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Old Tom

War Office Civil Servants

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Old Tom

I wonder if anyone has knowledge of how the clerical/administrative side of the War Office was organised? I have a faint recollection that, probably toward the end of, or just after the war,(that's aguess based on her age) my mother worked for a while, perhaps as a maid, for a relative that might have had the appointment of 'resident clerk'. It is likely that his name was Hillary. I appreciate that this is very vague, but would like to know if it possible that a civil servant would have resided in Whitehall in the War Office building and would have been of sufficient standing to have personal domestic staff.

Old Tom

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wainfleet

Tom

There was a War Office List, published annually, similar to the Army and Navy Lists. If you can get hold of a copy, that will tell you who did what in the War Office in any particular year, and I think also which room they were in. It would certainly have been someone's business to make up the fires, serve refreshments, etc. It seems unlikely that anyone graded "clerk" would have had their own servant, though, and I doubt anyone actually resided in the War Office Building, so perhaps she worked for him at his home.

Good luck finding a copy of the WOL!

Regards,

W.

Add: I've just had a quick look round the Net and Resurgam Books have a copy of the 1918 list at £90. Possibly more than you're willing to pay for so tenuous a link!

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Moonraker

I haven't bothered to reply to Old Tom's query before as all I can offer is surmise. I've an idea that a hundred years ago (and before and after) Whitehall departments would have someone on duty all the time to deal with urgent telegrams and so on and this would have been particularly necessary at the War Office during hostilities. He wouldn't have been a mere clerical officer but a middle-ranking civil servant able to decide whether or not to refer urgent matters at once to more senior staff or Ministers. Probably during the war there would have been a large number of people working around the clock and they would have required refreshments.

Readers of Sherlock Holmes short stories may recall "The Naval Treaty", in which Percy Phelps had secured a good appointment at the Foreign Office as a clerk - "a responsible position" working to the "Foreign Minister" and entrusted with copying a very confidential paper. Staying late one night, he rings for the commissionaire - who "remains all night in a little lodge" - to bring him a cup of coffee.

Moonraker

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Terry_Reeves

Tom

I have a copy of the "Allocation of Rooms with List of Officials Employed in the War Office Whitehall", dated May 1918. I'll see if he is listed.

TR

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centurion

Language changes - residential didn't mean lives on the premises but defined the permanency of the post (as in Residential Magistrate) and Clerk could mean someone of relative high rank (as in Clerk to the Commons) - it wasn't necessarily a 'rank'. Even todays Sir Humphrey's are (Permanent) Secretaries but they don't take dictation. In the big banks of the day residential clerk was the post above chief clerk. Someone at that level could well afford a domestic servant or two at home.

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centurion

Readers of Sherlock Holmes short stories may recall "The Naval Treaty", in which Percy Phelps had secured a good appointment at the Foreign Office as a clerk - "a responsible position" working to the "Foreign Minister"

Who was if I recall his uncle - nepotism was OK in them days

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wainfleet

Tom

I have a copy of the "Allocation of Rooms with List of Officials Employed in the War Office Whitehall", dated May 1918. I'll see if he is listed.

TR

That's what I meant!

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charlesmessenger

The War Office Administrative Directory for 1914 lists no such position as a Resident Clerk and neither is there anyt mention of a civil servant with the surname Hillary.

Charles M

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corisande

"Resident Clerk" at the War Office was a senior position, eg

Wilson, Right Hon'ble Sir Guy Douglas Arthur Fleetwood, Kt. ... Assistant Private Secretary to Secretary of State for War, 1883-85; Resident Clerk, War Office, 188586; Private-Secretary to Financial Secretary to War Office, 1886; .....

John Hickman fromTelegraph obit ..After Tonbridge and Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he took a Double First in History, Hickman did his National Service in the Royal Artillery. He joined the War Office in 1950, at a time when the forces were being extensively reorganised, and spent a number of years as a resident clerk, living in quarters in the War Office, on call to handle any crisis....

Army List 1940 ...G. P. Hampshire, Esq. (actg.) (Resident Clerk).

1885 The Fall of Khartoum ..The resident clerk at the War Office had written to Thompson, of the War Office, in an unsealed envelope, instead of putting the despatch into a box. It did not matter much on this occasion, but it might matter in a great European war. A Cabinet was immediately summoned for the next day.

And so on .. see Google

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centurion

"Resident Clerk" at the War Office was a senior position, eg

Wilson, Right Hon'ble Sir Guy Douglas Arthur Fleetwood, Kt. ... Assistant Private Secretary to Secretary of State for War, 1883-85; Resident Clerk, War Office, 188586; Private-Secretary to Financial Secretary to War Office, 1886; .....

John Hickman fromTelegraph obit ..After Tonbridge and Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he took a Double First in History, Hickman did his National Service in the Royal Artillery. He joined the War Office in 1950, at a time when the forces were being extensively reorganised, and spent a number of years as a resident clerk, living in quarters in the War Office, on call to handle any crisis....

Army List 1940 ...G. P. Hampshire, Esq. (actg.) (Resident Clerk).

1885 The Fall of Khartoum ..The resident clerk at the War Office had written to Thompson, of the War Office, in an unsealed envelope, instead of putting the despatch into a box. It did not matter much on this occasion, but it might matter in a great European war. A Cabinet was immediately summoned for the next day.

And so on .. see Google

But there is a distinction between a resident clerk (ie one who lives on the premises) and the older resident clerk which was a post bearing powers of decision

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corisande
But there is a distinction between a resident clerk (ie one who lives on the premises) and the older resident clerk which was a post bearing powers of decision

I have no idea what you are trying to argue about, the OP asked the question

for a relative that might have had the appointment of 'resident clerk'.... would like to know if it possible that a civil servant would have resided in Whitehall in the War Office building and would have been of sufficient standing to have personal domestic staff.

The War Office appears to have had a "Resident Clerk" from at least 1886 until the 1950s. I would suggest to the OP that they examine the Army List and see if their relative is in that for any of the War Years - the Army List of 194 and 1941 has the men with the appointment

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Staffsyeoman

Good luck with finding a War Office list. The MOD Library disposed of all - yes all - its copies over five years ago. Some went to Kew, many disappeared. A colleague has a highly disintegrating copy from 1916 found in a

cupboard.

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corisande
Good luck with finding a War Office list

I think it should be on Army Lists

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Staffsyeoman

It isn't.

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centurion

I have no idea what you are trying to argue about, the OP asked the question

Sorry I thought this was a forum. Merely trying to point out the difference between a clerk who is resident and the post of resident clerk.

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centurion

Looking at the post of Resident Clerk in the FO, the Colonial Service and the Indian MOD the job is to oversee the out of hours operations of their department on behalf of their senior superior. They had a number of staff reporting to them including sometimes clerks who were resident (confusing isn't it?). The Resident Clark (as opposed to a resident clerk) was a relatively important post as the holder had to take decisions such as if it were necessary to get the head of department or even the minister out of bed or back from the grouse moors at the weekend etc. It would seem that they lived at home and went into the office just like most employees but at night and/or during the weekend. A good example of someone who held such a post was:

Sir Eyre Alexander Barby Wichart Crowe GCB GCMG (30 July 1864 – 28 April 1925 Crowe entered the Foreign Office in 1885 and until 1895 was Resident Clerk. He served as assistant to Clement Hill in the African Protectorates' Department but when responsibility for the protectorates was handed over to the Colonial Office he was asked to reform the registry system

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Staffsyeoman

Agreed.. it all hinges on the capital letters - The Resident Clerk (as opposed to a Resident clerk).

Thank heavens that these days they are called Senior Duty Officer (regardless of grade).

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centurion

Thank heavens that these days they are called Senior Duty Officer (regardless of grade).

A post referred to in some of the George Smiley novels

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centurion

The Residential Secretary at the time would be an admin class appointment, an ordinary clerk, residential of otherwise, would be a lower class appointment. To get into the admin class your man would be expected to have a degree and to pass the Civil Service exam appropriate to the class. Whilst this was supposed to be universal across the Civil Service in fact different Ministries applied different criteria. The Treasury being the most stringent in requiring not only very good English Grammar , Mathematics and Political Geography but also facility in the classics and modern European languages. What level the War Office required I don't know. He would be at least what was in my time (I was seconded as a Senior Principal in the 1970s) the equivalent of an HEO or Principal (I think that may be grades 5 and 6 in later years)

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Old Tom

Many thanks for the information above.

Old Tom

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Terry_Reeves

Tom

There is nobody of that name listed in the publication I mentioned above, either in the Military or Civil departments of the War Office. Nor is anyone listed holding the title Resident Clerk.

TR

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truthergw

I am sidestepping the theological implications of capital letters here. I' would just mention that Churchill, in the pre-war years, took steps to overcome the fact that some departments had no resident staff of any kind and important communications routinely lay unattended until staff arrived in the morning to deal with them.

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centurion

I am sidestepping the theological implications of capital letters here.

The Civil Service tends to be a bit opaque at times over posts and grades - see this marvellous extract from Yes Minister

Jim Hacker: So tell me who's here in the Department of Administrative Affairs?

Sir Humphrey: Well, briefly, sir, I am the Permanent Under Secretary of State, known as the Permanent Secretary. Wolley here is your Principal Private Secretary. I, too, have a Principal Private Secretary and he is the Principal Private Secretary to the Permanent Secretary. Directly responsible to me are 10 Deputy Secretaries, 87 Under Secretaries and 219 Assistant Secretaries. Directly responsible to the Principal Private Secretary are plain Private Secretaries. The Prime Minister will be appointing two Parliamentary Under Secretaries and you'll be appointing your own Parliamentary Private Secretary.

Jim Hacker: Do they all type?

I don't think it was any better in earlier times

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themonsstar

It could be this some of you are looking for:

The War Office List and Administrative Directory for the British Army.

The Lists start from 1900 upto the 1960s.

And covers all Military & Civil Servants (with rank) working for the War Office.

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healdav

The Resident Clerk is someone who works shifts so that there is always someone to sort out signals, call out other people, and generally do urgent jobs at all times of the day or night, weekends, holidays, etc. Normally speaking he is someone you would contact only when the person who normally did the job was at home with his feet up.

I remember having to get the Resident Clerk to organise air shipment of stores to various RN ships during the night and weekends when the normal person had gone.

He wasn't resident in any other sense. i.e. he lived at somewhere else.

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