887.24/226: Telegram

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

713. To Hopkins9 and Stettinius from Harriman.10 In accordance with the request in your 428 of February 5,11 to familiarize myself with British handling of Turkish supply, I find:

British here are surprised that United States is not being notified of Turkish requisitions disapproved by them and will see that this is done in the future. They are anxious for Turks to feel that their needs are known to the United States as well as by London.
The Turkish situation is considered extremely delicate and the proper handling of supply for them is considered of primary importance to British war strategy in the Middle East area.
Colonel Taylor12 has been present at Joint Munitions Board discussions of Turkish needs here in London. He is impressed with the careful and even generous consideration which they receive.
Detailed list of war material sent to Turkey by the British will be forwarded to you as quickly as possible.
If need arises, it is planned to supply items such as planes and tanks by sending fully equipped British units rather than the tanks and planes independently.
British are also supplying substantial amounts of food and other supplies to Turkey at the expense of shipping they need themselves. They report that there are already quantities of supplies for Turkey in the Middle East which cannot be sent on because of lack of facilities at the Turkish ports open to British shipping and because the Turks have so far made only four ships available for this purpose. The Turks have done little so far to assist in opening up supply lines into their country.
They feel it vital that all Turkish demands be analyzed and checked by them in the first instance to ensure that they are essential and that no duplication occurs. They have numerous technical and military men in Turkey from whom they get very complete appraisal of actual Turkish needs.
Turkish requirements must be considered in relation to the overall problem of supply and shipping for the Middle East area. The British have to feed and supply this area and are the best qualified to make a judgment as to priorities, for example, trucks and wheat.

I urge that all Turkish requests be considered in the light of the shipping shortage and priority demands in other quarters and that [Page 680] no requisitions be accepted which we are not prepared to undertake to ship.

From my experience it seems clear to me that the processing of Turkish requirements through British hands is on balance wiser than the system of direct requisitioning. The goodwill created at first by agreement now to use the latter procedure would, I believe, be offset by subsequent confusion, disagreement and delay.

I believe this matter to be of diplomatic, political and strategic importance and that change in the present procedure should not be made without consideration at the highest level in both Washington and London. Please advise. [Harriman.]

  1. Harry Hopkins, Special Assistant to President Roosevelt.
  2. W. Averell Harriman, personal representative of President Roosevelt in the United Kingdom, with rank of Minister, to expedite lend-lease aid to the British Empire.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Col. Victor V. Taylor, Assistant Military Attaché in the United Kingdom.