How much did WW2 cost Great Britain?
and how did GB pay for it?
- 9 years agoFavourite answer
The Lend-lease programme alone cost Britain $31.4 Billion at the time, $6.8 billion in paying costs for US bases on UK territory, and - because payment for goods supplied was not due until AFTER the war - a post-war debt of $1.075 billion.
The first thing to remember was that The US government did not want British currency. They thought Britain was about to be defeated by Germany, leaving Sterling worthless.
So the first payments were made by signing over British-owned businesses in America. You could say it cost Britain her stake in the US economy.
Next, the Americans took Britain's gold reserve.
US warships had not sailed to help Czechoslovakia, Poland, France, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, or Norway... but they sailed to South Africa to take British gold.
Only after that did the US begin accepting British currency.
What the US did do was grant Britain a massive discount on equipment retained after the war - some was given at only 10% of its value.
Even then, Britain knew it would not be able to afford to keep everything. Whole squadrons of aircraft were pushed into the sea rather than become liable for payment.
The US charged interest on Britain's war debt at 2% - which was lower than the market rate, but on a debt of $1.075, still huge.
They also made provision in the terms of the loan for payment to be postponed in times of economic hardship - a measure that Britain has had to use on six occasions.
It was finally paid off in 2006.
In some ways the terms were very harsh... in other respects, very generous. But It was an absolute lifesaver and it kept us in the fight.
The cost of the war committed Britain to a period of comparative poverty - the 'Austerity' years.
Food was rationed until 1954, and fuel remained rationed until 1950. So-called 'Utility furniture' was constructed from re-used timber, such as packing crates.
It is often said that the war 'cost Britain her Empire', in that Britain could not afford to oppose independence movements from overseas posessions.
However... Britain ended up fighting in her overseas territories anyway!
Despite a policy of not opposing independence as such; the British government still found something to fight over in Kenya, Suez, Aden, Palestine, Borneo and Malaya. (as well as Korea, of course!)
Hope that helps!
- 4 years ago
I'm very shocked looking at some answers here. "Germany would have easily crushed them" Just remember that you are insulting the last country in Europe that vowed to fight until the end. If it was literally only Britain against Japan and Germany, highly unlikely Britain would have survived, Chamberlain was even told in 1935 that Britain alone would not survive a global-fronted war. But Commonwealth forces and the Soviets could have defeated the Axis eventually without countries such as the USA. The war may have lasted a little bit longer, but nevertheless, the war would still be a victory. Let's look at some events. Second battle of El Alamein, British and Commonwealth troops defeat the Nazis alone and this doomed Hitlers campaign in Africa, Britain was already in Tripoli before Operation Torch began. The Battle of Britain - 2,000 British beat 4,000 Germans, the RAF was superior. Also the only time Britain was in danger.
- gee beeLv 79 years ago
While all the postings about Britain's wartime debts are correct, I think the greatest price Britain paid was because She had to go 'All Out' to the very end of the country's resources.
This was vastly different to, say, The United States, where the American 'All Out Effort' never exceeded 40% of the Gross National Product and consequently, America wasn't even 'breathing hard' during maximum effort times.
The Post War effects of that were obvious. America had the luxury of a significant number of aircraft that were duel designed to be bombers and then, later, airliners. America never stopped producing civilian motorcars. Petrol (gas) Rationing was never a hardship like in the UK. Nor were there ever food shortages, while Britain went without meat, sugar, butter, candy and confectionery, eggs and even onions and and lemons. For nearly five years..!
Britain was so badly off by 1945-46 that Rationing did not end until eight years later..! Britain lived through six long years of horrendous hardship and then another eight years of Recession and rationing.
THAT'S what cost Britain, apart from paying back Her War Debts.
- What do you think of the answers? You can sign in to give your opinion on the answer.
- BeauLv 69 years ago
Lost the empire and world power status.
As well as a lot of money, the last financial payments to the United States were paid as late as 2006.
- BearLv 79 years ago
We had to cede territory to the USA,and as Bilbo pointed out,we didn't finish paying for Americas help until 2006.
- Anonymous9 years ago
how could WW2 cost the UK its empire when we still have one we have 14 colonies or as they are called today British overseas territories
and we only closed down our bases east of Suez in 1972 after our colonies were secure in their Independence 27 years after WW2
yes the Uk was in Debit and by GDP a lot less in debit than the USA today so can we say the USA is Bankrupt
of course Not
a country can only be bankrupt when it CAN Not pay its bills
we paid double
The USA caused WW2 by putting hitler in power and Funded the NAZIS up to 1945
I was Bombed in London By Fokker Wolf's owned By ITT who sued the Us government after WW2 for damages to their factories in Germany and were Paid 37 Million dollars to Try and Kill me
and then used lend lease to make up for american losses after the Battle of Britain
it is a fact that Congress expected the UK to Fall by 1940
the USA was Funding the NAZIS on Credit whilst forcing the UK into a Fire sale
the USA made so Much Money from WW2 it spent 20 000,000,000 on rebuilding europe
- BilboLv 79 years ago
Cost her the Empire - which she payed by granting independence to former colonies.
In monetary terms appox £20,500,000,000 - still paying for loans from the US up till 5 years ago.
- ammianusLv 79 years ago
$150 billion in 1940s money,the equivalent of nearly $1.8 trillion today.
- John PLv 79 years ago
Indeed it cost the Empire, but the Empire was on its way to break-up earlier.