Field Message Reporting the Armistice with Austria. 3 November 1918


This message, dated 3 Nov 1918, is possibly the first news for British forward troops of the Austrian armistice request, which was actually not signed until 3 pm on 3 Nov 1918 in Padua. Despite Austrian expectations, it still did not come into force for another 24 hours. It is a 20th Infantry Brigade,7th Division message placing the brigade west of the Tagliamento River, preparing to cross opposite San Odorico. How it got into the hands of Bdr Bert Spires is unknown. At this time his unit was near Pordenone, about 25km behind this action. The attachments A & B referred to in the message were not in Bert's collection. It reads:-

CONFIDENTIAL

Headquarters, 7th Division

About 11-20 a.m. this morning, the liaison officer attached to the Northamptonshire Yeomanry reported that the G.O.C. 4th Cavalry Division (Italian) had requested the mounted troops of our advanced guard to halt as the Austrian Division opposite him had stated an armistice had been signed at 6 a.m. and that he had called on the Austrians to surrender or he would open fire.

I forwarded the message marked "A" attached to Divisional HQs and proceeded to the HQs of the Cavalry Division and saw the Major General. He did not speak English but I understood he was awaiting the arrival of the Austrian Divisional Commander.

He showed me his position on the map and said he had 2 Cavalry Brigades across the River at S. ODORICO. This was where I intended to cross. I told him that I was unaware that he was crossing in front of me but that as he was in the middle of my objective I would not start crossing.

The fact of his awaiting the arrival of the Austrian Maj. Gen. also complicated the situation. I understood he would like to see the 7th Divisional Commander. I sent the telegram marked "B". When I next went to the HQ of the Italian Cavalry Division the Maj Genl had crossed the river to see the Austrian.

3rd Nov 1918

HCR Green, Brig Genl
Cmd 20 inf Bde