890F.248/10–1244: Airgram

The Vice Consul at Dhahran ( Hart ) to the Secretary of State

A–12. Major General Benjamin F. Giles, Commander, USAFIME, Cairo, accompanied by a plane-load of officers and men, flew to Dhahran from Tehran on October 11, 1944, arriving about 2:45 p.m. They left for Cairo via Abadan the following morning.

Purpose of visit was technical inspection of Dhahran airfield for suitability as ATC base on India route. General and staff declared themselves entirely satisfied with potentialities of the field and did not visit alternate field at Ras Tanura, which has been recently flooded by exceptional tides. No contacts made with Saudi authorities, although General stated he had previous clearance for his visit. Soil samples were taken and data assembled.

General had been informed by Colonel Eddy at Cairo of visit of two British officers reported in my secret telegram no. 7 of October 4, 1944, and my secret despatch no. 16 of October 8, 1944.21 Their visit appeared to him particularly significant in view of fact that he had recently been told by a high British authority at Cairo that British were opposing concession of field to American Army on grounds that it was “unnecessary to war effort”. General agreed with view given by British visitors here that Muharraq Field, Bahrein, is not strong enough to support heavy planes of type henceforth to be sent to India. [Page 666] He is eager to have negotiations with King expedited to enable Army to initiate development of field at earliest possible date.

General also supports oil company project, now before King at Riyadh, for importation of some 800 Italian skilled workers from Eritrea to help in refinery construction, but insists such matters be given second place to negotiations for Dhahran airdrome. He offered to delegate Colonel Weathers of his staff to assist company in recruiting this labor at Asmara, and will authorize transportation to Ras Tanura when final clearance made.

Repeated to Jidda and Cairo.

  1. Neither printed.