BETFOR AssociationThe Liberation of Trieste by the 9th Brigade of the New Zealand Division, part of the British Eighth Army in Italy.
This year, 2010, is the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Trieste.
1 May 1945..
On Tuesday 1 May 1945 at about 1700 hrs, the 9th Brigade of the New Zealand Division, part of the British Eighth Army in Italy, entered Monfalcone after a hectic dash up from Venice.
2 May 1945.
At 0830 hrs on the morning of 2 May the 9th Brigade resumed its advance towards Trieste, on two fronts. One front towards Sistiana, Prosecco and Opicina the other by means of the coastal road leading down to Miramare. At 1430 hrs the advance party of the Brigade had reached Miramare and by 1500 hours they were in the centre of the city of Trieste. The main body of the 22nd Battalion followed them in shortly afterwards.
At 1730 hrs a unit of German troops still occupying San Giusto castle surrendered to ‘C’ company of the 22nd battalion, having held out against the Yugoslavs besieging them, in order not to be captured by the Yugoslavs.
The Palace of Justice had also been selected by the Germans as another final strongpoint and was occupied by a strong force of Reichswehr and SS men. . They were surrounded by men of the 10th Brigade of the Yugoslav 4th Army and were soon joined by tanks from two squadrons of the 19th Armoured Regiment of the New Zealand division. After negotiations for the surrender of the Germans failed, at 1900 hrs the tanks moved to within point blank range, opened fire and blasted holes in the walls through which the Yugoslavs went in and engaged the German troops. By the end of the night the capture of the Palace of Justice was complete and some 200 German prisoners were taken.
3 May 1945.
Thursday 3 May the New Zealanders were, for the most part, in control (so they thought) of the city and port of Trieste. Fighting continued however in Opicina but the German forces there finally surrendered in the evening of 3 May 1945. In Trieste a certain amount of chaos reigned because of the various groups of partisans in the city, both Italian and Slovene and the CLN (National Committee of Liberation). There was the Slovenian Liberation Front and the Italian Workers Unity Party and they all wanted to play a part in the setting up of the city councils etc. The Prefect, an Italian named Bruno Coceani, had administered the area under the Germans. The Mayor of Trieste was a Mr Pagnini, and these people had their own private armies. Trieste, indeed, presented almost certainly the most complicated political picture of any area liberated in the war. To this had to be added the fact that the Yugoslav Army had entered and occupied a large part of the city on the day before the arrival of the New Zealanders.
7 May 1945.
Pola, to the south, fell to the Yugoslavs on 7 May 1945. 16000 German troops and officers gave themselves up to the Yugoslav 4th Army.
Tensions were running high between the New Zealanders and the Yugoslav forces in the city and on:
12 May 1945
Posters began appearing in the streets of the city proclaiming “an autonomous Trieste inside Federal and Democratic Yugoslavia, and the Yugoslav Army which has, under the genial guidance of Marshal Tito, liberated Yugoslavia, the Littoral and Trieste”.
Shortly afterwards reinforcements were brought forward to support the New Zealanders in Trieste. The 56th London (Black Cat) Division moved up to the Isonzo River and the 91st United States Division took over Gorizia and Palmanova. The British 13 Corps set up their headquarters in Monfalcone. A battalion of American troops from the 363 Regiment and a battalion of the Scots Guards were brought into Trieste in support. High level negotiations were being held in Belgrade and a General Morgan drew up a plan for the division of Venezia Giulia into two zones which was rejected by Marshal Tito. Tensions were now getting strained almost to breaking point and the American battalion and the Scots Guards battalion were withdrawn to their original units and deployed on a ‘standby for action’position. The 2nd United States Corps moved up fully on the left of the British 13 Corps along the Isonzo River.
9 June 1945.
On this date, just 5 weeks after the fall of Trieste, Marshal Tito yielded. Venezia Giulia was to be divided into 2 zones, along the lines proposed by General Morgan. Trieste, Monfalcone, Gorizia and the countryside up to and including the lines of communication to Austria became Zone A, under direct Allied Military Administration. So too did Pola. The rest of the province remained under Yugoslav military and civilian control and the Yugoslave Army would retreat to the east of the Morgan Line.
So ended the struggle for Trieste, the last battleground in the Mediterranean of World War 2.
The MANCHESTER GUARDIAN published the following on 4th May 1945
On the same day THE TIMES published the following