British Element Trieste Force 1945 - 1954
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A member of the Southampton local group put me in touch with Lorenzo Ielen in Trieste. As some of you are aware he had just published his doctorate thesis on the occupation of UK/USA forces, in the area, from 1945 to 1954. In a document he used in his thesis (GHQ – CMF historical reports) found at the National Archives in Kew, it lists the closing of departments and troop demobilisation following the signing of the Peace Treaty in September 1947. 1000 troops left Trieste to Venice to board SS Taos Victory on 7th December 1947. It sailed for Southampton on 8th December and arrived on 16th December. All troops were sent to 72 transit camp then on to 61 transit camp on 19th of December and sent on leave for Christmas and the New Year.
I contacted the local BBC radio and tv, local newspaper and Southampton City Council to try to get some coverage in my enthusiasm to help promote BETFOR. Southampton and Trieste were twinned in 2002 but there is no active twinning Association and no plans for one due to budgets. At least the Mayor’s office replied with that information. Unfortunately, having raised my own and others in the association’s hopes of an influx of new members the day has arrived and there has been no other contact.
If you were one of those on the troop ship, happy anniversary of your safe return to the U.K.
I will continue to think of more ways to raise our profile. I have not given up completely just until after Christmas.
I wish all of you a happy Christmas and healthy new year and thank you for the help members of the association have given me during the year. Thanks also to those in Italy I met at the Gorizia celebrations in September along with some veterans and families from TRUST. It certainly was a weekend held fondly in my memory.
Thanks for that piece of information, Paula. I was in Trieste from October 46 to February 1947 when I transferred to the Royal Signals from the 1st Bn the Royal Welch Regiment in the end of January 1947 in Trieste) and this Royal Signals Squadron moved from the city to Conegliano in that February. The unit then moved from Conegliano in March 1947 over to what was then Palestine. I stayed with them and went back to the UK from Palestine in March 1948. Did a short course of instruction, learning to become a touch typist and clerk, in Pocklington, and eventually returned to Trieste in September 1948, where I remained until September 1953. The happiest five years of my life!
However,both you and I have omitted to mention that the Allied Military Government maintained a position of government over a large part of North East Italy, especially in Friuli Venezia Giulia until September 1947, when they returned most of the territory in their command to Italy, keeping only the area around Trieste which eventually became the Free Territory of Trieste in September 1948 to guard against any possible incursion by the then Yugoslav Army under Mr Tito, forming two zones in and around the area called Zone A (controlled by the AMG with 5000 American troops - TRUST - and 5000 British troops - BETFOR - plus a special police force called the Venezia Giulia Police force and zone B controlled by the Yugoslavs.
I also have a copy of the thesis written by Lorenzo. A real work of art and all in beautiful Italian.