Highlights of new Freedom of Information releases in April 2008

April 2008

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Catalogue ref. Date Description
Records of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority and its predecessors
AB 16/1541 1954 H Bomb: political repercussionsThis file contains briefing papers for the Prime Minister in the build up to a meeting of Commonwealth prime ministers on the moral, political and physical repercussions of using an H bomb. Also included are questions for the government to ask the US administration, which ask what damage will be caused by bombs exploded in the air and whether explosions, even in isolated spots, would cause impotency and cancer across the world. The Prime Minister's officials seem confident that the US will share this information with them, as well as offering the UK an insight into US intelligence on the Soviet nuclear stockpile.
Records of Special Operations Executive
HS 9/355/2 1939-1946 Cecile Pearl CORNIOLEY, nee WITHERINGTON, aka Genevieve TOUZALIN, aka MARIE - born 24.06.1914

This fascinating file records the brilliant exploits of this female Special Operations Executive agent. Pearl Cornioley was parachuted into France in 1943 with instructions to act as a courier of coded messages.

The first page in the file is a small scrap of paper covered with practice signatures of Cornioley's pseudonym, Genevieve Touzalin, acting as a small and rather innocent reminder of the immensity of her task. This is followed by a copy of her application form, details of code conventions between her and headquarters and preliminary reports from officers training her in explosives, demolitions and weapons training ('outstanding with a pistol and other weapons.'). Handwritten reports by Cornioley provide an insight into her development during training and her finishing report.

HS 9/356 1939-1946 Cecile Pearl CORNIOLEY, nee WITHERINGTON, aka Genevieve TOUZALIN, aka MARIE - born 24.06.1914This file continues to outline Cornioley's experiences in France. Following her highly successful SOE career, she was awarded a civilian MBE. However, a letter in this file shows she refused to accept it, as precedence ruled that as a woman she was not eligable for a military award. She outlines her experiences in France as an undercover  agent, working in constant danger in enemy occupied territory and strongly questions the decision to award her a civilian award when she had spent a year in the field conducting military operations.
Records created or inherited by the Home Office, Ministry of Home Security, and related bodies
HO 45/25793 1944-1946 WAR: Renegades and Persons suspected or convicted of assisting the Enemy

Gordon Perry's story makes compelling reading. The file names him as suspected Nazi-sympathiser, as early as 1935, who lived in Germany until the outbreak of the war.

Perry contends that while on holiday in Hungary, he was trapped there by the outbreak of the war. He describes that after meeting a British Secret Service officer in Budapest, it was arranged that, as a fluent German speaker, he would work as a double agent in Germany. Some time later, he claims he was kidnapped near the border, taken into Germany and was held and beaten by the Gestapo. His narrative follows on with descriptions of the various internment camps and hospitals he stayed in during the war. He contended that any work he had done for the Germans had been forced upon him.

A copy of Perry's MI5 report refutes his claims of innocence, however the Director of Public Prosecution concluded that there was insufficient evidence to warrant proceedings against him.

Records created or inherited by the Prison Commission and Home Office Prison Department
PCOM 9/254 1932-1938; 1968 Dartmoor Prison MutinyOn 24 January 1932, a serious mutiny broke out in Dartmoor Prison, involving around 150 prisoners. This file contains verbatim reports given by prison officers and convicts during the DuParq enquiry and commendations to St John's ambulance staff for their service in the aftermath of a serious fire. Also included is a report of the Governor's telephone conversations on the night before the mutiny broke out.
PCOM 9/256 1932-1938 Dartmoor Prison MutinyThis file continues to record the aftermath of the mutiny, including the lengthening of some convicts' sentences, with summaries of their offences. Also included are some photographs of Dartmoor after the mutiny.