Oil for the War

No matter how well fed, equipped, or officered, without oil and gasoline the modern army is a helpless monster, mired and marked for destruction. It has been calculated that between 40 and 50 percent of the total supply tonnage of a combat division's daily consumption is petroleum.1 Because of variables in the equation, there are no accurate criteria for estimating the ratio of oil used in the noncombat activities of an army to the total tonnages required to carry on such activities. Oil, the lifeblood of mechanized warfare, must flow by the oceanful.

To meet their world-wide requirements for petroleum products, the British and Americans virtually pooled their oil resources. The Soviet Union, possessor of large supplies within its own borders, characteristically remained aloof from the joint arrangements of the western Allies, refusing even to exchange information on oil.2 Russia was not, however, entirely self-sufficient, for during the period of lend-lease the United States shipped to it 2,113,449 long tons of petroleum products.3 Because the Persian Corridor runs through one of the world's principal oil-producing areas, only certain types of lubricants of American origin passed through it to the USSR. The great bulk of American lend-lease petroleum went by other routes. The responsibilities of the American command in the Persian Corridor for petroleum shipments to Russia were therefore relatively minor, both as compared with total American petroleum shipments to Russia and as compared with the total of other cargo tonnages delivered via the Corridor.

The varied responsibilities and activities of the several national army forces within the Persian Corridor and in Iraq, not to mention the civilian economies, called for large quantities of oil. As the American


command increased its responsibilities in the field of inland transport, it extended its participation in the movement of oil through the area, and in addition to serving its own housekeeping needs, assisted in supplying the other army forces as well as the civilian economies. But that was not the limit of American responsibility for POL.4 From the period of early planning in 1941 for extensive pipeline construction, the complex business of distribution of oil for the war was a part of the general logistical problem the United States, by its presence in the Persian Corridor, undertook to help solve. The problem also included efforts, shared by the Americans, to increase Middle East refinery capacity, and American operation of plants for the manufacture of oil drums and j errycans.5

Early Pipeline Projects

The usefulness of pipelines in reducing the burden of transporting oil by ship, rail, and truck early suggested an ambitious program of pipeline construction in Iran and Iraq. In broad outline, the program, which first involved construction of the lines for the British by the American engineer contractor using lend-lease materials, later provided for construction by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company using British labor and lend-lease materials. In due course, after the Americans had made known their position that their assistance would be limited to pipelines required by military necessity, and that they would insist on a voice in postwar disposition of installations using lend-lease materials, the program was radically scaled down.

According to a memorandum prepared by the British Purchasing Commission in September 1941, the pipeline project had been discussed and its "need . . . carefully considered and agreed by the joint Anglo-American Mission to Russia," the Harriman-Beaverbrook mission, whose labors resulted in the First ( Moscow ) Protocol.6 The British pressed the matter and on 25 October Brigadier W. E. R. Blood, of their Staff Mission in Washington, presented to General Wheeler, newly appointed chief of the U.S. Military Iranian Mission, a memorandum which stated that the project's objective was to end the traffic bottleneck in the Bandar Shahpur-Andimeshk area. The paper proposed constructing a pipeline to parallel the existing AIOC line from


Abadan to Ahwaz, two lines from Ahwaz to Andimeshk, and lines from there to Dorud or Azna and to Hamadan. Estimated capacity of the completed installations would be 2,000 long tons per day.7 This plan would facilitate the movement of crude petroleum from the chief oil fields in the neighborhood of Ahwaz to the refinery at Abadan and would also provide for the transportation of refined petroleum products well north of Andimeshk to Dorud or Azna on the railway to Tehran, or even farther north and west to Hamadan in the direction from which any Axis incursion through the Caucasus would come.

By the end of November, General Wheeler had left the United States and set up his headquarters at Baghdad, leaving behind at the home office of the Iranian Mission in Washington Captain Yount to handle the pipeline matter as part of the engineer program being prepared in consultation with Folspen, engineer constructor. It is possible that Wheeler's feeling that he could not include pipelines among the American projects discussed with Wavell at New Delhi that month arose from his knowledge that pipelines were being handled at Washington. The laying of 600 miles of pipe in Iran, using American materials, was one of the projects included in the Washington task list of 24 November, although pipeline was absent from Wheeler's list of projects issued at the same time. During that month, the British Ministry of Supply pressed the Lend-Lease Administration so strongly to hurry the procurement and shipment of pipeline material that it was arranged that the Office of the Chief of Engineers, War Department, would report frequently on the status of pipeline procurement to General George Spalding of the erstwhile Division of Defense Aid Reports, Office for Emergency Management, who would pass on the reports to the Lend-Lease Administrator, Mr. Stettinius, who would in turn reassure the British.8 The early plans contemplated connecting the proposed pipeline system with six container plants in order that manufactured drums and jerrycans could be filled at the plants themselves. Specific pipeline routes were placed under study and the engineer constructor alerted to undertake the construction of the lines and twelve pumping stations, using "materials furnished through Lend-Lease on a British requisition." The first requisition for 600 miles of 6-inch pipe (later increased to 760 miles) was nearly all shipped from the United States by January 1942 and it was expected that by May all necessary pipe and couplings would reach Iran.9


On the date of Captain Yount's report on construction needs, which was prepared at Washington, General Wheeler informed General Moore, Deputy Chief of Staff for Supply, War Department, that negotiations were under way in the field for the pipeline construction to be done by the AIOC. "Unless otherwise directed," said the message, "contractor need not be prepared for this work."10

Although this was an indication of the direction in which matters were moving, it was not final, and planning continued in the United States. Like everything else, planning for pipeline construction involved a great deal of detail, and, like everything else, much of this detail required solution in high places rather than in the field. For instance, a difference over joints had developed in the field between Colonel Gillies, commanding the Basra subheadquarters office of the Iranian Mission, and the local British representative. The British wanted welded joints; Colonel Gillies recommended dresser joints. The matter was referred to Washington where Brigadier Blood and a representative of the Office of the Chief of Engineers decided that, although it was general practice for the Americans in constructing a pipeline system for the British to follow British wishes, dresser joints would be used, subject to the approval of the Commander-in-Chief, India.11

On 24 December 1941 a preliminary report on the Iranian pipeline project was submitted to the recently appointed District Engineer for the Iranian Engineer District, Colonel Lieber.12 The report dealt with the following six proposed pipeline routes together with necessary pumping stations and communications

(1) Ahwaz-Dizful-Ramadan 320 miles refined products

(2) Ahwaz-Dizful 100 miles fuel oil

(3) Abadan-Basra 35 miles refined products and fuel oil

(4) Baghdad-Khanaqin 110 miles refined products and fuel oil

(5) Kirkuk-Mosul 100 miles refined products


(6) Kirkuk-Baiji 66 miles refined products and fuel oil

This very considerable network, when added to existing oil lines in the area, would provide the British oil fields in Iraq and Iran with alternative connections with Mediterranean outlets, and would also establish an integrated oil transport system extending from the Persian Gulf far into the northern interior. In a memorandum prepared in January in the home office of the Iranian Mission in Washington, supposed Axis strategy against the oil fields, the Suez Canal, and the Persian Corridor supply line was examined with relation to possible routes of enemy attack upon these regions. The pipeline program was presented as directly meeting or preparing "for an enemy drive southward and from between the Caspian and Black Seas." Nevertheless, it was observed that without detailed study of transportation conditions in the field it was impossible to estimate the amount of relief the proposed pipelines would afford existing highway and rail transport.13

By early January the negotiations referred to by General Wheeler in November resulted in the War Department's proposing to furnish materials, which were then actually en route to Iran, while the AIOC would construct the lines with British labor. The proposed routes were reduced to five, namely numbers 1, 2, 3, and 6 as listed above, and either 4 or 5.14

At this time a meeting was held in the Division of Near Eastern Affairs, Department of State, to consider the postwar implications of the pipeline project and to determine what agreement the State Department should endeavor to reach with the British Foreign Office regarding ownership and use of the proposed pipelines in the postwar period. Prior to the meeting the Department of State had informed the War Department that, although it did not wish to delay matters or to cast doubt upon .the War Department's judgment of the military value of the projects, the State Department was concerned with protecting American oil interests "in the future developments in this area and preventing a repetition of the events of the period immediately subsequent to the first World War."15


At the meeting Wallace Murray, Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs of the Department of State, and later Ambassador to Iran, presented an account of the exclusion of American interests from the development of the Iraqi oil fields following failure of the United States to ratify the Treaty of Versailles. He told how the Colby-Curzon correspondence of 1920-28 led to the British Government's allowing American interests a 23.75-percent share in the Iraq Petroleum Company in 1928, and he sketched the history of the D'Arcy concession of 1901 granted to the AIOC and renewed with some limitation in 1933. In view of the predictions of experts that American domestic oil supplies were not inexhaustible, the State Department, taking a long-range view of American requirements, wished to ensure that American interests in Iran would not be put at a disadvantage by the proposed pipeline construction in Iraq, where American participation in the oil company was a minority one, and in Iran, where the AIOC enjoyed, save for the five northern provinces, exclusive rights to exploit oil resources. It was thought that an arrangement protecting the interests of all concerned, American as well as British and Iranian, might "relieve Iran from possible British postwar pressure to make the lines available exclusively to the AIOC."16 The lack of lend-lease agreements with Iraq and Iran at the time of the meeting complicated the postwar disposition of any pipelines which might be built on their territory with American materials.

Consideration was therefore directed to whether the proposed routes were for strictly strategic use or based primarily upon future commercial requirements; to the effect of the lines upon postwar distribution of refined products and upon development of new oil fields; to the question whether their construction would operate to bar American participation in future oil developments in this area; and finally to the question of how to agree to safeguard American interests without jeopardizing military necessity.

It was concluded that the State Department would explore the matter with the Foreign Office; that ownership would remain in abeyance during the war; that after the war it was desirable that ownership and disposition of the lines be settled by agreement among the United States, Iran, and the United Kingdom; that pipelines be regarded


as in the same category as other material assistance from the United States carried out under the terms of lend-lease, such as port development, railway rolling stock, and highway improvement; and, finally, that no delay in the project be interposed by the United States.

General Moore advised that the British be notified that they could not dispose of lend-lease projects without American permission, and that General Wheeler be formally directed to examine all lend-lease proposals "from the standpoint of military necessity." There is no record that such instructions were formally delivered to Wheeler, but Captain Yount, who proceeded to Baghdad shortly after the meeting, informed Wheeler fully as to its deliberations and conclusions.17

The protection of American postwar interest in the proposed lines, the question involved in General Moore's first suggestion, was promptly undertaken by the State Department and record of their action transmitted on 30 January to the home office of the Iranian Mission "with reference to the meeting concerning a proposal to construct pipelines in Iran." The method followed by the State Department was to instruct U.S. ambassadors at London, Kuybyshev, and Tehran to protest against the provisions of Article IV of the draft treaty then being negotiated by Britain, the USSR, and Iran to formalize the situation resulting from the invasion and occupation of Iran by British and Soviet forces in the preceding year as a counterstroke against Nazi forces working for the control of Iran. Article IV read:

A special agreement shall be concluded between the Allied governments the United Kingdom and USSR and the Imperial Iranian Government defining the conditions of any transfers to the Imperial Iranian Government after the war of buildings and other improvements effected by the Allied Powers on Iranian territory. These agreements shall also settle the immunities to be enjoyed by the Allied forces in Iran.

The instructions forwarded to the American ambassadors cited this article as appearing "to envisage subsequent negotiations restricted to Great Britain, Soviet Russia, and Iran, involving the disposition of property which would apparently include American lend-lease material and affecting the long-range interests of the United States in Iran." The ambassadors were instructed therefore to request assurance from the United Kingdom and the USSR that no such negotiations as were referred to by Article IV should be undertaken "before this Government has been consulted and has given its consent to any provisions at present affecting, or which may in the future affect American property, rights or interests in Iran."18


The upshot was that the only construction under the original program was the short line from Abadan to Basra listed as route 3 above. Pipe was supplied under lend-lease for construction by the British. The installation was estimated to carry 192,000 gallons a day. Although Folspen was relieved of responsibility for construction, as foreshadowed in November by General Wheeler, the American engineer constructor was nevertheless requested by the British to provide some welding equipment and welding supervisors and some technical supervision. Thus the early plans for an elaborate Iran-Iraq pipeline network of more than 700 miles were modified down to 35 miles. The episode furnishes an instructive military footnote to the larger story of Middle East oil which lies beyond the limits of the present history.19

Increase of Middle East Refinery Capacity--Bahrein

Although oil existed in plenty in Iraq and Iran, and there were Allied-controlled refineries at Haifa, Bahrein, and Abadan, the exigencies of the war situation in the Middle East in 1941 and 1942 tended to limit the use to which these vital Allied war assets could be put in behalf of the war effort. As Dr. Herbert Feis has written, "The dangers of German destruction or conquest of Middle Eastern oil fields and refineries, the virtual closing of the Mediterranean to tanker transport, and the length of the sea haul from the Persian Gulf to western Europe combined to confine the usefulness of Middle Eastern oil mainly to nearby military operations and safely accessible points until 1943-k." American interest in increasing Middle East refinery capacity was expressed late in 1941 by the U.S. Army Air Forces. In November arrangements were made by the appropriate governmental agencies to expedite shipment of needed machinery and equipment to Abadan for increase of its output. Early in the new year, 1942, the Office of the Petroleum Co-ordinator (which in December 1942 became the Petroleum Administration for War) asked the Bahrein Petroleum Company (BAPCO) to submit proposals for the addition to their refinery of 100-octane gasoline facilities. At the same time the co-ordinator, Harold Ickes, proposed a general program to increase Middle East


refinery capacity which was deferred on the advice of military officials pending clarification of the war situation in that area. Further shipments to Abadan of machinery and equipment were expedited in May and July 1942 and in May and June certificates of priority for materials for the general expansion of the refinery at Haifa were issued. In 1943 agreement was reached to undertake the Bahrein plant expansion. In the same year the construction of the Arabian American Company's refinery at Ras Tannura, Saudi Arabia, was begun. By the end of the war all this activity had provided an increase of 43 percent in total Middle East refinery capacity, that at Abadan amounting to more than 100 percent.20

In the case of the refineries at Abadan and Haifa, American aid was limited to expediting allocation and shipment of machinery and equipment. The Bahrein and Ras Tannura construction was facilitated on the urgent recommendation of the Army-Navy Petroleum Boardestablished in 1942, later (1943 ) an agency of the joint Chiefs of Staff-in order that its output might serve American military and naval needs in the Pacific war. Only in the case of Bahrein were United States Government funds employed or did the War Department, through its commanding generals at Cairo and Tehran, assume even indirect responsibility.

This responsibility for operations at the Bahrein refinery was indirect because there was no contractual relationship regarding the refinery between the War Department and BAPCO.21 It would be more accurate, therefore, to say that, instead of responsibility, the War Department exercised a paramount interest in the progress of the high-


octane aviation gasoline expansion program and that this interest found expression in assumption of jurisdiction over American employees of the companies on Bahrein Island. To understand the resulting situation, never clearly defined, it will be necessary to review certain aspects of the refinery project although construction and operation of the refinery were the direct responsibility of BAPCO and outside the jurisdiction of War Department agencies.

The oil concession held by BAPCO, a Canadian subsidiary of Standard Oil Company of California, was first granted by the Sheik of Bahrein, through the good offices of the Department of State, to another American company. After BAPCO took over, it started work on the island in 1931, bringing in the first oil strike the next year. The first crude was shipped out in 1934. A refinery, built in 1936, was enlarged in 1937 and 1940. The high-octane plant additions begun in 1943 were undertaken under a contract with the Defense Supplies Corporation, a subsidiary of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, Defense Supplies Corporation putting up 75 percent of the cost in return for taking the entire high-octane output as agents for the U.S. Army and Navy. The first shipment of 100-octane gasoline from the new plant occurred in July 1945. New plant construction was carried on for BAPCO by a subcontractor, Compania Constructora BechtelMcCone (BMC), a Venezuelan corporation.22

Three factors in the eventual exercise of interest by the War Department require notice: first, the political situation at Bahrein Island; second, certain proposals made during the contract negotiations; and third, early difficulties in operations which threatened the success of the undertaking and brought about the exercise of the War Department's interest.

The Sheikdom of Bahrein is a British protectorate, British rights on the island having existed from about 1820. Pursuant to an agreement between the British Government and the Sheik Isa in 1909 and a Bahrein Order in Council of 1913, the British political agent on the island conducted on behalf of the Sheik all foreign relations and exercised on behalf of the Sheik exclusive jurisdiction over all non-Bahreini on the island. During the period under review (1943-45 ) the British political agent was endowed with sweeping power to deport any American or British subject, without reference to the Sheik, for "intrigue" or "conduct prejudicial to good order and disturbance of


the peace," or for offenses, misdemeanors, or felonies.23 Furthermore, although the BAPCO concession was granted by the Sheik, it was under the jurisdiction of the British Government which could control or pre-empt it. A challenge to British interest in Bahrein was offered in November 1927 when the government of Iran claimed sovereignty over the island; but this was met by notice served by the British of their intention to protect Bahrein against all other claimants. In 1943-45 there was no United States consul or other American political representative on the island, a proposal by the State Department to send a consul having been protested by the British.24

Partly because of this political background, BAPCO, when asked by the Office of the Petroleum Co-ordinator in ,January 1942 to submit proposals for construction of 100-octane gasoline facilities, complied in March with the suggestions that the plant be owned by the United States Government; security be provided by military police (American) ; the United States Government assist in recruiting, deferring from the draft, and transporting civilian employees; necessary priorities and shipping space be assured; and in the event of enemy attack the United States Government evacuate the construction forces.25

Because of the reluctance of the Army to proceed with a general program of Middle East refinery expansion until the war situation had become clarified, the BAPCO reply was held for some time under advisement until in December the Army-Navy Petroleum Board, on behalf of the joint Chiefs of Staff, authorized the Petroleum Administrator for War to inform BAPCO that the project at Bahrein was urgently desired. Accordingly, BAPCO submitted new proposals in January 1943 looking to completion of the plant by the middle of 1944. Long consideration of the contract with the Defense Supplies Corporation ensued, and construction personnel did not reach the island in substantial numbers until early 1944. The target date was consequently advanced to March 1945, and, as has been stated, the first shipment of high-octane gasoline was not made until July 1945.26

It is important to note, for its effect upon future developments, that under the contract finally agreed upon the United States accepted only BAPCO's third and fourth proposals and that no responsibility was assumed by the United States for security of plant or for jurisdiction over civilian personnel.


After the commencement of construction numerous difficulties arose which tended to delay the project and to foster poor morale among the civilian construction workers for BMC, the BAPCO subcontractor. Among these difficulties was a marked underestimate of personnel needs, placing undue burdens upon an insufficient force at the beginning. There were also delays in delivery of men and materials, abnormally slow discharge of cargoes by the local British lighterage firm ( Gray Mackenzie & Co., Ltd.) when they did arrive, shortage of materials, equipment, and motor transport, and shortage of native unskilled labor because of the numbers required by the Royal Air Force in its construction of airport facilities on another part of the island for the Air Transport Command. There was also an average weekly wage differential of one hundred and fifty dollars to the disadvantage of the BMC employees at Bahrein as compared to wages paid by the M. W. Kellogg Company to Americans on its refinery project at Abadan.27 All of this contributed to an abnormally high labor turnover which was both costly and inefficient and which reflected an increasing spirit of unrest among the American employees at the refinery whose numbers rose from twenty-five in December 1943 to over 1,000 in 1944-45 for both BAPCO and BMC.28

Unrest culminated on the night of 17-18 June 1944 in "the incident at the gate," in which two Americans, attempting to enter the refinery without passes, resisted the local Bahreini police.29 It was understood by the contractors that under local law and the conditions of their concession their employees properly came under local police jurisdiction. The incident at the gate merely dramatized and focused attention upon the refusal of a malicious element among the employees to recognize that jurisdiction. Apprised of the resultant impasse and the threat it implied to the success of the Bahrein aviation gasoline project, General Connolly promptly dispatched his deputy provost marshal to Bahrein to investigate. This action, justified by the general responsibility of Connolly for maintenance of War Department interests, rested


upon a presumption of specific jurisdiction rather than upon any clearly defined jurisdiction.

The Army authorities possessed the right to apply the Articles of War to War Department civilian employees under their jurisdiction. At Bahrein, however, neither contractor nor employees operated under War Department contract. The question of Army jurisdiction over Bahrein's refinery had come up in November 1943 when General Royce, then commanding general of USAFIME, cabled General Somervell that he had heard that responsibility for it was to be assigned to the Persian Gulf Service Command, then still a part of the USAFIME command. To General Royce's suggestion that jurisdiction be assigned USAFIME, Somervell replied that, although the jurisdiction was automatically USAFIME's under the command setup, it was desirable that "any army responsibility be relegated to CG PGSC as it is believed that his technical staff is especially qualified to handle this."30 Under other circumstances the judge Advocate General later, on 13 May 1944, advised the Commanding General, USAFIME, not to courtmartial American civilian employees of BAPCO while they remained within the limits of the Middle East theater as it was doubtful whether such procedure would be sustained if tested by habeas corpus or other civil proceeding.31 The lack of clearly defined jurisdiction as between USAFIME and the American command in the Persian Gulf over the Bahrein project further complicated the problem of controlling the transfer of ex-employees of BAPCO and BMC to the payrolls of USAFIME civilian contractors, a factor in the high Bahrein labor turnover which General Connolly labored more than a year to eradicate by agreed controls and arrangements with Brig. Gen. Benjamin F. Giles, who became Commanding General, USAFIME, in March 1944.32 Some weeks previous to the incident at the gate, General Connolly had informed the American charge d'affaires at Tehran that the


Persian Gulf Command could not control the American civilians at Bahrein because they were not employees of the War Department or of a War Department contractor.33

Such was the situation when General Connolly met the fact of civilian resistance to local authority by the dispatch of his deputy provost marshal. This officer reported under date of 27 June 1944 that the British political agent claimed exclusive jurisdiction over the American civilians but promised to appoint Americans as his agents in any trials resulting from lawbreaking. The American recommended the assignment to Bahrein of an American commanding officer to be responsible to the Director of Forts and Gulf District, PGC, and the assignment of twelve American military policemen and two Counter Intelligence Corps agents.34

General Connolly forthwith notified BAPCO on 5 July that neither the War Department nor the Department of State recognized local British jurisdiction over American civilians and that any deputizing should be done by the Sheik and not by the British political agent. When BAPCO replied that because of the local conditions already explained this was impossible, Connolly referred the matter to General Somervell with a request to the Department of State to handle the situation. A prompt reply advised. Connolly to let the status quo stand, nor were matters clarified by a radio from Somervell on 16 July stating that the Provost Marshal General had ruled that the PGC was not responsible for jurisdiction over the American civilians, but that the Commanding General, PGC, might remove or exclude undesirables upon notification of the U.S. consul. As there was no U.S. consul at Bahrein, the consul forty miles across the water at Dhahran handled necessary consular duties.35

Thus matters stood through the rest of 1944 and 1945 while the aviation gasoline project was brought to completion, the bulk of American civilians withdrawn, and the PGC itself ultimately deactivated. With the arrival of ATC troops at the airfield at Muharraq, at the other end of Bahrein from the refinery at Awali, the presence of American military personnel with a direct administrative link to the PGC contributed to the security of the refinery without disturbing the established local jurisdiction of the British political agent.


 Container Plants at Abadan and Bahrein

The rather minor responsibilities of the U.S. Army for establishment and operation of plants for the manufacture of jerrycans and oil drums in the area of the Persian Gulf fell within the framework of a program for the whole Middle East initiated at Cairo. Rommel's successful push into Egypt in May 1941 literally blew the extensive British stockpile of jerrycans sky-high. These indispensable containers are difficult to destroy; but when some three million of them are hit by shellfire and blast, it is scarcely practicable, under fire, to run about the desert and pick them up again. They are a total loss. For the next year the British attempted to resupply themselves. Increasing needs, not only of the British Army and Royal Air Force but of the American Air Forces, led to discussion at Cairo for reproducing drums and cans in requisite quantities. By September 1942 General Maxwell was planning for factories at Haifa, Cairo, Alexandria, Tanta, Abadan, and Tehran. He requested General Marshall to send six complete plants by mid-October. On 24 October Maxwell asked General Somervell to give the plants top priority because of their urgent need. On 2 January 1943 Maxwell asked Somervell for ten additional plants.36

The ultimate program was on a smaller scale. On 17 May a contract was approved between the Ordnance Department and the Overseas Steel Container Corporation, a subsidiary of the U.S. Steel Corporation, for management, operation, and maintenance of plants for the production of steel drums, pails, and jerrycans in North Africa and the Middle East. By Anglo-American agreement in June USAFIME was responsible for five container plants as part of a coordinated group to receive quotas established by the War Office, London, and allocatedby the Deputy Director of Works, Middle East Forces, Cairo. In August it was settled that after installation by the Corps of Engineers operation of the plants would be by the Overseas Steel Container Corporation under ordnance supervision.37

Meanwhile arrangements were made for establishment within this general program of a container factory at Abadan. In an exchange of views on the subject in April 1943 between American headquarters at Cairo and Tehran, General Connolly stated that, although the pro-


posal to set up a plant at Abadan was one for determination at Washington, it was the view of both the American and British commands in his area that no need for such a plant existed. General Crawford, commanding Services of Supply, USAFIME, replied that the matter had been studied from a theater point of view and agreement with the British had been reached.38 Plans, therefore, went ahead, the British constructing the necessary buildings at Abadan for three American plants-one for jerrycans, one for 36-imperial-gallon drums, and a third for U.S. 55-gallon drums. There was a temporary crisis in August, after the buildings were erected and the plants were arriving for installation, when there was a sudden decision to ship everything to Bahrein Island, but this was rescinded in a few days.39 The Abadan factory was to be operated by the Overseas Steel Container Corporation as long as required to train British personnel. It was agreed that in return for supplying the materials for cans and drums, the British would take the full output during 1943. No agreement as to costs or distribution of output was reached. It was assumed that the British, who required containers for their campaigns in Southeast Asia, would assign production where most needed.

It is not clear from the record whether the plants at Abadan were ever American operated, although Americans, acting under the responsibility of the Commanding General, PGSC, instructed the Indian Army labor battalion, which worked the plants, in their operation and lent a hand later on from time to time when their knowledge of the machinery was required to surmount difficulties or to get things started again after breakdowns.

Since the output was to be wholly allocated to British uses, it was recommended early in September, before operations began, that the plants be turned over to the British. In October Washington relieved General Connolly of his responsibility for the container plants at Abadan, the Overseas Steel Container Corporation faded from the picture, and the British took over responsibility for operation, while title to the plants was held by the Commanding General, SOS, USAFIME. The Abadan plants appear to have begun operation late in 1943 and, except for the jerrycan plant, to have continued into 1945.40


Meanwhile General Connolly, who still found no necessity for the plants and believed that neither the British nor the Americans would use any large production from them, accepted the decision of higher authority to proceed anyhow and in September 1943 suggested locating one or two 55-gallon drum plants at Bahrein Island. This would provide, in case of loss or damage at the Abadan plant, an alternative plant seven or eight days nearer the CBI theater than those in the Mediterranean area. The recommendation was shortly followed by conclusion of a contract with BAPCO to establish and operate at their works two 55-gallon plants.41 The War Department was to furnish the necessary manufacturing machinery, some of which was shipped to Bahrein from Mombasa, to reimburse the contractor for half the cost of the necessary buildings and to offer him the first opportunity to purchase the machinery at the termination of the contract. In turn the contractor was to manufacture drums at a fixed price per completed drum in quantities ordered by the government and to furnish all labor and materials not specified in the contract. Since the government controlled the rate of production, the contractor was to be paid a stated monthly sum for all fixed charges not affected by the rate of production. Administratively the Bahrein plant's connection with General Connolly's headquarters was through Plants Branch, Operations Division, which co-ordinated operations through the commanding officer of the Gulf District. The Plants Branch also acted as liaison agent with the Petroleum Adviser, Operations Division, and reported monthly the number of drums necessary to produce. It also maintained close contact with the Assistant Chief of Staff for Supply on matters pertaining to materials and equipment. As a statistics office, Plants Branch obtained weekly and monthly production reports and retained copies of receipts for plant equipment and materials used by the contractor.

The Bahrein plants went into production on a two-line basis on 1 August 1944 and almost immediately shut down because of lessened demand for 55-gallon drums and stood by for instructions from the Army-Navy Petroleum Board. By November, when authority was received from Washington to devote total output to British requirements in Southeast Asia, operations were on a three-shift basis. Total production of drums to the year's end was 41,307 accepted units. Because of increased labor force, better contractor supervision, and the


arrival of needed equipment, production for the month of February 1945 reached 41,691, rising in April to 48,949.42

Meanwhile, in March certain complications arose as to continued operation of the plant. A general policy had been evolved in Washington to sell all American drum plants in areas where the United States had no supply responsibility, and BAPCO had evinced an interest in buying the two drum plants, War Department owned, at their refinery. Responsibility for over-all policy regarding the plant now rested with the Commanding General, Army Service Forces, and the Army-Navy Petroleum Board, who advised Headquarters, PGC, that production was to continue as long as required to meet operational demands for containers. Although a stock pile of some 76,000 drums had accumulated at Bahrein and supplies on hand there were sufficient for six months' production at the monthly quota of 40,000 units demanded by the British, Abadan production, owing to shortages of steel and supplies there, had fallen off drastically and might fall farther. The Bahrein plant was thus useful in supplementing Abadan production; but in the opinion of Headquarters, PGC, it seemed, even in these circumstances, to be producing more than conditions warranted. Accordingly, authority was requested from the Army-Navy Petroleum Board to reduce production to a one-line, two-shift basis at a minimum target of 40,000 per month until the British could demonstrate their ability to move out the accumulated stock pile. Permission was granted, effective 1 May, and the authorities at PAI Force were so informed.43

Up to 1 May Bahrein's cumulative production amounted to 188,346 accepted drums. During that month, however, with a return to the one-line, two-shift plan of operation, and because of breakdowns of machinery which, in spite of appeals to AIOC, Middle East Forces, Africa-Middle East Theater, and India, could not be replaced, the monthly total fell to 23,665 accepted units, but rose again sharply next month.44

The American decision to reduce production had been met with British demands for an increase. At first the Americans countered with the suggestion that, since the Bahrein and Abadan output was solely destined for British uses in Southeast Asia, the Abadan plants be moved to India and their production taken up by the plants at Bahrein and


those in the Africa-Middle East Theater. Before this went any further the progress of the Japanese war determined Washington that continued operation of American-sponsored drum plants in the Persian Gulf Command was inconsistent with a policy of troop withdrawal and redeployment, and in June PGC was advised that the British Army Staff in Washington had been notified to that effect.45

In accordance with this decision the Director, Readjustment Division, Army Service Forces, declared surplus Abadan plants 166-A, 187-A, and 127-B, along with the Bahrein plant, effective 1 August 1945, and terminated the Bahrein contract as of 31 July. Plants Branch, Operations Division, PGC, prepared schedules of equipment for the Supply Division, Headquarters, PGC, to process prior to turning over to the Army-Navy Liquidation Commission for disposal. It was later discovered that, because of provisions in the Bahrein contract, that plant could not be declared surplus, and the Jersey City Quartermaster Depot was designated by the War Department to negotiate with BAPCO for sale.46

Supply of POL Within the Command

Inherent in its primary mission as a supply line was the responsibility of the Persian Gulf Gourmand and its predecessors for the movement of POL.47 Within the area of the command, of course, lay not only a large part of the civilian population of Iran with its normal petroleum demands, but also those organizations, principally military, of Iranian, British, Soviet, and American nationality, which required petroleum products in large quantities, both to fill the normal housekeeping requirements for maintenance of military establishments and forces and for the operation of shipping, ports, highway convoys, railways, and industrial enterprises such as motor vehicle and aircraft assembly plants.

The top authority over production and distribution of petroleum products in the area was the Baghdad Petroleum Advisory Committee,


upon which a representative of the American command served with representatives of the AIOC and affiliated companies, PAI Force, the RAF, and the Petroleum Division of the British Ministry of Fuel and Power, London.48 The findings and recommendations of the committee's monthly meetings were submitted to the ministry in London, and through it to the U.S. Army-Navy Petroleum Board at Washington. Production and distribution were interpreted as covering oversight of responsibility and accountability for consumption, and, of course, all plans for distribution including highway, barge, rail, and pipeline transport, and the construction, location, and operation of container and filling plants. In the practical application of these responsibilities within the area, final decisions and allocation of responsibility for carrying them out were arranged by mutual agreement between the British and American local commands. This allocation shifted during the period of American activity in Iran, from rather incidental responsibility on the part of the Americans for their own early projects in 1942, to the fullest measure of responsibility in 1944-45, the period in which the American command virtually took over all Persian Corridor transport direction and control. During the period 1941-45 many agencies carried petroleum products within the area-agencies both civilian, like the United Kingdom Commercial Corporation and the AIOC, and military, like PAI Force, the RAF, and Soviet military organizations. American statistics cover petroleum hauled by American-operated transport agencies, but do not necessarily cover all petroleum hauled, non-American records being unavailable.

The complexity of the task of petroleum distribution can be gauged by a listing of the consumers within the area. Within the jurisdiction of the successive American commands, of which the Persian Gulf Command was the last, the largest consumers of fuel oil, which originated in Iran, and of lubricants, which came from the United States, were the Military Railway Service, which operated the railway, and the Motor Transport Service, which operated the convoys of trucks. The ISR had its own purchasing contract with the AIOC, but American petroleum statistics include, nevertheless, not only the fuel thus purchased to run the railway, but also the petroleum products carried over the railway for Soviet account under the several protocols and for all other purposes. Other requirements for petroleum products within the American command included that for operation of posts, camps, and stations; aviation gasoline (in addition to that carried north for Soviet account) for the American Air Forces and ATC; and POL


for the Eastern Command, briefly located inside Soviet territory in the shuttle-bombing program which was supplied through the Persian Corridor. There were also needs connected with the testing and flying of USSR aircraft assembled in the Corridor.

Other consumption in the area, for which at one time or another the transport facilities operated by the American forces hauled petroleum products, included Soviet air force and armies, PAI Force, Soviet military transport, the newly assembled Soviet trucks, newly assembled UKCC trucks, and the Iranian Army, Gendarmerie, military transport, and civilian needs. It is notable that in 1943-44 nearly twice as much fuel was delivered for Iranian domestic and civilian commercial use as ever before, and that the amount was further increased the following year in the face of all other demands that were being met within the Corridor. This was the result of increased oil production and refining as well as of vastly increased transportation facilities. Although during the Allied occupation Iran experienced inflation and a period of food shortage, the presence of foreign forces was accompanied by increased domestic civilian consumption of petroleum products. In spite of the increased civilian consumption, American officials stated that there was no basis for the complaint of two Soviet officials in August 1943 that the "private motorist in Persia" was getting gasoline needed by the Soviets for the battles of Orel and Kharkov.49 Over-all Soviet petroleum requests were fully met.

After General Connolly's arrival in the field in October 1942, a Movement Division of the Persian Gulf Service Command was set up in Basra. Since the previous July an American movements representative had performed liaison there between the small American detachment and the British forces and continued in general liaison work including the co-ordination of information relating to the first largescale arrival of American troops in December 1942. The new Movement Division was officially activated on 5 January 1943 at Khorramshahr, with three branches, including a Transportation Branch from which, by a reorganization of 15 March 1943, developed the Oil Section, Movements Branch, Operations Division. The Americans took over from the British on 1 May 1943 the control of USSR cargoes. The setting up of a separate Oil Section, as distinct from a Transportation Section within Movements Branch, emphasized the need for an office to deal with control and distribution of tank cars. Although after January 1945 AIOC became responsible for maintaining full storage by means of an agreed allotment of tank cars, PGC still had to account for


operating delays in transit. Therefore, the Oil Section continued actively until May 1945 when it was incorporated into the Inland Traffic Section.

To represent the command on the Baghdad Petroleum Advisory Committee, to act as technical adviser on all petroleum matters, and to co-ordinate petroleum activities within the theater, the Office of Petroleum Adviser was established in March 1943 and the adviser attached as special assistant to the chief of staff. On 23 December 1944 the office was transferred to Operations Division and was dissolved on 1 August 1945.50 The petroleum products obtained by the American forces from the AIOC were supplied on reciprocal aid by requisitions made upon PAI Force.

The movement of a basic commodity like petroleum must be accurately traced and exactly measured if it is to be statistically evaluated with relation to other types of cargoes. In the Persian Corridor the numerous agencies, with their different record-keeping systems, make a valid statistical analysis of petroleum movement performed by the U.S. Army impossible. Totals, unrelated to other figures, are difficult to comprehend and not significant in themselves; but they furnish the only materials for evaluation.

American Army operation up to 31 March 1945 consumed 53 7,804long tons of petroleum, exclusive of lubricants. The ISR, whose cargoes were proportionately the greatest in the Corridor and are reliable as indicators of movement, carried 4,638,095 long tons north of Andimeshk from August 1942 through May 1945. Of this total, 2,934,443 long tons, including petroleum, were destined for the USSR. One source states that of that Soviet-destined tonnage carried by the ISR, 653,659 long tons of petroleum were delivered at Tehran.51 The Soviet share of total cargoes hauled north of Andimeshk by rail during this period was 63 percent; 40 percent of total rail tonnage was petroleum, more than one third of which was for Russia. The total rail cargo hauled north of Andimeshk in this period and not destined for the USSR was 1,155,041 long tons, more than half of it oil. The railway itself received 258,695 long tons in bulk oil; 553,014 long tons were for the Iranian civilian economy; and the balance was for American, British, and Russian military and civilian agencies in the area.

The figures indicate that getting oil to many different consumers was no small task. Getting oil to the USSR, the high-priority consumer


of the Persian Corridor for whose supply the American command primarily existed, was a special problem, additional to the general problem of oil transport.

Gasoline for Russia

In the spring of 1943 it was apparent that the exigencies of the struggle on the Eastern Front would soon require the Soviets to call for greatly increased supplies of aviation gasoline from the Western Powers. On 12 May a message went from General Somervell to General Connolly requesting advice as to the feasibility of sending bulk shipments of aviation fuel via the Persian Corridor.52 The Aviation Gasoline Program, world-wide in scope, was based, in the Persian Corridor area, upon an agreement reached in following months whereby the AIOC made available for Russian delivery amounts of high-octane aviation gasoline to be delivered by the American-operated transport agencies. The gasoline was. supplied on reverse lend-lease, subject to delivery in the United Kingdom of equivalent amounts of petroleum from Western Hemisphere sources to compensate the United Kingdom for AIOC products normally intended for their uses. The Persian Gulf part in the program came into effect as of 1 July 1943 under the Third ( London ) Protocol and continued through the Fourth (Ottawa) Protocol, which was effective through 12 May 1945. Over half a million long tons thus went to the USSR from the Abadan refinery.

Preliminary estimates in May 1943 were for haulage of 5,000 long tons per month. To superimpose the new burden upon the already increasing transport demands in the Corridor required not only new and complex arrangements for railway tank cars, highway haulage, shipping-including tankers and barges-storage facilities, and container filling, but development of new transport means such as pipelines, and a high degree of co-ordination of all these factors. As arrangements developed, capacity estimates by July 1943 had increased to 10,000 long tons per month and were projected at that level through June 1944. By November 1943, however, it was possible to raise the target to 25,000 long tons per month, and in the following July the target was stepped up to 37,000, of which 23,000 were to be carried in railway tank cars and 14,000 in drums. The figure of 37,000 long tons per month continued to April 1945, dropped in May to 25,000, and on 1 June 1945 the program was terminated.53


The steady increase in USSR bulk petroleum products (highoctane gasoline and alkylate), carried from September 1943 on into 1945, was accomplished without affecting the distribution of petroleum for other uses within the Corridor. This achievement was made possible through a number of factors. The fleet of tank cars available in July 1943 for USSR petroleum was only forty cars. By March 1945, 400 tank cars transported 32,855 long tons of high-octane gasoline. The tank car turnaround period of fifteen days in 1943 dropped to half that in 1945. Economies and efficiencies all down the line contributed; but the most significant factor was the erection of new installations, called Petroleum Base 4 (P-4) and Petroleum Base 7 (P-7) near Khorramshahr.

Although by the summer of 1943 the AIOC in conjunction with PAI Force had already established a number of fuel bases for reception, storage and distribution of petroleum, the increased requirements called for additional facilities. A site two miles north of Khorramshahr adjacent to the PGSC's Ports Service Motor Pool was selected and in August 1943 construction of P-4 was begun. Leveling of the area and laying the concrete floor was accomplished by American Khorramshahr Post engineers while above-ground facilities were constructed by the British Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. The AIOC installed pipelines and distribution points and on 25 November 1943 rail tank cars began to move north out of P-4.

P-4 thus became the terminus of pipelines from the Abadan refinery. At this base fuel was distributed to tank cars by use of small pressure pumps. The installation also filled drums for truck haulage. In addition it served as a transportation clearing yard for rail and truck movements to the Soviet receiving points on the Caspian Sea. The drumming of gasoline, with which American troops were particularly concerned in this co-operative Anglo-American undertaking, did not commence until May 1944. Responsibility was divided among numerous agencies. AIOC supplied the gasoline; U.S. Khorramshahr Port Transportation along with British Movement Control arranged for transport scheduling; the 6th British Petrol Staff and the 153d (later 154th) Indian Depot ( Indian Army Service Force) filled tank cars and tested, washed, and filled drums; while American personnel from Khorramshahr port handled the loading and unloading of drums


and the spotting of rail cars and trucks. Russian inspection officers completed the P-4 team.

P-4 had been in operation something over a year when acute need for further facilities set the Americans to construction of the near-by sister installation, P-7, designed to serve for 100-octane fuel, while P-4 would handle 70-octane. Construction was quickly accomplished; but by January 1945, P-7 became a storage area and P-4 handled all 100-octane gasoline. At the end of April the U.S. Army withdrew, handing over to PAI Force, although the American Port Transportation Office continued to assist in movement matters. During the period of its operation P-4 cased and shipped over 275,000,000 gallons of 70and 100-octane fuel to Soviet receiving points. The base averaged 1,200 tank cars or over 9,000,000 gallons of gasoline monthly by rail and approximately 2,500,000 gallons in drums monthly.54



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