29. It Took Time to Establish Reliable Lend-Lease Routes
Lend-Lease deliveries were initially routed across the Arctic Ocean to Murmansk. However, that was a hazardous passage, and many convoys were savaged by German planes and submarines operating from Norway. The quantities delivered were more symbolic than meaningful, and were of use only in the peripheral Arctic fronts facing Finland. Another more meaningful route was through Iran, which the Allied occupied precisely for that purpose. However, the Iranian road and rail infrastructure necessary for the delivery of significant aid was not completed until the second half of 1943. Aid through this route went mainly to the Soviets’ southern fronts, which were more important than the northern ones supplied through Murmansk, but were not the main front.
The main supply route, through which Lend-Lease finally gushed like a torrent, was through Vladivostok. From there, it made its way via the Trans-Siberian railway to the central fronts and the Soviets’ main war effort. However, that was the most difficult route, and it took the longest time to establish. Getting it ready and in action required not only significant work on the Soviet end, but also the creation of an entire road and rail network from scratch, across Alaska and Western Canada, to handle the massive mountains of aid.