Wednesday 12 January 2022

Careless Lend Lease

"Memo of the Chief of the 5th Department of the GBTU Tank Directorate on complaints about the shipping of imported armoured vehicles to the USSR

March 13th, 1945

The main complaints are as follows:

  1. Armoured vehicles arrive unevenly throughout the entire (protocol) period of shipments of armoured vehicles to the USSR. Whether or not each tank is equipped with spare parts and tools or even its technical condition is unknown, which makes receiving the vehicles, issuing them in a timely manner, and training the crews difficult.
  2. From the 59th to the 63rd convoy inclusive the M4A2 tanks were not equipped with large tarps. The 61st Convoy arrived with 87 tanks lacking optical sights. 72 spare sights were delivered with the 63rd convoy. To this day we do not have 15 sights, without which the tanks cannot be sent to the front.
    The barge "Eskine" arrived in Baku with 27 M4A2 tanks that did not have tools or spare parts. From the 59th to the 63rd convoy inclusive M4A2 tanks arrived without machine gun belt boxes (each tank should have 17 of them) and starting with the 64th convoy they were only partially equipped with boxes. A shortage of boxes delayed the shipment of the tanks to the front.
    The spare parts boxes had no spare machine gun barrels, machine gun pintle mounts, electrolytic fluid, or antifreeze.
    Some tanks had gas oil in their lubrication system instead of oil. Some tanks had their electric devices hooked up incorrectly, etc.
  3. It is not known whether or not the tanks went through modernization until they arrive at the receiving department, which makes handling the vehicles more difficult.
  4. None of the arriving documentation has been translated into Russian, which also makes handling the vehicles difficult and delays the issuing of vehicles in units, as translation of the technical documentation and composition of the Russian equivalent takes a very long time.
  5. As a rule, we don't have precise information on arrivals of imported armoured vehicles by month.
Chief of the 5th Department of the GBTU Tank Directorate, Engineer Lieutenant Colonel Biletkin"

CAMD RF F.38 Op.11355 D.3018 L.81-82
Printed in Glavnoye Bronetankovoye Upravleniye Lyudi, Sobytiya, Fakty v dokumentakh, 1944-1945 p.431


  1. I was just reading a book about British tanks that noted that when they sent tanks to Egypt, they sent them uncovered and without the necessary spare parts, so it took a lot of time and effort to get the tanks into action. They weren’t just short-changing the Soviets, anyway.

    1. Actually, I was going to ask if tanks shipped to other theaters had similar issues.

    2. Yes, I see exactly the same complaints from British forces in the Mediterranean, both for tanks packed by the British and the Americans. It definitely wasn't unique to the USSR.

  2. I guess just getting stuff into the transports and off the docks was the most important for the dockworkers.

    After all the ports seem to have been the biggest bottleneck in "creating" the convoys.