** World War II Arsenal of Democracy Lend Lease countries Britain

Lend Lease: Country Trends--Britain

Figure 1.--Britain and Germany had a common problem. Bith were heavily industrialized counries which were not self suffucent in food production. Germany solved the prtoblemn by exprting hunger to the occupied countries. Canada sdupplied food to Britain as did neutral Argentina. But the problemn was primarily solved by American Lend Lease, showing that the name of the program was primarily designed to sell it to the American people. Lend Lease was not hust arms and equioment. Food was an imprtant part of it. Here British children in a bombed out Brirish school in 1941 are eating American Lend Lease food. Source: British Ministry of Information. Photo Division

Lead Lease was primarily designed by President Roosevelt to assist Britain in its fight with NAZI Germany. Lend Lease was created in 1941 because Britain had essentially gone bankrupt fighting the NAZIs (December 1940). At the time, Britain and the Dominions were the only countries still fighting the NAZIs. The Act was specifically designd to aid Britain. Germany was financing the War by brutally exploiting the occupied countries, including the the seizure of food and the use of slave labor. America in 1941 was just beginning to convert the economy to war production. Thus there was only limited actual arms that could be delivered to Britain in 1941. The initial Lend Lease shipments, were food and industrial commodities. They were badly needed. The shipments arrived at a time when the German U-boat blockade was close to starving out the British. Food was available throughout the Empire. The problem was shipping it to Britain. Shipping would be the primary constraint of the Allied war effort throughout the War. And shipping food from Australia and New Zealand would have rquired much more shipping than shipping it from Amrericamnad Canana. Britain made a decision early in the War to focus on the Air War and the strategiuc bombardment of Germany. After the fall of France, it was the only way Britain had at hitting back at the Germans. Over half of the British war economyn was devoted to the air war. In numbers of men, it was a limited effort (compared to the Soviets), but it is one reason the Geramns had to orient much of their industry to the war in the West--leaving the Ostheer poorly equipped. And the Blitz meant that there would be no contraints on that effort. But building aircraft, especially long-range heavy bomberrs required a huge industrial effort. It is why the Luftwaffe had so few. Lend Leaase allowed the British to get much of the arms and military equioment needed by their Army so British industry could focus on the Air War. Prime-minister Churchill in a speech at the Mansion House stated, "Then came the majestic policy of the President and Congress of the United States in passing the Lease-Lend Bill, under which, in two successive enactments, about £3,000,000,000 was dedicated to the cause of world freedom, without -- mark this, because it is unique -- without the setting up of any account in money. Never again let us hear the taunt that money is the ruling power in the hearts and thoughts of the American democracy. The Lease-Lend Bill must be regarded without question as the most unsordid act in the whole of recorded history" (November 10, 1941). [Churchill] As a result Lend Lease was in existence when the NAZIs invaded the Soviet Union. The propgram was quickly extended tyo the Sovires. President Roosevelt used Lend Lease to justify U.S. Navy North Atlantic convoy escorts. The President would eventualluy expanded this into an undeclared (an unannounced) naval war against Germany in the North Atlantic before Pearl Harbor (September 1941). Britain without Lend Lease could not have continued the War at any substantial level.American war production by late-1942 was beginning to reach substantial levels. The decisive victory at El Alamain could not have been achieved without Lend Lease. The British got the new Sherman tanks berfore the American Army. The first American tanks and planes reached the British Eighth Armny in time to be used in the Battle of El Alamein (October 1942). The Lend Lease Act was essentially giving the British a blank check. It allowed President Roosevelt to transfer war materiel to battered Britain without the payments required by the Neutrality Act of 1939. This enabled Britain to continue the fight until the United States would actually enter the War. And it managed to skirt the complicated issue of World War I debts. Britain was by far the major recipiant of Lend Lease aid. America eventually provided The British Empire over $31 billion in Lend Lease assistance (in 1941-45 dollars). Britain itself was the major recipient. Britain eventually paid back about $0.7 billion, but much more in Reverse Lend Lease. Britain also surrendered posible rights and royalties to many important British technological achievements.


Churchill, Winston. Mansion House Speech. (November 10, 1941).


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Created: 12:13 AM 4/23/2021
Last updated: 12:13 AM 4/23/2021