top of page

Mission of Gen. Castellano to Lisbon - 12/10 August 1943

August 12

General Castellano left by train for Lisbon and was joined by a group of officials from the Foreign Ministry, who were headed to that city to meet with Italian diplomats who, coming from Chile, were returning to Italy. The name adopted by General Castellano, to carry out this mission, was that of dr. Raimondi, official of the Ministry of Exchange and Currencies. In this mission, General Castellano was accompanied by the consul Franco Montanari, who acted as interpreter.

No particular provisions were given to General Castellano; he was not even equipped with a radio-receiving and transmitting device or with the ciphers necessary to communicate with Rome.

He was given only a very short presentation card filled in by the British Minister Peter Osborne, who was the representative of Great Britain to the Holy See.

August 15

August 15

General Castellano, during his transfer trip, stopped in Madrid where he was able to meet, showing the presentation card of Minister Osborne, Sir Samuel Hoare, Ambassador of Great Britain to the Spanish Government.

In this meeting, General Castellano pointed out the following:

According to the directives received, I explained to Mr. Hoare our situation and the purpose of my mission […]. But I didn't limit myself to that. I added on my own initiative […] that Italy was not only determined to detach itself from the Germans, but also to fight against them alongside the Allies. To say this was, in my opinion, in the logic of things because you could not ask for help without clarifying what our attitude would be later on. The request would have fallen on deaf ears, seeming to me inadmissible to find a consensus without giving a counterpart, which could not only be that of ceasing hostilities [...]. It seemed necessary to me not only to clarify our behavior, but to announce the new fact, that of the reversal of the front, with which we would have more easily obtained the collaboration requested and also, more importantly, a less harsh treatment at the cessation of hostilities "._ cc781905 -5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_

Ambassador Hoare was favorably impressed by the arguments presented by General Castellano and immediately communicated this news in London to the British Foreign Ministry, which relayed it to Canada in Quebec, where Premier Winston Churchill (Prime Minister of the Government of Great Britain) was located. and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (President of the United States of America), who appreciated what General Castellano said. They then sent to General Dwight D. Eisenhower (Commander in Chief of the Allied Forces) who was in Algiers, the order to continue effectively and quickly the negotiations with General Castellano.

August 17th

General Castellano met with Mr. Roland Campbell, British Ambassador to Portugal, to inform him of his arrival.

19 August

In the late evening of August 19, at the British Embassy in Lisbon, an important meeting took place in which, as reported by General Castellano assisted by consul Montanari:

“I found the Allied officers waiting for me, Campbell made the introductions. I was faced with the American Major General Walter Bedell Smith, Chief of Staff of the Allied Forces in the Mediterranean, the British Brigadier General Kenneth W. Strong, Chief of Intelligence of those Forces and Mr. George F. Kennan, in charge of US affairs, replacing the American Ambassador, absent from Lisbon ”.

General Smith, after mutual clarifications on the purposes and principles of the meeting, which was to be considered preliminary and setting out the subsequent meetings with the High Authorities, handed over to General Castellano the text of the so-called"Short armistice", with attached the "Quebec Memorandum".


General Smith specified that with the second document the Allies undertook to review the armistice conditions in favor of Italy, according to the extent to which our country would collaborate with the Allies to free the national territory from German occupation.

General Castellano, at the end of the reading of theShort armisticewhich took place in the late night of the 19th, he paused to examine with General Smith in particular article 4

“Regarding number 4, I ask where our fleet and our planes will have to go. I am replied that the locations will be communicated later. From these reticence I infer that they will not be Italian ports, I suggest the opportunity to gather the fleet in Sardinia, also because, for a longer voyage, we would not have had fuel available (things were not exactly like this, but I tried to avoid with a little lie, the exodus of our ships from our ports) ".

General Smith replies that the Italian government, having every interest in "preserving its ships and planes", will have to provide for this deficiency. The coup was unsuccessful and could not succeed, but from this answer I have a first assurance on how much I care very much: our ships will be preserved for us, this is an unwritten but precise commitment which I hasten to make mentally Note.

Therethe phrase "details on their disarmament" contained in article 4 is however in contrast with the above assertion; this leads me to declare that, if our ships were to be disarmed, that is, if the Italian flag were to be lowered, the sailors of Italy would undoubtedly have sunk their ships.

General Smith remains somewhat troubled at this statement and replies by giving me assurance that our flag would continue to fly on our ships and that the treatment that would be given to our Navy would be entirely honorable. He adds with a smile that, since there was a kind of Freemasonry among the naval navies of the various nations, one could be sure that the British would use all due respect to ours.

The facts have given verbal assurances the value of a commitment that the United Nations has kept

While the initiative of General Castellano was essential and commendable, it should be noted that the argument relating to the Fleet was dealt with without consulting the Minister and Chief of Staff of the Navy, Admiral Raffaele de Courten, who perhaps could not be consulted at the moment.

Furthermore, General Smith made it clear that the Armistice would be officially communicated by the Allies in conjunction with a landing that would be carried out in central-southern Italy. Immediately afterwards, the relative Proclamation by the Italian Government was to follow.

In the minutes of the meeting, drawn up by the Allies, it was reported that General Castellano pointed out that it would be very useful to know when and where the Allied invasion would take place. General Smith replied that, as a soldier, General Castellano could understand the reasons that prevent the Allied Command from giving detailed information on the plans at that moment. An agreement would be reached to establish a direct means of communication with the Italian government and proposes that if Marshal Badoglio accepts the conditions of the armistice, General Eisenhower would announce the conclusion five or six hours before the main allied landing "in force". General Eisenhower's announcement should be followed immediately by a proclamation from Marshal Badoglio announcing the cessation of hostilities.

General Castellano points out that five hours' notice is not sufficient to allow the necessary preparations to be completed in anticipation of an Allied landing and to allow effective collaboration. He is of the opinion that much longer notice is needed, preferably two weeks.

General Smith says this could be agreed and promises to consult the Commander-in-Chief in order to reach the necessary agreements.

The Italian representatives are provided with a copy of the armistice conditions and an additional memorandum relating to the additional issues contained in the directives received from the Allied Chiefs of Staff.

The meeting was then dissolved to allow for a detailed discussion of military matters by the representatives of the two armies and to make arrangements to establish the means of communication.

In addition, a radio receiver-transmitting apparatus was delivered to General Castellano as well as the appropriate cipher, to allow a quick and direct connection between the Allied Command and the Italian one.

The session was closed at dawn on August 20.

bottom of page