The 77th US Congress on March 8, 1941, passed the Lend-Lease act (subtitled “An Act to Promote the Defense of the United States”) which President Roosevelt signed into law on March 11, 1941. The first beneficiary was Great Britain and her Commonwealth of nations. Lend-Lease was later extended to China in the spring of 1941 and to the Soviet Union in November 1941.
Over 17 million tons of Lend Lease equipment and material was shipped to the USSR during World War II of which ninety seven percent arrived safely. Lend-Lease shipments used five major routes getting material to the USSR. These shipments originated from both east and west coast US ports.
Lend-Lease shipments of 8,244,000 tons transited over the Soviet Far East route with 99% arriving safely. Japan maintained neutrality with the USSR during WW2 until August 1945. Even though Germany requested Japan to intervene in Lend-Lease shipments they did not. Japan’s would not intervene if the ships were under Soviet flags with Soviet crews. Additionally, those shipments could not include war materiel. Therefore, non-war material consisting of mostly food, trucks, railcars, locomotives, etc. utilized this route. Just over 47% of all Lend-Lease tonnage was shipped via this passageway. Most of these shipments originated in Auburn, Washington or Lathrop, California destined for Vladivostok, Russia. Many of these Soviet flagged ships were Liberty Ships.
An additional Pacific Lend-Lease route Alaska-Siberia Air Route (ALSIB) used to transport combat aircraft and some goods to Siberia. This route was far enough north that Japan could not intervene. The ALSIB delivered more than 8,000 aircraft. Aircraft were ferried by US pilots to Ladd Army Airfield in Fairbanks, Alaska where Soviet crews took over and completed the trip to Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia.
The Persian Gulf route from the US east coast around the cape of southern Africa and north to the Persian Gulf ports was the longest sea going route but saw the second greatest tonnage of the five routes. Lend-Lease shipments of 4,160,000 tons transited over the Persian Gulf route with 99% arriving safely. Over 180,000 trucks were delivered via this route.
The Artic Route originated in many locations of the United States, Canada, Iceland, England, and Scotland. Most were destined for either Murmansk or Archangel in Russia. Lend-Lease shipments of 3,964,000 tons transited over the Artic. Tanks, planes, raw materials, fuel, chemicals, food, and ammunition were the main cardo items via this route.
The final route was the Black Sea route which was not utilized as much as the other sea going routes due to the gauntlet of the Atlantic and Mediterranean posed. Lend-Lease shipments of 681,000 tons transited over the Black Sea route.
Lend-Lease exports in 1941 were mainly food and industrial goods destined for England. By 1943 a billion dollars per month of guns, tanks, planes, trucks, jeeps, gasoline, food, and more were being provided to allied nations. In the first six months of 1944 the dollar figure rose to 1.5 billion a month. By the end of the war about 15% of the US total war budget went to Lend-Lease.
Lend-Lease Tons Shipped per Shipment Routes to USSR Data
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Source: Wikipedia. “Lend Lease” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lend-Lease, Data accessed on June 28, 2022
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