The Director of the Office of Strategic Services (Donovan) to the Secretary of State

My Dear Mr. Secretary: Upon the suggestion of Major I. A. Tolstoy who was head of a mission in Tibet in 1942 and 1943,11 I submit for your consideration the possibility of sending certain supplies from India into China by way of Tibet by means of pack animals. I am also writing to Mr. Lauchlin Currie of the FEA, to whom Major Tolstoy has spoken concerning this matter.

British authorities in India have estimated that in a year’s time, with proper organization, transportation of 4,000 tons yearly could be handled in that manner.

It is evident that this amount could be of little material assistance to the armed forces in the China Theater. The amount that could be transported, however, would be of great use in the OSS operations in China; the amount so carried would be double that of the OSS monthly supply allowance flown over the “Hump.”

It is likewise evident that the intelligence byproduct of such a route is not to be ignored.

The political situation in Tibet is such that we would wish to do nothing unless and until you were willing to have your Department [Page 961]take the necessary preliminary steps for the coordination and participation of Chinese and British authorities. Likewise, negotiations would have to be carried on with Lhasa. Major Tolstoy believes that it would take from six to eight months from the Indian border to China for a shipment to go through even under adverse conditions; that it would be unnecessary to have our representatives accompany the shipments; and that the entire transportation could be handled by certain responsible Tibetian traders who are either in India themselves or who have their representatives on the Indian border. Major Tolstoy feels that, in dealing with Tibet, it would be advisable to emphasize that the goods are for Americans who are in China now. Other factors which might be helpful in inducing Tibetian consent and insuring safe delivery of supplies are:

If the Dalai Lama’s office was informed of the shipment of, or has already received, the present that was sent by OSS to the Dalai Lama.
If the US Government would purchase the surplus of wool which the Tibetans now have on their hands. (Almost all of the wool before the war was purchased by the United States from Tibet.) The total amount would not be more than one shipload.

I am prompted to bring this to your attention because of the contingency, no matter how remote, that the present Japanese drive into Imphal might have such a measure of success as to endanger the continuous use of our air transport over the “Hump.”


William J. Donovan