20 August 2004 releases

Catalogue ref. Date Description
AIR 14/4588 1943-1945 Reports on accuracy of bombing and target marking



Technical reports by the Operational Research section on the accuracy of Second World War bombing by British forces under various circumstances; day and night attacks; using various aiming aids against different sorts of targets. The chronological arrangement of the reports means that comparisons can be made over time.

The file is an archive copy looking at building an air raid shelter. It is interesting that it doesn't appear to be too different from the advice given during WW2, although it was also meant to tackle atomic attacks.

AT 41/219 1976 Working Group on Noise from Air Traffic



The file deals with the initial four months of Concorde's supersonic flights and its inability to keep within the Heathrow noise monitoring points (regularly exceeding 110 PHdB), even though manufacturers had promised its engines would be quieter. The group writes that 'it could be said that the numbers of complaints received bore no relation to the actual annoyance caused.' Some of the noise is blamed on a variety of factors including inexperienced crews, but the Working Group maintains that the noise level is 'intolerable.' They propose that the government should act by either reducing the number of flights, reducing the hours or forcing it fly from other airports. The working group feel that it is 'unreasonable to ask the community to tolerate the increased disturbances from Concorde without being offered some form of alleviation in return.'

DEFE 63/19 1967 Arab-Israeli War



The Defence Intelligence staff report of July 1968 on the June 1967 Arab-Israeli war, drawing conclusions from the successes of the Israeli forces and the contributing factors.

FCO 7/529 1967-1968 Leading personalities reports



This file contains the 1967-8 leading personality reports on prominent Cubans prepared by British embassy staff. Notes on Che Guevara, included the comment: 'This bearded Argentinean, with his Irish charm and his inevitable military fatigue uniform, has exercised considerable fascination over many men and women.' There is speculation as to whether or not he was still living. The file includes comments about some of Castro's relatives and associates.

FO 371/36071 1943 Position of General Cochet



A file on the arrangements for the passage of French resistance leader General Cochet from France to Spain, including Foreign Office concern at possible damage to the UK position in Madrid; possible involvement of the SOE in an operation to lift Cochet from France; and questions over Cochet's value to the allied and French causes.

FO 371/36071 1946 Migration of Poland's upper classes



A file concerning Polish aristocratic 'ci- devants' being trafficked out of Poland to the US zone of occupied Germany in 1946 by an American serviceman who charged 200 dollars per head. Foreign Office concerns that this might result in an influx of Polish immigrants to the UK are discussed.

FO 371/74457 1949 Rumours of Argentine expedition the South Pole


There is British concern is alerted over "fantastic plans" for an Argentine expedition at the South Pole. According to the file it is considered to have for political propaganda. The expedition was rumoured to consist of an airborne drop at the foot of Graham Land. Three officers who considered the plan to be suicidal were disciplined. Officials thought that the Australian government should be told.

FO 371/74558 1949 Complaint by Sir Alencar, Brazilian Minister in Delhi, about how he perceives the British Government regard him



This file concerns details a Brazilian Diplomat who professed to be an anglophile having schooled at St. Paul's for 7 years and spent a further 7 years at the Brazilian Embassy (1937-1944). Concerned that he may have been regarded anti-British after telling a Board of Trade official that Germans paid more attention to visitors from Brazil, and the British had only themselves to blame for some Brazilians returning to their country pro-German. Official correspondence showed that the diplomat was held in a very low regard.

FO 371/74562 1949 British Council invitation to Professor Mario Schenberg, a communist, to visit Britain



British Embassy in Rio de Janeiro concerned that a Brazilian communist professor might be given work at University of Manchester. Brazil was anti-communist country and had banned the party. The file states that MI5 was alerted and tracked the movements of the Professor thought-out his visit.

FO 371/74767 1949 Argentine army expedition to the South Pole
FO 371/86698 1950 Safeguards for British staff in British Embassy in event of war



This file looks at difficulties of granting asylum to Polish/Satellite countries in the event of war, the file suggests that British Embassy staff in satellite nations would be held until staff granted asylum were handed over by HMG.

FO 371/94765 1951 Discussion of a report prepared in 1948 by the British Vice-Consul at Gdynia suggesting HMG might invite Polish merchantmen to make for Allied ports in the event of war with the Soviet Bloc.



The file minutes discusses the merits of broadcasting to Polish merchant ships, and lists a Danish born merchant seaman, Captain Plinius, who was considered to be an anti-communist that could influence Polish captains to defect to allied or neutral ports at the outbreak of war with the Soviet Bloc. Also discusses the merits of extending the message to Romanian and Chinese vessels

FO 371/94770 1951 Report on Russian families of Mongolian appearance having settled on the Polish-German border and on the Czech-Austrian border



Up to 30,000 Chinese or 'Mongol' laborers were settling on the Polish-German and Czech/Austrian border to replace 'deported' Polish families and 'repatriated' Germans. The report claims that they are 'forced' laborers 'produced, delivered and controlled' by the MVD [forerunner to the KGB] to be used in the Soviet atomic programme or in the economic plans of its satellite states. The file contains a minute from a Foreign Office official who dismisses the idea of 30,000 Chinese laborers in Central Europe, believing they were almost certainly Transcaucasian deportees.

FO 371/100676 1952 Extracts from US Forces in Austria (USFA) bi-weekly reports on the internal conditions in Poland



The file gives an insight into Poland, painting a very depressing picture of food shortages. The intercepts indicate dissent and economic problems.

FO 371/100718 1952 Foreign Office; Photographs of prisoners being marched from work at a forced-labour camp at Jaworzno in Southern Poland not far from Auschwitz


This file includes photographs of the labour camp at Jaworzno, showing Polish prisoners being marched under armed guard, taken by the Air Attaché. Sir Charles Bateman's covering letter about the photographs states 'I hope that the press will not be allowed to get them or even see them- for reasons which you can easily guess.'

FO 371/100728 1952 The evacuation of Poles from various European countries and Turkey in the event of an emergency

This file details arrangements for admission to the UK of Poles, who had supplied information to Britain or had otherwise assisted the UK, from various European capitals in event of an emergency.

FO 371/100731 1952 Report of attempt to compromise Assistant Military Attaché in Warsaw, Major Vass



A file about Polish intelligence attempt to discredit the British assistant Military Attaché, Major Voss, it includes details of how the Poles approached him - by a handwritten note left in Voss' car: 'I will be waiting between 17:00 and 18:00 hours tomorrow dressed in ski trousers, red socks, green scarf and leather helmet.'

FO 371/100732 1952 Evidence of diplomatic number plates in Warsaw being duplicated; speculation as to Polish intention to trump up evidence against diplomatic staff
FO 371/104127 1953 Evacuation of British sponsored persons in the event of an emergency



A file on the development of plans for the emergency evacuation of British nationals and others, including blood relatives of the Royal Family, from Germany in the event of a war or other emergency.

PREM 15/1733 1973 Possible revival of use of criminal libel proceedings



Correspondence between Robert Armstrong at 10 Downing Street and Tony Hetherington in the Attorney General's office about the possibility of reviving the use of criminal libel charges. The issue was being discussed because of the comments by Peter Hain against Geoffrey Rippon, where the point was made that 'no one in his senses would sue somebody like Peter Hain for libel, because people like that had no resources with which to pay costs, let alone damages...'

WORK 21/277 1903 Coronation of HM King Edward VII: decorations made for Westminster Bridge by students of the Royal College of Art: photographs



This contains photographs showing the decorations put up on Westminster Bridge for the coronation of Edward VII, as designed by students from the Royal College of Art. The scheme involved busts of 14 Great British monarchs, including Queen Victoria, who looks down at her son's coronation celebrations.

WORK 21/278 1910 HM Office of Works: procedure for the lying-in-state and funeral of His Late Majesty King Edward VII and the Royal Proclamation of His Majesty King George

This Ministry of Works procedures manual to the lying-in-state and funeral of Edward VII and the Royal Proclamation of His Majesty King George shows how events unfolded. Royal ceremonies are huge, and unexpected problems arise: in this case, the lying in state at Westminster Hall was choked with dust brought in by the visiting public. Conditions were so bad that the hall had to be vacuumed from 12 to 6 am each morning and some window traceries had to be removed because the windows themselves could not be opened to let enough air in. Space for flowers was heavily restricted, yet one of only four wreaths selected to rest on the coffin came from the King's cousin, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, just four years before the outbreak of the Great War between the two nations.

WORK 21/279 1911 HM Office of Works: procedure for Coronation of their Majesties King George V and Queen Mary, 22 June 1911, and The Royal Progress, 23 June 1911



The procedures manual shows the scale of royal ceremonial in 1911. Westminster Abbey was extensively modified: an annexe was built to the west end of the abbey and huge galleries were erected inside to allow extra guests; their strength was tested by marching 200 members of the Brigade of Guards up and down. So many military personnel were needed for the ceremonial that army camps had to be set up in the London parks. Special provisions had to be made and the file notes that, "Troops occupying the camps in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens were allowed to bathe without bathing dress from the south bank of the Serpentine between 5 am and 7 am". Not everything went smoothly: residents living in Broad Sanctuary at Westminster Abbey threatened legal action because their view of proceedings was obstructed by the temporary annexe.

WORK 21/280 1935 HM Office of Works: procedure for Silver Jubilee of His Majesty King George V, 6 May 1935, and celebrations in connection therewith



The file shows concern that the numerous flags used in public decoration should be suitably patriotic. Union Jacks were not to be displayed in any "inferior position", and although the Welsh and English flags were to be displayed everywhere "St Patrick's saltire should on no account be used by itself".

WORK 21/281 1936 Lying-in-state and funeral of His Late Majesty King George V: photographs, plans, and specimens of tickets



This is a photographic record of the lying in state and funeral service of His Late Majesty George V, showing the arrangements made by the Office of Works. There are press photographs of the events, plans and specimens of tickets.

WORK 21/282 1936 HM Office of Works: record of procedure for the lying-in-state and funeral of His Late Majesty King George V and the Royal Proclamation of His Majesty King Edward III



The procedures for the lying in state of George V were complicated because the King died at Sandringham and was buried at Windsor. The manual shows how the job of the Office of Works was complicated as whole extra processions were developed as the King's body was transported between three locations. An upset occurred when the regalia displayed on the coffin lid came loose on its journey from Westminster Hall to Paddington station. It had been insecurely screwed down. The rattling of the journey disturbed the jewels so much that an orb in the crown fell out in full public view.

WORK 21/283 1936 Coronation of His Majesty King Edward VIII: report of committee of three architects appointed to advise upon schemes of decoration



As planning for royal events developed, so the planners became more ambitious to provide public spectacle. This file relates to a committee of three architects, including Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, who were commissioned to provide full decorative schemes for the processional routes through London used at the planned coronation of Edward VIII. Although buildings along the roads were the usual London architectural mixture, the architects tried to create the illusion of grand avenues by using great sweeps of decorative materials. Special ceremonial colours were identified (with the help of the National Colour Council), and suitable flowers were prescribed for show along the routes. The file contains colour mock-ups of the decorative schemes for the City and Whitehall.

WORK 21/284
WORK 21/285
WORK 21/286

1937 Westminster Abbey: arrangements for the Coronation and Public Viewing of Their Majesties King George VI and Queen Elizabeth


These three files contains a very extensive set of photographs of the transformation of Westminster Abbey for the coronation, showing in great detail the state of the abbey, temporary buildings and the provision of seating etc.

WORK 21/287 1937 HM Office of Works: procedure for the Coronation of Their Majesties King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, 12 May 1937



The ceremony had become much more extensive. The processional route was deliberately lengthened to allow more spectators; Coronation Day was made a public holiday; and the Victoria Embankment was designated a special area for children to be involved in the celebrations. Sensitivity to the countries of the UK and Commonwealth meant that special royal visits were made to Wales and Scotland, and exhibitions of the coronation decorations travelled to Australia and New Zealand. As the spectacle increased, so did the Office of Works' administrative headaches. Among other issues noted include the necessity of having special security for the thousands of cushions provided for stands lining the route, and statistical calculations about the quantity of public lavatories to provide.

WORK 21/288 1937 Royal Visit of Their Majesties King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, 15 July 1937



This file of photographs shows the special coronation visit to Caernarfon Castle, including many photos of Lloyd George, the Castle Constable, and one of King George inspecting a Welsh sheep.

WORK 21/289 1946 Ministry of Works: Victory Parade; proceedings and plans



This is the only procedures manual for a non-royal occasion released this month. It relates to the Victory Celebrations of June 1946. Post-war austerity made this a much less lavish celebration. The Ministry of Works found both labour and materials shortages a problem. Much of the route decoration for the Victory Parade was simply very large flags. Special provision had to be made for public health and safety as many bomb sites bordered the main roads of London where the procession took place. Even so, there was a lavish firework display and celebrations on the Thames using coloured lights and water effects. Wartime searchlights positioned around the capital were used for spectacular displays in the sky.

WORK 21/290 1946 Ministry of Works: Victory Celebrations; floodlighting at various London sites; photographs



This file contains photographs about the Victory Parade of 1946, showing floodlit sites along the Thames, major public buildings and royal palaces, and behind the scenes photos of the lighting rigs.

WORK 21/291 1947 Ministry of Works: Photographs relating to state events 1947-48



This file contains photographs of the unveiling of the statue of HM King George V 1947, lighting up of the Norwegian Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square, December 1947, unveiling of a memorial to President Franklyn Delano Roosevelt by Mrs Eleanor Roosevelt.

WORK 21/293 1952 Ministry of Works: procedure for lying-in-state and funeral of His Late Majesty King George VI and the Royal Proclamation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth


This file shows how much the King's sudden death surprised the bureaucrats. As a result the plans for George V's funeral were reused with some modifications. Officials were also surprised by the popularity of the lying in state, with crowds lining the river and queuing for over four hours to pay their respects. Westminster Hall roof sprang a leak directly over the catafalque where the King's body lay in state, and nothing could be done in time to prevent it dripping during the solemnities. MPs exploited a system of free passes into the lying in state to take in large groups of guests; some allegedly ferried in a constant stream of visitors, making the queue of the general public even worse.

WORK 21/294 1952 Ceremonial funeral of HM King George VI; photographs and specimens of tickets



A file is an album of photographs, taken mostly by the press, of the lying in state and funeral of George VI

WORK 21/295 1952 Models of Westminster Abbey showing temporary annexe and route and decorations for the Coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth II: photographs
WORK 21/296 1952 Ministry of Works: stand plans for the Coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth II on 2 June 1953; photographs
WORK 21/297 1953 Westminster Abbey: preparations for the Coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth II on 2 June 1953; photographs
WORK 21/298 1953 Westminster Abbey: preparations for the Coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth II on 2 June 1953; photographs
WORK 21/299 1952 Coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth II, 1953



This file contains photographs including Westminster Abbey, the set for the Coronation and finished decorations; floodlighting and fireworks; the procession; the Hyde Park stand; the gold stick officers and robes; completed stands and a telephone exchange. Many London landmarks are shown with their specialised decorations: a huge EIIR was displayed on Admiralty Arch, while Horse Guards Parade acquired extra plumes for the occasion.

WORK 21/300 1953 Preparation of Westminster Abbey annexe for the Coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth II, 2 June 1953, photographs
WORK 21/301 1953 Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in the Abbey Church of St Peter, Westminster on 2 June 1953: photographs
WORK 21/302 1953 The Ministry of Works procedures book for the 1953 coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth II, 2 June 1953

Efforts were initially made to reduce the cost to below that of the 1937 coronation, although the plans were made along very similar lines. The eventual money spent actually exceeded that of the previous coronation. This procedures manual shows how much planning for royal events had moved on since 1910. Fewer problems emerged than at previous events, and new priorities emerged. Great care was taken with provisions for filming the procession and ceremony. Initially only very limited coverage of the service in the Abbey was planned, but press and political pressure led to the whole service being shown live on television, with the exception of the two most sacred moments: the anointing and the moment of coronation. Behind the scenes planning was complex, including the printing of over 10,000 individual tickets and passes, and the provision of kettles and hotplates in the royal retiring rooms at Westminster Abbey for the comfort of the royal family.

WORK 21/307 1969 Investiture of HRH The Prince of Wales

at Caernarfon Castle, 1 July 1969, draft final report edition no. 2

WORK 21/308 1969 Investiture of HRH The Prince of Wales:

report on mechanical, electrical and associated systems organised and engineered at Caernarfon Castle

WORK 21/309 1969 Ministry of Public Building and Works Central Office for Wales:

procedures adopted at the investiture of HRH the Prince of Wales at Caernarfon Castle 1 July 1969

Ministry of Public Building and Works and predecessors: Directorate of Civil Engineering Development and predecessors: Registered Files (UB Series)
WORK 56/15 1950 Ministry of Works;

booklet with illustrations on the technical guidance on the provision of air raid shelters

WORK 56/20 1965 Redevelopment in the Whitehall Area: a plan for the National and Government Centre and a report on traffic



This file concerns Sir Leslie Martin's plans for the redevelopment of Whitehall and National Government Centre submitted to Charles Pannell, the Minister of Works. It contains plans and maps and considers questions of through traffic use of areas for state occasions.