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Image: Winston Churchill and W. Averell Harriman, August 12, 1942
Winston Churchill and W. Averell Harriman, August 12, 1942
In August 1942, as the Soviets were fighting for their lives before Stalingrad, Churchill flew to Moscow to tell Stalin that there would be no Second Front in Western Europe that year to draw off German forces. Flying en route with Averell Harriman, President Roosevelt's representative, Churchill outlined a plan to send British and American forces to southern Russia—Operation VELVET—that Stalin might accept as a substitute. The deafening noise of the bomber in which they were riding forced Churchill and Harriman to communicate by passing pencilled notes to each other.
Object Details:
Pencil notes. W. Averell Harriman Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (176)
© Crown 1942

Related Theme:
World War II
Moscow, August 1942

Page 1:

W. Averell Harriman:

I am particularly anxious to know whether there are any circumstances in which you will offer Stalin during this visit our assistance on the Southern Front with or without U.S. participation.

Winston S. Churchill:

When we have beaten Rommel we are willing to offer about 17 squadrons from ME but these include some US squadrons now helping us. Without the 3 US transport Sqns. the Force c'd not be maintained. Of course I cannot make a firm offer without President's specific consent.

I shall therefore state this & that I will ask for it, if S desires it. He may not.

In addition I proposed to President an effort to raise this force to 30 or even 40 Squadrons. The extra c'd only be US Squadrons.

However the President has called me saying he likes the idea & that he does not think we ought to delay it till after the battle in Egypt. This no doubt applies to his additional American Squadrons & not to those now working for us, or to our own.

It will be necessary to clear this up by cable, & also perhaps y'r air general now in Moscow may have news.

Page 2:

W. Averell Harriman:

From our experience, there is certain information that can only be obtained accurately from Stalin personally.

With your permission I wish to obtain the following from him regarding U.S. supplies.

1) What are his most urgent needs; in addition to tanks & airplanes?

2) Which of these, it is practicable to receive only

(a) through Northern ports

(b) Persian route

(c) Either

3) How he now feels toward the Persian route for delivery of U.S. aircraft & tanks and what total additional tonnage he believes he can handle from this direction.

You will recall that he was quite luke warm towards this route last year and ask that only about 50,000 tons a month be delivered that way--or 10% of the total 500,000 tons asked for. (This total figure included about half food.)
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