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voltaire60

CONFIDENTIAL GOVERNMENT PUBLICATIONS- STILL OUTSTANDING?

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voltaire60

   In my latter-day day job as a bookseller, I occasionally came across internally printed documents generated by British government departments-which on checking with COPAC were often poorly located in  libraries or not there at all. 2 that popped up my way more than 30 years ago were one vol. of the Admiralty  staff monograph series on "Home Waters" and the Archangel Expedition of 1918-1919 (the latter appears to very scarce). I had a little moan on another thread that I wish I knew where they were among my own retained books in store,as I now had needto read one of them (Us booksellers arent usedto reading the little beasties). And a good-hearted Forum member has pointed out that this series is available from Australia-God bless the Australians yet again for making available basically British records- I'll repeat that-God bless the Australians. And translate it into REAL English-"Why arent you doing things like this IWM??????"

    I have also had several copies across the years of the history of the blockade of the Central Powers- a single, large bound volume- My understanding is that these volumes were called in (God's knows when) from the recipients of the numbered copies, stored (by Cabinet Office?) and then sold off at one go in the early Seventies- I have a recollection from 1972-73 when a student, that a bookshop specialising in military books in KIlburn High Road had a pile of them I have a set of Ministry of Munitions history buried away in store- again, almost accdientally acquired-the set belonged to Sir Maurice Hankey and after his death his books languisheddin the basement of a poetry bookseller in Central London(Bernard Stone) and only emerged after his death some 20 years ago. Again, 2 draft volumes of the UK WW2 Civil Series have come my way- the Food vol. and one of the Foreign Policy vols. (from the library of Harry Hinsley-these are interesting as they have 2 sets of documents footnote references in them- one to documents that could be quoted in the published edition, the other set of footnotes to still withheld documents (many,in fairness,have since been declassified and placed at Kew)- so that any oblique reference or unfounded statement in one of these volumes could be tracked to a specific document if you had access to the internal draft sequence. At the time I contacted the Cabinet Office to ask if there were more of these beasties still lurking or whether they still held sequences of them. A very helpful lady said she had a bookcase full of the stuff in her office- the only one she thought had not been published in some form was the history of the Fire Service in WW2- there is a set of this on the open shelves at Kew in the library and one or 2 others elsewhere.

      My question for this thread is- What else is out there?  What do Forum members know or suspect exists that might still be held by government departments. This is not a rant at a "secret state"- the circulation of confidential matters was often best achieved by internal printing and numbered circulated copies- there are surviving registers for a chunk of this printing for Foreign Office and Colonial Office confidential prints, for example-and most have subsequently been published or digitised in some form.

    So, do members know of this sort of stuff which might be still lurking?  The problem seems to be that not being straight document file series, they are overlooked as "public records" and consequently dont get picked up formally as public records under the relevant legislation- and the review schemes for placement with TNA that government departments actually have (see for example the recent Cabinet Office review schedule agreed with TNA,which is online-its oblique and dull-but it is there!) This internally printed stuff is also not "Published"-so it escapes copyright deposit or even notification under the Deposit Libraries Act or its predecessors. Occasionally,these printed vols. do get assigned a series number and can end up at Kew. But I fear all too often in the past the stuff has languished with departmental record officers and occasionally just chucked away (which is where bibliographic dung beetles like Your Humble come in)

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green_acorn

I believe there would be a whole range of classified doctrinal, technical, intelligence and training documents and publications that were printed and distributed on quite significant scales. My study of WW1 documents published by the GHQ BEF Army Printing and Stationery Service indicates gaps in the numbering system for about 200 serials.

 

I imagine exactly the same would apply for all other conflicts.

 

 

Cheers,

Hendo

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voltaire60

Hendo- exactly what I hope this Forum might throw up. Its a subject I know nothing about (although one of casualties for my local area was commissioned and posted to that printing unit). Can you enlighten me?  How did you work out BEF publications?  Do they have the internal codes on them for date,printer,print-run?

    All I know is that if one looks at what else was lost with the "burnt documents" ,then an awful lot of intelligence stuff disappeared as well.

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Ron Clifton

There is a class in the War Office series, class WO279, entitled "confidential print" which ranges from 1876 to 1987. It seems to consist mainly of reports on manoeuvres, staff conferences and technical handbooks. Here is a sample of the list:

WO 279/70 Staff Conference at the Staff College 1930 Jan. 
WO 279/71 War Offices exercises nos 1, 2 and 4, Buxton and the War Office 1930 Feb.-May 
WO 279/72 War Offices exercises no. 3, Crowborough 1930 May 
WO 279/73 War Offices exercises nos. 1, 2, Malvern and the War Office 1931 Apr.-May 
WO 279/74 Staff Conference at the Staff College 1933 Jan. 
WO 279/75 Staff Conference at the Staff College 1934 Jan. 
WO 279/76 Army manoeuvres 1935 Sept. 
WO 279/77 Statistical abstract of information regarding the armies at home and abroad 1914-1920 
WO 279/78 Searchlight lamp HCD 90cm Mark III: handbook 1938 
WO 279/79 Mobile field lighting set 4kw Mark 1: provisional handbook 1940 
WO 279/80 Wireless sets No.12: description, working instructions, aerials and maintenance 1940 
WO 279/81 Ordnance, QF 40mm, AA, Marks 1, 1a, 1b, 11 and 111 and platforms 40mm, aa, mountings Marks 1 and 11: handbook 1941 
WO 279/82 Churchill AFV (Armoured Fighting Vehicle), Marks III and IV: instruction book 1942 
 

There are presumably similar classes in the ADM and AIR series. They won't necessarily tell you how many copies were distributed but at least they give a good idea of what is potentially "out there".

 

Ron

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voltaire60

  Ron- most Confidential Print has a printers code on it somewhere-either in the bottom margin of one of the first pages or at the end.

    so, hypothetically-      C76877    10/04    E&S     25

 

     which would translate as "C76877"- would be the order number- or warrant-often these numbers are "W."-  Consequently,there would be (whether it survived or not) a register

        10/04-    date code, usually month and year

 

              E&S   - The actual printer- in this hypothetical example,Eyre and Spottiswoode- in Victorian times, often London publishers with their own print-shops would get soem of the work

        25-    Print run

 

                 Have a look at some of these things- there should be some numbers somewhere

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green_acorn
19 hours ago, voltaire60 said:

Hendo- exactly what I hope this Forum might throw up. Its a subject I know nothing about (although one of casualties for my local area was commissioned and posted to that printing unit). Can you enlighten me?  How did you work out BEF publications?  Do they have the internal codes on them for date,printer,print-run?

    All I know is that if one looks at what else was lost with the "burnt documents" ,then an awful lot of intelligence stuff disappeared as well.

 

 

With very few exceptions the CDS and later the SS documents were printed with the CDS or SS number at the top of the page and the printers production codes across the bottom. The exception is where documents have been printed, aggregated and then distributed under a covering letter, these often end up having no SS number printed on them, though they would have one allocated and it was probably listed on the covering letter, as the sub-identifying number is printed on the actual documents.

 

I started with someone's post here on the forum (I won't name and embarrass him) about the BEF not really being a learning and training organisation, that set me on the trail. Combining the list from I think the Birmingham Uni First World War Study Centre (which only identified about 120 documents); versions of the AP&SS CDS/SS catalogue; a list compiled and published in the 1980's from WO Library records; input by GWF members, particularly Chris Henschke; the Yahoo Group on British Army records; watching eBay, requests to the BL, NAM and IWM and other institutions; physical searches at the AWM; many many hours of searching WorldCat; and finally my own purchases/donations to two institutions. All that resulted in identifying the combined CDS (Central Distribution Sect of the WO) and SS (Stationery Service - The BEF AP&SS) numbering system going to about 1200 serials. I identified about 900 documents being in public collections and know where the gaps are and have a list of possibilities that I have not been able to identify the CDS/SS number, of which about thirty would fill some of those gaps.

 

For your own quest, I would suggest joining the Yahoo group, though I suspect you already have.

 

From my own Army service and posting, and extensive dealing with classified documents, I think I know why the gaps exist and what type of documents would match those gaps. I haven't got around to exploiting a few more sources internationally, so won't tip my hand yet!

 

Cheers,

Hendo

 

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