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Overland Mail Baghdad Haifa Pages
Internal Memo from British Post, June 1923
(Dated 7 June 1923)
NOTE: Text in cursive fonts are handwritten remarks on the memo.
The present (ordinary route) transit time London – Baghdad is about 24 days; the time by air route (fortnightly) is from 8 to 10 days) that promised by the desert (weekly) route is about 10 days.
With such a marked acceleration (on the ordinary route), it will probably by necessary, in time, to send the whole of the mails for Iraq and Persia by this route in spite of the additional expense (to the Post Office.).
The First question seems to be whether we should agree without objection to the rather heavy< charge of Rs. 3 a lb. = about 11 francs gold a kilogramme, charged on gross weight, which Iraq wants for this service. This rate will be in addition to the ordinary transit rates of 12 fr. 50 c. A kilogramme for letters and postcards and 20 c. For other articles which will be payable to Palestine and possibly also to Syria, if the route does not avoid French territory. There is a possibility also of a claim from Trans-Jordania.
Iraq is not formally in the Postal Union. It declined to come in on financial grounds. But it was considered convenient, at one time, to regard it as possibly still in the Union by reason of its former adhesion as part of the Turkish Empire and its status is therefore somewhat indefinite.
Even if Iraq is regarded as definitely non-Union, Article 19 of the Postal Union Convention applies to relations between it and Union Countries. Under that Article it appears to be our duty to endeavour to get Iraq to accept the ordinary rates, which at the most would be 1 fr. 50 c. for letters and postcards and 20 c. for other articles.
There is the further question, however, weather under Postal Union arrangements Iraq is entitled to charge anything at all. If the service is wholly over territory in Iraq, Palestine, Syria and Trans-Jordania or any combination if them, Iraq, as the terminal country, is not entitled to any rate at all. There is no definite information however, either as to the route or the exact political boundaries of the various states on the desert side.
Apart from considerations arising out of the Postal Union Convention, it is only reasonable by that Iraq should receive some substantial remuneration in view of the nature of the service, and we might perhaps refrain from raising any objections in the first instance. It might however be pointed out to Iraq that it would be probably be desirable in its own financial interests to consider possible reductions if the service develops, and also the acceptance of responsibility for registered articles, so that the whole of the Mail might be sent. It would be convenient also for international purposes to have a rate in gold francs per kilogram rather than in rupees per lb.
It would probably not worth while to attempt the collection here of a surtax, apart form Postal Union objections.
Manuscript comment: There is no Postal Union objection if we consider Iraq as outside the Union. Convention 6, § 2.
The Mails might in the first instance be limited to
(1) specially addressed correspondence or
(2) Unregistered letters and postcards only.
The latter would perhaps be preferable:
Under (1) we might be committed to paying out for larger quantities of
newspapers and other printed matter.
The Russian Post Office is organizing a service via Djulfa to Teheran, but the route via Baghdad will probably be quicker, for some time at any rate, and politically more reliable.
Signed, June 1923
Additional handwritten notes found on the Memo.
I agree with Mr. ..... but you mentioned this new service, you may wish to see the papers before a reply to the letter of the 16th May to Baghdad is drafted.
It looks as if the adoption of the new route would have some effect on the air-mail traffic.
I think we might write to Baghdad suggesting a reduction of the transit rate (see Convention 19.1.3) & ask when the service is to begin