Persian Corridor

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Allied road and rail supply lines through Persia into the USSR Aidroutes.jpg
Allied road and rail supply lines through Persia into the USSR

The Persian Corridor was a supply route through Iran into Soviet Azerbaijan by which British aid and American Lend-Lease supplies were transferred to the Soviet Union during World War II.

Iran Country in Western Asia

Iran, also called Persia and officially known as the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia. With over 81 million inhabitants, Iran is the world's 18th most populous country. Comprising a land area of 1,648,195 km2 (636,372 sq mi), it is the second largest country in the Middle East and the 17th largest in the world. Iran is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan, to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Turkmenistan, to the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, and to the west by Turkey and Iraq. The country's central location in Eurasia and Western Asia, and its proximity to the Strait of Hormuz, give it geostrategic importance. Tehran is the country's capital and largest city, as well as its leading economic and cultural center.

Lend-Lease United States foreign policy during World War II

The Lend-Lease policy, formally titled An Act to Promote the Defense of the United States, was an American program to defeat Germany, Japan and Italy by distributing food, oil, and materiel between 1941 and August 1945. The aid went to the United Kingdom, China, and later the Soviet Union, Free France, and other Allied nations. It included warships and warplanes, along with other weaponry. The policy was signed into law on March 11, 1941, and ended overnight without prior warning when the war against Japan ended. The aid was free for all countries, although goods in transit when the program ended were charged for. Some transport ships were returned to the US after the war, but practically all the items sent out were used up or worthless in peacetime. In Reverse Lend Lease, the U.S. was given no-cost leases on army and naval bases in Allied territory during the war, as well as local supplies.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Contents

This supply route originated in the US and UK with ships sailing around the Cape of Good Hope to the Persian Gulf. From there, the materiel transited Iran to the USSR. Other supply routes included the Northern route across the Arctic, and the Pacific route which handled US cargo at Vladivostok and then used the Trans-Siberian Railway across the USSR.

Cape of Good Hope Headland of Cape Peninsula, South Africa

The Cape of Good Hope is a rocky headland on the Atlantic coast of the Cape Peninsula in South Africa.

Persian Gulf An arm of the Indian Ocean in western Asia

The Persian Gulf, is a mediterranean sea in Western Asia. The body of water is an extension of the Indian Ocean through the Strait of Hormuz and lies between Iran to the northeast and the Arabian Peninsula to the southwest. The Shatt al-Arab river delta forms the northwest shoreline.

Arctic convoys of World War II Allied oceangoing convoys

The Arctic convoys of World War II were oceangoing convoys which sailed from the United Kingdom, Iceland, and North America to northern ports in the Soviet Union – primarily Arkhangelsk (Archangel) and Murmansk in Russia. There were 78 convoys between August 1941 and May 1945, sailing via several seas of the Atlantic and Arctic oceans, with two gaps with no sailings between July and September 1942, and March and November 1943.

This Persian Route became the only viable, all-weather route to be developed to supply Soviet needs.

Etymology

English-language official documents from the Persian Corridor period continue to make the word "Persia" interchangeable with the name of Iran. In correspondence by the government of the United Kingdom, usage of "Persia" over "Iran" was chosen by Winston Churchill to avoid possible confusion with neighbouring Iraq. [1]

In the Western world, Persia was historically the common name for Iran. On the Nowruz of 1935, Reza Shah Pahlavi asked foreign delegates to use the term Iran, the endonym of the country, in formal correspondence. Since then, in the Western World, the use of the word "Iran" has become more common. This also changed the usage of the terms for Iranian nationality, and the common adjective for citizens of Iran changed from "Persian" to "Iranian". In 1959, the government of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, Reza Shah Pahlavi's son, announced that both "Persia" and "Iran" could officially be used interchangeably. However the issue is still debated today.

Winston Churchill Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a British politician, army officer, and writer. He was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945, when he led Britain to victory in the Second World War, and again from 1951 to 1955. Churchill represented five constituencies during his career as a Member of Parliament (MP). Ideologically an economic liberal and British imperialist, for most of his career he was a member of the Conservative Party, which he led from 1940 to 1955, but from 1904 to 1924 was instead a member of the Liberal Party.

Iraq republic in Western Asia

Iraq, officially known as the Republic of Iraq, is a country in Western Asia, bordered by Turkey to the north, Iran to the east, Kuwait to the southeast, Saudi Arabia to the south, Jordan to the southwest and Syria to the west. The capital, and largest city, is Baghdad. Iraq is home to diverse ethnic groups including Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians, Turkmen, Shabakis, Yazidis, Armenians, Mandeans, Circassians and Kawliya. Around 95% of the country's 37 million citizens are Muslims, with Christianity, Yarsan, Yezidism and Mandeanism also present. The official languages of Iraq are Arabic and Kurdish.

Overthrow of the Shah

Following Germany's invasion of the USSR in June 1941, Britain and the Soviet Union became allies. Britain and the USSR saw the newly opened Trans-Iranian Railway as an attractive route to transport supplies from the Persian Gulf to the Soviet Union. Britain and the USSR used concessions extracted in previous interventions to pressure Iran (and, in Britain's case, Iraq) into allowing the use of their territory for military and logistical purposes. Increased tensions with Britain led to pro-German rallies in Tehran. In August 1941, because Reza Shah refused to expel all German nationals and come down clearly on the Allied side, Britain and the USSR invaded Iran, arrested the monarch and sent him into exile to South Africa, taking control of Iran's communications and the coveted railway.

Operation Barbarossa 1941 German invasion of the Soviet Union during the Second World War

Operation Barbarossa was the code name for the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union, which started on Sunday, 22 June 1941, during World War II. The operation stemmed from Nazi Germany's ideological aims to conquer the western Soviet Union so that it could be repopulated by Germans, to use Slavs as a slave-labour force for the Axis war effort, and to seize the oil reserves of the Caucasus and the agricultural resources of Soviet territories.

Trans-Iranian Railway

The Trans-Iranian Railway was a major railway building project started in 1927 and completed in 1938, under the direction of the Persian monarch, Reza Shah, and entirely with indigenous capital. It links the capital Tehran with the Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea. The railway connected Bandar Shah in the north and Bandar Shahpur in the south via Ahvaz, Ghom and Tehran. During the land reforms implemented by Mohammad Reza Shah in 1963 as part of the "White Revolution" the Trans-Iranian railway was extended to link Tehran to Mashhad, Tabriz, and Isfahan.

Reza Shah Shah of the Imperial State of Iran

Reza Shah Pahlavi, commonly known as Reza Shah, was the Shah of Iran from 15 December 1925 until he was forced to abdicate by the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran on 16 September 1941.

Alliances during the Second World War & The invasion of neutral Iran, 1939-1945. WWII.gif
Alliances during the Second World War & The invasion of neutral Iran, 1939-1945.
Reza Shah in exile. rD shh dr jwhnsbwrg.gif
Reza Shah in exile.
Son of Reza Shah meeting with F. D. Roosevelt at the Tehran Conference, 1943 Shah with FDR.jpeg
Son of Reza Shah meeting with F. D. Roosevelt at the Tehran Conference, 1943

In 1942 the United States, now an ally of Britain and the USSR in World War II, sent a military force to Iran to help maintain and operate sections of the railway. The British and Soviet authorities allowed Reza Shah's system of government to collapse, and they limited the constitutional government interfaces. They installed Reza Shah's son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi onto the Iranian/Persian throne.

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi 20th-century Shah of Iran

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, also known as Mohammad Reza Shah, was the last Shah of Iran from 16 September 1941 until his overthrow by the Islamic Revolution on 11 February 1979. Mohammad Reza Shah took the title Shahanshah on 26 October 1967. He was the second and last monarch of the House of Pahlavi. Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi held several other titles, including that of Aryamehr and Bozorg Arteshtaran ("Commander-in-Chief"). His dream of what he referred to as a "Great Civilisation" in Iran led to a rapid industrial and military modernisation, as well as economic and social reforms.

The new Shah soon signed an agreement pledging full non-military logistical cooperation with the British and Soviets, in exchange for full recognition of his country's independence, and also a promise to withdraw from Iran within six months of the war's conclusion (these assurances later proved essential in securing his country's independence after the war). In September 1943, the Shah went further, and he declared war on Germany. He signed the Declaration by United Nations entitling his country to a seat in the original United Nations. Two months later, he hosted the Tehran Conference between Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin.

Iran crisis of 1946 conflict

The Iran crisis of 1946, also known as the Azerbaijan Crisis by Iranian people, was one of the first crises of the Cold War, sparked by the refusal of Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union to relinquish occupied Iranian territory, despite repeated assurances. The end of World War II should have resulted in the end of the Allied joint occupation of Iran. Instead, Pro-Soviet Iranians proclaimed the separatist Azerbaijan People's Government and the Kurdish separatist Republic of Mahabad. The United States pressured Soviet withdrawal in the earliest success of the new containment strategy.

Declaration by United Nations treaty

Declaration by United Nations was the main treaty that formalized the Allies of World War II; the declaration was signed by 47 national governments between 1942 and 1945. The original signatories on 1–2 January 1942, at the Arcadia Conference in Washington, D.C. On New Year's Day 1942, the Allied "Big Four" signed a short document which later came to be known as the United Nations Declaration and the next day the representatives of twenty-two other nations added their signatures.

United Nations Intergovernmental organization

The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that was tasked to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international co-operation and be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations. The headquarters of the UN is in Manhattan, New York City, and is subject to extraterritoriality. Further main offices are situated in Geneva, Nairobi, and Vienna. The organization is financed by assessed and voluntary contributions from its member states. Its objectives include maintaining international peace and security, protecting human rights, delivering humanitarian aid, promoting sustainable development and upholding international law. The UN is the largest, most familiar, most internationally represented and most powerful intergovernmental organization in the world. In 24 October 1945, at the end of World War II, the organization was established with the aim of preventing future wars. At its founding, the UN had 51 member states; there are now 193. The UN is the successor of the ineffective League of Nations.

The presence of so many foreign troops in Iran accelerated social change and it roused nationalist sentiment in the country. In 1946, Hossein Gol-e-Golab published the nationalist song Ey Iran ; it was reportedly inspired by an incident during the war in which Golab witnessed an American GI beating up a native Iranian greengrocer in a marketplace dispute.

Strategic need for supply to the USSR

After the British were pushed off the continent, Germany was essentially without any opposition in Europe. British and American leaders sought to eventually establish another front opened up to engage the German military. In June 1941 Hitler launched the invasion of the USSR.

The western Allies made the strategic decision to provide Stalin with significant material support to ensure that the USSR could continue to engage a significant portion of the German military.

Agreements were created (protocols) which clearly defined the type and amount of materiel that would be delivered within a given time frame. Due to German military action on the Northern route and the fact that it could not be traversed during part of the year, the US was unable to meet the demands of the first protocol. This caused increasing pressure on the Allies to develop the route using the Persian Corridor.

Supply efforts

The Allies delivered all manner of materiel to the Soviet Union ranging from Studebaker US6 trucks to American canned food. Most of the supplies transiting through the Persian Corridor arrived by ship at various ports in the Persian Gulf and were then carried northwards by railroad or in long truck convoys. Some goods were later reloaded onboard ships to cross the Caspian Sea and others continued their journey by truck.

The United States Army forces in the corridor were originally under the Iran-Iraq Service Command - later renamed the Persian Gulf Service Command (PGSC). This was the successor to the original United States Military Iranian Mission, which had been put in place to deliver Lend-Lease supplies before the United States had entered the World War. The mission was originally commanded by Colonel Don G. Shingler, who was then replaced late in 1942 by Brigadier General Donald H. Connolly. Both the Iran-Iraq Service Command and the PGSC were subordinate to the U.S. Army Forces in the Middle East (USAFIME). PGSC was eventually renamed simply the Persian Gulf Command.

Statistics

The Allied supply efforts were enormous. The Americans alone delivered over 16.3 million tonnes to the Soviets during the war, via three routes, including the Arctic Convoys to the ports of Murmansk and Archangelsk. Also, Soviet shipping carried supplies from the west coast of the United States and Canada to Vladivostok in the Far East, since the Soviet Union was not at war with Japan until August 1945. The Persian Corridor was the route for 4,159,117 long tons (4,225,858 metric tonnes) of this cargo. However, this was not the only allied contribution via the Persian Corridor. About 7,900,000 long tons (8,000,000 metric tonnes) of shipborne cargo from Allied sources were unloaded in the Corridor, most of it bound for the USSR - but some of it for British forces under the Middle East Command, or for the Iranian economy, which was sustaining the influx of tens of thousands of foreign troops and Polish refugees. Also, supplies were needed for the development of new transportation and logistics facilities in Persia and in the Soviet Union. The tonnage figure does not include transfers of warplanes via Persia.

Supply routes

Persian Gulf Command, Camps - Posts - Stations PersianGulfCommand.jpg
Persian Gulf Command, Camps - Posts - Stations

Supplies came from as far away as Canada and the United States, and those were unloaded in Persian Gulf ports in Iran and Iraq. Once the Axis powers were cleared from the Mediterranean Sea in 1943 - with the Allied capture of Tunisia, Sicily, and southern Italy - cargo convoys were able to pass through the Mediterranean, the Suez Canal, and the Red Sea to Iran for shipment to the USSR.

The main ports in the Corridor for supplies inbound to Iran were: in Iran,

in Iraq,

The main overland routes were from the ports to Tehran, and then

or, alternatively,

The main port for outbound supplies (via the Caspian Sea) was Nowshahr. Ships ferried supplies from this port to Baku or Makhachkala.

Other locations

Important smaller ports and transit points on the routes included:

in Azerbaijan
in Armenia
in Georgia
in North Ossetia-Alania
in Iran
An Allied supply train en route bearing supplies for the Red Army Supply train through the Persian Corridor.jpg
An Allied supply train en route bearing supplies for the Red Army

Ports

Cities

in Turkmenistan

Ports

Cities

Personnel

Cargo was principally handled by special British and American transportation units from the nations' respective combat service support branches, such as the Royal Army Service Corps and the United States Army Quartermaster Corps. Many Allied civilian workers, such as stevedores and railway engineers, were also employed on the corridor. Many skilled engineers, accountants and other professionals who volunteered or were drafted into the armed services were made warrant officers to help oversee the complex supply operations.

In addition to providing logistical support to the Iranians, the Allies offered other services as well. The Americans in particular were viewed as more neutral since they had no colonial past in the country as did the British and Soviets. The Americans contributed special expertise to the young Shah's government. Colonel Norman Schwarzkopf, Sr., who at the outbreak of the war was serving as superintendent of the New Jersey State Police was in August 1942 put in charge of training the Imperial Iranian Gendarmerie (his son, Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr., would command coalition forces fifty years later during the Persian Gulf War.)

Equipment

To help operate trains on the demanding Trans-Iranian Railway route, the US supplied large numbers of ALCO diesel locomotives, which were more suitable than steam locomotives. About 3000 pieces of rolling stock of various types were also supplied. [2]

See also

Notes

  1. Churchill, Winston, The Second World War
  2. "THEY HELPED- RUSSIA TO VICTORY". The Port Macquarie News and Hastings River Advocate (NSW : 1882 - 1950) . NSW: National Library of Australia. 28 April 1945. p. 4. Retrieved 25 May 2013.

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