Public Papers of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1943

Author: Franklin D. Roosevelt  | Date: November 11, 1943

128 Report to Congress on Reverse Lend-Lease.
November 11, 1943

To the Congress:

Since the enactment of the Lend-Lease Act in March of 1941, 1 have transmitted to the Congress eleven reports describing the lend-lease aid which has been furnished by the United States. These reports have also included information with respect to the types and quantities of reverse lend-lease aid provided to the United States by the various lend-lease countries.

While a complete account of the reverse lend-lease aid which we have received is not yet available, the statements recently received from the Governments of the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand and from our Army make it possible for me to report to you at this time regarding a part of the expenditures made by the British Commonwealth of Nations on reverse lend-lease aid to the United States.

The overwhelming benefit which the United States has received from its lend-lease program has, of course, been the pooling of resources and the combined effort of the United Nations against the Axis countries. Each of the United Nations has contributed.

There is, of course, no physical or financial standard of value by which we can measure the military contribution to the war on land or sea or in the air which has been made by our allies or ourselves. One thing is clear: By the help which our friends and allies have given us, and by the help which we have given them in the common cause, we have not only made progress in the war, but we have saved the lives of many of our own boys as well as those of our allies.

The master agreements entered into with Great Britain, the Soviet Union, China and other United Nations receiving lend-lease aid establish the principles which govern the lend-lease relationship. The other United Nations, under the master lend-lease agreements, have agreed to contribute to the defense of the United States by providing as reverse lend-lease aid all articles, services, facilities, or information which they can furnish.

Under these agreements, all lend-lease supplies, such as, for example, merchant ships or cargo planes, which are not used up in the’ war, can be required by the President to be returned at the end of the present emergency.

Article VII of the master agreements entered into with the United Nations receiving lend-lease aid provides that they will join with the United States in working toward some of the economic conditions which are a prerequisite to a secure peace.

The master lend-lease agreements do not determine the final settlement, but leave that for determination at some future date.

As conditions have permitted, our allies have expanded the scope and nature of their reverse lend-lease aid.

During the past summer the United Kingdom agreed to extend reverse lend-lease aid to include not only goods, services, and information for our armed forces, but also raw materials, commodities, and foodstuffs hitherto purchased, for export, in the United Kingdom and the British colonies by or on behalf of United States Government agencies. Discussions on the administration and procedure for the handling of the contracts, transfers, and other details are now going forward.

This plan will make available to the United States, under reverse lend-lease and without payment, such materials and foodstuffs as rubber from Ceylon, Trinidad, British Guiana, and British Honduras, sisal and pyrethrum from British East Africa, asbestos and chrome from Southern Rhodesia, cocoa from British West Africa, tea and coconut oil from Ceylon, and benzol and tar acids from the United Kingdom.

British shipping for these raw materials and foodstuffs from all parts of the British Commonwealth will also be made available under reverse lend-lease.

Discussions are also under way with the other Governments of the British Commonwealth looking toward a like arrangement for the provision of materials and foodstuffs as reverse lend-lease aid.

As of June 30, 1943, the British Commonwealth of Nations reported that expenditures of about $1,171,000,000 had been made for reverse lend-lease aid. The United Kingdom has expended about $871,000,000 of this amount; and Australia, New Zealand, and India have expended approximately $300,000,000.

Based upon estimates for the first six months of this year, expenditures by the British Commonwealth for reverse lend-lease aid to the United States are now at an annual rate of about $1,250,000,000. This does not take into account the anticipated exports of raw materials, commodities, and foodstuffs for the account of the United States.

The data necessary for even an incomplete accounting of the monetary expenditures by the British Commonwealth for reverse lend-lease assistance to the United States have been gathered in the face of difficulties. British aid is rendered to the armed forces of the United States all over the world. Usually it is under conditions very different from those surrounding lend-lease from the United States, which flows from a central source. Many supplies and services have been made available by the British to the United States armed forces in North Africa, Sicily, and elsewhere for which no report has yet been received.

The figures set forth in this report include expenditures made by the British Commonwealth for newly constructed barracks, military airports, hospitals, and other military facilities for our armed forces. They do not include such facilities made available to our armed forces where no out-of-pocket expenditures have been made for their construction since our entry into the war.

These British expenditures were from appropriated funds which required financing either through taxation or borrowing. They are comparable to the expenditures made by the United States from appropriations for lend-lease purposes, which include funds for capital installations in this country, such as munitions plants, shipyards, and other facilities.

It has not yet been determined how such lend-lease or reverse lend-lease expenditures will be entered or treated in the final settlement under the lend-lease agreements. They will, of course, be considered when the final settlement is made. The master agreement provides that in the final determination of the benefits to be provided to the United States, "full cognizance shall be taken of all property, services, information, facilities, or other benefits or considerations provided by the Government of the United Kingdom subsequent to March 11, 1941, and accepted or acknowledged by the President on behalf of the United States of America."

The Governments of the British Commonwealth have submitted their statement of expenditures for the reverse lend-lease aid covered in this report in pounds. To make these figures more intelligible to the American people, these expenditures have been translated into dollars at the official exchange rates. This may be misleading, because the rate of exchange used cannot, especially under war conditions, always reflect comparable values in terms of purchasing power, man-hours of work, or materials.

But in spite of the misconception which may result from translating the pound expenditure figures into dollars at the official rates of exchange, I think it is desirable to provide the Congress and the people of this country with the best available indication as to the expenditures made by the British Commonwealth for reverse lend-lease aid.

Exclusive of the expenditures for supplies transferred in colonial theaters of war, American forces have received aid through reverse lend-lease channels for which the United Kingdom made expenditures of $871,000,000 as of June 30, 1943, as follows:

Goods and services $331,000,000
Shipping 169,000,000
Airports, barracks, hospitals, other construction 371,000,000
Total $871,000,000

We are all familiar with the role which the Eighth Air Force has played, in collaboration with the Royal Air Force, in preparing the way for the invasion of Europe. It is not as widely known that the operation of reverse lend-lease has made contributions to the outstanding performance of our air forces based in the United Kingdom.

Under reverse lend-lease, the British have provided our bomber and fighter commands with many necessary items.

Specially heated winter flying clothing to protect bomber crews from the intense cold suffered at high altitudes was supplied by the British to our Air Forces. When certain United States fighter gun sights proved less effective than the sights employed by British fighters, the Royal Air Force provided a substantial number of British-type sights for immediate installation.

American bombers have been equipped by the British with photographic equipment effective in obtaining photographs of the target during the bomb run.

The British have also provided facilities for the development and production of a new type of protective body armor designed by our medical authorities.

A variety of other aid has also been provided for our Air Forces by the United Kingdom.

Mobile repair shops located throughout the United Kingdom recondition American bombers forced to make crash landings.

A one-man dinghy, developed by the British for parachute landings at sea, provides pilots of American planes with a one-man floating raft.

Specialized British radio equipment has been installed in American planes which has given greater safety to our bomber crews, and has improved the effectiveness of our bombing missions.

For purposes of recognition training, the Royal Air Force has delivered to the United States Air Forces more than 60,000 items of aircraft, warship, and armed vehicle recognition devices.

These are but a few instances of the aid which has been provided to our Air Forces under reverse lend-lease and without payment by us.

Although Great Britain depends upon imports for a large portion of her curtailed food supply, she is providing American forces with substantial amounts of foodstuffs as reverse lend-lease aid. These range from fresh vegetables, flour, and potatoes to corn-on-the-cob and soft drinks.

Australia, New Zealand, and India have also provided United States forces in those areas with substantial reverse lend-lease aid, including most of their food.

The Australian Government has officially estimated the expenditures for reverse lend-lease aid to the United States at £A60,792,000 as of June 30, 1943. As the official rate of exchange of a £A equals $3.23, this indicates a dollar value of about $196,000,000. This sum is divided into the following major categories:

Stores and provisions $39,000,000
Technical equipment 7,000,000
Motor transport 14,000,000
Aircraft stores and equipment 16,000,000
General stores 24,000,000
Transportation and communication 21,000,000
Shipping 7,000,000
Works, buildings, and hirings 66,000,000
Miscellaneous 2,000,000
Total $196,000,000

Australia and New Zealand have supplied American forces in the South and Southwest Pacific with the bulk of their foodstuff requirements on a ration scale comparable to the basic allowance of the American Army. This program includes fresh, dried, and canned products, and in some cases in the latter category requires amounts ranging up to 100 percent of total Australian production.

The following are the quantities of the principal types of food stuffs the United States has received from Australia as reverse lend-lease through June 30, 1943:

Meat 61,480,000
Bread, biscuits, cereals 48,110,000
Potatoes 29,762,000
Vegetables and fruit 49,931,000
Canned foods 28,340,000
Emergency rations 2,232,000
Sugar 11,782,000
Butter 6,628,000
Condensed milk 8,711,000
Fresh milk 11,500,000
Fresh eggs 22,000,000

Although clothing rationing has been introduced in Australia, the Government has undertaken an extensive clothing manufacturing program for the United States forces. This program includes millions of pairs of socks and hundreds of thousands of shirts, jackets, trousers, pullovers, under clothing, boots and shoes, and blankets.

Recreational needs of American soldiers have been met by an Australian program which calls for every type of game and accessory from boxing gloves to medicine balls- in all, more than 420,000 items of such equipment.

Numerous hospitals, including the newest and most modern in the country, have been made available to the United States Army for its exclusive use.

Official air, rail, and water passenger costs and freight, and cable and telegraph expenses of our troops are paid by the Commonwealth Government as reverse lend-lease aid.

A large number of small ships of various types has been turned over to American authorities, and Australian shipyards are now turning out landing barges and small vessels for the combat use of our forces.

On September 29, 1943, the Australian Minister of Finance introduced the Commonwealth Budget for the current fiscal year in the Australian Parliament. He estimated that Australia will spend approximately $323,000,000 for reverse lend-lease during the year July 1, 1943, to June 30, 1944.

New Zealand, no less than Australia and the United Kingdom, has supplied its share of reverse lend-lease aid. For the period ending June 30, 1943, the New Zealand Government has officially reported having expended $51,000,000 for reverse lend-lease aid to the United States, made up as follows:

Supplies, services and foodstuffs $24,000,000
Camps 6,000,000
Hospitals 3,000,000
Warehouses 5,000,000
Miscellaneous building projects 7,000,000
Ship construction 6,000,000
Total $51,000,000

New Zealand, with Australia, is the food basket of American forces stationed throughout the South Pacific area. In order better to provide for the needs of our troops in remote Pacific islands, New Zealand has greatly increased her capacity for the packing, canning, and dehydration of meats, vegetables, and dairy products.

Although its population is less than 1,700,000, this dominion has supplied the United States under reverse lend-lease and without charge with more than 170,000,000 pounds of foodstuffs during the year ending June 30, 1943, as follows:

Fresh meat 49,650,000
Canned, smoked meat 21,600,000
Potatoes 9,150,000
Other vegetables 24,125,000
Fruit 10,825,000
Butter and cheese 12,550,000
Other dairy produce 10,000,000
Sugar 7,100,000
Flour and other cereals 13,725,000
Miscellaneous supplies 11,475,000

New Zealand also supplies numerous articles of clothing, including shoes and textiles, to United States forces as reverse lend-lease aid. When American requirements were added to those of local forces, New Zealand found it necessary to ration the civilian supply of clothing to less than one full outfit per year.

American requirements under reverse lend-lease have also occasioned shortages in many other phases of New Zealand’s civilian life. Nevertheless, the Dominion continues greatly to expand the scope and volume of her reverse lend-lease to the United States, and during the present fiscal year about $65,000,000 has been budgeted for this purpose.

While no official report has yet been received from the Government of India, our Army reports total expenditures by India for reverse lend-lease aid of approximately $56,900,000, divided as follows:

Military stores, equipment $5,421,000
Transportation and communication 3,161,000
Petroleum products 13127,000
Construction 31,413,000
Subsistence 3,778,000
Total $56,900,000

We have received aviation gasoline, motor gasoline and lubricating oil, and lesser amounts of other petroleum products from the Indian Government for use by American forces. A part of the motor fuel has been used in a number of trucks and passenger cars given our troops without payment as reverse lend-lease aid. In addition, United States Army groups have been afforded postal, telegraph, and telephone facilities, water and electric power, furnishings for buildings, and items of clothing, including mosquito—and gas-proof outfits.

Canada has received no lend-lease aid from the United States. She has paid cash for the supplies obtained in this country. It may be noted, however, that Canada has already made a billion dollars’ worth of aid available without payment to the United Kingdom and is now engaged in making available another billion dollars’ worth of aid to the United Kingdom, Russia, China, and the other United Nations on a mutual-aid program similar to our lend-lease program.

This statement of the expenditures made by the British Commonwealth of Nations for reverse lend-lease aid furnished to the United States, and of the expansion of this program so as to include exports of materials and foodstuffs for the account of United States agencies from the United Kingdom and the British colonies, emphasizes the contribution which the British Commonwealth has made "to the defense of the United States" while taking its place on the battle fronts.

It is an indication of the extent to which the British have been able to pool their resources with ours so that the needed weapon may be in the hands of that soldier—whatever may be his nationality- who can at the proper moment use it most effectively to defeat our common enemies.


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Chicago: Franklin D. Roosevelt, "128 Report to Congress on Reverse Lend-Lease.," Public Papers of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1943 in Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1943 (New York: Russell & Russell, 1938-1950), Item 144 Original Sources, accessed October 1, 2023,

MLA: Roosevelt, Franklin D. "128 Report to Congress on Reverse Lend-Lease." Public Papers of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1943, in Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1943 (New York: Russell & Russell, 1938-1950), Item 144, Original Sources. 1 Oct. 2023.

Harvard: Roosevelt, FD, '128 Report to Congress on Reverse Lend-Lease.' in Public Papers of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1943. cited in , Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1943 (New York: Russell & Russell, 1938-1950), Item 144. Original Sources, retrieved 1 October 2023, from