Deadlock 1941

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1941 British deadlock and global turning point.


The Nazi empire at its largest extent in 1942 Isolated and under siege it seems difficult to imagine a British victory without the support of major allies.

British deadlock: 

British deadlock Campaigns in Norway, France, North Africa and Greece had all ended in either humiliating retreat or indecisive stalemate. The British war effort had hit a brick wall. British shipping was under constant German submarine attack. British air raids on German targets were inaccurate, limited, costly in aircraft and crews and largely ineffective. The war had reached deadlock on every front although Britain had survived the ‘crucible’ of May-September 1940.

US backing: 

US backing In May 1941 President Roosevelt stepped up support for GB. ‘Cash and carry’ arms sales were replaced by a wide-ranging credit agreement known as the Lend Lease Act. Great Britain (and later the USSR) were able to purchase unlimited quantities of arms, oil, food, machinery and raw materials on credit for the DURATION of the conflict. In effect an open-ended ‘blank cheque’. US warships begin convoy escort duties as far as Newfoundland, violating American neutrality and provoking German U-boat attacks on American shipping


“We have only to kick in the door and the whole rotten edifice will collapse.” Adolf Hitler, May 1941

Operation Barbarossa: 

Operation Barbarossa On June 22nd 1941 (after a six week delay) Hitler launched the biggest land battle in history. His aim was a repeat of his stunning 1940 victory over France. He expected a short war of annihilation over soviet forces he considered inferior. Discussion point: Was it German incompetence or Soviet strength which prevented a German ‘blitzkrieg’ victory over the USSR as Hitler had anticipated ?


“If Hitler invaded hell I would make a pact with the devil.”


Precious shipping was diverted to bring aid to the USSR. Heavy losses were inflicted on these ‘Arctic convoys’ to Murmansk. Churchill felt the price was justified if it kept Russia in the war and showed Britain’s support for their unexpected new ally.


Heavy German U - boat activity


Murmansk in the Arctic circle


Still officially neutral, President Roosevelt signed a joint declaration with Churchill stating a common commitment to democratic values and world peace. The USA was drifting inexorably to war with Germany.


As the Soviet troops began their counter offensive at Moscow………


The Japanese attacked the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbour on 7th December 1941.


“So we have won after all.” Churchill’s reaction to news of the attack on Pearl Harbour


Tasks Read handout 1 How vital to Britain’s survival was US assistance between 1940-41 ? Read handout 2 Summarise the main reasons for US involvement in World War Two. To what extent was American entry the turning-point of the war, especially for Britain ?

Roosevelt explains Lend-Lease to the public in a radio broadcast: 

Roosevelt explains Lend-Lease to the public in a radio broadcast If your neighbour’s house was on fire doesn’t it make sense to lend them your garden hose?

US help to Britain: 

US help to Britain After Dunkirk the British went to the USA with a long ‘shopping list’ of requirements from boots, anti-tank guns, trucks and rifles. The destroyers for bases deal gave Britain vital naval ships to fight the German U boats in the North Atlantic and protect convoys coming from North America. Lend-Lease was very timely for Britain as her gold and dollar reserves had almost run out by Mid 1941

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