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UK Air Ministry to Under Secretary of State Colonial Office, London


Letter Reference: ?27932/23/S.6.



The Under Secretary of State

Colonial Office, S.W.I.






3rd July 1923.




With reference to Colonial Office letter No. 23303/23 of the 18th May, relative to the proposed establishment of a trans-desert motor service between Damascus and Baghdad, I am commanded by the Air-Council to state that they have carefully considered the question and have arrived at the following conclusions.

  1. The balance of advantage from a purely military point of view will always rest with the Amman – Baghdad route, as this route is wholly in British controlled territory.

  2. The advantage of from the point of view of a practicable business proposition appears to rest with the Damascus – Baghdad route.

  3. At present the Air route from Amman to Baghdad is sufficient for all Air Staff requirements. The Air Council cannot, therefore, press the opening of a motor route between Amman and Baghdad.

  4. As it is almost certain that the French authorities will open the Damascus – Baghdad route if the present British Company – Nairn Transport Company – fail to do so, the Air Council agree that Mr. Nairn should be given such facilities as me by practicable to help him with his task.

I am, etc..

(Sgd) J.A. WEBSTER.  








14th August 1923

Air Ministry Reference: 427932/23/3,6.



The Secretary

General Post Office





I am commanded by the Air Council to forward, for your consideration of the Postmaster General, the enclosed copy of a letter which has been received from the Near East Limited.

  1. The Air Council understand that the Postmaster General has already received from the Colonial Office copies of correspondence relating to the proposed establishment of a trans-desert motor service, and they feel that the reply to the near East Limited should issue from your department, and that the Postmaster general should also undertake any consultations with the Foreign and Colonial Offices which may be required in the matter. The Air Council would, however, be glad to have the opportunity of seeing in advance the proposed reply to the Nairn Company.

  2. It seems, however, desirable that the position of the Air Ministry in regard to the present air mail service should be stated for the assistance of the Postmaster General in considering what attitude he will adopt in regard to the proposal of the Nairn Transport Company.

  3. From the point of view of the Air Force the carriage of mails is not more than an incident to the regular passage of machines over the route for training and petrol purposes. The discontinuance of the carriage of mails would therefore not (over any considerable period) affect the amount of flying over the route but if mail service was not in question the passing of machines could be more easily varied by the Air Officer Commanding in Iraq and the Middle East in regards to other service requirements.

  4. Regarding the Air Force desert mail service as a precursor of a possible eventual civil air mail, the air mail, the Ari Council are interested from a somewhat different point of view. While recognising that any air mail route must eventually stand or fall by its merits in comparison other forms of transport, they would hope that the experience gained on this route will not be wasted or the service discontinued without due consideration of such discontinuance.

  5. Summing up the position the Air Council are prepared to continue the carriage of mail, subject to reconsideration should the requirements of the Royal Air Force at some future date require it, but if the Postmaster General is satisfied that there are adequate grounds for favouring the transference of the service to the Nairn Company they would not feel justified opposing that course.

  6. Copies of this correspondence are being forwarded to the Foreign Office and to the Colonial Office.

I am,


Your obedient Servant,

(Signature) WF Nicholson