Memorandum by Brigadier General Sidney P. Spalding to Mr. Kermit Roosevelt, Jr., of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of State ( Acheson )

Reference is made to your inquiry as to whether the Russians had been informed that the United States would take over the operation of the Iranian Railway south of Teheran, and whether they had agreed to the United States taking over the railway. The following points have a bearing on the questions raised:9

On August 22, 1942, the British Prime Minister sent a message to the President accepting the President’s suggestion that the United States Army undertake the development, operation, and maintenance of the railroads leading from the Persian Gulf ports to Teheran. The terms under which the U. S. Army was to undertake this responsibility, approved by the Combined Chiefs of Staff on September 23, 1942, provided

that the United States Army accepted the responsibility, subject to the consideration that the primary objective of the U. S. forces in this area would be to insure the uninterrupted and increased flow of supplies into Soviet Russia;
that control of the railroad would be exercised by the British General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Persia/Iraq Command;
that the Commanding General, U. S. Persian Gulf Service Command would develop, operate and maintain the railroads to Teheran; and
that the British General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Persia/Iraq Command would control, subject to review by the Combined Chiefs of Staff, priority of traffic and allocation of freight.

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During my visit to Moscow in August 1942, the matter of forwarding supplies to Russia by the Persian Corridor was discussed with Mr. Mikoyan, Commissar of Foreign Trade, and on another occasion with the additional presence of Mr. Harriman.10 The possibility that the U. S. Army might take over the operation of the railroad to Teheran was mentioned. According to my recollection, Mr. Mikoyan was apparently receptive to the idea, although non-committal. On the other hand, he definitely was not interested at that time in the United States taking over the operation of the Iranian railroad north of Teheran, then and now under Soviet operation.

On September 28, 1942, General Burns,11 General Connolly (who had been designated as Commanding General, U.S. Persian Gulf Service Command), and myself visited the Soviet Ambassador for the purpose of introducing General Connolly and informing the Ambassador as to the nature of General Connolly’s duties and responsibilities in Iran.

It is understood that the details of taking over the operation of the railroad were delegated to General Connolly, and if you desire further information regarding direct conversations with the Russians on this matter, I believe that General Connolly would be able to inform you definitely. He could be reached through the War Department.

S. P. Spalding
  1. See also 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. 180–190, passim.
  2. W. Averell Harriman, Special Representative of the President at London for Lend-Lease matters relating to the British Empire.
  3. Maj. Gen. James H. Burns, Senior Staff Assistant to the Lend-Lease Administrator (Stettinius), and Executive, Munitions Assignments Board (United States and Great Britain), at Washington.