Author Topic: UK provides no assistance to the USSR in WWII  (Read 2475 times)

Online Volkodav

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UK provides no assistance to the USSR in WWII
« on: January 24, 2014, 07:04:43 PM »
A thought occurred to me some time ago that did the USSR actually need the support provided to them by the Allies following the German invasion in 1941, i.e. they would have suffered heavier losses, and it would have taken longer, but they would still have prevailed eventually without help. 

Reasons for not helping the USSR:
  • the Allies did not trust Stalin and were quite happy to watch the USSR and Germany grind each other into the ground
  • The resources that were sent in support of the USSR would have been of very real, perhaps war changing, value if sent to Singapore and Malaya instead.

Could Singapore have been successfully defended had the tanks and aircraft transferred to the USSR been sent to Malaya instead?
Would the RN have fared better in SEA had the ships assigned to the arctic convoys been dispatched to Singapore?

I have also bee having some thoughts on the Singapore Strategy, such as Darwin is selected and fortified in the 1920s instead of Singapore.  The UK is more realistic in its assessments of the Japanese threat and their ability to address it with the fall of France and redirects the Australian efforts in the empire training scheme to concentrate on training and deploying combat squadrons in defence of the region.

Offline Old Wombat

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Re: UK provides no assistance to the USSR in WWII
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2014, 09:16:37 PM »
Was the tonnage sent to the USSR prior to the fall of Singapore really that significant? ???

I'm pretty sure that Churchill, at least, had a fair idea how serious the Japanese threat was but he was (or appeared to be) willing to sacrifice SEA & Australia to concentrate on saving the UK (he didn't, however, seem to be quite as willing to sacrifice India).

The RN issue is more significant because ships are few in number, take a long time to repair & a long time to build - especially cruisers. Unfortunately, the Brit's were still coming to terms with the impact of air power on naval operations & were still in the process of ungrading AA weaponry aboard their ships. Against the Japanese this may have led to even worse losses than they did suffer.

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Online Volkodav

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Re: UK provides no assistance to the USSR in WWII
« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2014, 10:52:24 PM »
From Wikipedia, I was quite surprised:

A defence conference was held in Singapore in October 1940. Representatives from all three services attended, including Vice-Admiral Sir Geoffrey Layton (Commander in Chief, China Station); the General Officer Commanding Malaya Command, Lieutenant General Lionel Bond; and Air Officer Commanding the RAF in the Far East, Air Marshal John Tremayne Babington. Australia was represented by its three deputy service chiefs, Captain Joseph Burnett, Major General John Northcott and Air Commodore William Bostock. Over ten days, they discussed the situation in the Far East. They estimated that the air defence of Burma and Malaya would require a minimum of 582 aircraft.[88] By 7 December 1941, there were only 164 first-line aircraft on hand in Malaya and Singapore, and all the fighters were the obsolete Brewster F2A Buffalo.[89] The land forces situation was not much better. There were only 31 battalions of infantry of the 48 required, and instead of two tank regiments, there were no tanks at all. Moreover, many of the units on hand were poorly trained and equipped. Yet during 1941 Britain had sent 676 aircraft and 446 tanks to the Soviet Union.[90]

Quite an interesting read actually, I will need to dig out some of the resources for a more in-depth look when I have time.

Offline Old Wombat

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Re: UK provides no assistance to the USSR in WWII
« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2014, 11:59:16 PM »
There is still the question of whether Churchill would have authorised the transfer of this equipment to a theatre of war he did not believe was directly able to influence the survival of Britain.

He only seemed to change this indifference to the SEA/Pacific theatre when India, the "jewel" of the British Empire, became threatened by the Japanese advance.

(Just to make it clear, I'm an anglophile & monarchist; I'm just not very keen on Winston.)

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Offline Silver Fox

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Re: UK provides no assistance to the USSR in WWII
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2014, 06:39:58 AM »
Assume that 2/3 of the available "Soviet" equipment goes to the India, the remainder going to Burma/Malaya.

225 Aircraft and 148 tanks. This is a significant addition to the available combat strength of the theatre.

A study of the convoy prior to 7th December 1941 suggests no shipping losses to that date. Going forward there are significant losses, but those would have to be balanced against the German forces (primarily Luftwaffe) that would be freed to face England or the Soviet Union.

Offline Rickshaw

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Re: UK provides no assistance to the USSR in WWII
« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2014, 08:06:50 AM »
Could Singapore have been successfully defended had the tanks and aircraft transferred to the USSR been sent to Malaya instead?

Would the RN have fared better in SEA had the ships assigned to the arctic convoys been dispatched to Singapore?

The answer to both questions is most likely not.

The British in Malaya suffered from poor leadership and poor troops, not necessarily a lack of equipment.   The Japanese forces which attacked were, for most of the campaign running on a shoe string logistically.  All that was required was either a series of minor defeats or one large one and they'd have been forced to retreat.    What prevented that was a defeatist mentality and that most of the Colonial troops from India were poorly trained and led.   The result was they either surrendered after the first few shots had been fired or they treated as fast as they could back down the peninsula.  The Civilian administration didn't want to make any defensive preparations because that would have, according to them, indicated a loss of "face" to the Natives.   Shoving all that stuff sent to Russia into Malaya would have just made a windfall for the Japanese.

The Royal Navy was nearly as bad.  Despite all their experience in the "bomb alley" in the Mediterranean they still seem in the Far East not to have grasped the importance and dangers of air power.  Giving them more ships would more than likely just have meant more ships would have been sunk IMHO.

Online Volkodav

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Re: UK provides no assistance to the USSR in WWII
« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2014, 10:37:40 AM »
Probably comes down to who was crewing the tanks and aircraft as to how much difference they made.  For instance had AIF crews, who had been training in Australia for deployment to the Middle East, shipped up to Malaya and taken on the (I assume) Matildas and also if something equivalent to 151 Wing could have been dispatched to the far east instead of the USSR and personnel from the Empire Air Training Scheme brought in to operate additional Hurricanes brought from the Mediterranean you could have easily seen the chain of minor defeats or major defeat you suggested would have done the job.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No._151_Wing_RAF

This is basically what ended up happening in New Guinea with the over extended Japanese being slowed, then stopped and finally driven back as priorities from other campaigns sapped their resources.  The trick would have been to provide the British Indian Army with a back bone of armour and modern(ish) fighters to slow and then hold the Japanese until they couldn't reinforce any more.

I have read that many of the Indians captured subsequently joined the Japanese army and fought against the Allies, so the fall of Singapore was a double whammy.

« Last Edit: January 25, 2014, 10:47:57 AM by Volkodav »

Offline Rickshaw

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Re: UK provides no assistance to the USSR in WWII
« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2014, 12:28:52 PM »
I have read that many of the Indians captured subsequently joined the Japanese army and fought against the Allies, so the fall of Singapore was a double whammy.

Some did but most remained true to their salt.   Those that did, tended to last only last a short time before coming to their senses after discovering the contempt the Japanese held their fellow Asians in and resigned, returning to the PoW camps.  Many died as their did their European compatriots on the Thai-Burma railway.  :(

While the Indians have been unfairly maligned to a large extent over the Malayan debacle (and the 8 Division had IMHO a better PR machine), it's interesting how the British told the Indians that the surrender was the fault of the Australians and the Australians were told it was the fault of the Indians.   In reality, it was everybody's fault.  The Japanese were simply better commanded, led and fought better than the British/Commonwealth forces in the theatre.   Yamashita had absorbed the lessons he'd learnt in Europe and the British hadn't.   Their racism towards the Japanese and their subject peoples' meant they were on a hiding to nothing IMHO.

In that sort of situation, all that could happen is "shoring up defeat", as occurred with the British 18th Division which arrived in time to go into the bag.  Same thing could have happened to 7 Div. AIF when Churchill diverted the convoys (twice) towards Rangoon without permission from the Australian government which wanted the AIF home ASAP.  If Curtin had not stood firm and defied Churchill (one of the few defeats he suffered politically), Australia would well and truly been in a pickle and the number of Australian PoWs of the Japanese would have doubled.

What was needed was better leadership who understood the problems facing them.  Wavell was old and tired by early 1942 and never grasped that the Indian troops in Malaya were of a considerably lower standard compared to those he'd commanded in the Middle-East.   Percival was an excellent staff officer by all accounts but was not up to the job as a theatre Army commander.  He didn't have the strength of character to face down the civilian leadership in Malaya nor force the RAF commander to actually do his job (who was actually the C-in-C for Malaya).

The British had long realised, despite the propaganda to the contrary that Singapore was vulnerable to a landward approach and had formulated quite advanced (for their day) defensive plans which relied heavily on air power.  Where they fell down was inadequate resourcing and reliance on unreliable and untrained troops.   Some, better resources may have helped to a limited extent but without the commanders and troops to use them, it would have still been a massive defeat IMHO. 

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Re: UK provides no assistance to the USSR in WWII
« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2014, 08:00:40 PM »
At the end of the day a couple of hundred Matildas and Hurricanes using tactics developed in the western desert would likely have ruined Japans day.  Light infantry vs armour rarely ends well for the infantry, when the armour in question is the Matilda I can't honestly see anything the Japanese had that could counter them.

Also I understand it was mostly older IJA combat aircraft deployed in that campaign, more than enough for the Buffalos but how would they have faired against a wing or two of Hurricanes using Battle of Britain tactics.  The RAF was able to deploy very quickly to Murmansk Radars C3 and all, so why not Singapore and more importantly Darwin?

Ideally Australia would have been licence producing the Hurricane, Henley and Matilda since 1939/40 and been able to forward deploy forces to Malaya in late 41 but that would have been common sense and required Australia to invest in our own defence and perhaps even mobilise for war, shock horror.

Offline jcf

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Re: UK provides no assistance to the USSR in WWII
« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2014, 01:48:24 PM »
Ruined Japan's day.? Not effing likely. The Ki 43s supported by Ki 27 would still gave gone through the Hurricanes like shit through a goose. BoB tactics, which BTW were used against the IJA, would have made
no difference. The Japanese were flat out better at dogfighting, it's what they were trained for and what they did, no one in 1941 was better. Why Yanks and Brits/Commonwealth to this day still refuse to accept that
is baffling. As to tanks, the Matilda would have sucked in Malaya, because they would have tried to use Western Desert tactics, not criticism really because it's what they knew, but it wouldn't have worked in the jungle. The Allies really didn't know how to fight the Japanese for the first six months, but once it was figured out, it was all she wrote, so these 'Oh we can stop them right way' alt. history scenarios are really
a wishful thinking wank. Particularly the Oz producing state of the art tech by early '42 storylines, sorry but you simply didn't didn't have the necessary precursor industries inplace to speed up the timeline. To make
these fantasies work you'd have to put stuff in play back in the early to mid-30s, at the latest.
The average persons grasp of rearmament in the UK and US us extraordinarily distorted, the important
stuff started far earlier than most realize.
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Online Volkodav

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Re: UK provides no assistance to the USSR in WWII
« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2014, 03:55:34 PM »
True, we literally would have needed a different government, Billy Hughes mark 3 would have worked.  We would also needed to have listened to Jellicoe, Monash and Chauvel.  The sad truth is the government of the day had no interest in defending Australia, they saw it as England role with it being our obligation to provide England with man power.  I do not blame the UK but rather blinkered domestic politics of the sort we still suffer today, too little too late increasing the cost of the butchers bill.  The best wars are the ones that don't happen because diplomacy is the cheaper smarter option and some times a big stick helps getting the consept of cost and consequence across to those concerned.

A lot of my alt Australia stuff come from reading I have been doing where I have been horrified to discover the choices and commitments made without adequate planning and the advice and warnings ignored in advance.  You are meant to get more conservative as you age but the older I get the more disturbed I become at the conservative mind set that inaction, in the light of all evidence to the contrary, is ok.

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Re: UK provides no assistance to the USSR in WWII
« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2014, 05:36:11 PM »
True, we literally would have needed a different government, Billy Hughes mark 3 would have worked.

Errr....Billy Hughes seemed more than happy to sacrifice young Australians for Great Britain's cause...

We would also needed to have listened to Jellicoe, Monash and Chauvel. 

Monash wasn't exactly listened to by many because he was Jewish.  Moreover, when they tried to get him on board for a Coup attempt in the early thirties he told them where to go.

The sad truth is the government of the day had no interest in defending Australia, they saw it as England role with it being our obligation to provide England with man power. 


Errr...John Curtin ring any bells?  He was well known for being the PM who stood up to Churchill and insisting on defending Australia's immediate interests.
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Re: UK provides no assistance to the USSR in WWII
« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2014, 05:45:42 PM »
The Japanese were flat out better at dogfighting, it's what they were trained for and what they did, no one in 1941 was better.

Moreover, in 1941, Japan was probably at the height of their power.  They were supremely confident, were extremely well trained and had lots of experience.  It was only after this that they started to be worn down

Why Yanks and Brits/Commonwealth to this day still refuse to accept that is baffling.

I guess it might be a carry over from the racist view of the day.  Remember that many Europeans/Americans (including Australians etc) looked down on the Japanese.  Mind you, at the time the Japanese also had a similar view of Europeans etc.  I guess both sides were equally bad.


Particularly the Oz producing state of the art tech by early '42 storylines, sorry but you simply didn't didn't have the necessary precursor industries inplace to speed up the timeline.

I agree fully.  In fact, if you want to see an example of this have a read of Sir Lawrence Wackett's Bibliography.  This covers in some detail the level of work up required for the aerospace industry including the need for all the supporting industries and training of workforce.  This also explains quite succinctly why North American designs (such as the T-6 and P-51) were selected as the basis for the Australian industry in CAC.  It is actually a miracle that they were able to accomplish as much as they did in the time they had.
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Online Volkodav

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Re: UK provides no assistance to the USSR in WWII
« Reply #13 on: March 23, 2014, 06:33:47 PM »
I was looking at the Government benches and Hughes was one of the few saying not enough was being done.  PM Curtain from 1937 would have been a very good thing, I still cant comprehend that we were at war from 1939 but not mobilised until 1942!  Can't help but wonder where Australia would be today had Menzies not entered politics, he was like a break on economic and national development for each and every year he was PM.

Jellicoe recommended that Australia manufacture their own aircraft in his defence review of 1920, plenty of lead time there but no one listened.  Monash wanted to bring the AIFs vehicles back to Australia but we left them in Europe and continued to pay for them for decades as part of our war debts.  The 1st AIF was more motorised in 1918 than the 2nd was in 1940 (guessing here but it sounds good ;D)

Had Australia proceeded with the Cockatoo cruiser design and build instead of the County buy and Albatross build things may have been better but I don't know how much.  A big problem was always the country socialist party (Country Party) and the Finance industry and small business party (United Australia / Liberal party) and their disregard to anyone and anything that didn't line their pockets and the pockets of their mates. Sorry getting political here must be the pain killers talking  :-[ :icon_crap: :o

Just drives me mad seeing how much was achieved in a panic from 1942 compared to the preceding two decades and then to have basically the same thing happen again from 1949.  All I have to say is thank god for the momentum that carried so much on even after support and vision was ripped away from the 50s.

Offline Rickshaw

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Re: UK provides no assistance to the USSR in WWII
« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2014, 10:19:08 PM »
What you're missing is that there was a LOT of defence preparation carried out in the 10 years before WWII in Australia.  I'd commend to you A.T.Ross's superbly written book, Armed and Ready: Australian Defence Preparedness 1900-1945, which has an orgy of statistics about what we had done before war broke out and which formed the basis of the massive expansion of 1942.  I'd also suggest reading, Australia in the War of 19391945. Series 4 Civil, Volume III War Economy, 19391942 (1st edition, 1955) & Volume IV War Economy, 19421945 (1st edition, 1977).

It is largely dry economic history but it provides a good basis towards understanding the limitations and achievements of Australian industry.  As Ross shows in his book, we were no where as unprepared as the myths suggest.  We had a defence industry and it was being expanded.  The important work on explosives manufacture, ammunition manufacture and weapons manufacturing was largely all in place by 1940.