HC Deb 05 November 1918 vol 110 cc1958-62

I now come to the naval conditions.

"I. Immediate cessation of all hostilities at sea, and definite information to be given as to the location and movements of all Austro-Hungarian ships.

"Notification to be made to neutrals that freedom of navigation in all territorial waters is given to the Naval and Mercantile Marines of the Allied and Associated Powers, all questions of neutrality being waived.

"II. Surrender to the Allies and the United States of America of fifteen Austro-Hungarian submarines, completed between the years 1910 and 1918, and of all German submarines which are in or may hereafter enter Austro-Hungarian territorial waters. All other Austro-Hungarian submarines to be paid off, and completely disarmed, and to remain under the supervision of the Allies and United States of America.

"III. Surrender to the Allies and United States of America, with their complete armament and equipment, of

3 Battleships,
3 Light Cruisers,
9 Destroyers,
12 Torpedo Boats,
1 Minelayer,
6 Danube Monitors,
to be designated by the Allies and the United States of America. All other surface warships (including river craft) are to be concentrated in Austro-Hungarian naval bases to be designated by the Allies and the United States of America, and are to be paid off and completely disarmed, and placed under the supervision of the Allies and the United States of America."

As a matter of fact the whole of the Austrian Fleet is, I believe, under the Yugo-Slav flag.

"IV. Freedom of navigation to all warships and merchant ships of the Allied and Associated Powers to be given in the Adriatic and up the River Danube and its tributaries in the territorial waters and territory of Austria-Hungary."

That is a very important provision.

"The Allies and Associated Powers shall have the right to sweep up all minefields and obstructions, and the positions of these are to be indicated.

"In order to ensure the freedom of navigation on the Danube, the Allies and the United States of America shall be empowered to occupy, or to dismantle, all fortifications or defence works.

"V. The existing blockade conditions set up by the Allied and Associated Powers are to remain unchanged, and all Austro-Hungarian merchant ships found at sea are to remain liable to capture, save exceptions which may be made by a Commission nominated by the Allies and United States of America.

"VI. All naval aircraft are to be concentrated, and immobilised in Austro-Hungarian bases to be designated by the Allies and United States of America.

"VII. Evacuation of all the Italian coasts and of all ports occupied by Austria-Hungary outside their national territory, and the abandonment of all floating craft, naval materials, equipment, and materials for inland navigation of all kinds.

"VIII. Occupation by the Allies and the United States of America of the land and sea fortifications and the islands which form the defences and of the dockyards and arsenal at Pola.

"IX. All merchant vessels held by Austria-Hungary belonging to the Allies and Associated Powers to be returned.

"X. No destruction of ships or of materials to be permitted before evacuation, surrender, or restoration.

"XI. All naval and mercantile marine prisoners of war of the Allied and Associated Powers in Austro-Hungarian hands to be returned without reciprocity."

We gave the Austro-Hungarian Government until twelve midnight on Sunday to accept these terms. On Sunday afternoon, we received the news that all these conditions had been accepted, and that General Diaz had signed an Armistice, which was to come into operation on Monday at 3 p.m.

The most important point about these terms is that they give to the Allies the free use of Austro-Hungarian territory and communications, for the purpose of operations of war. When we consider that the events of the past few weeks have liberated all the Allied forces which have hitherto been operating against Turkey, against Bulgaria, and against Austria-Hungary, to be used for the great converging final attack upon Germany, the full significance of the terms which I have just read will be apparent to all.

I am glad to be able to announce that, by the unanimous decision of the Governments concerned, Marshal Foch has been placed in supreme strategic direction of all forces operating against Germany on all fronts in this the last and decisive phase of the War.

There are two other remarks which I should like to make on this subject. In the first place, I think we ought all to recognise the great debt of gratitude we owe to the Italian Army and to General Diaz for the great victory they have won. This victory means the final removal of the danger which has threatened Italian liberty and Italian security for many centuries. I would, therefore, ask the House to join the Government in expressing their heartfelt admiration and gratitude to the Italian Army and people for the great and invaluable triumph which they have just gained.

4.0 P.M.

I should also like to pay a tribute to the very real part which has been taken in achieving this victory by the British troops, under the command of Lord Cavan. They have played a röle in this battle fully worthy of the unforgettable achievements of their compatriots on the Western Front. The other thing I would like to do is to offer our congratulations to the Czechoslovak and Jugo-Slav peoples, who have thrown off the yoke of their oppressors, and joined themselves openly with the Allies. These little nations, which have stood out so long and with such heroism against Germanic domination, may rest assured that the Allies intend to come to their aid as fast as they possibly can.

After thus disposing of the questions of the terms of the Armistice with Turkey and with Austro-Hungary, the Supreme War Council proceeded to consider the answer which they should make to the dispatch of the President of the United States, covering his correspondence from the German Government which has been made public, and the reply they should give to the German request for an Armistice

I am unable to give the House any information on this subject further than to say that, after the fullest deliberation with their naval and military advisers, complete agreement was reached among the Allies. Their conclusions have been transmitted to the President of the United States, with the request that he should inform the German Government that, if they wish to know the conditions of Armistice upon which the Allies are agreed, they should make the application to Marshal Foch in the usual military form. If an application be made, a British Naval representative will be Associated with Marshal Foch. Whatever the reply, the associated Powers await the issue with perfect confidence.


I should like, if I may, by the indulgence of the House, to say with how much satisfaction we have listened to the statement of the Prime Minister. The terms of the Armistice with Austria which he has announced will, I think, give a universal sense of security, and none more than the fact that Austro-Hungarian territory is now open for the operations of the Allied forces. There is one other thing—though this is not the occasion on which to make an extended review of the situation—I should like to be permitted to do, and that is to associate the whole House with what the Prime Minister said as to our heartfelt congratulations to the Italian Army and the Italian people on the brilliant and decisive results which they have achieved, after three and a half years of most strenuous fighting. They have not only driven the enemy from their own territory, but have planted their flag on soil where the people have long been waiting reunion—political reunion—with their own kindred. They have, at the same time, joined hands with the gallant Jugo-Slavs in their great work of emancipation. I am sure that this House and the whole country will wish to offer its respectful felicitations to His Majesty the King of Italy—the Commander-in-Chief of the Italian Army, an old and tried friend of this country, and a worthy descendant of the great King-Liberator of Italy.