861.24/1732: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Harriman) to the Secretary of State

440. For the Secretary and the Under Secretary. Mikoyan asked me to call on him. He stated that since the splendid accomplishments [Page 827] of developing the transportation route through Iran and the generally increased shipments on the protocol above schedule it had become generally recognized that “When the Americans undertake anything it is done”. He has had a discussion with Marshal Stalin and they wish to award a number of decorations for these important accomplishments.

He said he believed General Marshall59 and General Somervell60 had played an important part in the organization and development of the Persian route and in sending supplies to Russia, and he mentioned General Arnold61 in connection with the supply of aircraft. General Spalding’s62 name was also mentioned. They want to give recognition too to some of the men who have worked under General Connolly63 “both rank and file”. Mikoyan said it was impossible for them to know what would be most appropriate and asked for our help in selection of the individuals.

He then said he would like to give decorations to certain non-military who had made substantial contributions. He politely mentioned my name and Mr. Hopkins64 and Mr. Batt’s65 names were discussed. I explained that there were certain difficulties in connection with awards to civilian officers of the Government because of political aspects. This he thoroughly recognized and said that possibly some or all of them might better be postponed. He is ready to give as many civilian decorations as we think appropriate or, if we would prefer, to leave them until after the war. However he wanted you and the President to know of this indication of their appreciation for what has been done and will be quite satisfied with whatever decision is reached.

Needless to say my name should not be considered in this connection.

I recommend that the United States adopt a policy of authorizing receipt of Soviet decorations for those army officers or enlisted men who are engaged in a purely operating capacity in connection with Soviet supply such as is being performed by General Connolly and members of his command. I think it would be appropriate if General Connolly were authorized to furnish me a list of about 10 names, 5 officers and 5 enlisted men, which I could submit to Mr. Mikoyan for his consideration. I feel that it is mrwise for anyone currently engaged in supply matters here such as General Spalding to accept Soviet decorations. I do not feel qualified to express an opinion as to the other officers mentioned.

[Page 828]

I do not know whether as a matter of policy you and the President may wish to have any civilian officers of the Government accept decorations during the war. I know however that Marshal Stalin and Mikoyan are fully aware of the leaderhip that Hopkins has given in this matter and also the work of Batt. They would be glad to have us add several names that we consider appropriate. Since the civilians involved, almost without exception, are currently engaged in formulating policy with regard to Russian supply, I am inclined to feel that no civilian decorations should be accepted at this time.

I can assure you that this offer of decorations is made with great sincerity. Mikoyan emphasized that he needed your and the President’s advice and approval and wanted to do exactly what was considered most appropriate.

Whatever decision is reached, I feel it is of real importance that it be reached promptly. Decision regarding decorations for General Burns66 and General Connolly requested in my previous cables should not be delayed.67

  1. Gen. George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff, United States Army.
  2. Lt. Gen. Brehon B. Somervell, Commanding General, Army Service Forces.
  3. Gen. Henry H. Arnold, Commanding General, United States Army Air Forces.
  4. Brig. Gen. Sidney P. Spalding, Chief of the Supply Division, United States Military Mission to the Soviet Union.
  5. Maj. Gen. Donald H. Connolly, commanding the Persian Gulf Service Command, October 1942 to December 1944.
  6. Harry L. Hopkins, Special Assistant to President Roosevelt.
  7. William L. Batt, Vice Chairman, War Production Board.
  8. Maj. Gen. James H. Burns, Executive, Munitions Assignments Board, United States and Great Britain.
  9. Assistant People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs Dekanozov proposed to Ambassador Harriman on January 22, that the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the Soviet Union “had decided to award decorations to Maj. Gen. James Burns and Maj. Gen. Donald H. Connolly in recognition of their services in expediting shipment of supplies from the United States to the Soviet Union.” At the Moscow Embassy this selection was looked upon as “most appropriate and that the acceptance would be useful in our general relations.” (093.612/33) Again on February 6, Ambassador Harriman stated in his telegram 390 that the offer of decorations was “an official concrete recognition of the Soviet Government’s appreciation of the value they have placed on Lend Lease shipments.” (093.612/36) The Chief of the Division of Eastern European Affairs, Charles E. Bohlen, in a memorandum of January 25, saw “no objection whatsoever” and felt that the offer “should be approved.” (093.612/33)