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Memorandum for General Handy1
September 27, 1945 [Washington, D.C.]
The Chinese Ambassador saw me this morning in relation to the termination of the operation of the pipeline over the Hump on November 1. He desired that it be continued in operation for another three or four months in order that there would be sufficient fuel oils and gas for the Chinese redeployment requirements in western China.
General Wedemeyer had previously told me that some 1200 or 1400 U.S. soldiers were involved in the operation of the pipeline; that while these men were high point soldiers it probably would not be possible for them to be transported to the United States for demobilization before February and that if relieved now they would merely accumulate in the pool at Calcutta or Karachi.
I did not commit myself to the Chinese Ambassador. I told him the serious difficulty related to demobilization; that an exception here, meaning along the pipeline, might well lead to drastic action by Congress all over the world to the great embarrassment of the War Department. Therefore we had to be extremely careful in any action that might delay the return of U.S. soldiers for demobilization.
I told the Ambassador that I thought a month or two months at the outside would probably be the limit of possibility in the case and whether or not that could be managed remained to be investigated. I questioned him about the effect of tanker deliveries of gasoline at Haiphong and Canton with relation to the maintenance of Chinese troops accumulating in the vicinity of those places. Of course he had no data, and I was merely putting this possibility into his mind.
Please look into the matter from the viewpoint of demobilization requirements, the amount of fuel that could be stored in Assam in the tank farms, thus releasing all U.S. personnel in that region and yet leaving enough gasoline to feed the pipeline for the desired period, the storage capacity at Kunming from a similar point of view, and in particular, the possibility of tanker deliveries at points on the south China coast other than Shanghai.2
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed memorandum.
1. This memorandum was also sent to the Operations Division and Headquarters, Army Service Forces.
2. The headquarters of both the China Theater and the India-Burma Theater were opposed to continuing the operation of the four-inch pipeline, which followed the Ledo Road and a portion of the Burma Road, beyond November 1. On October 5, Marshall notified Ambassador Wei Tao-ming that the U.S. Army would continue to operate the pipeline throughout October but not beyond, because this would cause unacceptable delays in demobilizing the operating personnel. On the twelfth, Marshall wrote Wei that the pipeline would continue “at full discharge rate until 1 November and accumulate as much excess stocks as possible” for the Chinese government’s use. On November 2, China Theater Headquarters notified the War Department that an excess over United States needs of 12,922 tons of gasoline, oil, and lubricants had been accumulated in China. (Hull memorandum “Termination of Operation of the Pipeline Over the Hump on 1 November,” October 9, 1945; Marshall to Wei Tao-ming, October 12, 1945; and Hull memorandum “Notification to Ambassador Wei of Discontinuance of Operation of India-China Pipeline,” November 5, 1945, NA/RG 165 [OCS, 091 China 1944-46].)
Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 5, “The Finest Soldier,” January 1, 1945-January 7, 1947 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), pp. 315-316.