Persian Corridor

Last updated
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. Of the 17.5 million long tons of U.S. Lend-Lease aid provided to Russia, 7.9 million long tons (45%) were sent through Iran. [1]

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.

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. [2]

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.

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.

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.

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

Of the 17.5 million long tons of U.S. Lend-Lease aid provided to Russia, 7.9 million long tons (45%) were sent through Iran. [3] In addition to the Persian Corridor the Americans used Arctic Convoys to the ports of Murmansk and Archangelsk and 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.[ citation needed ] 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. [4]

Volga River to Stalingrad

Beyond the Persian Corridor and across the Caspian Sea is the Volga River, flowing into the Caspian from the north. This was a key route into the core of the Soviet Union. Stalingrad, at the easternmost turn of the Volga, was an objective of the Germans in their 1942 campaign partly for reason of its industrial capacity, partly as a convenient place to block Soviet pressure on the flank of their initiative towards the Caucasus, and partly for its name. But it was also for blocking the river traffic carrying materiel north from the Persian Corridor. The Battle of Stalingrad (23 August 1942 – 2 February 1943) reopened the river.

See also

Notes

  1. Immortal : A Military History of Iran and Its Armed Forces, Steven R. Ward, Georgetown University Press, 2009, pg. 176
  2. Churchill, Winston, The Second World War
  3. Immortal : A Military History of Iran and Its Armed Forces, Steven R. Ward, Georgetown University Press, 2009, pg. 176
  4. "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.

Related Research Articles

Lend-Lease A United States program during World War II which provided countries fighting the Nazis with military equipment free of charge.

The Lend-Lease policy, formally titled An Act to Promote the Defense of the United States, was a program under which the United States supplied the United Kingdom, Free France, the Republic of China, and later the Soviet Union and other Allied nations with food, oil, and materiel between 1941 and August 1945. This included warships and warplanes, along with other weaponry. It was signed into law on March 11, 1941, and ended in September 1945. In general the aid was free, although some hardware were returned after the war. In return, the U.S. was given leases on army and naval bases in Allied territory during the war. Canada operated a similar smaller program called Mutual Aid.

This is a list of aviation-related events from 1984:

Hormozgan Province Province of Iran

Hormozgan Province is one of the 31 provinces of Iran. It is in the south of the country, in Iran's Region 2, facing Oman and UAE. Its area is 70,697 km2 (27,296 sq mi), and its provincial capital is Bandar Abbas. The province has fourteen islands in the Persian Gulf and 1,000 km (620 mi) of coastline.

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.

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.

United States Army Forces in the Middle East(USAFIME) was a unified United States Army command during World War II established in August, 1942 by order of General George Marshall to oversee the Egypt-Libya Campaign.

Bandar-e Emam Khomeyni City in Khuzestan, Iran

Bandar-e Emam Khomeyni is a city and capital of Bandar-e Emam Khomeyni District of Mahshahr County, Khuzestan Province, Iran. As of the 2006 census, its population was 67,078, in 14,681 families.

Islamic Republic of Iran Navy maritime warfare branch of Irans regular military

The Islamic Republic of Iran Navy acronymed NEDAJA, is the naval warfare service branch of Iran's regular military, the Islamic Republic of Iran Army (Artesh).

History of the Iranian Air Force

The history of the Iranian Air Force can be divided into two phases—before the Islamic Revolution, and after it.

Iran–Russia relations Diplomatic relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Russia

Relations between the Grand Duchy of Moscow and the Persian Empire (Iran), officially commenced in 1521, with the Safavids in power. Past and present contact between Russia and Iran have long been complicatedly multi-faceted; often wavering between collaboration and rivalry. The two nations have a long history of geographic, economic, and socio-political interaction. Mutual relations have often been turbulent, and dormant at other times. Currently Russia and Iran act as economic partners to one another, since both countries are under sanctions by much of the Western world.

Islamic Republic of Iran Railways State-owned rail company

The Islamic Republic of Iran Railways(abbreviated IRIR or sometimes RAI)(Persian: Rāhāhane Jomhuriye Eslamiye Irān) is the national state-owned railway system of Iran.The Raja Passenger Train Company is an associate of the IR,and manages its passenger trains.The Railway Transportation Company is an associate of the IR to manage its freight transport.The Ministry of Roads & Urban Development is the state agency that oversees the IRIR. Some 33 million tons of goods and 29 million passengers are transported annually by the rail transportation network, accounting for 9 percent and 11 percent of the whole transportations in Iran (2011).

The Community school was founded as a boarding school in Tehran, Iran, for the children of Presbyterian missionaries from the United States who were stationed in Iran since the 1830s. In the late 1940s, the school moved from its location at Qavām os-Saltaneh Street to Kucheh Marizkhaneh near Jaleh Street until the summer of 1979 when it was permanently shut down by the new Islamic government. after the revolution the school was renamed Modares Shahed school which is now reserved for the children of the war veterans.

India–Iran relations Diplomatic relations between the Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Iran

India–Iran relations refers to the bilateral relations between the countries India and Iran. Independent India and Iran established diplomatic relations on 15 March 1950. During much of the Cold War period, relations between the Republic of India and the erstwhile Imperial State of Iran suffered due to their different political interests—non-aligned India fostered strong military links with the Soviet Union, while Iran enjoyed close ties with the United States. Following the 1979 revolution, relations between Iran and India strengthened momentarily. However, Iran's continued support for Pakistan and India's close relations with Iraq during the Iran–Iraq War impeded further development of Indo–Iranian ties. In the 1990s, India and Iran supported the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan against the Taliban regime. They continue to collaborate in supporting the broad-based anti-Taliban government led by Ashraf Ghani and backed by the United States. The two countries signed a defence cooperation agreement in December 2002.

History of the Iranian Navy

The Iranian Navy traditionally located in the shallow waters of the Persian Gulf, has always been the smallest of the country's military forces. An Iranian navy in one form or another has existed since Achaemenid times in 500 BC. The Phoenician navy played an important role in the military efforts of the Persians in late antiquity in protecting and expanding trade routes along the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean. With the Pahlavi dynasty in the 20th century that Iran began to consider building a strong navy to project its strength into the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean. In more recent years, the country has engaged in domestic ship building industries in response to the western-backed Iraqi invasion of Iran, which left it without suppliers during an invasion.

Persian Gulf Command United States Army service command established in 1943

The Persian Gulf Command was a United States Army service command established in December 1943 to assure the supply of U.S. lend-lease war material to the Soviet Union. Its history originated in September 1941, when the U.S. Military Iranian Mission led by Engineer officer COL Raymond A. Wheeler was established to facilitate lend-lease supply to the U.S.S.R. At this same time, the Iranian District of the North Atlantic Division was set up to provide construction support. In August 1942 the mission was re-designated as the Persian Gulf Service Command, and in December 1943 became the Persian Gulf Command. It subsequently came under the command of a succession of engineer generals. Following the War Department’s full militarization of construction, the Iranian District ceased to exist in May 1943. Three districts directly subordinate to the area command eventually replaced it. Eventually thousands of personnel worked in Iraq as well.

The policy of the Soviet Union towards the Iran–Iraq War of 1980 to 1988 varied, beginning with a stance of "strict neutrality" and moving towards massive military support for Iraq in the final phase of the war. The war was inconvenient for the USSR, which had aimed to ally itself with both Iran and Iraq. In the first period of the war, the Soviets declared a policy of "strict neutrality" towards the two countries, at the same time urging a negotiated peace. Iraq had been an ally for decades and the Soviets now tried to win over Iran as well, but their offers of friendship were rebuffed by the pro-Western Shah of Iran. After the Iranian revolution an Islamic Republic was established whose slogan was "neither East nor West". In 1982, the war turned in Iran's favour and the Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini pledged not to stop the conflict until he had overthrown the Iraqi president Saddam Hussein. Such a prospect was unacceptable to the Soviet Union which now resumed arms sales to Iraq while still maintaining an official policy of neutrality. The Soviets also feared losing Saddam's friendship to the West. After further Iranian gains in 1986, the Soviet Union massively increased its military aid to Iraq. The Soviets were now afraid of the Iranians encouraging Islamic revolution in Central Asia. Soviet aid allowed the Iraqis to mount a counteroffensive which brought the war to an end in August, 1988.

International North–South Transport Corridor Corridor for trade connectivity from Moscow to Mumbai through Central Asia

The International North–South Transport Corridor (INSTC) is a 7,200-km-long multi-mode network of ship, rail, and road route for moving freight between India, Iran, Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and Europe. The route primarily involves moving freight from India, Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia via ship, rail and road. The objective of the corridor is to increase trade connectivity between major cities such as Mumbai, Moscow, Tehran, Baku, Bandar Abbas, Astrakhan, Bandar Anzali, etc. Dry runs of two routes were conducted in 2014, the first was Mumbai to Baku via Bandar Abbas and the second was Mumbai to Astrakhan via Bandar Abbas, Tehran and Bandar Anzali. The objective of the study was to identify and address key bottlenecks. The results showed transport costs were reduced by "$2,500 per 15 tons of cargo". Other routes under consideration include via Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.

Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran Invasion during World War II

The Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran, also known as the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Persia, was the joint invasion of Iran by the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union in August 1941. The invasion, codenamed Operation Countenance, was largely unopposed by the numerically and technologically inferior Iranian forces. The multi-pronged coordinated invasion took place along Iran's borders with modern Iraq, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan with fighting beginning on 25 August and ending on 31 August when the Iranian government formally agreed to surrender, having already agreed to a ceasefire on 30 August..

In the second half of the 19th century, during the time of Nasser-al-Din Shah, a short horse-driven suburban railway was established south of Tehran that was later converted to steam. This line was closed in 1952.

<i>Bridgeton</i> incident

The Bridgeton incident was the mining of the supertanker SS Bridgeton near Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf on July 24, 1987. The ship was sailing in the first convoy of Operation Earnest Will, the U.S. response to Kuwaiti requests to protect its tankers from attack amid the Iran–Iraq War. The explosion of an Iranian mine in the Gulf's shipping channel damaged Bridgeton's outer hull but did not prevent it from completing its voyage.