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Looting, rape and sadistic cruelty outrivalling anything reported from Nazi or Jap concentration and prison camps—these were some of the "refinements" practised by Marshal Tito's men in Trieste and district according to the story of a New Zealand driver embodied in a recent letter to a relative in Auckland. It made grim reading.

"We have pushed Tito and his rabble out (of Trieste), much to the relief of the people," he wrote under date July 1. "They had two days' holiday to celebrate the event, singing and shouting, pulling down Yugoslav flags and putting up their own. The administration under Tito was the same as that of the Gestapo. His rabble—l won't say men, because I. haven't seen a decent specimen with his looters yet— robbed the people, took their homes and belongings and what little food they had and set curfew at 6 p.m.

"If a girl was seen out with a New Zealand soldier, even if she was decent (which she was in most cases, because they were starving and could get food from us), Tito's men would cut off her hair and brand the hammer and sickle on her forehead. If his men wanted girls, they would just simply take them, so lots of girls came and lived in our camps for protection. I might add that not many Kiwis will abuse a trust." "An Upstart Dictator" The Allied Military Government could not operate with Tito in Trieste, the writer continued, but as soon as he left food was distributed to the people. It was a grim sight to see a city starving. The New Zealanders could get £2 5/ for lib of margarine, 5/ a lb for flour, and 15/ for a tin of bully beef. They were all semi-millionaires at present. "There may be fighting with Tito yet, for he claims more than he is entitled to, is only an upstart dictator, and even has the cheek to order the Allied Armies around—at least, he tried tq," the correspondent added. yE day was not celebrated by the Kiwis for several reasons. A few pockets of Germans still fought on, the New Zealanders had to standto owing to Tito's attitude, and everybody was utterly tired out. Tito ordered the Allies out by a given time, but "our bluff was stronger than his; we didn't move; he did." To be able to go to sleep on a bed or stretcher instead of a hole in the ground with the knowledge that they could sleep through the night, to relax, be clean and have a full stomach—that was all the Kiwis wanted. Nobody was in the mood to celebrate.

Attitude to Pacific War

An interesting comment on the feelings of a section of the Dominion troops about the Pacific war was contained in the letter. "I may be home by the end of October, if all goes well, but here we are all het up about those who have to go to the Islands," he writes.

"Tinpot countries at the last minute can declare war against Germany to have a say at the peace conference without sending a man or single item of equipment to the war, but New Zealand, in spite of her Air Force and Navy in the Pacific, must send men to secure a position at the conference. We think the people back home must be dumb to take that sitting down. We have fought for five years and lost more men in percentage than any Ally, but we still have to keep men a..r.y."

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Bibliographic details

"TITO'S RABBLE", Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 176, 27 July 1945

Word Count

"TITO'S RABBLE" Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 176, 27 July 1945

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