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Col. Bowman Going Home After Long Tour

'People Of VG Have Much To Thank Him For' - Gen. Harding

Colonel Alfred C. Bowman, Senior Civil Affairs Officer of the British-American Occupation Zone of Venezia-Giulia, is shortly to leave for the States, it was announced today by the Public Relations Office of the CMF [Central Mediterranean Forces]. As was stated in the announcement, Colonel Bowman is a Reserve Officer and in accordance with U.S. Army Regulations, his tour of active duty will shortly be concluded. He will be succeeded by Col. James J. Carnes, U.S.A., who it is expected, will be in charge of the administration of AMG until the Governor of the Free Territory of Trieste assumes office. The U.N. Security Council has not yet appointed a Governor.

Lieutenant General Sir John Harding, Commander in Chief of Central Mediterranean Forces, to whom Colonel Bowman has been directly responsible, was quoted in the statement as wishing to take the "opportunity to place on record" his "deep appreciation of the excellent way in which Colonel Bowman has carried out his task ... The people of Venezia-Giulia have much to thank him for." The statement went on to say that "the good wishes of all his friends and comrades in the Allied Forces will go with him on his return to civil life." On Wednesday, 11 June, the day following the announcement, local newspapers in Trieste carried the news and echoed the sentiments of good wishes expressed in the formal statement.

Colonel Bowman came to Venezia-Giulia early in July, 1945, to take up his present duties, in accordance with the policies of Great Britain and the United States, which were not to maintain order purely by military force, but by stimulation of the normal functions and activities of the civilian community. The latter was the "hard way", but as Colonel Bowman told us at the time the "Blue Devil" published a special supplement devoted to AMG in July, 1946, "The way which our nations believe will, in the long run, produce the most permanently desirable results.." He was referring, of course, to Great Britain and the United States. His job has been unique in several respects. He has been administrative chief of the only "stakeholder" military government in the world - and probably the only one in history - carrying on the functions of government without any idea as to who the future sovereign might be (until the peace treaty was finally written) and without the program afforded by the example of a parallel indigenous government which has solved so many problems in other places. Another unique thing about Colonel Bowman's job has been that he was top man in the only integrated military government - the only one in which officers and enlisted personnel and civilians of Allied nations work side by side doing the same job in friendly cooperation - in contradistinction to the "sector" plan in use elsewhere.

Reserve Officer

A reserve officer in the Judge Advocate General's Department at the time he came on active duty on 8 January, 1942, the then Major Bowman was initially assigned to the Western Defense Command and then went to the U.S. School of Military Government at Charlottesville, Va. Except for a brief leave to the States almost two years ago, Colonel Bowman has been overseas constantly since he departed from the U.S. on 21 September, 1943, to take up his assigned mission with Allied Military Government in Italy, coming here via North Africa. Shortly after his arrival he was appointed Chief of the Liaison Division of the Allied Commission, which acted as organizer and supervisor of all military government operations in Italy and as the mouthpiece of the United Nations to the Italian Government. His next job was Regional Commissioner of the Emilia Region, which comprises most of the Po Valley and holds ten percent of Italy's population. For "exceptionally meritorious conduct" in the performances of his services with the Liaison Division and in Emilia, Colonel Bowman was awarded the U.S. Legion of Merit for his work, which, incidentally, was performed in the grade of Lieutenant Colonel.

British Decoration

One of the few Americans to win the much-treasured decoration of the Order of the British Empire, Colonel Bowman was awarded this honor by the Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean, and in the citation for the award, it was said, "He has done much to create that spirit of unity and common purpose which is so essential for the work of the Commission."

The news of Colonel Bowman's imminent departure brought to the Editors of "The Blue Devil" a fuller realization that so many of the "old-timers" who were, in a sense, Venezia-Giulia Occupation originals, have already left this scene for the States, and that mighty few remain who were here before the 88th Infantry Division took on its occupational mission in October, 1945. For that matter, very few of those who came here with the 88th are still left. In Colonel Bowman's case, we of "The Blue Devil" like to remember what he told us was his idea of the mission of the Allied Military Governments, and to recall how, month after hard month, he had carried out that mission in a superior manner. His words were, "to feed, clothe and house the people, to maintain public order and to prevent disease and unrest, until the final disposition of the territory." We add our voice to those many others who wish him all good fortune for the future.

Local Papers Editorialize On Bowman's Going

Disagree With Policies; Praise Devotion To Duty

The news of Colonel Bowman's imminent departure for the States was front page news for the local press. In addition, all of the local papers carried editorials on the subject.

Political Convictions

All Trieste newspapers have strong political convictions, and these were not lacking in the editorial comments on the departure of the AMG chief. Since the Peace Conference solution of the Trieste problem pleased neither Italy nor Yugoslavia, it followed that their adherents regularly took affront at Colonel Bowman personally as he carried out his duty of implementing the policies laid down for him. Their editorials about his departure were quite temperate, however, and generally paid tribute to "Bowman, the man and the soldier". All wished him happiness.

To the Communist press, led by "Il Lavoratore", Colonel Bowman has been, of course, anathema, since he is not pro-Communist. In its editorial, "Farewell to Bowman", it attacks the system he represents, but also says, "Rightly, Gen. Harding says of him that nothing prevented him from doing his duty ... he did his duty as a soldier." They also state that they wish "that in California in his civil life all may go for the best."

Pro-Italian Press

"Giornale di Trieste", a middle-of-the-road pro-Italian newspaper which, like others in the same category, failed to understand his American-like treatment of the rights of racial and political minorities here, treated the Colonel as two personalities: "Bowman as man and Bowman as Chief of the AMG". For the latter they had bitter words for the administrator of Allied Civil Affairs policy. For the former, they had very fine words, including as fine a tribute as any American could ever hope to have when they stated he "served his flag against all and beyond everything."

All the papers failed to realize, in their editorials, the tremendous job AMG has done, under Colonel Bowman's leadership, of helping to bring Trieste far forward on the road to economic recovery; the constructive things that have been accomplished under his administration; the efficient police force built from the ground up in a year and a half, which "Newsweek" recently stated is "said to be the best in Central Europe."

'Il Lavoratore' Editorial

After having acted here as the Military Governor, Colonel Bowman returns to his California to practice law. Rightly, General Harding says of him that nothing prevented him from doing his duty; and we know well what this duty was. He did his duty as a soldier and as an official of a Government which has its own line of action.

Therefore, not by prejudice, dear General, this opposition of the people's force has been determined, but in feeling themselves deprived of the political and social rights acquired in the struggle for liberation seeing themselves abandoned in all that concerns their economic conditions, left at the mercy of exploiters, of speculators, of saboteurs. Anything without criticism and in bad faith! The people can find nothing to thank him for. The most that it can do, in the generosity which is its very own, will be to attribute what it has had to suffer in these past 23 months not so much to the man as to the system, while thinking that a just man cannot possibly serve an unjust system. This is what we have to say to his successor, Colonel Carnes.

To Colonel Bowman, whom we have seen not only laughing and joking but also angry and haughty, we offer the wish that in California, in his civil life, all may happen for the best. And that, in contacts with his people, the experience he has acquired will serve to help him understand needs, aspirations and rights, so utterly different from the interests and purposes of economic trusts. Then, perhaps, he will remember us and acknowledge how many times we have been right in telling him forthrightly what we thought of his actions!

'Giornale di Trieste' Editorial

"It is a pity that a man of such intelligence and charm should have been wasted on such an ungrateful task"; these were the word we heard someone saying about Col. Bowman at a press conference one day. Perhaps this is the best and sincerest praise we Italians can give him, To be frank, one must distinguish in him two personalities combined in the same man, almost as in one of Pirandello's figures: Bowman as man and Bowman as Chief of the AMG. Perhaps both of them have often been in conflict in their innermost feelings, particularly so during these last months when he, as an official had to realize beyond any political prejudice and fine distinction, that this town which was entrusted to his unique neutralizing mission was but one large and generous, living and pulsating Italian community. At such hours, perhaps, Bowman as a man thinking of what he was obliged to do (for we are ready to believe that the Colonel as a brave soldier only carried out strict orders) felt in his soul the mortification of a person who is induced to act against nature, against sound reason, and against history.

Always Smiling

And since the town knew little of Bowman as man, but had him in mind merely as an official - always smiling, but unflinching in his line of conduct, so openly in contrast with reality - it is unfortunate that this town should have had a bitter taste while pronouncing his name and at times considered him almost an enemy, whom the freakish play of international political events had given the painful task to violate the soul of a noble and highly civilized town and to knead it as a formless mass for the caprices of diplomacy. But we must say too - and let us be sincere in such sentiments - that at times we believed we could perceive in him the uneasy feelings of the generous man and of the brave soldier whom the speculations of an inexorable political Machiavellian mercilessly sacrificed for their cruel exigencies. We journalists, more than anyone else, who were often with Colonel Bowman and saw his frank smile and knew his strong intellect and his typically American soul, always full of pure and joyful simplicity; we can testify that Bowman as a man was better than Bowman as official, and he deserved profound esteem and sympathy. But he was somewhat mangled on account of governmental reasons, and perhaps on his return to California, he will take with him, together with remembrance of exciting days he has lived among us, also the regret for all that which he could not be.

Serves His Flag

We extend to Col. Bowman our greeting, together with the feelings of loyalty and respect due to anyone who serves his flag against all and beyond everything, and as he is leaving we do not wish to draw any conclusions as to the appointment of another American officer to his post. We greet Col. Carnes with such feelings as he will be able to see from these lines, if he will wish to do so, and we wish him every success in his work.

The Blue Devil. Vol. 2, No. 51. 13 June 1947. pp. 1,2.
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