weapons troop. Moreover, the cavalry unit had arrived at Aitape with less than its authorized personnel. At no time during operations at Aitape did it number more than 1,500 men, in comparison with the 3,000-odd of an infantry regiment.[N6-21]

Initially, it was planned that the 112th Cavalry would take up positions in the Palauru area to defend the right rear of the PERSECUTION Covering Force and act as General Martin’s reserve. General Hall, deciding that the Driniumor River line needed strengthening, changed this plan and on 29 June sent the regiment forward to the X-ray and Driniumor Rivers. Leaving the rest of the regiment at the X-ray, the 2nd Squadron moved on to the Driniumor and took up defensive positions in the Afua area. Upon the arrival of this squadron at the river, the extent of the Driniumor defenses that were previously the responsibility of the 3rd Battalion, 127th Infantry, was reduced and at the same time operational control of the infantry battalion passed to General Cunningham. This addition still did not bring the strength of the latter’s command up to that of an infantry regiment.[N6-22]

[N6-19 PTF FO 5, 29 Jun 44, in PTF G-3 Jnl, 27 Jun-3 Jul 44; miscellaneous orders and memos in PTF G-3 Jnl, 8-11 Jul 44. General Stark, Assistant Division Commander, 43rd Division, had just arrived at Blue Beach with an advance echelon of division headquarters. As originally set up on 29 June, the three commands were named, from west to east, the Western Defense Command, the Eastern Defense Area, and the Eastern Defense Command. The similarity in the names of the two eastern components soon proved confusing and the final changes, as outlined above, were effected on 8 July.]

[N-620 The 148th Field Artillery (105-mm. howitzers) reached Aitape in mid-July, and operated as part of the general artillery support under PTF (XI Corps) artillery.]

[N6-21 Interv, author with Lt Col P. L. Hooper, ex-Exec Off, 112th Cav RCT, 25 Mar 48, in OCMH files.]

[N6-22 Ibid.; PTF G-3 Jnl, 27 Jun-3 Jul 44; 112th Cav Opns Rpt Aitape, pp. 1-4. The 112th Cavalry RCT did not submit a report for the Aitape campaign, but merely indorsed that of the 112th Cavalry Regiment.] 

About the same time, the mission of the PERSECUTION Covering Force was changed. General Krueger, who was maintaining close touch with the situation at Aitape, wanted the Japanese to be met and fought to a decision as far on the east flank as possible. Previously, Generals Hall and Gill had assumed that the covering force might be gradually forced back from the Driniumor, but now General Hall ordered the force to retreat only in the face of overwhelming pressure. The 112th Cavalry had been released to General Martin’s control to aid in the execution of this new mission, and the 2nd Battalion, 128th Infantry, was also made available to him. On 29 June the infantry battalion took over about 3,000 yards of the Driniumor line between the 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry, and the 3rd Battalion, 127th Infantry. Close artillery support for the covering force was provided by the 120th and 129th Field Artillery Battalions, which emplaced their 105-mm. howitzers near Anamo.

Company B, 632nd Tank Destroyer Battalion, moved forward to the mouth of the Driniumor at the same time. All units reconnoitered routes of withdrawal back to the next delaying position, the Koronal Creek-X-ray River line, and planned defenses along that line so that in case withdrawal became necessary, confusion would be minimized. General Martin issued orders that no unit was to leave the Driniumor line without his instructions.[N6-23] Gathering Combat Intelligence

General Hall had strengthened the Driniumor line in the expectation that the 20th Division would attack on or about 29 June. But there was no attack on that date. It was therefore decided that the information upon which the expectation was based had been incorrectly interpreted. If so, greater credence had to be placed on conflicting evidence from radio intercepts and captured documents indicating that the 18th Army was to attack on 10 July. This interpretation was given some corroboration when a prisoner captured on 30 June divulged that the 20th Division was planning to move against the Driniumor line between 1 and 10 July. [N6-24]

Reconnaissance in Force Eastward

General Hall, in an attempt to locate the 20th Division, ordered the PERSECUTION Covering Force to send strong patrols east of the Driniumor to the Harech River. A few patrols, moving along the coast, got almost as far as Yakamul, but so efficient had Japanese counter reconnaissance operations become that this was as close as any Allied patrols came to the Harech River during the period 30 June through 10 July. In the southern sector of the Driniumor line patrols confirmed previous reports that the Japanese maintained a counter reconnaissance screen along Niumen Creek. Here Japanese units were digging in and holding wherever and whenever patrol contacts were made.

[N6-23 PTF G-3 Jnl, 27 Jun-3 Jul 44; Martin Comments, pp. 4-6.]

[N6-24 ALAMO Force, G-2 Ests of Enemy Sit, Aitape, 30 Jun and 1 Jul 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 30 Jun-3 Jul 44; Rads, PTF to ALAMO, AE-1948, AE-1953, and AE-1957, 30 Jun 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 30 Jun-3 Jul 44; Rad, GHQ SWPA to ALAMO Adv Hq, C-14133, 24 Jun 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 20-25 Jun 44.]

These enemy groups were not large, however, nor did the Japanese patrols encountered in the Yakamul area appear to be particularly strong. All American patrol efforts failed to disclose any evidence of large, organized Japanese units or movements. Yet both the task force and ALAMO Force were sure that at least two regiments of the 20th Division and elements of the 41st Division were located somewhere in the area between the Harech and Driniumor Rivers.[N6-25]

The fact that no large enemy units could be located east of the Driniumor caused considerable worry at ALAMO Force headquarters, and General Krueger was unhappily aware that the development of the situation in front of the PERSECUTION Covering Force was being left to the volition of the Japanese. It is also possible that he wished to hurry the battle he knew was impending at Aitape in order that some of the forces there could be freed for operations farther westward once the Japanese attack had been turned back. Whatever the case, on 8 July he instructed General Hall to seize the initiative by sending a strong reconnaissance in force across the Driniumor to ascertain the enemy’s intentions and dispositions. [N6-26]

These instructions got a cool reception at the headquarters of the PERSECUTION Task and Covering Forces. General Hall had planned to send at least two battalions of the 124th Infantry on an amphibious enveloping movement down the coast to Nyaparake to land in the rear of the 20th Division. General Martin was deeply disturbed when he learned that the reconnaissance units would have to be taken from the Driniumor line, which he already considered inadequately manned to meet the expected Japanese attack. Although he preferred the amphibious plan to the overland movement, General Hall could not argue the point with ALAMO Force and, by the same token, General Martin, realizing that General Hall was under pressure from higher headquarters, chose not to argue with his immediate superior. General Hall postponed the 124th Infantry’s operation until 13 July, and he ordered General Martin to begin the reconnaissance in force on the morning of 10 July. [N6-27]

General Hall now had at his disposal fifteen infantry battalions and two understrength, dismounted cavalry squadrons. Three infantry battalions of the 32nd Division and the two cavalry units were assigned to General Martin’s PERSECUTION Covering Force. To accomplish his primary mission—defense of the Tadji strips—General Hall felt it necessary to hold at least six infantry battalions of the 32nd Division near the airfields. The three battalions of the 124th Infantry (which had arrived in echelons at Blue Beach beginning on 2 July) he decided to hold out of action temporarily either as a reserve or, when possible, to execute the amphibious envelopment already planned. Having thus committed the 124th Infantry and six battalions of the 32nd Division to stations in the Tadji-Blue Beach area, General Hall had no choice but to take the reconnaissance in force units from General Martin’s Driniumor River troops. By this action, the PERSECUTION Covering Force’s defenses were weakened along the very line where the Japanese were first expected to strike.[N6-28]

[25 PTF G-3 Jnls, 4-8 and 8-11 Jul 44; Rads, PTF to ALAMO, 6 and 7 Jul 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 4-9 Jul 44.]

[26 Interv, author with Gen Hall, ex-Comdr PTF and XI Corps, 27 Mar 47, copy in OCMH files; Martin Comments, pp. 6-7; Rad, ALAMO to PTF, WH-1120, 8 Jul 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 4-9 Jun 44.]

[N6-27 Interv, author with Gen Hall, 27 Mar 47; Martin Comments, p. 7; Ltr, Gen Hall to Gen Ward, 29 Nov 50, in OCMH files; PTF G-3 Jnl, 8-11 Jul 44; 124th Inf Opns Rpt Aitape, pp. 1-3.]

[N6-28 Interv, author with Gen Hall, 27 Mar 47; Martin Comments, p. 8; 124th Inf Opns Rpt Aitape, pp. 1-3. Throughout the Aitape operation infantry units were disposed by battalion, often in ad hoc organizations. Regimental cannon companies were often employed for guard or labor duties at the airfields or Blue Beach.]

For the reconnaissance in force eastward, General Martin chose the 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry, and the 2nd Squadron, 112th Cavalry. The infantry was to advance along the coast and the cavalry overland from Afua. The maneuver was to be carried out in an aggressive manner. Minor opposition was not to slow the reconnaissance, and the forces were to push rapidly eastward to the Harech River. Once on the Harech, the two units were to consolidate, patrol to the south and east, and prepare for further advances upon orders from General Hall. Units remaining along the Driniumor were to send out patrols to their respective fronts in the area between the reconnaissance units in order to locate any Japanese forces in that area. [N6-29]

The reconnaissance started about 0730 on 10 July as the 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry, Company B leading, waded across the mouth of the Driniumor. Progress down the coast was rapid and uneventful until 1000 when, at a point about three miles east of the Driniumor, the leading elements were held up by a Japanese unit estimated to be a company in strength, which was dug in along the coastal trail. The infantry could not take the enemy position by assault, and artillery support from the 105-mm. howitzers at Anamo was requested. This fire, quickly and accurately delivered, killed some Japanese and scattered the rest. Company B resumed the advance but was stopped again at enemy positions on the banks of a small stream 300 yards farther east. This time one artillery concentration failed to dislodge the Japanese and, finding it impossible to outflank the enemy defenses, the forward infantry units were disengaged while a second concentration was brought down on the enemy positions.

After the artillery fired, Company B continued the advance until 1745, by which time it had reached a point less than a mile west of Yakamul. In terrain that afforded good positions for night defenses, the company dug in, while the rest of the battalion established a perimeter running westward along the coastal trail. Not more than fifty Japanese had actually been seen during the day. Casualties for the 1st Battalion were five killed and eight wounded.[N6-30]

At the southern end of the Driniumor line the 2nd Squadron, 112th Cavalry, right arm of the reconnaissance in force, delayed its departure until the 1st Squadron moved up to the Driniumor from the X-ray and did not leave Afua until 1000. The 2nd Squadron did not follow any trail but, having been ordered to avoid contact with the enemy during the first part of the movement eastward, cut its way through heavy jungle over alternately hilly and swampy terrain. The nature of the terrain slowed progress so much that at 1445, when the advance was halted for the night, the squadron was not more than a mile east of the Driniumor. No contact with enemy forces had been made during the day.[N6-31]

[N6-29 PTF G-3 Jnl, 8-11 Jul 44; Martin Comments, pp. 8-9; Rad, PTF to PCF, 9 Jul 44, copy in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 10-12 Jul 44; Rads, PTF to ALAMO, AE-1053 and AE-1200, 9 Jul 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnls Hollandia, 4-9 and 10-12 Jul 44, respectively.]

[N6-30 PTF G-3 Jnl, 8-11 Jul 44; 1st Bn 128th Inf Jnl, 28 Jun-25 Aug 44; 128th Inf Jnl, 28 Jun-27 Jul 44. The battalion’s casualty figures are from the battalion journal and do not agree with other sources.]

[N6-31 112th Cav Opns Rpt Aitape, pp. 5-9; PTF G-3 Jnl, 8-11 Jul 44; interv, author with Col Hooper, 25 Mar 48; Martin Comments, p. 11. The records state that the squadron advanced one and three-fourths miles during the day, but the figure used in the text is that provided by Colonel Hooper. Orders to the squadron to avoid contact were apparently given verbally, presumably by the regimental commander, and do not appear in the records.]

General Hall was not satisfied with the progress the two arms of the reconnaissance had made during the day. He was especially disappointed in the 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry, which, he felt, should have been able to move farther eastward. Both the infantry and cavalry units were ordered to resume the advance eastward in a more aggressive manner on the morrow. Further efforts were to be made by both units to maintain contact with forces back on the Driniumor. The 2nd Squadron, 112th Cavalry, had been unable to maintain contact, either physically or by radio, with regimental headquarters.[N6-32]

Redisposition’s Along the Driniumor

Back on the Driniumor sweeping changes in dispositions had taken place.[N6-33] The 2nd Battalion, 128th Infantry, had to assume responsibility for the positions vacated by the 1st Battalion. The 2nd Battalion’s sector now extended from the mouth of the Driniumor to the junction of the Anamo-Afua trail with the river bank. This was a straight-line distance of about 5,000 yards, but configurations of the Driniumor’s west bank made it over 6,000 yards (almost three and a half miles) on the ground.

Company F, 128th Infantry, was on the left of the 2nd Battalion guarding the west bank from the mouth inland about 3,900 yards or over two miles. The northern portion of the company zone was very well organized, having been developed by various units since the middle of May, but positions in the southern quarter of the sector had not been completed. To the right of Company F was Company E, in position along a front of 1,250 yards. South of Company E, tying its right flank into the left of the 3rd Battalion, 127th Infantry, was Company G, spread over a front of about 1,000 yards. Company G’s machine gun positions and riflemen’s foxholes were closer together—about sixty to seventy-five yards apart—than those of the other 2nd Battalion companies. The company also had some low barbed wire strung in front of its position. Company E had little or no wire and its strong points were about ninety yards apart. Company G’s lines were shortened about 100 yards late in the afternoon when a rifle platoon of the 3rd Battalion, 127th Infantry, assumed responsibility for that much of the company’s area.

By nightfall all the riflemen of the 2nd Battalion, 128th Infantry, were in the new defensive positions. The heavy machine guns of Company H were disposed along the bank of the river between infantry strong points (bunkers or groups of foxholes), their lines of fire tied in with those of the rifle companies’ light machine guns and automatic rifles (BAR’s). Company H’s 81-mm. mortars were emplaced about 200 yards west of the river and were registered in on area targets along the bed and the east bank of the Driniumor. The 60-mm. mortars of the three rifle companies had targets overlapping those of the larger weapons. The forward battalion command post was about 800 yards west of the Driniumor, behind the center of Company E’s sector. The remainder of the battalion headquarters, together with a tank destroyer platoon, was located on the coast just west of the river’s mouth. The battalion had no reserve which it could move to meet a Japanese attack.

[N6-32 PTF G-3 Jnl, 8-11 Jul 44. 33 Information in this subsection is from: PTF G-3 Jnl, 8-11 Jul 44; PCF G-3 Jnl, 9-12 Jul 44; Interv, author with Captain Lowry, Apr 47; 3rd Bn 127th Inf Jnl, 28 Jun-25 Aug 44; 128th Inf Jnl, 28 Jun-27 Jul 44.]

South of the 2nd Battalion, 128th Infantry, the 3rd Battalion of the 127th Infantry had a sector about 2,500 yards or almost a mile and a half long. Company I was on the left, with every available man in position along 1,400 yards of curving river bank. Strong points were about 100 yards apart and the company had no protecting wire. Company K, with a nearly straight stretch of bank about 1,100 yards in length to hold, was on the right of Company I. The dispositions of Company M’s heavy weapons were similar to those of Company H, 128th Infantry. Company L of the 127th, which had sent many patrols east of the Driniumor during the day and which had lent one of its rifle platoons to Company G, 128th Infantry, was not on the line. Instead, the unit guarded the battalion command post, which was situated about 700 yards west of the Driniumor behind Company K.

The 1st Squadron, 112th Cavalry, south of the 3rd Battalion, 127th Infantry, was responsible for about 3,000 yards of the Driniumor line. This distance was divided about equally between Troop B on the left (tying into the lines of Company K, 127th Infantry) and Troop A on the right. The line extended to a point about 500 yards south of Afua, where Troop C took up support positions. Troop C did not place many men along the river but concentrated at Afua to refuse the south flank of the PERSECUTION Covering Force and to provide a reserve for the 112th Cavalry. Weapons Troop’s heavy machine guns were disposed for the most part in the sectors of Troops A and B. Headquarters of the 112th Cavalry and General Cunningham’s command post were situated about 200 yards west of the Driniumor behind Troop B. A small rear echelon group of the 112th Cavalry remained on the X-ray River at the Afua-Palauru trail crossing to protect the overland line of communications back to Blue Beach.

Along the coast west of the Driniumor, at Anamo, Anopapi, and Tiver, were located field artillery units, tank destroyers, and the headquarters installations of the PERSECUTION Covering Force.34 Communications from these units to those on the Driniumor were carried out for the most part by radio, although some telephone wire was used. Units along the river communicated with each other by means of sound-powered telephone.

Intelligence, 10 July

Many bits of information concerning the intentions of the 18th Army were now available to the PERSECUTION Task Force. Corroborating evidence for the idea that an attack might take place on 10 July was secured that day when the 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry, captured a member of the 237th Infantry, 41st Division. This prisoner divulged to interrogators in the forward area that the Japanese attack would come that night, but back at task force headquarters, where final interrogations were made, his information was evaluated as indicating the assault would be made within the next day or two. The prisoner believed that the attack was to have two axes, one along the coast and the other across the Driniumor about midway between Afua and the river’s mouth. [N6-35]

[N6-34 General Martin’s headquarters was at this time made up of men from Headquarters, 128th Infantry, the remainder of which headquarters was controlling the 128th Infantry (less two battalions) at the Tadji main line of resistance. Martin Comments, p. 11.]

[N6-35 Rad, PTF to ALAMO, AE-1339, 10 Jul 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 10-11 Jul 44; 32nd Div G-2 Rpt 11, 10 Jul 44, in PTF G-3 Jnl, 8-11 Jul 44; Martin Comments, pp. 10-11.]

In addition to the foregoing information, the units remaining on the Driniumor reported increasing enemy activity east of that river during the 10th. Japanese movements seemed especially intensified in the zone patrolled by the 3rd Battalion, 127th Infantry.

One battalion patrol, returning to the Driniumor on 10 July after three days along Niumen Creek, reported having seen at least two large groups of Japanese, one about fifty-five strong, along the east bank of the Niumen. These troops appeared to have been moving in a purposeful manner along freshly cut trails and were said to have been in good condition, well clothed, and strongly armed. Another patrol of the same battalion worked its way east of the Niumen on the morning of 10 July and discovered a recently established Japanese bivouac area, capable of holding about sixty-five troops. On its way back to the Driniumor, this patrol ambushed two small, well-armed parties of Japanese only 700 yards east of the 3rd Battalion’s lines.[N6-36]

Another patrol, moving east in the northern sector of the 3rd Battalion zone, encountered two groups of Japanese on the west bank of the Niumen. These two parties, both of platoon size and well-armed, were moving rapidly south along new trails. The American patrol saw only a few more Japanese during the day but discovered many signs of heavy enemy movement between the Niumen and Driniumor. The patrol leader, an unusually imperturbable sergeant of Company I, 127th Infantry, who had had extensive patrol experience, was greatly excited by these signs of Japanese activity. Although his patrol had not actually seen more than fifty enemy soldiers, the sergeant felt that a strong attack on the lines of Company I, 127th Infantry, or Company G, 128th Infantry, was imminent. [N6-37]

On the basis of this and other patrol reports Lieutenant Colonel Edward Bloch, 3rd Battalion commander, alerted his force to expect a Japanese attack during the night. The sergeant’s information and conclusions also prompted Colonel Bloch to assign a rifle platoon of his reserve company, L, to Company G, 128th Infantry, on his left flank. There is no evidence that Colonel Bloch informed higher headquarters of his actions and there is no indication that the Company I patrol sightings were reported to an echelon higher than General Cunningham’s headquarters.[N6-38]

North of the 3rd Battalion, 127th Infantry, patrols of the 2nd Battalion, 128th Infantry, reported only one unusual contact during the 10th. A party from Company G, operating near Niumen Creek, encountered a combat patrol of twenty Japanese. A running fire between the two groups ensued, and the American patrol was forced back to the Driniumor. A report of this action was sent to regimental headquarters, but there is no evidence that it was relayed to any higher echelon of the task force. [N6-39]

In the zone of the 112th Cavalry, a patrol from the 1st Squadron, moving east along a line parallel to and north of the 2nd Squadron, surprised a party of ten Japanese about 1,200 yards east of Afua. These enemy troops, who were armed with at least one machine gun, retired to prepared defenses after a sharp skirmish. The American patrol leader estimated that there were at least forty Japanese, all well-armed, milling around in the same vicinity. This information reached task force headquarters late in the afternoon.[N6-40]

[N6-36 3rd Bn 127th Inf Jnl, 28 Jun-25 Aug 44; PTF G-3 Jnl, 8-11 Jul 44. 37 Interv, author with Capt Lowry, Apr 47. ]

[N6-38 3rd Bn 127th Inf Jnl, 28 Jun-25 Aug 44; PCF G-3 Jnl, 9-12 Jul 44; PTF G-3 Jnl, 8-11 Jul 44; 112th Cav Sum of Msgs, 1 Jul-29 Aug 44.

[N6-39 2nd Bn 128th Inf Jnl, 28 Jun-25 Aug 44; 128th Inf Jnl, 28 Jun-27 Jul 44; PCF G-3 Jnl, 9-12 Jul 44; PTF G-3 Jnl, 8-11 Jul 44.]

[N6-40 112th Cav Opns Rpt Aitape, p. 5; 112th Cav Sum of Msgs, 1 Jul-29 Aug 44; PTF G-3 Jnl, 8-11 Jul 44.]

Despite the fact that cumulative intelligence now presented strong evidence that a major Japanese attack was about to be launched against the Driniumor River line, the G-2 Section of Headquarters, PERSECUTION Task Force, apparently did not believe that such an attack was imminent. Some sort of attack was expected at an indefinite future date, but the PERSECUTION Task Force daily intelligence report for 10 July, published about 1800 that day, gave little indication that an immediate Japanese assault could be expected: Westward movement of strong enemy patrols including intense activity just E [east] of NIUMEN CREEK indicates possible strong outposts to cover assembly of main body in preparation for attack.[N6-41]

At PERSECUTION Covering Force headquarters the prevailing opinion was more apprehensive. General Martin was concerned about the possibility of a Japanese attack during the night of 10-11 July, and he was worried over the disposition of the forces along the Driniumor, which had been seriously weakened by the movement eastward of the reconnaissance-in-force units.

What the attitude of most of the rest of the staff officers and unit commanders of the PERSECUTION Task and Covering Forces was is unknown, although General Martin had warned the Driniumor River units to be on the alert and Colonel Bloch of the 3rd Battalion, 127th Infantry, certainly expected some action during the night.[N6-42]

Back at task force headquarters, General Hall had little choice but to accept his G-2’s estimate at face value. Although he had been expecting a Japanese attack ever since 5 July, he had little or no reason to believe that the night of 10-11 July might pass any differently than those immediately preceding it.[N6-43] About 2330 he radioed to General Krueger that the situation in the PERSECUTION Covering Force’s area gave every indication that the reconnaissance in force eastward could be resumed the next morning according to plans. [N6-44] Within fifteen minutes after the dispatch of this message, it became evident that the situation along the Driniumor was anything but well suited to the plans of the PERSECUTION Task Force.

The 18th Army Moves West

At approximately 2350 Japanese light artillery (70-mm. or 75-mm.) began lobbing shells into river bank positions occupied by elements of the 2nd Battalion, 128th Infantry. This fire, giving the first indication that the Japanese had artillery so far west, was augmented within a few moments by mortar and machine gun fire. At 2355 the Japanese artillery became silent. At this signal, Japanese infantry began charging across the Driniumor into the 2nd Battalion’s defenses.[N6-45]

[N6-41 PTF G-2 Daily Rpt 10, 10 Jul 44, in PTF G-3 Jnl, 8-11 Jul 44.]

[N6-42 Martin Comments, pp. 10-12; Interv, author with Captain Lowry, Apr 47.]

[N6-43 Interv, author with General Hall, 27 Mar 47; Ltr, General Hall to General Ward, 29 Nov 50, no sub, in OCMH files.]

[N6-44 Rad, PTF to ALAMO, AE-1339, 10 Jul 44, in ALAMO G-3 Jnl Hollandia, 10-11 Jul 44.]

[N6-45 3rd Bn 127th Inf Jnl, 28 Jun-25 Aug 44; 2nd Bn 128th Inf Jnl, 28 Jun-25 Aug 44; PCF G-3 Jnl, 9-12 Jul 44; PTF G-3 Jnl, 8-11 Jul 44; Interv, author with Captain Lowry, Apr 47.]

The 18th Army’s Plan

The 18th Army had been long preparing its attack and had developed elaborate plans for the “annihilation” of the PERSECUTION Task Force. Prior to 22 April the 18th Army had started withdrawing westward from Wewak, but after the Allied landings at Hollandia and Aitape, plans for the future employment of the 18th Army had to be revised. On 2 May Imperial General Headquarters ordered the 18th Army to bypass Hollandia and Aitape and join the 2nd Army in western New Guinea. General Adachi, the 18th Army’s commander, had no stomach for such a maneuver. A previous bypassing withdrawal from the Huon Peninsula in late 1943 and early 1944 had cost his army dearly, and movement across the Ramu and Sepik Rivers in March and April gave promise that his losses of men and supplies would increase at an alarming rate. He believed that a withdrawal through the hinterland to western New Guinea might literally decimate the 18th Army and perhaps result in much greater loss than would an attack on Hollandia or Aitape. On the other hand, should it remain immobile at Wewak, the 18th Army could contribute nothing to the Japanese war effort and would lose all vestiges of morale. Terrain in the Wewak area was not suited to protracted defense nor to farming which could make the 18th Army self-sufficient, and supplies available there could only last until September. The only means by which more supplies could be obtained, morale kept high, and the Japanese war effort furthered, was to attack and seize Allied positions.[N6-46]

Although his orders to bypass and withdraw to western New Guinea were not canceled until mid-May, [N6-47] General Adachi, apparently on the basis of earlier broad directives from the 2nd Area Army, [N6-48] had already produced an outline plan of an attack against the Hollandia-Aitape area. At first he considered retaking Hollandia, with the seizure of the Aitape region as a necessary preliminary step. However, he soon realized that the Hollandia venture was overambitious and he therefore limited the project to an attack on Allied forces at Aitape.

[N6-46 Hist of Army Section, Imperial GHQ, pp. 111-13; 18th Army Opns, III, 28-32, 40-41, 47, 56-64.]

[N6-47 Hist of 2nd Area Army, pp. 55-58; Hist of Army Section, Imperial GHQ, p. 113; 18th Army Opns, III, 61-64. The date for both the origination and cancellation of the orders for the 18th Army to withdraw to western New Guinea varies according to the source. From internal evidence, the best dates seem to be 2 May for the origination and 16 May for the cancellation.]

[N6-48 Hist of 2nd Area Army, pp. 48-51, 66-67. On 22 April the 2nd Area Army issued General Adachi a broad order to defeat promptly the Allied forces which had landed at Aitape and Hollandia. On pages 66 and 67 of the source cited here, it is indicated that General Adachi first suggested an attack on Aitape and that the 2nd Area Army thereupon assigned him the task.]

[N6-49 18th Army Opns, III, 56-64, 66-76.]

The initial plans for a move against Aitape, evolved at 18th Army headquarters on 26 April, set 10 June as the date for the completion of attack preparations. The assault units were to be the 20th and 41st Divisions supported by the 66th Infantry of the 51st Division.49 On or about 1 May the first outline plan was supplemented by an attack order setting forth details of objectives, assignments, and timing. The 20th Division, already ordered to secure the Yakamul area and screen the deployment of the rest of the 18th Army, was now instructed to soften all Allied resistance east of the Nigia River by the end of June. It appears that General Adachi believed the PERSECUTION Task Force’s main line of resistance to be located along the Nigia, and there are indications that as early as the first week of May he thought that the first strong Allied defensive positions would be encountered along the Driniumor River.

After securing the ground west to the Nigia River, the 20th Division was to throw its strength against the Nigia defenses while the 41st Division, after the 20th had broken through the Nigia line, was to move from Chinapelli northwest toward the Tadji airfields. The 20th Division’s attack was apparently to be made along a narrow front at some point between Chinapelli and the mouth of the Nigia. Provision was also made for a simultaneous assault along the beach to divert Allied attention from the main offensive. The date for the assault on the supposed main line of resistance of the PERSECUTION Task Force was now set for 10 July. [N6-50]

The first step in mounting the offensive against Aitape was to concentrate most of the available strength of the 18th Army at Wewak. By the end of May over 50,000 troops of that army had been withdrawn across the Ramu and Sepik Rivers and, with the exception of the regiments of the 20th Division already dispatched toward Aitape, were reorganizing at Wewak.[N6-51] By no means were all the troops available to General Adachi trained in ground combat. Many of them were service personnel, others belonged to air force ground units, and some were naval troops which had recently passed to the control of the 18th Army. The 20th Division’s three infantry regiments were greatly understrength and probably totaled few more than 3,000 trained infantrymen.

The entire strength of the division, including about 1,000 men of the 26th Field Artillery Regiment and other organic or attached troops, was about 6,600 as of the end of May. The 41st Division contained less than 4,000 infantry effectives and a total strength of some 10,700. The 66th Infantry of the 51st Division, also scheduled to participate in the attack on Aitape, did not number more than 1,000 men. Altogether, General Adachi mustered for service in the attack about 20,000 troops. Of these, not more than 8,000 were trained infantrymen.

About 2,500 were artillerymen with 70-mm. and 75-mm. guns, some 5,000 were to be engaged in supply operations in direct support of the infantry and artillery, and the remaining 4,500 were various types of overhead and service personnel who were to fight as infantry or engage in normal duties such as signal operations, maintenance, headquarters work, and the like. Another 15,000 troops were to be engaged in the movement of supplies forward from Wewak toward the front. The remaining 20,000 troops of the 18th Army were to garrison the Wewak area or, because of shortages of supply and poor physical condition, could not be expected to engage in active operations.[N6-52]

[N6-50 18th Army Opns, III, 77-80.]

[N6-51 The strength of the 18th Army at this time is a highly debatable point, but 50,000-55,000 for the number of men finally moved to Wewak or westward toward Aitape is probably not far off.]

[N6-52 18th Army Opns, III, 56-61, 156-59; 18th Army Opns,]

Considering his supply situation, General Adachi was possessed of a rather remarkable degree of aplomb when he ordered the 18th Army to attack. He considered that his men had enough infantry weapons—though there were only 13,142 rifles, 726 machine guns, 561 grenade dischargers, 22 light mortars, thirty-six 75-mm. mountain guns, and forty-two 70-mm. guns—but only half enough ammunition. Ammunition for the 70-mm. and 75-mm. guns was critically short. Communications equipment was nearly gone and was not expected to last through June. There were serious shortages of clothing, blankets, and mosquito nets.

The last-named deficit promised a high incidence of malaria, and there was a critical shortage of malaria preventives. Other types of medical supplies were sufficient except those for diarrhea and skin diseases. Food, even with half-rations for all troops, would not last beyond the end of August. Except for a single submarine mission late in May, the 18th Army could get no more supplies by sea or air, and General Adachi knew it. The army had few trucks or barges with which it could move the supplies it possessed and had little equipment with which to improve existing roads or build new ones.

Barge and truck movements westward could be made only at the mercy of Allied air and sea patrols (mostly Australian aircraft and Seventh Fleet PT boats based at Aitape) while heavy rains further hampered troop and supply movements over all roads and trails west from Wewak.[N6-53]

General Adachi soon found that his sanguine expectations of clearing the PERSECUTION Task Force from the area east of the Nigia River by the end of June were not to be realized. The 20th Division’s westward movement had been delayed in the series of skirmishes along the coast east of the Driniumor in late May and early June. Further delay occurred as inclement weather and increasing Allied air and PT activity made the 18th Army depend entirely upon hand-carry for supply movement. The 20th Division’s forward units ran out of supplies in mid-June and halted, as did advance elements of the 41st Division. The bulk of the 41st Division, slowly moving westward from Wewak, was now assigned the task of hand-carrying supplies forward.[N6-54]

Practically the only result of the employment of the 41st Division as a service unit was a complete loss of troop morale. The division’s efforts to improve the supply situation proved futile, the physical stamina of the troops dropped because of unsanitary conditions, and the units engaged in supply movements found it next to impossible even to sustain themselves. Part of the 20th Division had to exist temporarily on less than eleven ounces of starchy food per day, and some of the forward units subsisted for a short while solely on sago palm starch. No reserve of supplies could be built up in the forward area.

By mid-June General Adachi realized that he was almost certainly going to encounter a strong American force along the Driniumor, but even an attack against that river line could not be mounted by the end of the month. On the 19th he therefore postponed efforts to attack the expected defenses along the Driniumor until at least 10 July, leaving to an undetermined date an attack on the Nigia line.[N6-55]

[N6-53 18th Army Opns, III, 56-61, 89-93.

[N6-54 18th Army Opns, III, 89-97; 2nd Bn 80th Inf Field Diary, 31 May-14 Jul 44, as translated in 32nd Div G-2 files, in ORB AGO collection; PW interrog and trans of enemy docs in PTF and Eastern Sector [32nd Div] G-2 Jnls, Jun and Jul 44.]

[N6-55 18th Army Opns, III, 89-97.]

Deployment for the Attack

By the end of June General Adachi, taking a realistic view of the situation, knew that his supply problems alone had already defeated him. Nevertheless, he felt that he could not withdraw without offering battle and, exhorting his troops to overcome Allied material and numerical advantages by relying on spirit, he ordered the 20th and 41st Divisions to attack the Driniumor defenses on the night of 10-11 July. [N6-56]

The final attack plan was issued at 1500 on 3 July from the 18th Army’s forward command post somewhere among the upper reaches of the Harech. The focal point of the 18th Army’s attack was an island in the Driniumor on the left of the sector held by Company E, 128th Infantry, an island designated by the Japanese “Kawanaka Shima” (literally, Middle of the River Island). The main body of the 237th Infantry, Colonel Masahiko Nara commanding, was to cross the Driniumor at Kawanaka Shima beginning at 2200, 10 July.

Support fire was to be provided by the 1st Battalion, 41st Mountain Artillery, and was scheduled to start at 2150. Elements of the 8th Independent Engineers were to reinforce the 237th Infantry. After crossing the Driniumor, Colonel Nara’s force was to move west toward Koronal Creek and northwest to clear Anamo and the other Paup villages, on the coast west of the Driniumor’s mouth.

[N6-56 18th Army Opns, III, 97-99; MO (18th Army’s code name for Opns against Aitape) Opn Order 5, 3 Jul 44, as cited in 18th Army Opns, III, 100-101.]

South of Kawanaka Shima, on the left of the 237th Infantry, the 20th Division was to begin its attack at 2300, under cover of support fire from the 26th Field Artillery. The 20th Division’s units were divided into two groups. The Right Flank Unit, under Colonel Tokutaro Ide and comprising the 80th Infantry, with attached engineers, artillery, and medical personnel, was to line up across the river from the right of Company E, 128th Infantry. Also operating under Colonel Ide was the Yamashita Battalion, which, though positive identification cannot be made, was probably the 1st Battalion, 237th Infantry. Below Colonel Ide’s command and opposite Company G, 128th Infantry, was the Left Flank Unit, under Major General Sadahiko Miyake, Infantry Group commander of the 20th Division. General Miyake’s force consisted of the 78th Infantry (under Colonel Matsujiro Matsumoto) and attached engineers, artillery, and medical units. After forcing a way across the Driniumor, the Right Flank Unit was to move directly overland to Chinapelli, while the Left Flank Unit was to seize and clear the Afua area and move on to Chinapelli over the Afua-Palauru trail.

There was a fourth Japanese assault unit, the Coastal Attack Force, under Major Iwataro Hoshino, the commanding officer of the 1st Battalion, 41st Mountain Artillery. Major Hoshino’s group comprised the headquarters and the 1st Battery of his battalion; a machine gun section of the 6th Company, 237th Infantry; and the Regimental Gun Company, 237th Infantry. The Coastal Attack Force (the unit which had delayed the advance of the 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry, along the coast on 10 July) was to co-operate with the attack of the 237th Infantry and pin down with artillery fire the Allied units located on the coast east and west of the Driniumor’s mouth. Assuming the success of the initial attack on the Driniumor line, the Japanese assault units were to prepare to drive on the Tadji airstrips. The 237th Infantry was responsible for initial reconnaissance of Allied defenses expected to be encountered along the Nigia River, while the 20th Division was to regroup at Chinapelli.

The 66th Infantry, 51st Division, was to move forward as quickly as possible after the attack on the Driniumor line, and, bypassing the Tadji area to the south, was to strike the Allied main line of resistance from the Kapoam villages, southwest of the airfields.[N6-57] During 10 July the two assault echelons of the 20th Division moved slowly into position. Part of the 78th Infantry got into an area allocated to the 80th, causing considerable confusion and probably accounting for the movements of Japanese troops in various directions as observed by PERSECUTION Covering Force patrols during the day.

[N6-57 The foregoing plan is reconstructed from: MO Opn Order 5, 3 Jul 44, and 10, 15, and 16, 10 Jul 44, as cited in 18th Army Opns, III, 100-106; 18th Army Opns, III, 107-09; 2nd Bn 80th Inf Field Diary, 31 May-14 Jul 44; PW interrog and trans of enemy docs in PTF and Eastern Sector [32nd Inf Div] G-2 Jnls, Jul and Aug 44.]

A Yamashita Battalion was mentioned in radio intercepts, captured documents, and by prisoners, and one source identifies it as the 2nd Battalion, 79th Infantry, but according to available Japanese documents, the latter unit was not in the forward area on 10 July. The 1st Battalion, 237th Infantry, had been operating under 20th Division control in the forward area for some time, and since the rest of the 41st Division was late getting up to the Driniumor, may have remained under the 20th for the attack. In any case, Yamashita Battalion disappears from enemy sources dated after 10 July. It may have been wiped out or, as seems most likely, if it was the 1st Battalion, 237th Infantry, it rejoined its parent unit, which was west of the Driniumor.

Because of communications difficulties, the 237th Infantry and the 41st Mountain Artillery were not alerted for the attack until 7 July. The units were delayed further in last-minute attempts to secure supplies and, as a result, did not start moving forward to the line of departure until 9 July. Their final attack orders were not issued until the afternoon of the 10th, and the 237th Infantry’s rear elements were just moving into line along the Driniumor when the guns of the supporting artillery opened fire at the scheduled hour, 2350.

[N6-58 18th Army Opns, III, 109-14. Japanese accounts of action along the Driniumor use times two hours earlier than those employed by Allied documents. This discrepancy is probably due to differences in the time zones being used by the two forces.]

Source: Approach to the Philippines: BY; Robert Ross Smith (United States Army Center of Military History)

World War Two: Aitape-Battle of the Driniumor (AP-7)

World War Two: Aitape-Prelude to the Battle of the Driniumor (AP-5)