As typical of Russian propaganda and so-called “fake news” we are told by state-sponsored active measures efforts like Russia Today that everything America does is imperialist, neo-colonialist, and needlessly provocative. Watching RT is like listening to Noam Chomsky or Howard Zinn get up to the podium at some lefty university event wearing a sweater with those leather patches on the elbows and deliver a four-hour sermon. Meanwhile, we’re told that Russia is great and has never done anything wrong. If anything, Russia is the victim of western imperialism!
What if I told you that an American and British train, advise, and assist program designed to render military aid helped Russia win a major war? What if the Russians are profoundly embarrassed by this fact and spent decades trying to cover it up? This is the story you won’t hear from propaganda mouth pieces and party stooges on Russia Today. There was a time when the British and Americans rendered hundreds of billions of dollars worth of war material to Russia, vital aid that helped save their country.
The year is 1942. The Soviet Union is fighting a dogged effort to beat back the Nazi war machine on their western front. The battles were ferocious, and the Soviets paid for every inch of terrain with the blood of their soldiers. In six months time, the Russians lost 20,000 tanks to the Germans. What is not commonly known to the public (largely by design) is that at this time American sailors were braving U-boat infested waters to sail arctic convoys of war material to the Soviet Union through the Lend-Lease program. Not all of them made it.
“In total, the U.S. deliveries through Lend-Lease amounted to $11 billion in materials: over 400,000 jeeps and trucks; 12,000 armored vehicles(including 7,000 tanks, about 1,386 of which were M3 Lees and 4,102 M4 Shermans); 11,400 aircraft (4,719 of which were Bell P-39 Airacobras) and 1.75 million tons of food,” according to wikipedia.
The British were also rushing supplies to the Soviets, including fighter planes and tanks which were in many ways superior to Soviet designs. Nazis were engaged in combat with British tanks on the western front as early as 1941. “By July 1942 the Red Army had 13,500 tanks in service, with more than 16 percent of those imported, and more than half of those British,” Alexander Hill writes. It appears that an even larger percentage of Russian fighter aircraft were of foreign origin. “By spring and summer of 1942 the Hurricane had clearly become the principal fighter aircraft of the Northern Fleet’s air regiments; in all, 83 out of its 109 fighters were of foreign origin,” Hill concludes.
These facts were white washed by the Soviet Union who had a deep interest in perpetuating myths about Soviet production and the virtues of communism as a better system than western capitalism. For instance, Russians would never hear that the west provided airplanes and tanks during World War Two, and if they did all they would hear is that they were in insignificant numbers and of inferior quality to Soviet designs. They certain did not hear that the British and Americans provided machine tools and factories that were critical to Soviet military infrastructure during the war.
This is certainly not to say that American and Britain can take credit for Russian victories against the Nazis, but the west did play an important role in aiding, supplying, and assisting Russian forces, perhaps a role that helped turn the tide in the war.
Image courtesy of Xinhua