Bandar Shahpur - World War II - Persian Gulf Command

Photos By: Eugene Warren

single track railroad line to bandar shahpur  Entrance to Bandar Shahpur  low tide new jetty bandar shahpur  low tide  One for the road  673rd port company on duty 

unloading ammo from #1 hatch  overview # 2  Overview from top of warehouse  Permanent Stage bandar Shahpur  Sewage Disposal Bandar Shahpur 

looking towards the jettie  My quarters with volley ball court  NCO bar at bandar  officer's mess hall bandar_shahpur  Officer's mess hall at bandar sahpur xmas  shot of vodka 15 Rials 

1st sgt dennis bernard  482nd port battalion company  672-3-4 company officers  673rd_port_company_orderly  barbecue time officer billet bandar shahpur  Boxing Day 

company orderly  Mess kit holds an entire meal  mail call company clerk hands out mail  uncle al at 673rd port company  uncle_al's_of_bandar_shahpur  an_improved_ photo_of_uncle 

kitchen in bandar note field stoves  last formation in bandar shahpur  Non Coms of 673rd port company at bandar shapur  thmb_non_coms_ 673rd_port_co  volleyball beer between ships arrival 

captain_warren  top_kick_dennis_bernard_broussard  wild boar for barbecue bandar shahpur  store selling flour  kstreet_scene  community_center 

Yours Truly in bandar shahpur  winter in bandar shahpur  taking a swim at the british officers club abadan  at war on duty abadan  from the paris of the middle east 

afternoon tea  balaam cargo ships from india  balaam_under_sail  boy leadiing donkey  march of dimes bazaar  thmb march of dimes football game 

persian gulf port balam boats  typical street scene  typical dockside scene  trainride to teheran  railroad station in teheran swastikas on ceiling 

mud bricks  mud_bricks_drying_in_the_sun  custom furniture shop khorramshah  street scence ahwaz  street scene ahwaz 1942  someplace in iran 

scribe tehran basra family  dry goods store basra  man spinning flax and shoe shine boy basra  Park in_basra 

The story of the photos taken in Bandar Shahpur.

When we shipped out for Iran we were forbidden to take cameras. After being in Bandar Shahpur a year or so I noticed that some men had cameras although I did not see evidence of photos being taken. Since Bandar Shahpur was only a rail head and not a town there was literally no place to obtain film or have them developed. Not having a camera was accepted.

One of the crew members of a ship in dock that was being unloaded wanted some money and had a Kodak Retina II folding camera and was selling the camera. It was a terrific piece of equipment although primitive.
Schneider-Kreuznack lens, medium format (120 film) and pocketable. No meter or rangefinder built in. All photos would have to be guessed at as to focus and timing. I purchased this camera and sat with it until the idea of writing home and asking for film, developer and fixer to be sent to me. The average shipping time for packages was up to six months under intensive heat conditions…..if the ship was not torpedoed. In any event I did receive a package with these items and decided to document the place. The film was black and white and I really did not know how to use the camera. In any event I proceeded to take photos.

After taking a few rolls, I had only five or six, the next question was how to get them developed. For this I had to improvise in my billet. Since I was a Company Commander I had a room of my own and decided that I could do the developing with the chemicals sent to me. I hung blankets over the window, obtained buckets of water and read the instructions on the containers of developer and fixer. From this I was able to get negatives of poor quality but no prints.

These negatives sat in the house here in Merrick for many years. They were in a little cardboard box and took up very little space so that I did not throw them away. I had a lovely darkroom in this house and one day I decided to try and get prints from these negatives. The negatvies were curled up and showed signs of deterioration. I devised a holder for them and decided that I would print them in the enlarger in order to get larger prints. The results are pictures, very poor quality, of Bandar Shahpur when I was there.

When I was in Bandar it had no roads leading to it, slips for five ships, no civilian presence and was strictly a place to unload the ships and get the cargo on the way to Russia. This was over sixty years ago 1942-1945. Today this place has over sixty slips, can handle ships of 120,000 tons, a population of 60,000 and is one of the largest petrochemical plants in the world.

The US Army has undertaken a project of taking aerial photos of places all over the world. On the internet I was able to see an aerial picture of Bandar the way it is today. The photo lacks the detail I would have liked to see. However I can recognize the broad outline of the place in which I worked and lived for over two years. Nothing like it was when I was there. I still do not have anything even close to what I would like to see.

Bandar Shahpur was a saucer shaped piece of land that was surrounded by earthen dikes to keep the high tides from flooding the place. The only access was a narrow gauge railroad. There were no roads. The water supply was a single pipe running above ground from a source about thirty miles away. The water was turned on only a short time each day. It was a barren place. The photos will show this.

Summer heat of 150 degrees Fahrenheit was normal. When I first arrived as part of a contingent of six persons we did not have the buildings seen in the photos. When the troops arrived we were quartered in tents until the buildings got built. I do not have a record of the tent city.

This narrative can continue for many pages. It is written without any preplanning. If I can add descriptive information to the photos maybe this will be continued. Things I can write about include the purpose of our existence, daily life of unloading ships, amusements, medical facilities or lack of, eating, adapting to weather, thoughts while there and some personal changes as the result of my time to read.

On the Internet can be found lots of information about the operation. It can be found under various names - Persian Corridor - Persian Gulf Command. Lots statistics and detail.

My experience is limited to what I did in Bandar Shahpur and Khorramshahr. These are the two ports into which ships came and brought the materiel that was sent to Russia. I even have a medal given to me by the Russian government. There were two medals given but they ran out of the supply for one before I got it.

Considering that I was drafted June 1941, prior to Pearl Harbor and declaration of war, I consider it lucky that I am alive and able to write this. Through no effort and through loads of fortuitous events I was not sent into battle and managed to return to life at home after almost five years of service.

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