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Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (1874 - 1965) The Second World War

Volume two (1949) Their finest hour Moral of the Work - In War: Resolution – In Defeat: Defiance – In Victory: Magnanimity – In Peace: Goodwill Theme of the Volume How the british people held the fort alone till those who hitherto had been half blind were half ready BOOK II ALONE

Chapter XXVIII
LEND-LEASE

10 Downing Street, Whitehall
December 8, 1940
My dear Mr. President,

…Only thus can those bastions of sea-power upon which the control of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans depend be preserved in faithful and friendly hands. The control of the Pacific by the United States Navy and of the Atlantic by the British Navy is indispensable to the security and trade routes of both our countries, and the surest means of preventing war from reaching the shores of the United States.

It takes between three and four years to convert the industries of a modem state to war purposes. Saturation-point is reached when the maximum industrial effort that can be spared from civil needs has been applied to war production. Germany certainly reached this point by the end of 1939. We in the British Empire are now only about half-way through the second year. The United States, I should suppose, is by no means so far advanced as we. Moreover, I understand that immense programmes of naval, military, and air defence are now on foot in the United States, to complete which certainly two years are needed. It is our British duty in the common interest, as also for our own survival, to hold the front and grapple with the Nazi power until the preparations of the United States are complete. Victory may come before two years are out; but we have no right to count upon it to the extent of relaxing any effort that is humanly possible.

6. Our shipping losses, the figures for which in recent months are appended, have been on a scale almost comparable to those of the worst year of the last war. In the five weeks ending November 3 losses reached a total of 420,300 tons. Our estimate of annual tonnage which ought to be imported in order to maintain our effort at full strength is 43 million tons ; the tonnage entering in September was only at the rate of 37 million tons, and in October of 38 million tons.

We lack the assistance of the French Navy, the Italian Navy, and the Japanese Navy, and above all of the United States Navy, which was of such vital help to us during the culminating years. The enemy commands the ports all around the northern and western coasts of France. He is increasingly basing his submarines, flying-boats, and combat planes on these ports and on the islands off the French coast.

In addition, it is indispensable that the merchant tonnage available for supplying Great Britain, and for the waging of the war by Great Britain with all vigour, should be substantially increased beyond the one and a quarter million tons per annum which is the utmost we can now build. The convoy system, the detours, the zigzags, the great distances from which we now have to bring our imports, and the congestion of our western harbours, have reduced by about one-third the fruitfulness of our existing tonnage. To ensure final victory not less than three million tons of additional merchant shipbuilding capacity will be required. Only the United States can supply this need.

Moreover, we look to the industrial energy of the Republic for a reinforcement of our domestic capacity to manufacture combat aircraft. Without that reinforcement reaching us in substantial measure we shall not achieve the massive preponderance in the air on which we must rely to loosen and disintegrate the German grip on Europe. We are at present engaged on a programme designed to increase our strength to seven thousand first-fine aircraft by the spring of 1942. But it is abundantly clear that this programme will not suffice to give us the weight of superiority which will force open the doors of victory.

May I invite you then, Mr. President, to give earnest consideration to an immediate order on joint account for a further two thousand combat aircraft a month? Of these aircraft, I would submit, the highest possible proportion should be heavy bombers, the weapon on which, above all others, we depend to shatter the foundations of German military power.

The moment approaches when we shall no longer be able to pay cash for shipping and other supplies. While we will do our utmost, and shrink from no proper sacrifice to make payments across the Exchange, I believe you will agree that it would be wrong in principle and mutually disadvantageous in effect if at the height of this struggle Great Britain were to be divested of all saleable assets, so that after tdie victory was won with our blood, civilisation saved, and the time gained for the United States to be fully armed against all eventualities, we should stand stripped to the bone. Such a course would not be in the moral or economic interests of either of our countries. We here should be unable, after the war, to purchase the large balance of imports from the United States over and above the volume of our exports which is agreeable to your tariffs and industrial economy. Not only should we in Great Britain suffer cruel privations, but widespread unemployment in the United States would follow the curtailment of American exporting power.

According to Stettinius, the President, as early as the late summer, had suggested at a meeting of the Defence Advisory Commission on Shipping Resources that “lt should not be necessary for the British to take their own funds and have ships built in the United States, or for us to loan them money for this purpose. There is no reason why we should not take a finished vessel and lease it to them for the duration of the emergency”. It seems that this idea had originated in the Treasury Department, whose lawyers, especially Oscar S. Cox, of Maine, had been stirred by Secretary Morgenthau. It appeared that by a Statute of 1892 the Secretary for War, “when in his discretion it will be for the public good”, could lease Army property if not required for public use for a period of not longer than five years. Precedents for the use of this Statute, by the lease of various Army items, from time to time were on record.

The President returned from the Caribbean on December 16, and broached his plan at his Press Conference next day. He used a simple illustration. “Suppose my neighbour’s house catches fire and I have a length of garden hose four or five hundred feet away. If he can take my garden hose and connect it up with his hydrant, I may help him to put out the fire. Now what do I do ? I don’t say to him before that operation, ‘Neighbour, my garden hose cost me fifteen dollars; you have to pay me fifteen dollars for it.’ No ! What is the transaction that goes on ? I don’t want fifteen dollars—I want my garden hose back after the fire is over.” And again : “There is absolutely no doubt in the mind of a very overwhelming number of Americans that the best immediate defence of the United States is the success of Great Britain defending itself; and that therefore, quite aside from our historic and current interest in the survival of Democracy in the world as a whole, it is equally important from a selfish point of view and of American defence that we should do everything possible to help the British Empire to defend itself.” Finally

: “I am trying to eliminate the dollar mark.”

On this foundation the ever-famous Lend-Lease Bill was at once prepared for submission to Congress. I described this to Parliament later as “the most unsordid act in the history of any nation”. Once it was accepted by Congress it transformed immediately the whole position. It made us free to shape by agreement long-term plans of vast extent for all our needs. There was no provision for repayment. There was not even to be a formal account kept in dollars or sterling. What we had was lent or leased to us because our continued resistance to the Hitler tyranny was deemed to be of vital interest to the great Republic. According to President Roosevelt, the defence of the United States and not dollars was henceforth to determine where American weapons were to go.

Tags: Вторая мировая война, Ленд-лиз, Рузвельт, Черчилль
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