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Commander Charles P. Nelson, Commander, Submarine Chaser Detachment Two, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters





SECRET                                      October 19, 1918.

From:     Commander, Sub-Chaser Detachment Two.

To  :     Force Commander.

Subject:  Additional information relative to landing at Spillai.

Reference:     Report of Expedition of Submarine Chasers, 19 October, 1918.2

     1.   On return to Valona I was informed by Allied air men that in the Gulf of Drin, fifteen miles to the Northward of Durazzo, Austrian Forces were embarking at the same time that the Italian Forces were disembarking at Spillai.3

     2.   No attempt was made either on the part of the Italians or the Austrians to oppose the disembarking of the one or the embarking of the other.

     3.   Austrian surface craft might easily have raided our convoy and sunk the escort, as there was no vessel more formidable in the escort than our chasers.

     4.   The Italian cavalry, unopposed, did not enter Durazzo until the stores had been landed at Spillai, and it should be noted that no vessel was allowed to enter Durazzo harbor or proceed far enough North to have sighted the Austrians embarking in the Gulf of Drin.

     5.   No copies of this communication are being furnished to anyone.

/s/ C.P. NELSON.        

|aut:Charles P. Nelson

Source Note: DTS, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 415.

Footnote 1: Corfu, Greece.

Footnote 2: This report has not been found.

Footnote 3: Also known as Spille, this city is located on the coast of Albania. At this time, the Austrians were in the process of evacuating Albania. It appears that the disembarkation from Spillai was part of the larger retreat. Nelson’s intelligence doubtless added to longstanding Allied frustrations with what they perceived as Italy’s lack of aggressiveness in prosecuting the war, even with the enemy on the brink of collapse. Halpern, Naval War in the Mediterranean, 565-566.

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