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Britain's completely underrated role in WWII

rampant

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
I've never been a fan of revisionist history or positions taken on decisions made with the benefit of hindsight but one of the times WWII history needed a massive re-evaluation was when the OSA released the part that Bletchley Park & Ultra played in the defeat of the Axis. Many of the battlefields 'brilliant' decisions suddenly became "well, we based our decision on the information we already had," which did open up different interpretations and also questions of "so why did some decisions go wrong then?"

Often Intel was withheld for operational reasons
 
Let's be honest, if it wasn't for the yanks and Canadians... umm...

Lend and lease agreement comes to mind?

The sheer volume of manpower required...

As for the Russian question Hitler may or may not have signed his own death warrant when he stabbed Stalin in the back when he conducted Operation Barbarossa and well the Japs got nuked with technology we weren't even close to developing but everyone else kind of was...

Bit of a useless argument to say we don't owe them some debt of gratitude?
The Russians were well rewarded post WW2. They were given a free reign in eastern europe. Let's not forget that the Soviets also did a bit of invading.
 
I've never been a fan of revisionist history or positions taken on decisions made with the benefit of hindsight but one of the times WWII history needed a massive re-evaluation was when the OSA released the part that Bletchley Park & Ultra played in the defeat of the Axis. Many of the battlefields 'brilliant' decisions suddenly became "well, we based our decision on the information we already had," which did open up different interpretations and also questions of "so why did some decisions go wrong then?"
Ie Arnhem.
 
D

Deleted 60082

Guest
I'm not quite sure I am understanding what you are trying to say here, can you elaborate a tad ?
Churchill got involved from the strategic down to the very tactical detail, which was afforded to him by reading huge volumes of intercepted German signals - possibly at the expense of strategic thinking and decision-making. However, this wasn't new. As First Sea Lord in 1914-15, he used his position to advise the Royal Navy on all manner of trivial detail about the maintenance and operation of ships. He was to repeat this when he returned to the role in 1939.
 
D

Deleted 60082

Guest
I've never been a fan of revisionist history or positions taken on decisions made with the benefit of hindsight but one of the times WWII history needed a massive re-evaluation was when the OSA released the part that Bletchley Park & Ultra played in the defeat of the Axis. Many of the battlefields 'brilliant' decisions suddenly became "well, we based our decision on the information we already had," which did open up different interpretations and also questions of "so why did some decisions go wrong then?"
Same can be said about a lot of what was written about the Cold War, especially after Russian archives became available, especially the Mitrokhan KGB Archive smuggled out to the west in the early 1990s.
 

AT55

LE
Really? I wasn't aware of that... though I do recall the USA not forgiving the Brit war debt... which the UK didn't pay off until the 1970s or so.
In fact I'm not sure the UK WAS a beneficiary of the Marshall plan which allowed Germany and Japan to recover, industrially, far quicker than the UK... growing fat under the protection of the US/UK nuclear umbrella.
I seem to remember that the UK paid off it's WW1 war debt to Uncle Sam in 2014 although it stopped paying it off for a long time in the thirties.
 
D

Deleted 60082

Guest
I seem to remember that the UK paid off it's WW1 war debt to Uncle Sam in 2014 although it stopped paying it off for a long time in the thirties.
Actually, public debts going as far back as the Napoleonic Wars, as well as WWI & II, were rolled into new debt instruments. Turkey paid of her last WWI reparation (to Deutsche Bank) in 2010; these debts originated in the 1870s.
 

4(T)

LE
I seem to remember that the UK paid off it's WW1 war debt to Uncle Sam in 2014 although it stopped paying it off for a long time in the thirties.


Britain actually was capable of meeting the whole costs of WW1 out of normal expenditure by the early 1920s (which demonstrates just how rich the country was back then!), but chose to roll the debt over as it was very cheap borrowing in effect.

Ditto WW2 debt.

Feck knows what Britain will do if there is a "third time around", as the post-WW2 transformation to a welfare state has created debts and liabilities of such magnitude that they cannot be paid off. Odd to consider that we could effectively pay for WW1 and WW2 out of petty cash, yet cannot now afford the cost of peaceful living.
 

overopensights

ADC
Book Reviewer
We used our money to fund the social system, NHS, social security, the Germans used theirs to rebuild their industry and infrastructure.

It was somewhat easier for the German and the Japanese to become 'economic miracles' when they were having foreign money pumped into their economies. They had no defense commitments whatever, and all cash went to their respective industrial investment. Furthermore, they were occupied by hundreds of thousands of troops that spent their wages there for many years after the war.
 

AT55

LE
Germany had to rebuild it's wartime industry because there was nothing left; what the Russians hadn't carried off had been flattened, the VW plant being a prime example. When the British took it over and gave a Major the job of resuming production, there was a wrecked B-17 in the main hall, no roof, electricity, water, toilets and the few surviving machines had to be dragged out of the rubble and refitted to be able to run.

Major Ivan Henderson, REME, I think. There were a few of the factories workers living in the plant and Henderson saw potential in what was to become the VW Beetle. He got an order for a few thousand beetles from the British Government of Occupation and the rest is history. I paid a visit to the Wolfsburg factory a few years ago and it is an amazing place bearing in mind it was built in the thirties . One thing I did note as I sipped a beer as I waited for my train was all the taxis at the rank outside the station were Skoda Superbs - not a VW in sight!
 
One of the most spurious revisionists claim is that bombing Germany was a waste of time because production output kept rising and rising. This completely misses the point that had Germany NOT been blitzed production would have been 10 to 20 times higher than it was.
 
Major Ivan Henderson, REME, I think. There were a few of the factories workers living in the plant and Henderson saw potential in what was to become the VW Beetle. He got an order for a few thousand beetles from the British Government of Occupation and the rest is history. I paid a visit to the Wolfsburg factory a few years ago and it is an amazing place bearing in mind it was built in the thirties . One thing I did note as I sipped a beer as I waited for my train was all the taxis at the rank outside the station were Skoda Superbs - not a VW in sight!
In fact Volkswagen Group bought in to Skoda around 1990 and increased it's shares until it not merely held a controlling share but owned Skoda around a decade later. My impression is that Skoda factories build their cars to a higher standard than Volkswagen factories and that reliability results tend to bear that out.
 
In fact Volkswagen Group bought in to Skoda around 1990 and increased it's shares until it not merely held a controlling share but owned Skoda around a decade later. My impression is that Skoda factories build their cars to a higher standard than Volkswagen factories and that reliability results tend to bear that out.
IMHO SEATS outgunned Golf GTis, because they were better built. Same basic platform, better skin and interior.
 

AT55

LE
Britain and the Empire's greatest contribution to victory in WW2 was standing up to Hitler after the surrender of France. Brits were fortunate that Churchill was PM and got on well with the US president. The Yanks sold us most of their obsalescent kit, which was better than what we has left behind in France. We gladly used all this kit and our feedback pointed them in the rightish direction to produce better kit.

If you read about Germany, it has very little natural resources other than coal. During WW1 so many men were employed in he mines that by the time WW2 came along it was far more mechanized that UK. From what I remember it was was over 80% mechanised whilst in the UK most coal was being dug out by men with picks. For most of the war most of Germany's oil and rubber was produced from coal. The only problem with this rubber (buna I think it was called) it didn't perform well in sub zero temperatures which if fine unless you want to use it in say Russia!
 
Let's be honest, if it wasn't for the yanks and Canadians... umm...

Lend and lease agreement comes to mind?

There is, somewhere on the internet, a copy of a leaflet given to US soldiers who were to be stationed in the UK. It does a pretty good deal of scotching the "lend Lease saved your asses, Limey!" attitude. Or at least reduces it.

Also, for giggles have a look at how much British kit we shipped to the USSR.

Finally, we contributed in other ways:


Note, that Minus figure is the amount the USN saved, so the total US saving is $69,000,000. I'd love to know how many Sherman's or Carriers that patent paid for.
 
There is, somewhere on the internet, a copy of a leaflet given to US soldiers who were to be stationed in the UK. It does a pretty good deal of scotching the "lend Lease saved your asses, Limey!" attitude. Or at least reduces it.

Also, for giggles have a look at how much British kit we shipped to the USSR.

Finally, we contributed in other ways:


Note, that Minus figure is the amount the USN saved, so the total US saving is $69,000,000. I'd love to know how many Sherman's or Carriers that patent paid for.
I suspect that the full scale of the benefits to the USA (and USSR) from British patents, properties, factories, businesses, territories, resources and equipment is mind blowing but officially "insignificant".
 
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4(T)

LE
Also, for giggles have a look at how much British kit we shipped to the USSR.
.


Quoting Wiki for convenience:

"Between June 1941 and May 1945, Britain delivered to the USSR:


  • 3,000+ Hurricanes aircraft
  • 4,000+ other aircraft
  • 27 naval vessels
  • 5,218 tanks (including 1,380 Valentines from Canada)
  • 5,000+ anti-tank guns
  • 4,020 ambulances and trucks
  • 323 machinery trucks (mobile vehicle workshops equipped with generators and all the welding and power tools required to perform heavy servicing)
  • 1,212 Universal Carriers and Loyd Carriers (with another 1,348 from Canada)
  • 1,721 motorcycles
  • £1.15bn worth of aircraft engines
  • 1,474 radar sets
  • 4,338 radio sets
  • 600 naval radar and sonar sets
  • Hundreds of naval guns
  • 15 million pairs of boots

In total 4 million tonnes of war material including food and medical supplies were delivered. The munitions totaled £308m (not including naval munitions supplied), the food and raw materials totaled £120m in 1946 index. In accordance with the Anglo-Soviet Military Supplies Agreement of June 27, 1942, military aid sent from Britain to the Soviet Union during the war was entirely free of charge."




7,000+ aircraft and 5,000+ tanks, just for starters.

These amounts are truly staggering, and yet the information has largely been airbrushed from public awareness of WW2 history.

In the Soviet Union and now Russia itself, this information has been more or less suppressed since the war. The museums and official publications barely mention Lend Lease or direct aid.
 
They did acknowledge Lend lease in recent years, especially post Gorbachev and as the archives opened up and proved the size of the Lend Lease bounty, they couldnt deny it (nothing galls a Russian more than to be unable to deny something) and the ordinary soldiery knew it because he found himself wearing high quality boots compared to the standard Sapogi, which, as the war went on, went from full leather to resin impregnated fabric. Also, every truck that pulled a field gun was a Studebaker or equivalent and the Russians simply lied to their troops and told them that Studabaker was a Russian brand, but even the ordinary soldier knew. ......didnt they send gold in HMS Edinburgh to pay for LL from Britain? The Jessop marine find?
 

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
I’m writing a paper on the exploitation of Nazi technology by the United Kingdom. I posted a thread awhile back about Operations Backfire, which was the postwar test launching of V2 rockets under British control. However the V2 was not regarded as an aerospace vehicle but as an inaccurate piece of artillery and therefore UK development of it stalled

I had the pleasure of working at AAEE Boscombe Down for a few years in the Nineties. One of the guys from Rotary Wing who had been there longer than God showed me an old file with evaluations of captured Nazi designs for a double rotor helicopter.


It looked remarkably similar to the old Westland Belvedere - from which the Chinook took much of it's theoretical design.


The first OCTU for helicopters in British service opened at RAF Andover in January 1945. But early helos had been used in other combat areas since the mid 1940s.
 

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