861.24/1221: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Second Secretary of Embassy in the Soviet Union (Thompson), at Moscow

20. “For Faymonville from Stettinius.

Concerning your cables 54837 and 559,38 General Connolly39 has sent us full report. Great difficulty has been encountered in unloading and forwarding cargo, he states. Ships have been idle and awaiting berth for as long as 2 months in some cases. The ability to remove cargo from docks and forward by railroad or truck is now the limiting factor. Most difficult are the heavier steels. At present we have large quantities on hand and forwarding cannot be accomplished. In order to accomplish the three objectives below, General Connolly was instructed to divert low-priority cargoes for temporary storage elsewhere:
Avoidance of congestion so that maximum amount of cargo may be forwarded to Russia.
In order that their higher priority cargo might be forwarded with maximum despatch, allow prompt berthing of arriving ships.
Very badly needed idle ships should be released for the Soviet and other essential programs, particularly in North Africa and Southwestern Pacific. Nearest and most suitable unloading and storage facilities were at Karachi.
Both in Tehran and Basra, General Connolly consulted with local Soviet officials, but they evidently did not understand the urgency of releasing shipping and were unable to assist in selecting cargo of low priority. As a result, General Connolly selected heavy steel of types already accumulated in dumps and on ships in excess of available clearance capacity. Carrying a total of 19,303 tons of miscellaneous steel and pipe, nine ships have been diverted to Karachi, approximate breakdown of which follows: 3,753 tons sheet steel, 3,277 tons steel plate, 3,888 strip steel, 77 tons steel bars, 77 tons steel surgical, 77 tons steel rail, 988 tons pipe, 319 tons steel joints and 7,042 miscellaneous steel. Approximately 1,000 tons of miscellaneous steel was stored at Abadan in addition. May find it necessary to divert to Karachi some 11,000 tons additional Soviet low-priority cargoes.
Our assurance has been given to Belyaev40 that the cargo diverted to Karachi is for temporary storage only and will not be available for use by any other country. Whenever it is given higher priority for forwarding than cargoes coming from America or in Persian Gulf dumps, it will be returned to Persian Gulf at Russian request. In case Persian Gulf ports are still congested at that time, this may necessitate reduction in cargoes from America by amount forwarded from Karachi. General Connolly will call forward Karachi material in priority designated by Soviet representatives if unused forwarding capacity in Persia should develop.
Within a few months, if the anticipated improvement in Persian Gulf facilities should take place, difficulties of this kind should be overcome.41 In Persia, American troops are arriving for operation of railroad and ports, locomotives and other equipment are arriving and more troops are on way.
In his difficult and delicate task, we urge that Soviet representatives in Persia cooperate fully with General Connolly. To further the flow of supplies it is his and our wish to do everything humanly possible.”
  1. Dated December 20, 1942, 3 p.m., Foreign Relations, 1942, vol. iii, p. 755; it reported that Assistant People’s Commissar of Foreign Trade Alexey Dmitriyevich Krutikov had protested vigorously about conditions in Iranian ports where Lend-Lease supplies were transshipped.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Maj. Gen. Donald H. Connolly, Commanding General of the Persian Gulf Service Command.
  4. Maj. Gen. Alexander Ivanovich Belyayev, Chairman of the Soviet Purchasing Commission in the United States, which had been established on February 27, 1942.
  5. The details of these problems of port facilities, storage, and transshipment and the solutions provided therefor, are discussed at some length in T. H. Vail Motter, The Persian Corridor and Aid to Russia, in the series United States Army in World War II: The Middle East Theater (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1952), pp. 208–210, 380 ff., and 403–416. The arrangements between the United States and the Governments of the United Kingdom, Iran, and the Soviet Union for American supply operations through Iran derived from implementing the provisions of the Anglo-Soviet-Iranian Treaty of Alliance of 1942 (printed in Department of State Bulletin, March 21, 1942, p. 249). See Foreign Relations, 1942, vol. iv, pp. 311 ff., and ibid., vol. iii, pp. 728729; also, see Motter, The Persian Corridor and Aid to Russia, pp. 175–192. Arrangements reached in 1943 are discussed in Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. iv, pp. 437 ff.