Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Stettinius) to President Roosevelt
With regard to sending a message to Stalin to seek his permission to send five hundred trucks a month to China for the Chinese Government, I have discussed this question with Ambassador Harriman30 who feels it would be most inadvisable to make this request. He tells me that when he obtained permission from Stalin for the transit of the trucks Stalin was very reluctant to grant the permission until he was assured that they were urgently needed by our Air Force and would not be turned over to the Chinese. Moreover, Stalin consented to the diversion of these five hundred trucks which were earmarked for the Soviet Union in order to permit their delivery to our Air Force in China despite the fact that Lend-Lease has had to turn down a most urgent Soviet request for additional allotments of trucks.
Apart from these reasons, it is understood that the Army is so anxious to get the five hundred trucks to China as soon as possible that they do not want to risk a possible reversal of decision by the Soviet Government if permission is asked to send five hundred a month. Furthermore, in regard to the monthly quota proposal, the Army is not certain whether they have sufficient personnel to carry on the operation on a continuing basis.
Since Stalin gave his permission to Ambassador Harriman solely on the ground that the trucks were needed by the United States Air Force and since it is hoped that the Ledo–Burma Road will be opened shortly, it is felt that it would be inadvisable to send a message to Stalin now asking for permission to send a monthly quota of trucks to China.
- W. Averell Harriman, Ambassador to the Soviet Union, temporarily in Washington.↩