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Skipman

The Transportation volume was apparently withdrawn due to some criticism of civilian staff that Edmonds had made, then edited and republished.

 

Mike

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MartH
14 minutes ago, Skipman said:

The Transportation volume was apparently withdrawn due to some criticism of civilian staff that Edmonds had made, then edited and republished.

 

Never heard that, only volume pus out there is 1937. Have you got a source?

 

I have originals of most of the other secret and restricted and for official use only, so would be very interested.

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Skipman
9 minutes ago, MartH said:

 

Never heard that, only volume pus out there is 1937. Have you got a source?

 

 

 

It's a newspaper report, page 5, Daily Herald - Thursday 20 January 1938. If you have a subscription to the British Newspaper Archive you can read it here Click, or, it should be available on FindMyPast. I will transcribe it if necessary.

 

Mike

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voltaire60
1 hour ago, MartH said:

 

I think this is rather unfair Edmonds was always understaffed when compared with say the Reicharchiv.  What's unfinished from Edmonds or the OH's apart from East African Volume II?  No one complains about Bean being late.

 

     You are well ahead of this compared to me Mart (that happy old dog is as well-probably).  I thought that there were a few more vols. planned of the OH than actually came out-but that may be my faulty memory of things read long ago. I suppose that there is-somewhere- a listing of what was originally planned, - I think that changed , as opposed to vols (eg East Africa) that started and then stalled, for whatever reason.

    I may be a little unfair to Edmonds but the whole saga of how the OHs came to be constructed is an interesting tale. Of course, Edmond's mechanics have been well explored in recent years but there are, I think, still larger questions about it.  Just why was Edmonds understaffed?  How was the OH project viewed by successive governments through the 1920s and 1930s?  I suspect that the OHs fell out of favour- certainly a different world from the increasingly vocal publications coming out from the PBI across the years-which made the OH look anachronistic and out-of-touch. So somewhere, there must be stuff on how officialdom sidelined Edmonds- though full credit to the man for living so long and keeping at it.

     The imbalance in the OH of different countries- particularly Germany -is the old "War Guilt Question". The desire of the German governments-of whatever hue- to continue to publish and promote the "accidental catastrophe" views of the war is well known.- from the the preliminary stuff under the socialists in 1919, through all of Die Grosse Politik-the latter made Edmonds look timely and efficient. As for the French DDF- well, lunch has to take priority for the Gallic spirit,

     Where I think there is a considerable area of interest is in HOW the OH  tied in with the staff and other internal histories.  And the Carnegie volumes beyond that .(Both the Preliminary and full-blown Yale/OUP series). If one takes a view about WHAT happened during the war, then that should give an inkling as to what MIGHT have been written up, either for publication or for internal use. A good example might be gas warfare-both counter-measures and direct British developments. I do not know of any "official" history of this subject, either internal or published, but I would bet my pension that it was done.  Similarly, I would be scratching around in the belief that there were volumes of official stuff  that are the Great War equivalent of the Postan volume of the next war on "Design and Development of Weapons". I would expect some chunky stuff on that-somewhere.

    The relationship with the Carnegies intrigues me- I collected a set nearly 40 years back now.  There is,apparently, some documentary materials about this series (both British and the rest) still held by Carnegie in its archives in Washington. The relations between Whitehall and Carnegie would, I think, be an ineteresting tale. (if its been done, then shout out) 

    The contrast between Bean and Edmonds has been made better by others. Edmonds had the advantage of old service chums, Bean had the advantage of non-service chums. Longevity seemed to be the key to both. And the difference between the outcome of the war for Australia, when compared to Britain, meant a sourt of pride in it.s national history that,despite the delays and setbacks, meant that Bean had a better stock of goodwil to draw down on.

    A small point that may illumine the debate-  just what were the print-runs for the OH and their actual sales.? The scarcity of some of the volumes suggests to me that some of the lesser volumes were pulped- the veterinary one  had, from memory, a print-run of 1000,so it should turn up a lot more often and be far better represented in institutional holdings than it is.

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Maureene
On 04/07/2018 at 21:45, voltaire60 said:

 

    A good example might be gas warfare-both counter-measures and direct British developments. I do not know of any "official" history of this subject, either internal or published, but I would bet my pension that it was done. 

For "a little and very scare book" see The R E Anti-Gas establishment during the great war

 

Cheers

Maureen

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voltaire60
7 hours ago, Maureene said:

For "a little and very scare book" see The R E Anti-Gas establishment during the great war

 

Cheers

Maureen

 

   Thanks Maureen-  I had come across that little item- COPAC lists IWM as it's only (known) UK location. But that is a pamphlet of 31pp. and listed as personal reminiscences- as well as being printed up in the 1930s.  I still think there are chunky vols. of gas stuff out there somewhere.- the development of British "war gases" was too extensive for there not to be, as well as the counter-measures. But, of course, a touchy subject still and a live issue in the decades after the Great War. I note that in the popular Blue Book on the outbreak of war in 1939, the last official communications between the British and German governments- AFTER- Nifty Nev had been on the radio- were a deal not to use gas.

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Ron Clifton

The OH volume on Passchendaele (1917 Vol III) was not produced until after the Second World War, and restrictions on the availability of paper meant that it was thinner (in both the physical and content sense) than most of the others. Its coverage of the Royal Artillery is noticeably poor. Received wisdom is that Captain Wynne refused to let his name be put on the title page was because Edmonds watered down some of his criticisms of Haig's leadership.

 

"The Occupation of the Rhineland" was originally only produced in a restricted edition, at the insistence of the Foreign Office, because of some frank criticisms of the French. It has since been published in an open edition by IWM.

 

I don't know how much input Edmonds had into "Transportation on the Western Front", which was compiled by Lt-Col A M Henniker who had served in the RE Transportation Service throughout the war, and was originally meant to be a stand-alone volume, but "somehow" it got incorporated into the main OH series - possibly because more resources could be made available to produce it. Personally I find it a great cure for insomnia, though it has some useful nuggets buried in it.

 

The accessibility of the OH to the general reader is a big point in its favour. Now that the original War Diaries are readily available it is possible for serious researchers to compare the two and form their own opinion as the the reliability of the OH. One example is the criticism which has been heaped on Edmonds' head regarding the calculation of German casualties on the Somme.

 

Ron

 

 

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voltaire60
2 hours ago, Ron Clifton said:

The OH volume on Passchendaele (1917 Vol III) was not produced until after the Second World War, and restrictions on the availability of paper meant that it was thinner (in both the physical and content sense) than most of the others. Its coverage of the Royal Artillery is noticeably poor. Received wisdom is that Captain Wynne refused to let his name be put on the title page was because Edmonds watered down some of his criticisms of Haig's leadership.

 

"The Occupation of the Rhineland" was originally only produced in a restricted edition, at the insistence of the Foreign Office, because of some frank criticisms of the French. It has since been published in an open edition by IWM.

 

I don't know how much input Edmonds had into "Transportation on the Western Front", which was compiled by Lt-Col A M Henniker who had served in the RE Transportation Service throughout the war, and was originally meant to be a stand-alone volume, but "somehow" it got incorporated into the main OH series - possibly because more resources could be made available to produce it. Personally I find it a great cure for insomnia, though it has some useful nuggets buried in it.

 

The accessibility of the OH to the general reader is a big point in its favour. Now that the original War Diaries are readily available it is possible for serious researchers to compare the two and form their own opinion as the the reliability of the OH. One example is the criticism which has been heaped on Edmonds' head regarding the calculation of German casualties on the Somme.

 

Ron

 

 

 

      Thanks Ron-  

 

                  "The accessibility of the OH to the general reader is a big point in its favour."       Up to a point Lord Copper..  Governments never shy of finding resources to put their own point of view. The other side of the coin has hardly been considered. Yes, the history of the OHs is an interesting tale-  but were the materials used by Edmonds and others generally available at the same time for others  to use on an equal footing?  My memory is that Edmonds hogged the WDs  as his own private fiefdom (In his basement?)- and Wyrall, for example,to comment-perhaps as a barb to Edmonds- in his history of the DCLI, that he scoured far and wide for materials.  Similarly, Burrows for the Essex Regiment used the WDs that he got from the regiment or it's officer-some of which Edmonds did not have..One point with regard to the WDs is that those used for the "regimentals" after the war came from the regiments, not  the trove held by Edmonds.- Is this generally so?

     In regard to the Gallipoli volume, well, I think it unlikely to be a coincidence that the volume did not get published while Churchill was in office - Churchill had a good view of how to manipulate History and although his accounts of both wars are literary classics of enduring worth, we are now getting to a post-Churchill school of historiography. (eg Look up  Lancastria in Gilbert's official biography- Churchill's account of how he "forgot" to notify the Commons because he was too busy is wholly unconvincing)

 

       Access to materials is crucial. The OHs provide a blocking tool for Whitehall-  nothing can be disclosed to others until the OHs were available. This has to be taken in conjunction with 2 other phenomena:

 

1)  Access to the Public Records. OHs use materials that were not open to others, let alone the Great British Public. As it is, the OHs of the Second World War pretty much all exist in draft roneo copies- with 2 sets of footnotes- One set is references to documetnts that were disclosable-which would go in the published edition- the other was to withheld docs. Thus, the internally circulated volume would have the full references to back up any statement made, while the published vols would leave a reader scratching his head and wondering "What the hell does that statement mean?" and  having access neither to the references, the internal versions of the OH or the documents behind it. I do not know if such vols. exist for the Great War but they certainly do for the second-as I have 3 of them.

 

2)  Of course, ministers and ex-ministers have privileged access to the papers of the time they were in office. Which Churchill exploited massively for his history of the Great War- to his commercial gain,while others had to sit out the Public Records time limits for decades. One has to remember that although anything - in theory- might be available for the Official Historian, it was still down to the Cabinet Office to withhold or time-bar under the Public Records legislation the nitty-gritty of documentation. thus, seemingly bland statements in the OHs often cover a tussle of what documents could be disclosed- I think the Cabinet Office view is that if no ripples are showing on the surface, then no-one can work out how  deep the waters run.

Edited by voltaire60

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MartH

I have been away and will try and comment on some on some of the questions over time.

 

The where no internal staff histories and it was never intended to do any, the brief for Edmonds was to do both, public and staff, There were two internal histories , the History Of The Blockade, and Ministry of Munitions that are internal histories of departments disbanded after the end of the war that are adopted as Official Histories. There where naval monographs produced.

 

Edmonds did not hog the WD's  the were done of the OH's and before him Fortescue  had access too them. Edmonds indexed them and made sure the units had copies, in my opinion the reason they have survived as a body of work is down to Edmonds and his staff.

 

There was no official policy on blocking publications, but there where two main reasons for Edmonds not getting the resources, the depression and that others including Churchill and the main publishing houses where trying to stop them for commercial gain. Hence why the series were shared amongst several publishers.

 

The WW II |Military OH's are done into two series with references, restricted and public, and the references no longer link to anything useful, there was also a cabinet OH on British War production , and the Army produced The Army at War Series as a lesson from the GW series, and much of the history on weapon development is in that. This was never done for the GW.

 

And thanks Mike for the reference I might need to take up you kind offer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Skipman

Here's the transcription Mart

 

Official History of Great War Withdrawn

 

Because exception has been taken to disparaging remarks about "civilians in uniform" and the way in which they panicked, the Stationary Office has recalled all copies of the latest volume of the Official History of the War. Alterations are being made in the introduction which was written to the volume "Transportation on the Western Front-1914-1918" by Sir James Edmonds, the official war historian. The material itself was compiled by Colonel Henniker, but Sir James Edmonds' comments provoked an outcry from those who had served on the transportation staff. They resented allegations against the civilian staff. The introduction contrasted the methods of the British civilian experts with the organization by the military of the German and Austrian transport. It accused the civilians who joined the transportation units with lack of discipline. The introduction also alleged that much of the confusion on the roads behind the fighting line and on the canals was caused by the flight of civilians in uniform. Now, amended, the book is being re-bound for fresh release. 

 

[Daily Herald - Thursday 20 January 1938]

 

Mike

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voltaire60
4 hours ago, MartH said:

Edmonds did not hog the WD's  the were done of the OH's and before him Fortescue  had access too them. Edmonds indexed them and made sure the units had copies, in my opinion the reason they have survived as a body of work is down to Edmonds and his staff.

 

    All accepted.  My memory is telling me that Edmonds stored them in his basement and survival is the plus side. The minus side is the weeding.  I wonder just how much of the blue pencil marks that litter WDs are his reading alone.

    I am not sure that I can agree with you on Whitehall stalling and techniques for "comment" and "revision" but I am sure that will continue to be looked at.  

     One thing I would specifically query: The delays to "Gallipoli" put down to paper shortages does not stack up. I have by chance been looking at a couple of normal "commercial" books published in the war years. OK, there were wartime economy standards  but plenty was published in the war years and the excuse is not convincing me.

Edited by voltaire60

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MartH
2 hours ago, Skipman said:

Here's the transcription Mart

 

Official History of Great War Withdrawn

 

Because exception has been taken to disparaging remarks about "civilians in uniform" and the way in which they panicked, the Stationary Office has recalled all copies of the latest volume of the Official History of the War. Alterations are being made in the introduction which was written to the volume "Transportation on the Western Front-1914-1918" by Sir James Edmonds, the official war historian. The material itself was compiled by Colonel Henniker, but Sir James Edmonds' comments provoked an outcry from those who had served on the transportation staff. They resented allegations against the civilian staff. The introduction contrasted the methods of the British civilian experts with the organization by the military of the German and Austrian transport. It accused the civilians who joined the transportation units with lack of discipline. The introduction also alleged that much of the confusion on the roads behind the fighting line and on the canals was caused by the flight of civilians in uniform. Now, amended, the book is being re-bound for fresh release. 

 

[Daily Herald - Thursday 20 January 1938]

 

Mike

 

Many thanks Mike, much appreciated, I have learnt something new today, and something to research. 

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voltaire60
59 minutes ago, MartH said:

 

Many thanks Mike, much appreciated, I have learnt something new today, and something to research. 

 

     Are there copies of the original version around?   COPAC does not give a clue-all copies listed as 1937.   I am reminded here about the tales of Arthur Marder about the Naval Staff appreciation of Jutland , to which dear David took exception. And in the end it was outed- Marder had obtained a copy from an unknown source of the original version  and being a Professor in Hawaii made him more or less flame proof against being leaned on.

    I find the 2009 report (online) on the future of "official" histories quite informative on some of the general problems of this sort of stuff.

(PS- Mart- I bought my copy of "Blockade" in 1972-1973, when the called-in copies held at Cabinet Office were  suddenly junked- there were piles of them outside a bookshop in Kilburn at,I think,£6 each. Is it "officially" an Official History or an office history?  I can't remember

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Skipman

Not sure if there are copies about, I imagine  there will be somewhere. National Library of Australia Trove also covers the subject. Not sure if it adds much but might be worth further study?

 

Mike

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MartH
1 hour ago, voltaire60 said:

Are there copies of the original version around?   COPAC does not give a clue-all copies listed as 1937.   I am reminded here about the tales of Arthur Marder about the Naval Staff appreciation of Jutland , to which dear David took exception. And in the end it was outed- Marder had obtained a copy from an unknown source of the original version  and being a Professor in Hawaii made him more or less flame proof against being leaned on.

    I find the 2009 report (online) on the future of "official" histories quite informative on some of the general problems of this sort of stuff.

(PS- Mart- I bought my copy of "Blockade" in 1972-1973, when the called-in copies held at Cabinet Office were  suddenly junked- there were piles of them outside a bookshop in Kilburn at,I think,£6 each. Is it "officially" an Official History or an office history?  I can't remember

Originals of Transportation, do they exist that's the next question.

 

Oh its know where Marder  got the de venomised Naval Staff Appreciation, he got it  from Roskill who got it from Jellicoe's former secretary,  Neither Beatty or Jellicoe liked it.

 

As for you theory about being flame proof against being leaned on it completely untrue, Marder had to submit all drafts of From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow  to the Admiralty and incorporate the changes, that was the price of access to the files.  More editing than Corbett and Newboult. Read Historical Dreadnoughts.

 

There are two OH's on the Blockade, the super rare History Of The Blockade, and The Blockade of the Central Empires, 1914-1918. The big blue volume.

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voltaire60

   Thank you Mart- My copy of Historical Dreadnoughts is deep deep in store.  BUT I think there is a difference between  ACCESS TO DOCUMENTS granted to Marder from records held by the Admiralty records people and the use of the Staff Appreciation. Marder's use of  Admiralty records was subject to much the same requirements of scrutiny as any other privileged researcher (Privileged=Shorthand for access outside the Public Records Acts). And as we know there was Whitehall inter-departmental hissy-fit about all this- as Admiralty access allowed use of Admiralty papers-but did not have the consent for either access or publication from other departments- 

     Marder's use of the Appreciation was more measured. But how did  Whitehall control him on that-specifically.?     I found the following recent article quite useful:

A Great American Scholar of the Royal Navy? The Disputed Legacy of Arthur Marder Revisited

 

 

Mathew Seligmann
 
 

.

  

 

   The abstract itself is a good run-through. But Mart-one important point-   Marder's work (in this case DTSF)   was NOT an official history. Marder's use of  other sources of documents from other archives  shows what a battle "History" was in Whitehall.

  

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stiletto_33853

Late addition by David French concerning the OH. There is also a RUSI article concerning the French Histories being full of Nationalistic jingo and erroneous.

 

Andy

official history david french.pdf

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Derek Black

Thanks Andy,

 

It just goes to show, the official history is merely starting point for finding out about events during the war, much additional research is needed to find something closer to the truth.

 

A.A. Montgomery-Massingbird should have been gaoled!

 

Derek.

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