The Machine at Work
A Bird's-Eye View
The machine conceived by the SOS planners and tentatively designed by General Connolly's advance field group was a multipurpose one. Not only did it have to take over and expand the assembly and construction projects already in existence, it had also to assume the transport responsibilities assigned by directive of the Combined Chiefs of Staff as the new command's primary mission. It had to be versatile enough to meet demands upon it as widely disparate as the conduct of negotiations with foreign representatives and the provision of water in the desert; as varied as the operation of a railroad and the operation of a small station for changing truck tires high in a snowy mountain pass. The arrival of the first service troops in December 1942 set the machine in motion, a machine composed of men: American soldiers, the American civilians who remained during the transition from the contractor system to militarization, and, finally, the civilian army of natives whose labor and good will were indispensable to the success of the aid-to-Russia program.1
The first large troop shipment came to Khorramshahr after a voyage which began at New York on 1 November on the West Point and was continued, from Bombay, on British ships of smaller draft, the Rhona, the Lancashire, and the Dilroara.2 By the middle of 1943 the military strength of the command approached the maximum assigned strength of nearly 30,000 officers and men reached in early 1944. The year 1943 brought the highest number of native employees on American projects, approximately 42,000 men and women-Iranians, Iraqi, Polish refugees, and a sprinkling of other nationalities and races. In
addition an average of 15,000 Iranian civilians was employed directly by the ISR during the period of American operation. Railway employees at the height of operations in 1944 reached 30,000. Although exact figures for native employment are not available, it was estimated that during the busiest months of 1943 and 1944 the combined Anglo-American operations in the Persian Corridor used about 100,000 natives. Because of the greater mechanization of American projects, the higher proportion of these workers was employed by the British.3
Table 13 gives an idea of the scope and variety of the tasks undertaken by the American command. Taken with Chart 2 it helps indicate the shifting emphases that fell now upon one sort of task, now upon another. The two provide a kind of bird's-eye view of the operation as a whole. They show, for instance, that military strength was brought to its peak quite early in the game, as all units allocated by the SOS Plan, with subsequent accretions, were thrown promptly into the field to serve as the machine's basic force. The operating services set up under the plan each generated its own pattern. The American command took over the port of Khorramshahr on 7 January 1943, and the top month of ports operations came in July 1944. The Motor Transport Service began active operations in March 1943 and closed on 1 December 1944. The Military Railway Service took over the southern sector of the I SR from the British on 1 April 1943 and handed the line back on 25 June 1945. Peak strength in native labor, reached in November 1943, some months after the peak in military strength, preceded by eight months the highest month for ports traffic attained in July 1944. This reflects the heavy expenditure of manpower required to prepare the facilities-highways, docks, warehouses, camps, posts, stations, and other installations-prerequisite to the flow of maximum traffic through the Corridor to USSR receiving points. The mission of the command was declared accomplished on 1 June 1945. Assembly operations proceeded throughout most of the period in a curve which reached its maximum in 1944 and then tapered off. The picture as a whole is one of a region extending from Khorramshahr to Kazvin-a
distance almost exactly that which separates New York from Detroit by road-dotted from end to end by American installations serving a dozen principal activities, each keyed to its own tempo, but interdependent and co-ordinated by a central purpose and design.
The distribution of the machine's working parts-its military personnel and civilian labor forces-among the several tasks illustrates the complexity of planning and co-ordination. During the peak of operations, from February to September 1944, for example, 17 percent of the military strength of the American command was assigned to operation of the MTS; 14 percent to the MRS; 3 percent to signals work; and the balance of 66 percent to working the ports, assembly plants, and depots, to construction and maintenance, and to the overhead and housekeeping activities necessary to the existence of the command itself.4 Earlier and later periods show variations in distribution of military strength by tasks. The sampling of trends in civilian employment by tasks furnishes another means of measuring the shifting of emphasis from one type of work to another, though not an infallible one, because its yardstick excludes the military personnel who performed all the work of the Signal Service and much of the highway construction program.
But the trends can be generalized. Table 13 correctly suggests, for instance, the conclusion that the greatest activity at the beginning of General Connolly's regime was in construction other than highways, and that the construction peak was reached early. Highway construction and maintenance, also an important early activity, rounded its rising curve later than other types of construction and then declined. In the earliest period sampled, the very high civilian employment figure for ordnance activity reflects the initial arrival and disposition of heavy machinery and equipment which was a nonrecurrent task. The service and supply item grows larger as the command's logistical performance rises, but continues to increase in the final period sampled when military strength was matched, almost man for man, by native laborers, three fifths of whom, at .that time, were occupied in service and supply activities. Port operations employed civilians in a curve which parallels the development of port capacity to handle the increasing loads shipped into the Corridor. Employment at depots, other than ordnance, roughly parallels the curve of port operations, but the civilian employee total reached its peak earlier, and tapered off
sooner than that for the ports themselves, reflecting the intensive efforts required to prepare and put into operation a storage and warehouse plant which would be capable thereafter of handling maximum loads as called upon, and which was geared, after the initial preparations, to operate maximum loads with a decreasing labor force. Interpretation of the figures for the railway and motor transport services requires the more detailed information furnished in the later chapters devoted to their work. The civilian railway figures are not significant, showing only those employees who for special reasons were directly employed by the U.S. Army; and ,the MTS figures indicate only that the American trucking system, to which the SOS Plan assigned a relatively lower priority than to the other two chief operating services, depended upon a large supply of native labor to keep it rolling during the comparatively brief period of its most intensive activity.
As the story of the command's chief activities proceeds, the routine work, which cannot be dealt with in detail, must not be forgotten. Construction, signal communications, assembly, and the operation of ports, railway, and truck convoys, were to be the main business of the Americans for three years to come. But without the steady performance of more humdrum assignments common to military establishments, though beset in the Persian Corridor by their own peculiar problems, the accomplishment of the primary mission would have been impossible. There were the quartermaster troops and their native helpers, who ran great depots at Khorramshahr and Ahwaz, operated bakeries, laundries, ice-cream plants, and refrigerated warehouses; they conducted salvage and repair, took care of supply of troops and installations, and maintained cemeteries. There were also the men of ordnance with their depot at Andimeshk and their far-flung activities; the medical, dental, and hospital. personnel; the military police; and those in charge of water supply-all shared in the common task, the primary mission of getting supplies through to the USSR.5
Certain personnel problems applied to the command as a whole. Because of the extraordinary demands upon the available labor supply imposed by war-born activities, it was essential that Iranian, British, Soviet, and American authorities should agree upon general wage rates and principles of hiring. Otherwise competition for labor would seriously derange the economy and frustrate the activities of the four nations in the area. Basic American policy was established in December 1942 and was generally adhered to throughout the remaining period of
operations. Labor policies set by the British deputy assistant director of labor and enforced by local British labor officers were accepted by the Americans. No one could be hired away from any Allied war organization, including the ISR, the UKCC, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, or Soviet or British military organizations, nor could any person be hired who resigned from these groups with the intent of joining American enterprises. Rates of pay were to be, in general, those set by the British authorities.6 To maintain amicable relations with the government of Iran it was later determined that American agencies would not hire persons employed by the Iranian Government, unless applicants furnished a release or a leave of absence signed by competent Iranian authority.7 While it cannot be said that these general policies prevented dislocations in the labor market or some raids by one group upon the labor supply of another (instances occurred on the part of all four national groups), the policy was more honored in the observance than in the breach.
The Iranian economy was nevertheless unfortunately and inevitably upset during the war years. Inflation and scarcity of commodities, particularly in the summer of 1942, produced food riots at Ahwaz and Andimeshk resulting in some deaths. joint Anglo-American action in September instituted a daily ration of flour, tea, and sugar, charged for at the rate of two rials8 against daily wages. The rioting stopped, absenteeism diminished, and productivity on war work, especially highway construction, increased, because of the encouragement to steadier employment and the increased vigor of the workers. After the new American command had established itself, the British authorities raised the question of reducing food rations for native workmen, on the ground that the required tonnage threw too great a burden upon the transportation system. During early 1943 the Americans experienced some difficulty in obtaining tea and sugar for native rations from local British sources. The Americans were not in favor of reducing the rations and pointed out that 80 percent of the required amount would be used within a 150-mile radius of the ports, and that 600 tons monthly would suffice. It was preferable in the American view to feed the natives entirely than to dispense with their labor and have to rely on increased American and British military manpower, whose rations would have to be imported.
By the Tri-Partite Treaty Great Britain and the Soviet Union undertook to cause a minimum of disturbance to Iranian economic life.
They pledged their best endeavors to safeguard Iran's economic existence. At a conference on 16 February 1943, attended by American, British, and Soviet representatives, it was agreed that responsibility for the civil population belonged to the Iranian Government but that when food was otherwise unobtainable the Allied war agencies should provide rations for workmen according to the American-suggested scale. The British were to be responsible for the supply of sugar and tea from British military stocks, and of wheat, to be procured through the Middle East Supply Center and drawn through British military stocks. By this agreement a serious impediment to the successful conclusion of operations in the Corridor was averted.9
In the south smoldering antagonism between workmen of Arab and Persian stock was a fairly constant problem. At some installations there was little or no friction; at others the situation required careful handling. In the summer,. when the Persians migrated to the north, the proportion of Arab laborers tended to increase. The passage of Iraqi nationals across the border to the Iranian ports sometimes produced difficulties when British security authorities considered border controls inadequate. Matters came to a head in the latter part of 1943 with an American protest against British closing of the border to all but specialized technical people from Iraq. Measures of control were jointly devised which led to confirmation by PAI Force on 5 July 1944 of an agreement for frontier control in the Basra-Khorramshahr area.10
The employment of American Negro units in Iran did not receive the unmixed blessing of the British authorities, who feared that unless Negro troops were isolated from the natives the differential in rates of pay would cause trouble. They also pointed out that because some Arabs and Persians had been slave dealers it would not be tactful to place American Negroes in supervisory capacities in the Persian Corridor. It was American policy that Negroes should serve in the armed forces in numbers proportionate to the population ratio, and it was understood that they would serve under General Connolly and be used at his discretion. The original troop disposition plans made in Washington called for three Negro port battalions and two engineer dump truck companies, and the first troop shipment on the West Point included the 435th Engineer Dump Truck Company and Company B of the 611th Quartermaster Bakery Battalion les one platoon. During the life of the American command Negro troops served in port opera-
tions, highway and airfield construction, maintenance, and motor pools. In general, they were assigned to Gulf District, but units also worked in the Desert and Mountain Districts, some being stationed at Tehran and Hamadan. The 352d Engineer Regiment, whose band was the pride of the command, received a wide variety of assignments. Its units were stationed in many parts of the Corridor in 1944 before departure on 9 November for another theater.
At no time very numerous, Negro troops at the end of February 1945 constituted a little over 10 percent of the strength of the PGC, which was in proportion to their percentage in the Army as a whole. In July 1944 the PGC proposed to supplant its Negro units by importing Italian prisoners of war. Whatever the long-range pressures which may have motivated the proposal, it offered a solution for the relief of two Negro port battalions whose reduced efficiency after long service at the docks was of immediate concern to GHQ. Washington rejected the proposal as violating the principle that each theater commander must maintain a certain percentage of Negroes in proportion to all troops. The status of American troops in the Persian Corridor was not a matter of formal international understanding, and the American position, as an auxiliary force, was sometimes difficult. It is not surprising that, within this general pattern, the special problems arising from the presence of Negro troops in Iran were also difficult.11
The Army Takes Over Construction
The construction program carried on by the Iranian District engineer in 1942 suffered more vicissitudes than any other part of the task assigned to the Iranian Mission and its successors throughout that year of confusion. Handicapped by the late start resulting from the shift to Iran from Iraq in the spring and dogged by drastic shortages of men and materials which were not overcome until October, just as the new regime of General Connolly was taking over, the 1942 opera-
tions nevertheless brought to five the number of berths at Khorramshahr, produced a temporary road in partly usable shape from there to Andimeshk, and completed twenty bridges and the buildings contemplated in the first planning. But the new construction fell far short of what had been planned to meet traffic requirements even before the increased aid-to-Russia commitment. The amount of work which remained to be done to reach SOS Plan requirements therefore assumed almost staggering proportions. Every link in the chain of supply operations from Khorramshahr to Kazvin had to be strengthened and new facilities provided, not only for the work of the three chief operating services, but for the accommodation of the service troops of the new command. After the grievous troubles of 1942 the provision of adequate manpower and equipment-coupled with a plan of operations no longer, after Stalingrad, subject to overriding tactical priorities-threw construction into high gear. By the end of 1943 few major construction projects remained to be completed.12
In construction affairs the transition to the Army's militarized program was complicated by the necessity of meshing the new machine with the old Iranian District engineer organization while providing continuity and simultaneously launching new undertakings. All this had to be done at top speed because port, rail, and motor convoy operations could not attain maximum efficiency until facilities were provided.
The administrative machinery which was evolved to carry construction operations through the period of transition and onward into the activity of 1943 was more complex on paper than in action. When General Connolly's principal engineer officer, Colonel Osborne, arrived in the field in early November 1942, construction was still in the hands of the Iranian District engineer's office at Ahwaz. Colonel Osborne brought with him a small group of six officers and fourteen enlisted men called the Engineer Headquarters (Corps) 1616. They had been organized the previous September at the Engineer Organization Center, Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, and were trained to conduct engineer headquarters activities in the field. In accordance with the
functional plan adopted for the command, construction activities, being among the most pressing duties to be performed at the outset, were to be carried on by an operating service. When in November five operating services were set up, Colonel Osborne became the first director of the Construction Service, which, like its parallel services, derived its powers and duties from the commanding general.
Organization of the Construction Service did not immediately result in the extinction of the Iranian District engineer, whose powers and duties stemmed from the Chief of Engineers, Washington, through the North Atlantic Division engineer, New York. For more than a year the Iranian District engineer and the commanding officers of the Iranian Mission and its successors had worked out a modus operandi in spite of the theoretical overlapping of their powers and duties. It was necessary to eliminate even theoretical overlapping before the new command got up to its neck in operating responsibilities. Colonel Osborne-serving in the triple capacities of General Connolly's chief engineer officer in charge of construction, Iranian District engineer, and commanding officer of the Engineer Headquarters (Corps) 1616-personified the unification of overlapping responsibilities. But although the establishment in November of the Construction Service combined personnel of the district engineer's staff and of the Engineer Headquarters (Corps) 1616 with the personnel of the new operating service, the organizations whose roots extended beyond the Persian Corridor continued to survive. Even before Osborne recommended to Connolly the abolition of the Iranian Engineer District, steps were being taken in Washington, in view of the militarization of civilian contract activities, to simplify procurement and supply for engineer work by turning over the duties and property of the two engineer districts in the Middle East command to theater services of supply. But the wheels moved slowly, and the Iranian Engineer District did not disappear from view until I May 1943. The Engineer Headquarters (Corps) 1616 remained a headquarters within the construction machinery until 20 February 1944.13
Through the device of combining overlapping functions in a single person, construction policy and operations were effectively controlled
by command headquarters from the start. Like Pooh-Bah, the Lord High Everything Else in The Mikado, the director of construction could do in that capacity what he might not do as Iranian District engineer. A further step toward administrative simplification was the early decentralization of operational responsibility, when the geographical subareas were provided with engineer officers and charged with construction duties for their areas. In the Ahwaz Area, long the headquarters of the Iranian District engineer, the Ahwaz District engineer and the Iranian District engineer were the same person. An exception to the rule which made each geographical district responsible for its own construction, the Ahwaz District performed construction tasks also for Gulf District until 1 June 1943, when, by a process of biological division, a Gulf District engineer office was established with personnel from Ahwaz. That the job was not all blueprints and desk conferences was grimly emphasized only a few days later. Prospecting an uncertain desert track between Ahwaz and Tanuma to determine the route of a new road, the Gulf District engineer and his companion lost their way and perished under the blazing sun. Search parties found their bodies on 12 June.14 In a context of administrative arrangements it is too easy to forget the land that had to be subdued to the purposes of the war and the men who subdued it.
Colonel Osborne served only briefly as the first Director, Construction Service, for in November he went on to head the new Operations and Supply Division, being succeeded in construction by Colonel McGlone, who, like himself and all who headed construction work thereafter, had previously served as an Iranian District engineer. But the success of delegating responsibility to the territorial districts soon dictated the abolition of the Construction Service in the interests of simplification of administrative machinery. The headquarters reorganization of March 1943, therefore, eliminated the Construction Service, but established within a reorganized and newly named Operations Division a Construction Branch, whose chief, Colonel McGlone, reported to the division's director, Colonel Osborne. While actual construction was carried on by decentralized district engineers, plans and policies were set at GHQ by Construction Branch. This arrangement continued for the life of the command, although the branch was redesignated Engineering Branch in March 1945.15
The construction program proceeded in three waves of priority determined by need and growing troop strength and materials. First priority went to roads, docks, assembly plants, and storage buildings, in a continuation and extension of the work already under way in late 1942. Hospitals, mess halls, barracks, and latrines received second priority; while administration buildings, service clubs, and miscellaneous structures came last. As a general policy, work was performed by U.S. Army service troops and native labor; but some projects, including over one hundred buildings erected at Hamadan and road construction north of Andimeshk, employed local contractors. Because of the local availability of mud bricks, kiln bricks, and stone in a country where lumber was scarce, the Persian Corridor was one of the few overseas areas where permanent or semipermanent construction was used. Among many problems arising from climate and local conditions was roofing for buildings in the south. After unsuccessful experiments with tar paper over boards taken from truck packing cases, a sand asphalt compound was developed which stood up well under the sun. Electrical and plumbing fixtures came largely from the United States.
As the American tasks were being transferred from Iraq to Iran, Colonel Shingler in April 1942 directed the Iranian District engineer to complete a temporary road and a permanent two-way highway between Khorramshahr and Andimeshk and a branch road across to Tanuma-Cheybassi by 1 December.16 Because of uncertain security conditions to the north of Andimeshk, it was decided in Washington in October not to attempt road construction in that region with civilian constructors. With only the temporary road completed but not wholly surfaced beween Khorramshahr and Andimeshk by December and the branch westward to Tanuma-Cheybassi as yet unattempted, it was decided to concentrate highway building upon the permanent road to Andimeshk and, in conjunction with the British, using military forces and native labor, to convert the existing rough road from Andimeshk to Kazvin to a highway suitable for heavy truck convoys.17
The branch road from Khorramshahr to Tanuma was built by U.S. engineer troops between July and December 1943. It was extended five and a half miles upstream from Tanuma to Coal Island by British contractors with U.S. engineer help. The longer link was maintained by the American command until mid-November 1944, the
shorter until April of that year. After taking over the KhorramshahrAndimeshk highway from the engineer constructor and repairing the serious damage caused by the floods of March 1943, the new command completed the permanent road that year. From Khorramshahr to fifteen miles south of Ahwaz a bitumen surface was laid on an embankment of compacted earth. North to fifteen miles beyond Ahwaz a sandstone base on earth embankment was used with bitumen surface. Beyond, to Andimeshk, the base layer was gravel. The cost of 173 miles of road was $28,896,000.18
Before 1942 the British and Iranians had worked on the old road between Andimeshk and Kazvin; but when the U.S. engineers began work on it in June 1943, it was unpaved or badly paved at intervals. This long stretch of road was jointly constructed and maintained by an Anglo-American agreement reached in August 1943 and revised in April 1944.19 The United States built or rebuilt 252 miles; the British, with American aid, 178 miles; and the British alone, 30 miles. Because of large British contributions of labor and materials, their share of the cost was $9,832,000 as against the American share of $5,936,000. The road was improved by straightening curves, relocating some stretches, cutting away hills, and replacing the surface. Although convoys used it during construction, by the coming of first snow most of the length was paved or surfaced with gravel which was replaced by paving in 1944. Upon an earth embankment was laid a gravel base, surfaced with bitumen.
Maintenance of highways, as agreed between the British and American commands, was an American responsibility for the Khorramshahr-Andimeshk road until 1 December 1944, and was shared between Andimeshk and Kazvin until June 1945; but winter maintenance policy, separately agreed upon in July 1943, handed over to the Americans entire responsibility for flood, slide, and snow control from Khorramshahr all the way to Kazvin. For the greater part of 1943, while the northern part of the road was under construction, this responsibility threw a severe burden upon American engineer troops and heavy equipment, for at the beginning of the year about half the route north of Andimeshk was unsurfaced and was being maintained by native labor with picks and shovels. By throwing everything into maintenance, by watering, blading, and adding gravel, the road surface was
sufficiently improved to speed up travel time for the motor convoys, and this resulted in reducing maintenance time and labor hitherto expended on the vehicles. By the end of 1943 not more than fifty miles of road remained unpaved between Andimeshk and Kazvin.
A detailed inventory of other construction throughout the command would produce a bewildering jumble of items, large and small. Dock construction was, fortunately for incoming cargoes, soonest completed. The sixth new berth at Khorramshahr-which, with the old concrete berth there before the war, provided seven berths-was completed late in May 1943. Sentab jetty, described in the later chapter on port operations, had been extended from a pygmy a little over 400 feet long by 50 feet wide to a giant over 3,000 feet long, widened, by April 1944, to over 100 feet, and served by access trestles and a maze of approach railway tracks. New water lines for fire protection and an elaborate system of lighting for night operations made the jetty capable of handling the heavy stream of cargo which tested its design and efficiency successfully in 1944. The jetty at Failiyah Creek at Khorramshahr was completed in May 1943, and by August of that year the decking laid at Bandar Shahpur on the new British contractor-built jetty was in service.
At Amirabad, on the rising ground between Tehran and the mountains where the Iranian Government had planned a five-year construction program for a cantonment, permission to use the site was granted to the American command, and work began early in December 1942 on the extensive headquarters camp. It was occupied in July 1943. At Andimeshk, which was developed into an important rail-to-road transshipping station, base ordnance workshops were established and camps for some 3,100 officers and men of ordnance, MTS, and MRS units. By the end of 1943, thirty-six posts, camps, and stations, to house and serve nearly 30,000 troops, had been completed at a cost of $19,633,900. By the end of 1944, airstrips and runways had been constructed, resurfaced, or extended at Andimeshk, Ahwaz, and Abadan; and the British had been furnished blueprints for modifications and extensions to Royal Air Force fields used by the Americans at Sharja in Trucial Oman, Bahrein, Landing Ground H3 in western Iraq, and at Habbaniya. At the Soviet-controlled airfield at Tehran, Qaleh Morgeh, jointly occupied by Russians and Americans, temporary construction, the only sort allowed by the Russians, was accomplished. In 1945 little construction work remained to be done except such desirable flourishes as swimming pools and the installation of air-conditioning apparatus.
The cost estimates in Table 14 furnish a reliable index to the scope
and distribution of the construction program by large categories; but, because they do not include such items as the expense of maintaining the military establishment which did the constructing, they fall short of expressing the full expenditure of treasure which went into the facilities essential to deliver supplies to the USSR. The table does not show individual projects, like .that at Khurramabad where installations exceeded one million dollars; or Amirabad, which came to more than two and a quarter millions; or Ahwaz, to over two millions. It does not itemize the nearly ten millions of dollars which went into the port of Khorramshahr, in which the British interest came to one third; or the nearly four millions required to put Bandar Shahpur into shape, less than one quarter of that amount being American interest. Of the total consolidated cost estimate, approaching one hundred million dollars, more than half was required to create the aid-to-Russia highways used by American truck convoys, and by far the greater part of that amount was borne by the American taxpayer. But more than one third of the estimated cost of constructing American fixed installations fell to the British share in the experiment in co-operation.
Of the five operating services established in November 1942, the Signal Service, originally called the Signal Communication Service, was the smallest, its military strength at the peak of signals activity in July 1944 numbering about 1,000 officers and men including a headquarters staff at Tehran of about 150. Its first director, Colonel Thomas, served from his arrival in the field in November 1942 until he became Chief of Staff, PGC, in January 1945, when he was succeeded by Lt. Col. George H. Combel.20 The Signal Service was dissolved on 14 August 1945, being replaced by Signal Branch, Operations Division.21
Administratively the Signal Service was a command-wide operating service which derived its powers and responsibilities from the commanding general. It exercised direct control over all signal installations
and facilities in the command, equally for construction, operation, and maintenance. It could call upon the district commanders for unit supplies and help in other housekeeping matters in which districts acted as service organizations. At the outset local responsibility was exercised through subordinate signal headquarters within each of the command's territorial districts; but after a period of trial this arrangement was found to handicap the development and operation of continuous lines along the railway by subjecting them to the separate local authority of the district signal officers across whose territories the railway communications ran. Effective 1 June 1943, therefore, four signal sectors independent of the district organizations were set up. Three of these sectors corresponded in territory to the districts, and maintained headquarters at Basra, Ahwaz, and Tehran. They were not concerned with railway communications, but rather with local wire and radio installations within camps and stations. The fourth sector, with its headquarters at Tehran, was responsible for what eventually became, in effect, a long-lines system for the whole command, extending from Khorramshahr, Bandar Shahpur, and Tanuma-Cheybassi to Tehran, paralleling the railway, and operating as a single unit of communication. Auxiliary functions of the Signal Service included the installation of beacons for aircraft, train and road dispatch systems, and facilities for the Iranian Government.
At the time of the Anglo-Soviet occupation of Iran civil communications were rudimentary. Two circuits ran from the Gulf to Tehran, and these were supplemented by British improvements during 1942. With the arrival in December of the 833d Signal Service Company the Americans began to establish radio communication between major posts in the command. Construction of wire facilities started with the arrival in March 1943 of the 95th Signal Battalion, but proceeded slowly because their equipment, shipped separately, arrived months after they did. Meanwhile they borrowed what they could from the British, mostly for local telephone systems, and relied upon radio for intracommand communication. When the 231st Signal Operation Company reached the field in the middle of 1943, the 95th Signal Battalion was freed for additional construction and for maintenance of wire lines already strung. By early 1944 major signal construction was completed. At peak command operations that year, the Signal Service operated 11 fixed radio stations, 15 teletype stations, and 17 telephone switchboards with a capacity of 40 or more lines. About 500 miles of pole line had been erected, over 8,000 miles of wire strung, and 12,000 miles of wire maintained. In maintenance there was a division of labor with the British, who were responsible for all wire along the highway
route. The American command maintained all wire along the railway line. Because of their overriding responsibility for security in the Corridor, the British were charged with protection of all long lines between American camps, American security responsibility being confined, in theory, to local lines within the boundaries of U.S. installations; but in practice, American troops aided in guarding lines wherever there was greatest incidence of thieving or threat of sabotage.
Throughout the history of the command signal operations were hampered by wire thefts. It was the practice of marauders to cut long lengths of copper wire, for which they showed a marked preference, from .the poles and then to escape before security patrols or automatic alarm systems could act effectively. Some of the copper so lifted would turn up in the bazaars as trinkets or coat hangers. It has been estimated that about 250 miles of copper wire was stolen.22 The disruption of service through wire thefts was a disturbing factor in telephone and teletype operations, and contributed to the decision to keep the radio system intact after the completion of the faster and more efficient wire systems rendered radio a less desirable means of communication. The major dependence of the command upon wire systems is indicated by the monthly total of five million groups transmitted by teletype at the peak of operations, contrasted to half a million groups per month by radio. In addition, toll calls by telephone approximated 25,000 per month.
When time came to contract communications in keeping with the general reduction in command activities, wire installations were among the first to be discontinued. Arrangements were concluded late in February 1945 to give over to the British the lines between Bandar Shahpur and Ahwaz for maintenance and the signal office at Bandar Shahpur for operation. Late in July all wire teletype equipment was removed from service; but Khorramshahr-Tehran and Khorramshahr-Abadan radio teletype circuits remained, as did the telephone lines. By the end of September the signals men were no longer operating long distance telephone lines, and had turned them over to the British for disposal. Thereafter only local switchboards were maintained and operated by the Americans. In October Operations Division, Headquarters, PGSC, was notified that the British had sold the combined Anglo-American telecommunications system to the Iranian Government for approximately a million dollars, of which the American share was approximatelv $310,000, amounting to 17 percent of the cost of construction, including materials and labor. Almost to the end of the command's
existence radio served for communications, both within the command's territory and between PGSC and the Africa-Middle East Theater in Cairo, but for the last few days PAI Force furnished the Americans what communications service they required.23
The bare and brief recital of facts leaves to be read between the lines the achievement of the men of the Signal Corps who, starting almost from scratch, created a network of instant and reliable communication without which the work of moving supplies to the USSR would have been severely handicapped. Not the least of their triumphs was the picturesque feat of stringing more than forty miles of open wire through railway tunnels 7,000 feet aloft in forbidding mountains, while trains laden with .the materials of war rolled by at 30-minute intervals. Man for man, the contribution of the Signal Service to the success of the command's mission was no less significant than that of the larger numbers at the docks, in the storage yards, repair shops, and assembly plants, or pushing north by truck and train.
The Command and Air Activities
Official American air transport to and through the Persian Gulf area was accomplished by the Air Transport Command (ATC). Its operations were subject to its own determination but there was an administrative relationship between ATC and the theater command.24
From 8 February 1943, all weather, airway communications, and ATC units or detachments operating in the PGSC were attached to that headquarters for administrative supervision. This meant that the command held housekeeping responsibility for ATC installations including the following services: base censorship; third, fourth, and fifth echelon repair for vehicles; hospitalization; laundry; military police; supply other than Air Corps technical; postal; bakery; post exchange; runway maintenance; salvage; repair and disposition; utilities; and burial.25
Iranian airfields used by ATC were located at Abadan, Tehran, and Kazvin. Airfields used by ATC outside Iran were at Basra, Sharja, Bahrein, Habbaniya, and Landing Ground H3. In June 1943 ATC units at Basra moved to the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company airfield at
Abadan because the Margil airport at Basra was too small.26 Under agreement with the British the Abadan field was operated by the ATC. Operational personnel and air operations were under the direct control of the ATC.
Abadan Air Base was used extensively, particularly as a stop on the route from Cairo to Karachi. Aircraft assembled for the USSR at the Abadan plant were flown away from the Abadan Air Base. The number of landings ranged from approximately 500 to 1,500 per month. During October 1944, one of the field's busiest months, 1,649 landings were made there. In order to provide for the large numbers of transients passing through and for ATC personnel assigned to Abadan, the command, in 1944, undertook some major construction. The housing area was enlarged from a 200-man camp to a 2,900-man camp. Mess halls, recreational facilities, and air conditioning were installed and utility systems were completely revised. Besides construction, PGC's housekeeping services at Abadan were expanded according to the planned increase in operations. For instance, during the month of October 1944, 1,373 PGC military personnel were attached to Abadan to provide necessary services. In addition, 1,100 native employees served the ATC in aircraft and post maintenance and in improving the runways.27
At the RAF fields at Sharja, Bahrein, Habbaniya, and Landing Ground H3, the ATC was at first assigned landing rights only but later was allowed to conduct its own operations under British over-all control. PGC was responsible for conducting negotiations between the RAF and ATC. ATC provided information regarding required facilities at the fields which PGC relayed to the RAF. Actual construction was the responsibility of the British, but a PGC officer was stationed at each field to act as liaison between the constructing agency and PGC.28 Extensive ATC operations at Bahrein began in the summer of 1944. From February to May 1944, the ATC units at Bahrein were detachments from those at Abadan. PGC provided housekeeping services for ATC personnel operating at Bahrein. ATC required some extensive construction at Bahrein for which PGC supplied some materials and co-ordinated requests with the British.
The first ATC operations at Habbaniya in October 1943 were few; but by April 1944 ATC required housing for 250 operating personnel and 250 transients. These ATC troops were under the administrative
jurisdiction of PGC. In October 1944 80 PGC troops were at Habbaniya carrying out the PGC mission there.29
ATC operations at Sharja began early in 1944. In June 1944 a request to provide quarters for 115 officers and 185 enlisted men was handled through the PGC. A complete camp, including living quarters, operations building, water facilities, recreation building, and warehouse, had to be constructed at Sharja. In October 1944, 116 PGC personnel were assigned there. PGC responsibility for ATC operations at Landing Ground H3 was the same as that for other British-controlled fields. In October 1944 nine PGC military personnel were at Landing Ground H3.30
The Qaleh Morgeh airport at Tehran was under USSR control, but the ATC was allowed to use the field. PGC provided facilities and administrative services for the ATC there. Repairs were made on an existing hangar utilized by U.S. personnel. A temporary terminal building was built, runway lights were installed, and other improvements were made at the field. As late as November 1944 General Connolly expected that he might have to build an airfield at Tehran.31 Studies made for an all-American airfield with two runways and all navigation and maintenance equipment went no further, as joint Soviet-American use of the Qaleh Morgeh airport continued to the end. The Soviet-controlled airfield at Kazvin was used by ATC for emergencies only. No U.S. personnel were stationed there.
Logistical Support of FRANTIC Mission
This survey of command activities as a whole will conclude with mention of two of its undertakings in support of other theaters of operation. The first of these tasks was to contribute, though briefly, to the war in the European theater. The other was in aid of China-BurmaIndia.
On 1 November 1943, a U.S. military mission to the USSR, headed by Maj. Gen. John R. Deane, was organized. Deane's mission achieved many things in the Soviet Union. Most pertinent to this history was the successful negotiation of Soviet permission to establish airfields in the Soviet Union from which shuttle bombing of German territory could be accomplished. Soviet approval for the project was given on 2 February 1944, whereupon the Eastern Command, code-named
FRANTIC Mission, was established to carry out the shuttle-bombing operations. Late in February General Connolly was notified that he would be responsible for supplying FRANTIC Mission and that all air shipments required in .the establishment of FRANTIC would be routed through the Persian Corridor.32
By the end of March agreement with the Soviets was reached that U.S. personnel would arrive at FRANTIC bases via Tehran where Connolly would secure group visas for them from the Soviet Embassy.33
Construction of airstrips with steel mats and necessary buildings on the sites agreed upon at Poltava, Mirgorod, and Piryatin in the Ukraine, was begun in the spring of 1944. These bases were completed in May and the first shuttle-flight landings were made in June 1944 by seventy-three Fortresses which had left Italy and bombed a German airdrome at Debrecen, Hungary.34
The PGC acted as the services of supply or base section to the Eastern Command. Items for issue to FRANTIC Mission were requisitioned by PGC and transported through PGC to the bases. Three types of transport were used in the Persian Gulf area: motor, rail, and air. PGC co-ordinated emergency shipments by air and sorted and transshipped necessary items.
In addition to requisitioning supplies, providing motor vehicles and rail cars, and co-ordinating air shipments, PGC arranged for uniform billing and marking to insure prompt delivery to the Eastern Command; stored supplies for which transportation was not immediately available; and co-ordinated with the Soviets in Tehran the proper clearance of personnel and cargo. Shipments were routed through Tehran and Tabriz, and Moscow and Poltava were advised when supplies left both points.
Though the first echelon for FRANTIC Mission entered the USSR from the PGC on 25 February 1944, major personnel shipments were not begun until 22 April. These went overland from Cairo to Hamadan under British auspices. From Hamadan, MTS transported them to Tabriz, at which point the Soviets provided for the remaining portion of the trip. All records testify to the comfort and efficiency of the accommodations provided by the Soviets over that part of the men's journey which lay within their borders. Altogether 1,276 persons were shipped through the PGC to the Eastern Command.35
Aside from supplying the shuttle bases in the USSR, PGC gave technical assistance, established a replacement pool, and assumed medical responsibility for FRANTIC Mission.
During July 1944 PGC was concerned with plans for the staging and transportation to Poltava of the 427th Night Fighter Squadron, but this project, called Mission 16, was abandoned in August.36
The shuttle bases served eighteen missions in the early summer of 1944; but two developments shortened the life of FRANTIC. First, the Germans promptly harried Poltava, beginning on 22 June, only twenty days after the first landings there by American shuttle bombers. Then later, as the fighting front receded westward, the usefulness of the bases diminished. On 24 September the withdrawal of Eastern Command personnel was ordered. Four days later, General Deane notified PGC that two trains would leave Poltava on 2 and 9 October, respectively, carrying 40 officers and 360 enlisted men each. Some personnel were to be evacuated by air and 200 were to remain at Poltava for the winter. PGC was responsible for the evacuation of all supplies and personnel and, throughout the winter, continued to send supplies to the winter detachment remaining at Poltava. The last U.S. soldier left the Ukraine in April 1945.37
The total logistical support given FRANTIC Mission by the PGC is difficult to estimate on the basis of available statistics. The MRS transported 8,513 long tons of Eastern Command cargo north of Andimeshk from June through September 1944.38 To this figure must be added the amount of cargo evacuated from the Eastern Command by MRS as well as the contribution of the MTS which carried personnel and cargo to Tabriz and which also evacuated supplies from Tabriz during September and October.
The Command and Project LUX
In the fall of 1944 an urgent need for 500 cargo trucks developed in the China-Burma-India theater. Some forward air bases had been lost or were about to be lost so that supplies could no longer be flown to the front. Trucks were needed to transport goods along the ever lengthening supply lines. The most logical source for these was the Persian Gulf Command which was assembling .trucks for the Soviets, whose requirements by late 1944 were beginning to decline. The diffi-
culty lay in getting the trucks from the PGC to China. All of China's ports were in the hands of the enemy and the Burma Road was still closed. The one open route was from Iran through Turkestan Soviet Socialist Republic and Sinkiang Province in China to Kunming. (Map 1-inside back cover) This route was peppered with obstacles. It wound through some of the most difficult terrain in the world-plateau, desert, and mountain. None of it was well mapped, the climate was known to be extremely cold, and the territory was inhabited by hostile nomads.39
On 4 October 1944, a cable signed by General Marshall was dispatched to General Connolly stating that 500 trucks were to be transferred from PGC to CBI. The cable stipulated that PGC personnel would convoy the trucks and that PGC and CBI would decide whether personnel would be retained by CBI after their arrival. MTS trucks or Soviet vehicles were to be used.
Planning for the operation was delegated to Headquarters, MTS, until 31 October 1944, when the project was officially entitled Lux and a separate headquarters for it was established within the PGC. Liaison officers from CBI were attached to the new organization.
The total convoy strength, as planned, was to be 1,100 including two quartermaster trucking battalions, one maintenance company, and engineer, signals, and medical detachments. PGC and CBI disagreed as to plans for the disposal of convoy personnel upon completion of the mission. CBI wished to retain the drivers as there were no surplus trained drivers in that theater. PGC maintained that it could not continue its operations at full .tilt with a deduction of 1,100 men. Shrinkage in MTS operations by November enabled the War Department to settle the matter by allocating Lux convoy personnel to CBI. Disagreement also arose over troops, CBI insisting that only white troops be used in China, while PGC urged that the proportion of Negroes be the same as existed in the command. PGC was overruled on this point, also, and convoy personnel included no Negro troops.
The Lux convoy route as mapped out was estimated at 8,000 miles. From Ashkhabad in Turkestan SSR for 3,000 miles to Sary-Uzek, the convoy was to be transported by the Trans-Turkestan Railway. The remaining 5,000 miles were to be covered by truck convoy. The ad-
vance party was scheduled to leave Ahwaz on 30 November 1944 with eleven serials following. It was calculated that the whole movement would take about three months.
The Soviets agreed to release to Project Lux 493 trucks already assigned to them. They further offered to transport the whole convoy over about one third of its journey, through Turkestan, and to render substantial assistance in the way of food, communications, and gasoline. Final plans assigned the convoy 500 vehicles: 423 2 /2-ton 6 x 4 Studebaker trucks, each with a 1-ton trailer; 50 winch-equipped 6 x 6 cargo trucks; 20 weapons carriers; 3 command cars; and 4 ambulances. Provision was also made for the amounts of gasoline, food, and water to be carried, allowance being made for possible restocking along the route; arctic clothing and other equipment were duly planned for, as were communication facilities for the convoy. Lt. John Clark, a CBI expert on North China who was flown to Tehran as adviser to Lux, felt that if the convoy displayed insignia and properly identified itself, it would pass unscathed through certain parts of Kansu Province where, since mid-July, intermittent mining and raiding had been occurring. On the other hand, information transmitted by the Soviet Foreign Office through the American Embassy at Moscow indicated disturbance along the convoy route in Sinkiang so severe as to make postponement of the movement of trucks to China, in Soviet opinion, highly desirable. Confirmation came shortly afterward from Maj. Gen. Albert C. Wedemeyer, Commanding General, U.S. Forces, China theater, that disturbances around the city of I-ning were increasing. General Deane radioed from Moscow that the Soviet Government would not now undertake to assist the agreed movement through Turkestan, and General Connolly decided to hold up the convoy at Ahwaz.
On 30 November, the day the convoy was to have set out, the War Department advised that final decision on the convoy's departure would come from Washington. On 7 December General Wedemeyer notified the War Department that conditions in Sinkiang were growing worse and indefinite postponement of Project Lux would be justified. Two days later, General Marshall cabled Connolly that the War Department wished to move Lux convoy by water to Calcutta and from there overland to China as soon as the Burma Road could be used. Connolly replied that more rapid delivery could be made by sending the convoy to Zahidan and thence by rail to Karachi and across India. General Wedemeyer thought that time thus saved would not justify wear and tear on the trucks.
The original route and all alternatives except General Marshall's were abandoned, and it was finally decided to move the convoy in ac-
cordance with the Chief of Staff's cable. New plans were therefore developed in the PGC to crate and ship Lux cargo vehicles to Calcutta for later reassembly; to leave behind trailers and special vehicles not needed for ,the new route; and to ship a few other vehicles already assembled. Its planning function ended, the organization at PGC headquarters which had been responsible for Project Lux since 31 October was inactivated on 17 December. The operation proceeded to Calcutta by three ships, the first of which left the Persian Gulf on 24 December 1944, and the movement of all echelons of Lux from the Persian Gulf to Kunming was completed on 12 March 1945. The route, covering 1,775 miles, used ships to Calcutta, rail to Assam, and the Burma Road beyond Assam. No part of the original cargo was lost in transit. Thus, after a good deal of planning and a great heave of performance, PGC discharged this service to CBI without interfering with its primary mission.
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