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As the Department of State played only a secondary role in the arrangements described above, which were the responsibility of other agencies and primarily operational rather than diplomatic, the Department's correspondence on the subject is not included in Foreign Relations.]


The Secretary of War (Stimson) to the Secretary of State

WASHINGTON, November 24, 1941. DEAR MR. SECRETARY: Appropriate action is requested in securing the cooperation of the British as well as the Russian Government in carrying out the delivery of American aeronautical aid to the Russian Government, which has already been agreed upon in our mutual assistance plan. A study of the possible methods by which airplanes and allied equipment may be speedily shipped to the Russian Government by the American Government has resulted in the decision that the most practical and immediate route is by means of surface vessel delivery to Basra, Iraq, with ferry flight to Russia.

In order to accomplish this, it is necessary that the British and Iraqi Governments make the necessary arrangements to permit the establishment of an assembly point under American military control and command at Shaiba, which is in the southwest suburbs of Basra and at which point there exists a suitable airdrome now used by the British for the assembly of aircraft. This is to be a purely American operation; and so it will be necessary that the British agree to our having airdrome and hangar space, as well as dockage space, and authority for the establishment of all the necessary housing and other facilities to assemble at least two hundred Fighter and Bomber airplanes per month at this point. An estimated maximum of twelve ships per month of approximately the 10,000 ton size would be the peak shipping requirement to be unloaded at the port of Basra. Dockage is preferred in the city rather than further down toward the mouth of the river, due to its relative proximity to the erection airdrome at Shaiba; and it will probably permit the shipment of deck-loaded airplanes, which upon unloading would be rolled directly to the assembly point. At the same time, it is desired to secure authorization to accomplish exactly the same thing at Karachi, India, as an immediate support point in case Iran becomes untenable.

Our preference is to make delivery to the Russians at a point as near the unloading and assembly area (Basra) as may be suitably arranged. This indicates consideration of Basra and Tehran in preference to any point within Russia. American personnel will be provided by us, at point of delivery to the Russians, to meet all technical

requirements. It will be necessary for the Soviet Government to provide sufficient 100-octane fuel and oil for their operations at the delivery point, as well as hangar space and the working facilities required. It is desired that agreement of the British and Russian Governments be secured to the effect that planes be assembled at Basra and be accepted at an adequately defended point in Iran, acceptable to the American Government. The point to be agreed upon should afford a satisfactory landing field, ample fueling facilities, and living and working accommodations for the personnel involved.

We propose to send approximately one hundred thirty-five Officers, fifty enlisted men, and eight hundred technicians or enlisted men. We will require storage and handling facilities for the total project of at least 665,000 gallons of 100-octane fuel and 15,000 gallons of oil. It will also be necessary for the British Government to provide protection for this facility and any necessary staging points against enemy action. In addition, it is desired that they provide the required staging airdrome points to the place of delivery and improve the existing airdrome facilities so as to have at least 5,000-foot allweather runways at Shaiba (Basra) and at Tehran. The Soviet Government will have to provide sufficient 100-octane fuel and oil for their operations at the delivery point, as well as hangar space and the working facilities required.

In view of the urgency of this project your immediate cooperation is requested with the Air Corps to whom this project has been assigned for accomplishment.

Sincerely yours,


861.248/161a: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom


WASHINGTON, November 25, 1941-9 p. m. 5426. The following is a paraphrase of a letter dated November 24 from the Secretary of War. Begin paraphrase:

[Here follows paraphrase of letter printed supra.]

Please advise the British Government immediately of the foregoing, emphasize the urgency of the project and the necessity of proceeding with the preliminary steps at the earliest possible moment. You should urge the British to indicate their agreement in principle to this project without delay, and to approach the Governments of Iran, Iraq and India, and to undertake, with the approval and assistance of those Governments, to furnish the requisite facilities. I may add that this Government considers it essential for practical reasons of

efficiency that this project be undertaken as a purely American operation.

Please telegraph the British decision at the earliest possible moment in order that the necessary preparations may go forward here.


861.248/162: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant) to the Secretary

of State

LONDON, November 29, 1941-4 p. m. [Received November 29-10:20 a. m.]

5752. Department's 5426, November 25, 8 [9] p. m. Matter being promptly dealt with. Agreed in principle. A committee is being set up here to study location suggested as well as other sites. We will be asked to appoint some one to sit in and discuss relative merits and other matters of concern. Wiring again on Monday when I will receive a more detailed written communication.


861.248/162: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom


WASHINGTON, December 9, 1941-9 p. m. 5791. Your 5752, November 29, 4 p. m. More detailed communication urgently awaited.


861.248/169 : Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant) to the Secretary

of State

LONDON, December 11, 1941-11 p. m. [Received 11:28 p. m.]

6011. Department's 5426, November 25, 8 [9] p. m., Department's 5791, December 9, 9 p. m., Department's [Embassy's] 5752, November 29, 4 p. m. After calling many times at the Foreign Office the following message reached me this afternoon. Upon receiving it I immediately asked for a verbal explanation why there was no reference to the Iraqi Government. I have been promised an explanation tomorrow morning.

Begin Foreign Office message: "On the 26th November Your Excellency communicated to the Secretary of State a message from the United States Government containing certain proposals for effecting

the delivery of United States aircraft to the Soviet Union. You will remember that Mr. Eden 63 informed you that these proposals were acceptable in principle to His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom but that a number of questions of detail including the exact location of the proposed assembly point would require examination by the departments concerned.

This examination has revealed that there are certain objections to the choice of Basra or Karachi as the site for the assembly point. At Basra the port facilities are limited and are expected to be increasingly strained by the growing amounts of military and civil supplies which it will be essential to import for our forces and for the civil population in Iraq. At Karachi the necessary port facilities exist but all Royal Air Force [apparent omission] is required for the needs of the Royal Air Force in India and such further capacity as can be provided will be needed to meet Far Eastern commitments.

Two alternative sites which have been suggested are Khosrowabad, which is some 15 miles below Abadan, and Umm Qasr which is located on the west side of the Persian Gulf below the entrance to the river. From information at present available it would appear that Khosrowabad, which is reported to have some facilities in the way of a deeper anchorage than Basra, light and water, may be particularly suitable.

I understand that these two sites are now being examined by representatives of the Royal Air Force and of General Wheeler's mission and that a report may be expected shortly.

[Apparent omission] the site chosen for the assembly point to be operated under United States military command and control it is to be expected that some time will elapse before it is ready to receive aircraft.

His Majesty's Government suggest that in the meantime your Government should deliver the United States bombers for the Soviet Union to Basra where the load on the port is not expected to reach its peak for some little time and where the Royal Air Force can for the time being provide the necessary erection and airdrome facilities.

I understand that the United States fighter aircraft for the Soviet Union are, at the request of the Soviet Government, at present being delivered to Archangel. Should it be decided that they should be diverted to the Persian Gulf, I am glad to be able to inform you that these aircraft also could be received at Basra for the time being.

I am sorry that the need for careful investigation of the complicated question of port facilities has delayed this reply until now." End of Foreign Office message.

Since your original message Harriman 4 from the Air Ministry and the Ministry of War Transport has in his messages 5914, December 6th, 5 [3] p. m., and 5962, December 9th, 11 p. m.,65 reported to Hopkins 66 and Stettinius.67


Anthony Eden, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.


"W. Averell Harriman, Special Representative of President Roosevelt in the United Kingdom, with rank of Minister, to expedite lend-lease aid to the British Empire.


Neither printed.

"Harry L. Hopkins, Special Assistant to President Roosevelt.

"Edward R. Stettinius, Jr., Lend-Lease Administrator.

861.248/172: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant) to the

Secretary of State

LONDON, December 12, 1941-11 p. m. [Received December 12-8:23 p. m.]

6027. Supplementing my 6011, December 11, 11 p. m., Foreign Office has just forwarded to me the following message:

"It was suggested in your original message that His Majesty's Government might approach immediately the Governments of Iraq, Iran and India for their approval and assistance in furnishing facili ties which might be required for the project. As stated in Law's letter of the 11th December 68 our authorities consider that of the various alternatives Karachi would not be a suitable site for the assembly base in view of the heavy call upon the facilities there to meet the needs of the Royal Air Force in India and in the Far East. The choice of a site therefore seems to lie between places in Iraq and in Iran in which case there will be no need to bring the Government of India into the matter.


As regards Iraq we are satisfied that the interim arrangements suggested in Law's letter for the unloading and assembly by the Royal Air Force of United States aircraft at Basra would be covered by the terms of the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty of Alliance, article IV of which provides that in the event of war Iraq shall furnish to the United Kingdom all facilities and assistance in its power including the use of railways, rivers, ports, aerodromes and means of communication. As a matter of courtesy it may, however, be expedient to inform the Iraqi Government of what is proposed and we will gladly send the necessary instructions to our Ambassador at Baghdad as soon as we learn that these interim arrangements are satisfactory to the United States Government.

We consider that the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty would similarly cover the long term project for an assembly base, purely American in character if the site eventually selected were in Iraqi territory as would be the case if it were located at Umqasr. The position would be that His Majesty's Government were in effect subletting to the United States Government part of a site made available to them by the Iraqi Government under the treaty and we should not consider it necessary to do more than notify the Iraqi Government of this development when the time came to establish the base. This again we gladly undertake to do.

Your Excellency will remember that the alternative suggested in Mr. Law's letter of December 11th was that the permanent base should be established at Khosrowabad in Iran. If, as we believe will shortly be the case, the Anglo-Iranian Treaty of Alliance goes through the position would be exactly parallel to that described above in the case of Iraq. In that case we would, of course, send our Minister at Tehran

68 Apparently a reference to the message quoted in telegram supra.


Signed at Baghdad, June 30, 1930, League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. CXXXII, p. 363.

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