HC Deb 16 April 1946 vol 421 cc2513-9
45. Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre

asked the Prime Minister if he will publish a comprehensive statement giving a list of the weapons and materials, together with their costs, that were supplied in aid to the U.S.S.R. by the British Empire, between 1st October, 1941, and the termination of hostilities in Europe.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)

Yes, Sir. I am circulating a full statement in the OFFICIAL REPORT. The House may like to have the following summary of this. In the period from 1st October, 1941, to 31st March, 1946, we supplied to the Soviet Union 5,218 tanks, of which 1,388 were from Canada. We supplied 7,411 aircraft, including 3,129 aircraft sent from the United States of America. As previously explained on the 10th May, 1944, the aircraft from the United States of America were sent on United States Lend Lease to the Soviet Union as part of the British commitment to the U.S.S.R. in exchange for the supply of British aircraft to United States Forces in the European Theatre. The total value of military supplies despatched amounts to approximately £308 million. We have also sent about £120 million of raw materials, foodstuffs, machinery, industrial plant, medical supplies and hospital equipment.

We are very glad to have been able to give this assistance to our Soviet Allies and to have helped to equip and sustain them in their bitter struggle against the common enemy.

Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre

Can the Prime Minister say whether the Soviet public have been informed by the Soviet Press and radio of this substantial contribution to the Allied victory over Germany in the East?

The Prime Minister

Full publicity was given to the reply which was given by the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) on 10th May, 1944 Of course, this is essentially a matter for the Soviet authorities, but I should hope that full information will be given.

Mr. Skeffington-Lodģe

Will my right hon. Friend arrange for this information to be put over the B.B.C. by the regular Russian broadcasts which are now being made so as to enable our Russian Allies to develop a proper perspective in judging the relative merits in contributions of those who brought about our united victory?

The Prime Minister

I would like to consider that suggestion, which seems to me to be a good one.

Mr. Vernon Bartlett

May I ask whether it is possible for a comprehensive statement to be given in detail of the shipping losses from the Arctic convoys?

The Prime Minister

I should like to look into that, to see whether it can be given. There were actually 41 outward convoys to Russia during the war.

Sir T. Moore

Could the Prime Minister say how many British lives were lost in convoying or transporting this great equipment?

The Prime Minister

I could not do that without notice.

Mr. Gammans

May I ask what is the value of war materials and other equipment which we received from Russia during the same period?

The Prime Minister

I could not give that without notice.

Mr. Beswick

With a view to getting the matter in perspective, could the Prime Minister state the number of Russian lives which were lost in the using of that equipment?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Member is now asking me to give a short account of the late war.

Following is the statement:

The following list shows the approximate quantities of the main items of military and civil supplies despatched in aid to the U.S.S.R. from 1st October, 1941, to 31st March, 1946. The value of munitions sent during this period is approximately £308 million. The value of raw materials, foodstuffs, machinery, industrial plant, medical supplies and hospital equipment is approximately £120 million. These figures exclude sea freight costs. They also take no account of the very considerable aid provided by the Royal Navy in the form of convoy escorts.

The cost of the battleship, destroyers and submarines listed below has not been included in the figure of £308 million. These ships were the subject of a special arrangement, as stated in the right hon. Member for Woodford's reply to a question in the House on 5th June, 1945.

It has not proved practicable to relate the lists of supplies to the period ended the 8th May, 1945. To do so would moreover render the picture of our war time aid to the U.S.S.R. incomplete in that a proportion of supplies, military and civil, which we contracted to send under the wartime arrangements continued to come forward for shipment after the 8th May. The lists have therefore been compiled to include all shipments of supplies provided under wartime commitments up to the end of the quarter just concluded. The shipment of military supplies virtually came to an end with the termination of hostilities, and the terms of the Military Supplies Agreement, under which military supplies had been provided during wartime on a Lend-Lease basis, ceased to apply on 8th November, 1945, six months after the termination of hostilities in Europe. Civil supplies have been provided under the terms of the Civil Supplies Agreement, whereby the Soviet Government paid 40 per cent. of the value in gold or dollars and the remaining 6o per cent. out of a credit from His Majesty's Government.

The figures given relate to what was despatched. In the period covered by the earlier statement incessant attacks by enemy submarines, warships and aircraft, especially on the route followed by the Northern Convoys, took toll of shipments to the extent of some 15 per cent. After 1st April, 1944, in consequence of our growing mastery over the enemy, losses were fortunately negligible. The hazards faced by the Royal Navy and by our merchant ships neverthless continued, and the fortitude and endurance of all concerned is a matter for high praise and gratitude.



(a) War Office Supplies

Tanks: 5,218, of which 1,388 were supplied by Canada. All tanks were shipped with ammunition.

Vehicles(includes lorries and ambulances): 4,020.

Machinery Lorries:323.

Bren Carriers and Carriers Starting and Charging:

1,212 to which should be added 1,348 from Canada.

Motor Cycles:1,721.

Tank and Bren Carrier Spares and Maintenance Equipment:20,145 tons.

Other vehicle spares and Maintenance Equipment:4,090 tons.



Electronic Equipment.

Telephone Equipment:


(b)Admiralty Supplies Ships

Asdics:293 sets.

Radar:329 sets.

Submarine batteries complete:41.


Underwater Weapons—


Pyrotechnics, etc. —

(c)Air Mtmstry Supplies—



(a)Raw Material.,.—The greater part of these supplies have been bought from Empire sources. The following are the more important of the items we have sent:

30,00o tons of aluminium from Canada (£3,038,000)

2,000 tons of aluminium from United Kingdom (£720,000).

27,000 tons of copper from Canada (£1,431,000).

13,000 tons of copper from United Kingdom(£773,000).

£1,424,000 worth of industrial diamonds, mainly from African production

100,435 tons of jute from India (£4,975,000).

114,359 tons of rubber from Ceylon and from the Far East (£15,574,000).

9,050 tons of sisal from British East Africa(£239,000).

3,300 tons of graphite from Ceylon (£160,000).

28,050 tons of tin from Malaya and United Kingdom (£ 7,774,000).

29,610 tons of wool from Australia and New Zealand (£5,521,000).

TOTAL VALUE of these and other raw materials: £47,841,000.

(b)Foodstuffs.—These include tea from Ceylon and India, cocoa beans, palm oil and palm kernels from West Africa; groundnuts from India, cocoanut oil from Ceylon; pepper and spices from India, Ceylon and British West Indies.

TOTAL VALUE of all foodstuffs supplied: £8,210,000.

(c)Machine Tools, Industrial Plant and Machinery.—These form the principal direct contribution to civil supplies for the U.S.S.R. from United Kingdom production The following are the major items which have been provided since 1st October, 1941: —

Machine Tools: £13,081,000

Power Plant: £12,264.000.

Electrical Equipment: £9,091,000.

Various types of machinery: £4,691,000

(e g. telephone equipment, food processing plant, textile machinery, port and salvage equipment).

Miscellaneous industrial equipment: £3,201,000.

TOTAL VALUE of (c), including certain minor items: £43,616,000.


The public have contributed a large proportion of th funds for these supplies. Since October, 1941, £5,260,000 have been spent through charitable organisations on surgical and medical items and clothing. In addition, His Majesty's Government have made a grant of £2,500,000 for clothing, nearly all of which has been spent.

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