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F.D.R. signing the Lend Lease Act

The Lend Lease Program was a system developed by the United States to deliver goods and arms to its allies in World War II without payment.


President Roosevelt described it thus; "if you see your neighbors house on fire you don't expect ten dollars before you give your hose to him but rather he returns it when he's done." He was describing the way in which the lend lease act would work in that, although payment wouldn't be received due to the allies economic situations, the equipment would be returned after the war has ended.

In some instances, Lend-Lease worked in reverse, most notably in the case of Great Britain passing ex-RAF aircraft to units of the USAAF.



Roosevelt first outlined the Four Freedoms principle, which formed the basis of Lend Lease, on 6 January 1941, by asking Congress to approve extension of arms credits to "those nations engaged in actual warfare with agressor nations. Our most useful and immediate role is to act as an arsenal for them as well as for ourselves. They do not need man power, but they do need billions of dollars worth of weapons of defense. The time is near when they will not be able to pay for them all in ready cash.... For what we send abroad, we shall be repaid within a reasonable time following the close of hostilities, in similar materials, or at our option, in other goods of many kinds, which they can produce, and which we need. "[1]

A bill to provide lend-lease was introduced to Congress on 10 January,[2] which was approved by the House of Representatives by a vote of 260 to 165 on 8 February.[3] The Senate did not begin debating the bill until 17 February,[4] voting to approve it by 60 votes to 31 on 8 March. [5]

On 11 March, an amendment to the Neutrality Act, which permitted U.S. lend-lease arms trades, was signed into law by President Roosevelt, who described the decision as "The end of any attempt at appeasement in our land, the end of urging us to get along with the dictators, the end of compromise with tyranny and the forces of oppression." The next day, Roosevelt requested $7 billion of military credits for Britain under the lend-lease law. Winston Churchill expressed British thanks for the measure, described as a new Magna Carta,[5] which was approved by Congress on 27 March.[6]

On 30 October, the Soviet Union received an offer from Roosevelt for a $1 billion interest free loan, designed to provide the means to purchase lend-lease equipment. The ten year repayment period would begin five years after the end of the war. The loan was approved by Congress on 6 November, the day after the deteriorating relationship with Japan resulted in Congress voting to stay in session indefinitely.[7]

Lend-lease aid was extended to the Free French on 11 November,[8] with final approval coming on 24 November. [9]


On 11 June, 1942, the U.S. and Britain concluded a mutual aid agreement with Russia, which allowed Moscow to repay lend-lease with goods instead of cash.[10]

The U.S. signed agreements for lend lease on 4 September with Britain, Australia, New Zealand and the Free French.[11]


Roosevelt wrote to Chinese President Kai-shek Chiang on January 14th 1944, warning that lend lease aid to China would be cut unless Chiang agreed to commit additional Chinese forces. Chiang responded on the 16th, stating that China would block supplies to US troops in China, unless the US granted China a $1 billion loan.[12]


Harry S. Truman, who became President of the United States following the death of Roosevelt on April 12th 1945,[13] halted all Lend Lease shipments on August 23rd.[14] When Lend-Lease ended, the United States had received, in monetary terms, somewhat less than one sixth of what they had expanded in aid to the Allies. Over sixty percent of this aid had been supplied to the British Commonwealth.[15]

Post war

The UK made its final Lend Lease payment in 2006.[16]


  1. Goralski, Robert. World War II Almanac 1931-1945. Hamish Hamilton Ltd. 1981. ISBN 0 241 10573 0 Page 144
  2. Goralski, Robert. Page 145
  3. Goralski, Robert. Page 147
  4. Goralski, Robert. Page 148
  5. 5.0 5.1 Goralski, Robert. Page 150
  6. Goralski, Robert. Page 151
  7. Goralski, Robert. Page 179
  8. Goralski, Robert. Page 180
  9. Goralski, Robert. Page 182
  10. Goralski, Robert. Page 220
  11. Goralski, Robert. Page 301
  12. Goralski, Robert. Page 231
  13. Goralski, Robert. Page 395
  14. Goralski, Robert. Page 419
  15. Room, Adrian (Editor). Brewer's Directory of Phrase and Fable - Millennium Edition. 2002. ISBN 0 304 35873 8 Page 688
  16. Perrett, Bryan. British Military History for Dummies. John Wiley & Sons Ltd. 2007. ISBN 0 470 03213 8.
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