Skip to comments.American aid to Soviet Union, or unknown lend-lease
Posted on 04/17/2005 12:28:21 PM PDT by Lessismore
American History professor Hubert van Tuyll delivered several lectures in early April to Vladivostok audiences about American lend-lease shipments, half of which came through the Pacific port of Vladivostok.
Mr. Tuylls visit to Russia was organized by the US State Department to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Red Army victory in World War II. Tuyll holds a degree in economics and is an assistant history professor at Augusta University, Georgia.
His first major work, Feeding the Bear: American aid to the Soviet Union in 1941-1945, was published in 1989 and became one of the few books examining this theme.
Explaining his interest in the events of World War II, Tuyll said that his family was Dutch and when Germany conquered Holland in 1940 he lived under Nazi occupation for five years. I had a personal reason to study the history of World War II and the role of the Soviet Union in winning this war, the professor explained.
The Lend-Lease Act, passed by the U.S. Congress in March of 1941, gave President Franklin Roosevelt power to sell, transfer, lend or lease war supplies, including food, machinery and services, to nations whose defense was considered vital to the security of the United States during World War II. The program was originally intended for China and countries of the British Empire but in November, 1941, the USSR was included.
About 70 percent of all U.S. aid reached the Soviet Union via the Persian Gulf through Iran and the remainder went across the Pacific to Vladivostok or across the North Atlantic to Murmansk.
American aid to the Soviet Union between 1941 and 1945 amounted to 18 million tons of materiel at an overall cost of $10 billion ($120 billion modern) and 49 percent of it went through Vladivostok, the major Pacific port of Far Eastern Russia, Tuyll reported.
Vladivostok was a valuable port for this program because Russias northern ports of Arkhangelsk and Murmansk were attacked by Nazi Germany and many of the lend-lease shipments were lost.
In 1942-1944 the Soviet Union chartered about 120 American ships and 50 U.S. tankers, and to protect these vessels from attack by Japan in the wake of its December 1941 strafing of Pearl Harbor, American crews sailed under the Soviet hammer and sickle flag. When lend-lease shipments arrived at Vladivostok they were stored both in port terminals and in warehouses on Portovaya and Verkhne-Portovaya streets, then they were conveyed by train along the Trans-Siberian Railroad to points west. During the war the port of Vladivostok handled four times more cargo than Murmansk and Far Eastern railroad traffic was four times greater than the rest of nation.
90 percent of lend-lease cargo was not military, however its impossible to talk about this U.S. government directive without mentioning the huge number of trucks, planes and tanks which were supplied by America to the Soviet Union because most of the countrys vehicles were destroyed in the first months of war, Tuyll noted.
Russians would just jump into the trucks which came to the Iranian border and head North, the professor said.
According to him, aviation was also important part of land lease and the Soviet Union received 21,000 planes for this program. P-39, or air cobra, and later its improved version called king cobra were passed to the Red Army.
Speaking of lend lease and aid provided in accord with this program, Tuyll noted that the Soviet Union would have survived without it but the victory would not have been so complete.
In the first 1.5 years the Soviet Union was fighting for survival and would have won without lend lease, but further victories and movement to Europe would be questionable, he reported.
There were 20 million homeless, and 25 million dead, four tenth of agriculture was lost and half of the industrial production was destroyed. If there were no lend lease the losses could have been much heavier, the war would have lasted longer and the victory was not so complete, Tuyll concluded.
The audience who included students, historians and veterans was silent and attentive when listening to the American professor conclusions.
Russians who feel proud for their victory in the Great Patriotic War were careful to hear the opinion from the other side of the world, especially nervous were war veterans. One woman, who asked not to reveal her name, shared that she came to the lecture nervous and agitated but admitted that she was pleased and satisfied with the professors intelligent and fair conclusions.
The professor in his turn mentioned that the best audience for him was history students of Far Eastern National University who asked the most unexpected questions and demonstrated deep knowledge of history.
From Vladivostok Professor Tuyll headed for Yekaterinburg and Chelyabinsk, and then he will be expected with his lectures in Arkhangelsk, St. Petersburg and Moscow.
Have to agree with that. The probable outcome would have been A-bombs on Berlin while the Russkies were still out around the Vistula.
My dad was with the Merchant Marine in WWII and made the Murmansk runs. Came back with all kinds of tales.
Butter was rationed here in the States Big Time. He said the Russians had never seen butter wrapped in one pound packages and were peeling them open and slapping them on the axles of wagons, thinking it was grease.
The Russians had a lot of hotshot fighter pilots and one of the tricks they would pull on taking off was to just retract the wheels to become airborne instead of pulling up. A lot of them never made the end of the runway.
When they were attacked on the way up, the shop steward would be running around on deck counting the number of bombs dropped and torpedoes fired at them. Seems they got a bonus for each bomb or torpedo.
When they were strafed, everyone headed below decks, except the poor Armed Guard (Navy personnel) who had to try and shoot back. These guys were getting $60 a month while the merchant guys were raking in the dough. They usually passed the hat at the end of the trip and gave it to the sailors. On some ships that didn't happen.
If you served on an ore carrier or an ammunition ship you didn't bother keeping a lifejacket handy when you went to bed. The ore carrier would sink like a rock and the ammunition ship would just vaporize.
Life expectancy in those waters was about 30 minutes at best if you had to abandon ship - a little longer, not much, in a lifeboat. They were told if they were in the water when depth charges were being dropped, they were to put their hands over their rectums, otherwise the concussion would gut them.
They earned all that big money.
Were these guys were also called Ferry Pilots ?
From 1941 and onwards, the RKKA used extensive numbers of Lend-Lease tanks received from the USA, Canada and Great Britain. Approximately 22.800 AFVs were sent to the Soviet Union between June 22nd of 1941 to 30th of April 1944, and almost 2.000 of these were lost at sea.
In addition, the Russians got about 351.700 trucks and 78.000 Jeeps from the USA.
During 1941, 487 Matilda, Valentine and Tetrarch tanks were received from Great Britain, and 182 M3A1 "Stuart", and M3 Lee medium tanks were received from the USA. In 1942, a further 2.487 tanks were received from the UK, and 3.023 tanks from the USA. The first units equipped with Valentines and Matilda IIs fought in the Staraya Russia and Valdai areas in the winter of 1941/42. Usually tank units were allotted a single type of Lend-Lease tanks to simplify logistics. An example was the 38th Tank Brigade which in 1942 had 30 Matilda II tanks, and 16 T-60 light tanks. In 1944 and 1945, the American M4A2 were the highest appreciated Lend/Lease tank, and some tank corps and mechanized corps were entirely equipped with this type. In early 1945 the 1st Guards Mechanized Corps were equipped with Shermans in all of its tank units.
No, these were Russian pilots who were supposed to fly straight to the front line for ammunition. The ferry pilots, I believe, were those men and women who flew planes from the factories in the States to bases and maybe some places overseas.
There was something called the Ferry Command...It had to do with bringing US supplies to Russia in WW II.
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