Part 3: The Surrender
Chapter 22: The QUADRANT Conference and the Quebec Memorandum
Even as the military operations on Sicily neared an end, President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill, together with their chief military and political advisers, in August 1943 met in conference at Quebec. Code-named QUADRANT, this meeting was the focal point in the formulation of Allied strategy for the second half of 1943. Marking a new stage in the Anglo-American strategic argument toward delimiting Mediterranean operations and solidifying the cross-Channel plan, the conference incidentally and accidentally provided the final conditions for Italian surrender, determined the methods of applying the terms, and gave final approval to an invasion of the Italian mainland.
Strategic Issues at Quebec
Toward the end of July, the Joint War Plans Committee of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff had suggested that the decisive action against the Axis had already taken place in the successful Russian counteroffensive against the Germans, together with the Anglo-American superiority established in the air and on the sea. Since Germany, the committee said, was no longer capable of defeating the Soviet armies, the assumption that Anglo-American power had to be directed primarily to relieve the pressure on Russia was no longer valid. Hence, the argument ran, the cross-Channel attack could not inflict the decisive defeat on Germany; it could only, in conjunction with continued Russian advances, deliver the final blow. The members also suggested that an inflexible adherence to the cross-Channel concept was incorrect; that the decision to remove seven battle-tested divisions from the Mediterranean was unsound. Robbing the Mediterranean offensive of momentum might nullify the attempt to knock Italy out of the war or to exploit Italian collapse into an invasion of southern France. Furthermore, the committee believed that the Allies had not given due consideration to the possibility that Germany might defend Italy with strong forces.1
The return of seven divisions from the Mediterranean to the United Kingdom by 1 November was the crucial agreement through which General Marshall had sought to make it possible to direct the weight of Anglo-American power into the cross-Channel blow, thereby limiting the Mediterranean offensive to a subordinate role. Although some men who served
him had doubts, Marshall believed that the decisive defeat of Germany could be inflicted on the classic battlegrounds of northern France and nowhere else.
Among the British planners who served Churchill, some were quite sympathetic with Marshall’s strategic view. Yet the British Chiefs of Staff had a genuine conviction that the elimination of Italy from the war was a prerequisite for a successful cross-Channel attack, and that everything possible should be done to make sure that the attack against Italy would knock it out of the war.
Despite the qualifications and shadings around the edges of agreement, an acute conflict of views prevailed between Churchill and Marshall. The latter held resolutely to the concept that the British Isles constituted the only base in which to gather sufficient power for a decisive blow against the heartland of Germany. He had no hope for decisive results by an offensive into the Balkans, with or without Turkish support. He considered attempts to reach the German heart by way of the Italian peninsula, the Postumia–Ljubljana gap, or the Danube valley to be logistically and strategically unsound. He did not believe it possible to inflict a decisive defeat on the German armies by landing in Italy and pursuing them up the ridges of the Italian peninsula and over the Alps, whether toward Austria or toward France. He wanted a main effort in the cross-Channel attack, a simultaneous diversionary amphibious landing in southern France, and the continued employment of limited holding forces in the Mediterranean. This Marshall believed to be the best way to achieve decisive defeat of Germany in the west.
Despite the TRIDENT agreements, there were indications that Mr. Churchill and his advisers shrank from the plan to strike the main blow across the Channel in 1944. At the Algiers conference in late May, immediately after TRIDENT, General Brooke had privately told General Eisenhower that he would be glad to reconsider the cross-Channel project, even to the extent of eliminating it from Allied strategy, for he feared that a ground conflict in a large theater would be disadvantageous for the Allies and might result in tremendous losses.2 Churchill at a later date frankly told General Wedemeyer that if he had been able to persuade the Combined Chiefs of Staff the Allies would have gone through Turkey and the Balkans from the south and into Norway on the north, thus surrounding the enemy and further dispersing his forces.3
The British Chiefs of Staff immediately after TRIDENT fully recognized the priority of operations in the western Mediterranean directed by AFHQ over those projected by the British Middle East Command: ACCOLADE (seizure of the Dodecanese) and HARDIHOOD (aid to Turkey to induce it to enter the war). They instructed General Wilson, the Middle East commander, to make some of his resources available to General Eisenhower.4 Despite the American JCS veto against employing American ground forces east of Sicily, British strategists kept the Aegean-Balkan area in mind as a potential route toward the Danube once Italy was knocked out of the war.
During July the British representatives
in Washington, on orders from London, kept pressing the CCS to allot resources to General Eisenhower beyond those allocated at TRIDENT. The JCS, however, continued to insist that Eisenhower’s invasion of the Italian mainland could be made without additional resources.
When the Secretary of War, Henry L. Stimson, visited England in July, he became alarmed by what he heard from Churchill and Eden. Mr. Stimson suggested that political reasons made it necessary to press for a cross-Channel attack. Though Mr. Churchill seemed to understand—“he confined his position to favoring a march on Rome with its prestige and the possibility of knocking Italy out of the war”—Eden contended for carrying the war into the Balkans and Greece. Both American and British officers working on plans for the cross-Channel attack gave Stimson an impression that the great threat to the plan came from the danger of becoming too deeply involved in the Mediterranean. When Marshall suggested on 16 July that AFHQ study the possibility of an amphibious attack in the Naples area, Churchill interpreted it as an indication that Marshall was shifting from his basic position. A transatlantic phone call quickly reassured Stimson that he knew Marshall’s mind better than Churchill did. Yet the check received by the British Eighth Army before Catania led Churchill to speak of a cross-channel attack as producing a Channel full of corpses.5
The vision of occupying the Italian capital captivated Churchill’s mind, and Rome was the minimum territorial objective in Italy acceptable to him. Still, he told Stimson that if by good luck the Allies gained the complete capitulation of Italy, he would favor going as far as the northern boundary. Stimson received the impression that Churchill was looking “constantly and vigorously for an easy way of ending the war without a trans-Channel assault.” At Algiers, however, Stimson was relieved to find Eisenhower in agreement with Marshall’s basic idea—the attack on Italy was to be for a limited objective, one not impairing or substituting for the cross-Channel attack, but rather one that would aid and facilitate it. At AFHQ, Mr. Stimson gained the impression that the Foggia airfields were considered the main objective of the campaign.6
Upon returning to Washington Mr. Stimson on 4 August sent a recommendation to the President. “The main thing therefore to keep constantly in mind,” he wrote, “is that the Italian effort must be strictly confined to the objective of securing bases for an air attack and there must be no further diversions of the forces or matériel which will interfere with the coincident mounting of the ROUNDHAMMER [cross-Channel] project.”7
On 9 August, General Marshall called on the President in order to ascertain the President’s views and the American position to be presented at the impending Quebec Conference. Roosevelt stated that in a choice between cross-Channel invasion and the invasion of the Italian mainland he would insist on the former. But he felt that more could be done for
the latter than had been proposed. The seven battle-tested divisions should be moved to England, but perhaps an equal number of divisions could go from the United States directly to Italy. He stated that he would resist an operation into the Balkans or any expedition that might involve a heavy loss of ships and landing craft without the possibility of achieving decisive results. He thought that the Allies should secure a position in Italy just north of Rome and occupy Sardinia and Corsica, thus setting up a serious threat to southern France.8
The following day Secretary of War Stimson called on the President. He presented a memorandum making a plea for holding to the American strategic concept. As a result of talks, personal contacts, and conversations during his recent overseas trip, Stimson said, he had reached the conclusion that there was no rational hope for a successful cross-Channel attack under a British commander. He urged that the American Government take the leadership, insist on a cross-Channel attack, and guarantee its execution by securing the appointment of General Marshall as its commander. After reading the memorandum, Mr. Roosevelt stated that he himself had reached the same conclusions.9
During the few remaining days before the conference opened, American policy makers, after thorough discussion, formulated their views. The President told the Joint Chiefs that he favored setting up a great force in Britain as soon as possible. Having more American soldiers than British for the cross-Channel operation, he said, would make the appointment of an American commander easier to secure. As for the Mediterranean, the President stated that he wished to invade Italy for the purpose of establishing bases; he would go no farther north than Rome.10
The American position to be presented at Quebec, therefore, reaffirmed the strategy agreed upon in May—because “conditions have not changed as to justify on sound military grounds the renunciation of the TRIDENT concept.” The Americans did not wish to jeopardize a sound over-all strategy “simply to exploit local successes in a generally accepted secondary theater, the Mediterranean, where logistical and terrain difficulties preclude decisive and final operations designed to reach the heart of Germany.” The essence of American strategy was the cross-Channel attack, carefully synchronized with the combined bomber offensive. The Mediterranean, strictly delimited to a subordinate area, was to be exploited with only those resources already available. Three phases of operations in Italy were forecast: eliminating Italy as a belligerent and establishing air bases at least as far north as the Rome area; seizing Sardinia and Corsica; and maintaining pressure on German forces and creating conditions favorable for entry into southern France.11
The American and British Chiefs of Staff opened the argument on 15 August, the second day of the conference—the day Seventh Army entered Messina. The British expressed complete agreement
with the Americans in principle, but they challenged the phrases used by the Joint Chiefs to guarantee the principles. The British Chiefs, according to General Brooke, were in entire agreement that OVERLORD should constitute the major offensive for 1944 and that Italian operations should be planned against that background. But they saw operations in Italy as creating a situation favorable and even necessary for a successful cross-Channel attack—by holding down German reserves and by bombing German fighter plane factories from Italian airfields. Therefore, Brooke said, giving overriding priority to the cross-Channel attack over any Mediterranean operation was too binding, for sufficient forces had to be used in Italy to make the cross-Channel attack possible. Suggesting that the Allies could achieve far greater success in bombing the fighter plane factories in Germany from Po valley airfields than from those in central Italy, Brooke proposed that the Allies consider the line of the Apennines as merely the first phase line of their advance, a preliminary for seizing the north Italian plain.
At this point Admiral King bluntly remarked that, as he understood it, “The British Chiefs of Staff had serious doubts as to the possibility of OVERLORD.” The British protested that they were thinking only of conditions required for a successful cross-Channel attack. General Marshall then put his finger on the central issue. “The essence of the problem,” he said, “was whether or not the required conditions for a successful OVERLORD could only be made possible by an increase of strength in the Mediterranean.” He agreed that the Allies should seize as much of Italy as possible if resistance was weak, for it would be better if the Allies rather than the Germans held the northern airfields. Yet he thought that almost as much could be achieved by securing the Florence area. On the other hand, unless the Allies decided to remove the seven divisions from the Mediterranean, and unless the Allies gave overriding priority to OVERLORD, the cross-Channel operation, he believed, would become only a subsidiary operation. The operation would then be “doomed and our whole strategic concept would have to be recast.”12
So frank an exchange of views followed that the Combined Chiefs preferred not to keep a formal record of the discussion.13 Not until 17 August did the American Chiefs secure written agreement that largely fulfilled their demand for a guarantee of OVERLORD. They did not quite get “overriding priority” for the cross-Channel operation, but they obtained assurance that the Mediterranean theater would be subordinate and that the stage would be set for only limited operations. Ground operations in the Balkans were ruled out, and the purpose of an attack against southern France was defined as: “to establish a lodgment in the Toulon–Marseilles area and exploit northward in order to create a diversion in connection with OVERLORD.”14 The Allies thus stipulated OVERLORD as the main effort for 1944. But despite the cogency of his arguments, General Marshall did not obtain a formula for the Mediterranean which would serve to ward off his most acute fear: the drawing off of resources into a secondary theater. This was partly due to the general expectation that Italy would promptly surrender
and that, in consequence, the Germans would withdraw to a line somewhere north of Rome. QUADRANT set the Rome area as the minimum Allied territorial objective in Italy and called for “unremitting pressure” against the German forces in “Northern Italy.” But in case the Germans did not withdraw to the line of the northern Apennines, in case the Italian capital did not fall before the momentum of the Allied attack, what then? For the sake of conquering central Italy, how much in men and matériel would the Mediterranean theater be permitted to absorb at the expense of the cross-Channel build-up? In the over-all strategy of the war, how much was the occupation of the Italian capital and the use of its airfields worth to the Allies once Italy was eliminated from the war? QUADRANT did not answer these questions because the problem was not set in those terms. Churchill was fascinated by Rome and the prospect of its capture. Marshall was profoundly skeptical of the Italian theater and considered it the greatest threat to the build-up in England required for the main blow.
The QUADRANT Conference devoted but little attention to specific plans for invading the Italian mainland. The Combined Chiefs had delegated the formulation of precise operations to AFHQ, and at the meeting held on the last day of the conference, 24 August, Generals Whiteley and Rooks presented in outline the plans for BAYTOWN (a crossing of the Strait of Messina), and AVALANCHE (an assault in the Naples area). The CCS merely noted the exposition of General Eisenhower’s plans and gave their approval.15
The Mission of General Castellano
In Rome, General Castellano, who hated the Germans for their ill-concealed contempt for Italian officers and soldiers, watched with growing alarm the increasing German occupation of northern Italy. One of the chief conspirators against Mussolini and predisposed to political activity, he saw a means for saving Italy and the House of Savoy only in shifting sides in the war, a feat which that House had often performed with dexterity in the 17th and 18th centuries when it ruled Piedmont only. Disappointed in the outcome of Mussolini’s overthrow and regarding Badoglio as a fool for not recognizing Italy’s obvious course, Castellano flung himself with ardor into the task of making contact with the Allies.16
Castellano was not alone in searching for a way to avert the intolerable situation into which Italy was drifting because of the lack of firm direction by the King and Badoglio. Many individuals on lower levels of authority were formulating and advocating courses of action for the government. Generale di Brigata Umberto Utili and Generale Addetto al Capo di Stato Maggiore Giacomo Zanussi of Roatta’s headquarters, for example, urged an immediate break with the Germans independent of agreement with the Allies, for they believed that the resulting Italo-German conflict would draw the Allies into Italy on the Italian side. Though less attractive after 1 August, this course
of action was suggested even after the Tarvis conference.17
In contrast to this point of view, Ambrosio, Francesco Rossi, his deputy chief of staff, and Castellano, felt that the Italians had to oppose the Germans, but only after reaching agreement for military cooperation with the Allies.18 Guariglia, the Foreign Minister, wished military and political agreements with the Allies, but he wanted the negotiations to be conducted by diplomatists. He preferred not to conclude an armistice with the Allies until they had landed on the mainland and could occupy and defend Rome.
Ambrosio pushed for action, but, having great respect for Badoglio, he would go no further than the marshal wished. Badoglio would take no step except on the explicit word of the King. The King, however, refused to take any step that would lead to a break with the Germans.19
In this situation Castellano acted. After conversations with Roatta, Utili, and Zanussi on 9 August, Castellano urged Ambrosio to see the King on the problem of reaching agreement with the Allies. Italy, Castellano felt, should not surrender, but go over to the Allied side. An Italian emissary, he thought, should be sent immediately to make contact with the Allies. The emissary should have documentary instructions and credentials authorizing him to make agreements for military collaboration. After reaching agreement, the Italians would turn against the Germans.
At an audience granted to Ambrosio on 10 August, the King assented to Ambrosio’s proposal for sending a representative to the Allies, but the monarch declined to furnish any credentials or written instructions. Guariglia, when consulted by Ambrosio, was not enthusiastic over an additional emissary; he preferred to await the outcome of the missions of D’Ajeta and Berio, and he declined to send a member of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to accompany another emissary. Thus far, the Italian military men did not know the full scope of the D’Ajeta and Berio missions. It was Badoglio who decided that a military man should be sent, and Castellano was chosen.
Ambrosio alone instructed Castellano. Castellano was to negotiate only with Allied military representatives. He was to furnish them military information. He was to agree with them on a common plan of action against the Germans. Though he received no written instructions, he secured from Acquarone a letter of introduction by Sir D’Arcy Osborne to Sir Samuel Hoare, the British Ambassador at Madrid. Guariglia at first declined to issue an individual passport for Castellano, arranging instead for Castellano to travel on a collective passport being provided several diplomatic officials bound for Portugal, but Castellano finally obtained a passport for himself made out with the fictitious name “Raimondi.”
Before departing from Rome on 12 August, Castellano saw Guariglia, who urged the greatest caution, warning that discovery of Castellano’s mission would mean death to the members of the government. Guariglia reminded Castellano that the government was practically a prisoner of the Germans and quite unable to separate from them unless the Allies made it possible. Because Rome was in
great danger, Castellano should urge the Allies to land on the mainland north of the capital.20
On that day, General Eisenhower’s AFHQ diary noted that “what had appeared to be a quick collapse of Italy had disappeared into uncertainty. ...”21 And on the following day, Allied bombers operating from North Africa and England attacked Milan, Turin, Genoa, and Rome as a reminder to Badoglio that the Allies were in earnest in demanding unconditional surrender.
The Italians scarcely knew where the greater threat lay. The Allied armies were making steady progress in Sicily, and Allied planes were bombing Italian cities at will. In northern Italy, the Germans were rapidly consolidating their control. The 2nd Parachute Division completed its move to areas just north and south of Rome; elements of the 26th Panzer Division had reinforced the 3rd Panzer Grenadier Division near Lake Bolsena; these plus the headquarters troops of OB SUED at Frascati constituted an immediate threat to Rome. The movement of the units under Army Group B into northern Italy was approximately half completed, and even though Rommel’s headquarters was still at Munich, the 44th Infantry Division controlled the Italian side of the Brenner Pass, the Brigade Doehla held the entrances to the auxiliary passes leading to Bolzano. Along the Brenner route, the SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler had moved to the Parma area, the 65th Infantry Division had moved by the same route southwest of Parma, the 24th Panzer Division, destined for Modena, was moving into Italy by way of the Tarvis Pass, and the 71st Infantry Division was to follow and occupy the eastern passes into Italy over the Julian Alps. The 305th Infantry Division, in the Nice area since 1 August, was ready to follow the 76th Infantry Division, which had moved to the Genoese coast. The 94th Infantry Division, not yet in Italy, was awaiting transportation at the entrance to the Mount Cenis pass and was poised to gain control of the Modane–Bardonecchia sector of the Turin–Lyons railway. Not a single German division had moved south of Rome in this period, and the German intention seemed clear—to seize the Italian capital; to grab the Italian Fleet; to pull German forces out of the south and defend a line in the northern Apennines.22
In the meantime, the Allies were tackling the proposals of D’Ajeta and Berio. Right after his conversation with D’Ajeta on 4 August, Ambassador Campbell in Lisbon had telegraphed to London the substance of D’Ajeta’s remarks. From Downing Street the report was forwarded to Churchill, who was on the point of sailing for Canada. Though Churchill had been anxious upon Mussolini’s downfall to gain maximum advantage from the political change and to turn the “fury” of the Italian people against the German “invader,” his reaction to the D’Ajeta mission was chilly. He relayed Campbell’s report to President Roosevelt without recommendation, commenting only: “D’Ajeta never from start to finish made any mention of peace terms and his whole story, as you will have observed, was no more than a plea that we
should save Italy from the Germans as well as from herself, and do it as quickly as possible.”23
Several days later, when the report of the Berio feeler reached London, Churchill was on the high seas and Eden was at the Foreign Office. After noting that Berio’s proposal was an offer to negotiate on terms, Eden suggested that the Allies take the single course of action in consonance with the Anglo-American public declarations:
Should we not then reply that, as is well known, we insist on unconditional surrender, and the Badoglio Government must as a first step notify us that Italy surrenders unconditionally? Subsequently, at a later stage, if the Badoglio Government were to do this, we should then inform them of the terms on which we should be prepared to cease hostilities against Italy.24
Though Churchill wrote a note to himself: “Don’t miss the bus,” he radioed the Foreign Secretary: “We agree with the course you have taken.” When Churchill arrived in Canada on 9 August, he sketched out somewhat more fully an appropriate reply. “Badoglio must state,” the Prime Minister wrote, “that he is prepared to place himself unreservedly in the hands of the Allied Governments who have already made it plain that they desire Italy to have a respectable place in the new Europe.” Yet, as Churchill warned Eden, and himself as well, “Merely harping on ‘unconditional surrender,’ with no prospect of mercy held out even as an act of grace, may well lead to no surrender at all.”25
Eden then drafted the full text of a reply to be given to Berio in Tangier, a draft first forwarded on 12 August to President Roosevelt, who approved the concept and the precise language. On the following day, the day after Castellano departed Rome, Berio received word that the Allies were unwilling to negotiate:
Badoglio must understand that we cannot negotiate, but require unconditional surrender, which means that Italian Government should place themselves in hands of Allied Governments, who will then state their terms. These will provide for an honourable capitulation.26
Several days earlier, on 8 August, Mr. Harold Tittmann, assistant to the President’s Personal Representative to the Pope, sent a message through Lisbon that reached the Allied leaders in Quebec on 15 August. Tittmann reiterated the Badoglio government’s desire to make immediate peace with the Allies, made plain its inability to do so because of the German threat to seize control of the Italian Government and to occupy the entire country. He stated that Badoglio was forced to play for time in the hope that the Allies would come to Italy’s assistance by intensifying air warfare against the Germans and by landing in the northern part of the peninsula. Hitler, the Italians insisted, was seeking a suitable pretext to occupy Italy.27
Tittmann sent another message by way of Berne on 12 August, a statement that reached the Allied leaders on 18 August. He repeated that the Badoglio government’s chief concern remained the Nazi threat of occupation, that the Nazis were looking for an excuse to carry out their
threat, and that if the Italians tried to surrender to the Allies, the Germans would undoubtedly take over the country within two hours after learning of the effort.28
To Badoglio’s earliest efforts to persuade the Allies that he was not free, that he could not unconditionally do anything because of the German noose around the Italian capital, the Anglo-American leaders gave little, if any, attention—no more, in fact, than to the question of exactly how Badoglio was to surrender unconditionally. The capabilities of the Allied navies and air forces notwithstanding, the Allies could not occupy Rome or any part of Italy until Allied ground troops were on the Italian mainland. No Allied force was in a position to accept a surrender and exploit its advantages.
General Eisenhower saw the close connection between strategy and policy, but Churchill and Roosevelt seemed to ignore it. The first Italian-Allied exchanges resembled two persons talking to each other in their sleep, each the victim of his own hallucination. In the nightmare of the German occupation, Italy gasped, “Help, I am not free.” After a long pause, the Allies replied, “Say Uncle.” Part of the Allied reaction came from Churchill’s suspicion—“Badoglio admits he is going to double-cross someone”—and Churchill was not at all willing to be the victim.29
Yet there was something decidedly intelligible in what D’Ajeta had said at Lisbon on 4 August. He had faithfully regurgitated before Ambassador Campbell the German order of battle in Italy which he had spent hours memorizing. This information would have been helpful to the Allied military leaders, for AFHQ was then toying with plans based on the hope of an unopposed landing in the Naples area. Unfortunately, Allied diplomatic channels were distinctly different and quite separate from strategic and military channels. Although General Marshall had been careful to keep AFHQ fully informed of the negotiations to establish Rome as an open city, General Eisenhower learned nothing of the D’Ajeta and Berio missions.30
Leaving Rome by train on 12 August, Castellano intended to present himself to the Allies as a representative not of a conquered country bowing to the inevitable and asking aid to surrender, but of a country that still had sufficient force to disown a detested ally and energy enough to fight for redemption. The essential point he wished to make was that Italy asked for help to enable it to join the battle on the side of the United Nations.31
Traveling as Signor Raimondi of the Italian Ministry of Exchange and Currency and in company with a party of officials, Castellano arrived in Madrid at noon, 15 August. While the party was visiting the Prado Museum, Castellano took Consul Franco Montanari aside and revealed his identity. Swearing Montanari to secrecy and asking him to serve as his interpreter, Castellano took him to the British Embassy. Montanari was not altogether surprised. Before his departure from Rome, Guariglia had briefed him on Castellano’s mission.32
Castellano presented his letter of introduction,
and Sir Samuel Hoare received him. Explaining his position as chief of Ambrosio’s military office, Castellano said that his mission was official and that he had complete backing from Marshal Badoglio. Italy, he declared, was exhausted, the ground forces were poorly armed, aviation was weak, and German troops were streaming into the country. Until the Allies landed on the Italian mainland, Castellano said, the government was powerless to act. But if and when the Allies invaded the mainland, Italy was prepared to join them in fighting the Germans. If the Allies were willing to accept Italian help, Castellano was prepared to give detailed information on German dispositions and strength. The Italians were ready to cooperate with Mihailovitch in the Balkans, to repudiate the independence of Croatia, and to reach agreement with Yugoslavia over Dalmatia. Attempts had been made to bring Italian troops home, all units had been withdrawn from the Russian front, and German units had taken over the duty of garrisoning Greece, particularly at Salonika. Because of the rapid build-up of German forces in Italy, Badoglio wished to take immediate action. Thirteen German divisions were already in Italy, and more were arriving. The Germans, Castellano said, planned to defend the Genoa–Ravenna line.
The greatest danger Italy faced, according to Castellano, was the prospect that the Germans would seize control of the country. The Germans had threatened to bomb Italian cities and use gas if the Badoglio government did not continue in the war. Hating the Germans, the Italian people would support a military alignment with the Allies. Mussolini and the Fascists were discredited. Though the Fascist militia had been disarmed, it was bitterly hostile to the Italian Regular Army. If Badoglio could not reach agreement with the Allies, he feared that the Germans might re-establish Musolini in power and bring back the militia. If the Germans caught Castellano, they would kill him. Hence the need for secrecy, and the necessity for Castellano to proceed under his false name to Lisbon on the ostensible mission of meeting the SS Cabo de Bueno Esperanza, which was bringing home the Italian Ambassador to Chile. Castellano had to return to Rome with the Ambassador’s party some time after the 20th of August.
Sir Samuel asked what the Italians would do with respect to the Allied demand for unconditional surrender. Castellano declared: “We are not in a position to make any terms. We will accept unconditional surrender provided we can join the Allies in fighting the Germans.” Stating that his mission was—as he firmly believed it to be—to make the first official proposal by Italy to the Allies, Castellano again expressed his willingness to give information concerning both the Germans and Italians to the British military attaché if the British Ambassador gave an immediate reply to his proposal. If they could reach agreement, Castellano said, the Italian Army could do much to cut the German supply lines.
Ambassador Hoare expressed no opinion, for he was without instructions, but he promised to forward at once Castellano’s offer to the British Government. In addition, he gave Castellano a letter of introduction to Sir Ronald Hugh Campbell, the British Ambassador at Lisbon.33
After leaving the British Embassy, Castellano went to a hotel to make notes of his conversation. It occurred to him that perhaps he had not been sufficiently explicit in requesting to meet Allied military leaders. Nor had he definitely referred to the Americans, whom he wished to meet as well as the British. He returned to the Embassy and asked Hoare whether General Eisenhower might send a senior staff officer to Lisbon to take part in the discussions. That evening, Castellano departed from Madrid in company with Montanari and the others of the party.
Sir Samuel made haste to wire his government a full account of his meeting with Castellano. His opinion, based solely on the interview, was that the Italian Government was prepared to accept unconditional surrender if the Allies landed on the Italian mainland, and if the Italian Army could join in the fight against the Germans. “Without these two conditions,” he telegraphed, “the Italian Government will not have sufficient courage or justification to make a complete volteface and will drift impotently into chaos.” He recommended that serious attention be given to Castellano’s proposal, if for no other reason than to obtain intelligence of German intentions and dispositions.34
The Quebec Memorandum
When Foreign Secretary Eden forwarded Hoare’s telegrams to Churchill at Quebec, he informed the Prime Minister that he had instructed Ambassador Campbell in Lisbon to hold Castellano there, to listen to what he had to say, but for Campbell to make no reply until he received instructions. Castellano’s offer of Italian cooperation Eden found tempting, but he advised Churchill against accepting the proposal on the ground that it might cause the Allies political difficulties.35
In Canada, Churchill, in a wire to President Roosevelt at Hyde Park on 16 August, outlined a reply to the Italian general. Churchill’s draft made no mention of the short terms or of any other terms. Nor did it state a demand by the Allies for unconditional surrender. This was implied in the phraseology of Churchill’s initial paragraph, which, at the same time, excluded any joint Italo-Allied planning of operations prior to Italy’s breaking with Germany. Churchill said that the Allies could make no bargain on the prospect of Italy’s changing sides in the war. Rather, “by taking action against the common enemy, the Italian Government,
Army, and people could without any bargain facilitate a more friendly relationship with the United Nations.” Recognizing Badoglio’s predicament—Kesselring’s forces surrounding Rome and Allied forces ready to invade Italy—Churchill proposed that Castellano be told: “The Italian Government should ... resist the Germans to the best of their ability as soon as possible, pending arrival of Anglo-American armies.” Until the Allies arrived, the Italian Government might cut German communications in southern Italy, safeguard Allied prisoners, sail the fleet to Allied ports, provide intelligence information, aid the invasion forces to disembark, and cooperate with guerrilla forces in the Balkans.36
On the following day, 17 August, as President Roosevelt and Mr. Eden were arriving in Quebec, the CCS produced what became known as the Quebec Memorandum: “Suggested Action on Italian Peace Feelers.” Shaping the memorandum were several factors: the unconditional surrender formula, Churchill’s message to Roosevelt, the approved text of the short terms, the still unapproved text of the long terms, and an imperfect realization of the military difficulties in mounting and executing Operation AVALANCHE, the projected invasion of the Italian mainland near Naples.
The CCS in the Quebec Memorandum suggested that Eisenhower send two staff officers, one American, the other British, to Lisbon at once to meet Castellano. They were to tell Castellano that: the Allies would accept the unconditional surrender of Italy on the conditions of the short terms, which were to be handed to the Italian emissary; political, economic, and financial terms were to be communicated to the Italian Government later; though the Allies visualized no “active resistance” on the part of Italy in fighting the Germans, they expected Italy to hamper German operations, and in return the Allies promised to restrict bombing to targets affecting the German forces alone; hostilities were to cease at a time to be determined by General Eisenhower; the Italian Government was to proclaim the armistice at once and from that time “to collaborate with the Allies and to resist the Germans”; it was to send Navy, merchant shipping, and aircraft to Allied territory. Until the hour of the armistice, the Italians were to institute general passive resistance and minor sabotage against the Germans, safeguard Allied prisoners of war, prevent Italian ships and aircraft from falling into German hands, prevent the Germans from taking over Italian coast defenses, and arrange to march Italian units in the Balkans to coastal areas for evacuation by the Allies. If the Italians complied, Eisenhower was to have authority to soften the armistice terms proportionately with the scale of the assistance the Italians rendered to the Allies. Eisenhower was also to arrange for a secure channel of communication between him and the Italian Government.37
This precise course of action laid down by the CCS gave General Eisenhower
authority to bring about the surrender of Italy, but no power to negotiate. He was not to reveal his military plans to Badoglio’s representative. He was to announce the armistice a few hours before the execution of AVALANCHE, the principal invasion of the Italian mainland, which he had decided on 16 August, two days before receiving the Quebec Memorandum, to launch on the shores of the Gulf of Salerno. He could offer the Badoglio government but scant inducement to surrender: a general assurance that the Allies would modify the terms of surrender in the future if Italy surrendered completely on the eve of the Allied invasion, and if Italian forces gave positive aid to that invasion. But he could provide no answer to Badoglio’s vital questions: were the Allies able, willing, and planning to occupy the seat of his government? Or would surrender to the Allies signal the German occupation of Rome and the immediate establishment of a neo-Fascist Quisling regime in Italy?
During the months following the TRIDENT Conference, the Italian surrender and the invasion of the Italian mainland had become curiously reversed. TRIDENT had directed Eisenhower “to knock Italy out of the war,” and the assault of the mainland was conceived as the most appropriate means of doing so. With the collapse of fascism, the basic design of Allied plans for invading the Italian mainland—BUTTRESS, BARRACUDA, BAYTOWN, AVALANCHE—changed. The plans envisaged not knocking Italy out of the war but getting Allied troops onto the mainland to exert pressure on the Germans. What then dominated Allied thinking was the idea that Italy, as a consequence of Mussolini’s downfall, would surrender. Capitulation was not expected to result from the assault on the mainland; rather, the surrender was to precede and facilitate the invasion.
Approval of the Long Terms
The QUADRANT Conference settled an additional problem, that of the long terms of armistice for Italy. The British members of the CCAC had continued to urge the necessity for political and economic terms in addition to the military clauses, and General Eisenhower on 6 August had been informed that if he used the short terms he was to make clear that other conditions were to be imposed later. But it was not clear to the CCAC members what the additional conditions would be. Would there be a list of purely economic and political terms to supplement the short terms? Or would there be a single comprehensive instrument to supersede the short terms? Hoping that the QUADRANT conferees would answer these questions, the committee on 12 August began to prepare for both courses. The members made some changes in the British draft and, at American insistence, the unconditional surrender formula reappeared.38
When Mr. Eden raised the issue at Quebec with Cordell Hull, the Secretary of State consulted with the President and learned that Mr. Roosevelt had not changed his mind. Roosevelt was satisfied to have Eisenhower use the short terms to obtain Italian surrender, with the understanding that political conditions would be imposed later. Mr. Hull therefore told Eden that he had neither recommendations nor objections to make on the long terms. So far as nonmilitary
matters were concerned, the Department of State concurred with the latest draft of the text.
Churchill and Eden then sought President Roosevelt’s approval. Mr. Roosevelt must have given them some sort of assurance of concurrence, for on 23 August the British Foreign Office informed the Department of State that the Prime Minister and the President had reached agreement and that the British were instructing their Ambassador in Lisbon to use the long terms in place of the short terms in any future dealings with Italian emissaries. Because the Foreign Office was not fully certain of the President’s concurrence, however, the British asked the State Department to clear the matter with the President and have the combined Chiefs direct Eisenhower to use the long terms—the “Comprehensive Instrument,” as it was called—in place of the short terms—the military terms. Declining to take initiative in a matter outside its province, the Department of State indicated that it would be more appropriate for the Foreign Office to take up the matter with the British Chiefs of Staff.
The President gave his final and formal concurrence on 26 August, when he directed the JCS to instruct Eisenhower to substitute the long terms for the short terms in any subsequent dealings with Badoglio’s representatives. Eden on the same day instructed the Ambassador at Lisbon—Campbell—to use the long terms in any negotiations with Italian emissaries. On the following day the CCS wired the text of the long terms to Eisenhower and instructed him that this document, including the military terms, was to be used in any future negotiations.39
General Eisenhower thus received several difficult assignments as a result of the QUADRANT Conference. With limited forces and resources (particularly in landing craft), he was to invade the Italian mainland in two places—across the Strait of Messina and on the shores of the Gulf of Salerno. From the latter landing, he was to sweep rapidly to Rome, 140 miles to the north. Without revealing his hand, he was to bluff Badoglio into surrender to make possible the Allied invasion. In accordance with instructions to use the long terms—an extraordinary complication because negotiations with Badoglio were already under way on the basis of the short terms and the Quebec Memorandum—Eisenhower was to insist on unconditional surrender. By this time, AFHQ intelligence, too, had obtained a clearer picture of German strength in Italy. The estimates of enemy capabilities on which the AVALANCHE plan for a landing at Salerno had been based were radically wrong. German strength had been grossly underestimated.
When the British Resident Minister at Algiers, Mr. Harold Macmillan, learned of the long terms, he protested against their immediate use. “I am told,” he wired his superiors, “that military difficulties involved in operation of AVALANCHE are so great that we cannot exaggerate the value of an armistice concluded and announced
in accordance with timing suggested by the President and the Prime Minister.”40
But the die had been cast. General Eisenhower had no alternative but to carry out his sometimes conflicting, always difficult, dual assignment—one a military mission, the other a diplomatic matter.