The British Embassy to the Department of State

Mr. Ashley Clarke of the Foreign Office sent a letter to Dr. Hornbeck on July 7th33 in which, among other things, he referred to the question of air communications between India and China. In this letter Mr. Clarke said that the Foreign Office were still awaiting further details about the rate at which the transport aircraft carrying supplies between India and China were actually operating.

Mr. Clarke has now written to the Embassy saying that some further information on the subject has been received from India which would seem to indicate that the quantities of supplies to be carried will be slightly higher than those previously indicated by General Brereton. Mr. Clarke has suggested that the State Department might be interested to have this additional information. It is to the following effect.

The total number of aircraft operating at present is twenty-one, including twelve of the United States of America Ferry Command. Flights have been irregular owing to monsoon conditions. By the end of the year it is estimated that possibly seventy-five aircraft of the Ferry Command will be operating plus twenty-five to be operated by C. N. A. C. with a frequency of one trip per aircraft per day.

The freight for China consists of war stores ordered according to priorities laid down by General Stilwell. Exact tonnage figures are not available, but air headquarters in India estimate that the present twenty-one aircraft when fully employed could carry 130 tons per week during the monsoon, while after the monsoon twelve tons per aircraft per week would be a reasonable target. The freight which is at present being carried from China to India consists of tin and tungsten.

The main factors at present limiting the development of the service are the monsoon conditions and signal facilities, which are, however, now being improved. As regards aerodromes, it is hoped that if expected progress is made in construction the aerodrome capacity should be sufficient for the estimated number of aircraft.

In his letter to the Embassy Mr. Clarke pointed out that it may well be that more up-to-date or more exact figures and estimates are in the possession of the United States authorities. Should that be the case the Foreign Office would be very interested to be informed of these figures. The Foreign Office would also, Mr. Clarke emphasises, be very glad to know if there are any ways in which the State Department think that they could assist in this question of improving the means of air communication between India and China.

  1. Stanley K. Hornbeck, Adviser on Political Relations; letter not found in Department files.