No. 72. My 69, February 13.
All information recently obtained points to a more general preparation for an extensive campaign in Abyssinia than has been indicated by the Italian Government in its various announcements. Supplies and military forces are moving clandestinely. Concerted effort is being made to prevent any information getting out as to the size or general nature of shipments. Movements are being made by night and troops called up are kept in barracks and denied freedom.
I have been informed today from sources deemed to be reliable that 30,000 troops have left the port of Naples; that the movement now under way contemplates the use in Ethiopia of some 200,000 or 300,000 troops; and that the troops which are now or have recently been in Tripoli, and thus have had tropical experience, are being moved to Ethiopia and are being replaced by the newly formed forces from Italy.
It is learned from another trustworthy source that the communiqué of the Italian Government mentioned in my No. 65, February 11, 5 p. m., was misleading in that the class of 1911, though ostensibly called in sufficient numbers to bring the divisions to war strength, was actually called to form these divisions as the regiments compris ing them had already left clandestinely for unknown destinations by the time the communiqué had been issued.
Mechanical, motor and air service specialists are being called from the reserves and from the militia of the classes as far back as 1895 and 1893. Factories for the manufacture of trucks, tanks and artillery at and around Milan are working day and night shifts.
Principal movements consist of motor, air and light artillery and, in addition to Naples, embarkation is proceeding from Venice, Messina, Ancona and probably from Leghorn. Supplies are leaving from Genoa, Venice and Trieste, as well as from Naples.
All of these movements are being camouflaged by the use of regular merchant-marine without the use of war vessels. The Navy has not participated. If it were to do so, either as carrier or as convoy, it would advertise the movement. Moreover in the absence of an Abyssinian Navy, there is no need for protection and the passage of regular merchant ships through Suez would cause no comment nor evoke criticism, even should the authorities there be disposed to object.
Press stories justifying Italy's action under Paris, London and Geneva date
lines, which are reprinted in full or in part in the Italian press, are preparing
public opinion, but there has not been a single story under any Italian date
line or a single editorial comment on this subject in any Italian newspaper,
which constitutes an unusual departure from the established custom.
Source: U.S., Department of State, Publication 1983, Peace and War: United States Foreign Policy, 1931-1941 (Washington, D.C.: U.S., Government Printing Office, 1943, pp. 248-249.
Return to Vinnie's Home Page
Return to Interwar Period Page