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voltaire60

HANSLOPE PARK, MILITARY RECORDS AND THE WAR OFFICE

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voltaire60

   Many GWF  afficionados will recall the disclosures made in recent years  regarding withheld Foreign and Commonwealth Office Records held at a rather unpublicized location, Hanlope Park, near Milton Keynes. The effort of Ben Macintyre of "The Times" and others flushed out from the Govt. a listing of the c. 1 million files held back, relating to many contentious issues in Britain's Foreign and Colonial past, especially the withdrawal from Empire- Kenya,Cyprus, et al. A good deal of military information tucked away.

   I cannot see that Hanslope Park has ever figured on this Forum- so let me raise a query for other to chirp up about. Some sense of logic suggests to me (at least) that the MOD might well have a similar records dump as well. Does anyone know:

 

a) Whether there might be such a location or where it might be?

 

B) What efforts have been made to find out what there is about the First World War  still in government hands but undeclared for Public Records purposes. eg Has anyone got any knowledge of whether FOI requests have been made on this topic.?

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spof

Voltaire

 

Are you hoping to find something in particular? I assume you are referring to Army records - Air Force and Naval (inc naval aviation and Royal Marines are beyond me)

 

i understand the RE kept their own records at  Chatham but the main Army records were held in the Records Office in Arnside Street, Southwark. As is well known, a lot of records were lost in an air raid on 8 September 1940. There is an inventory listed here and it makes depressing reading. Forum member @Justinth has done an incrddile amount of work on the post war service records retain by the War Office/MoD along with what was lost in 1940 and the general operation of the Records Office. I've linked to one of his posts below as an example of the work but you should either browse his posts by hovering your mouse pointer over his highlighted name in this post and click on Find Content or do an Advanced Search for "arnside" (I think the standard search is restricted to only the last 365 bdays.

 

 

 

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voltaire60

  Spof- I have followed the thread with rapt attention-even got out the Arnside Fire report at Kew. But the problem of what is retained and thereafter what is disclosed as existing is, to me at least, a problem. Look at the sorts of stuff on the FCO Hanslope Park listing and think about something military in it- say (Yes,it's off Great War-but only for the purposes of illustration) -actions of British troops in Kenya during the Mau-Mau-or in EOKA Cyprus. I find it hard to believe that correspondence and files generated by the Colonial Office are not matched by stuff held by the former War Office- If Civil Servants write to each other, then it cannot be that a pile of risque stuff for FCO is not matched by a similar pile of stuff from the War Office. So what has happened to it???

    A chunk of Hanslope Park stuff was a surprise to me-it went back well past decolonization and quite a long way back into the Nineteenth Century.  I ask because I find Arnside a little too convenient for some bits of records- eg Army intelligence reports on Ireland  from the years 1918-1922- Were the Arnside casualties the ONLY copies of those reports??????  Not likely.

    And,as you point out, Arnside didn't touch Navy and Air Force records. For WW2 there are some good comments about how the Public Records Acts can be manipulated in guides edited by Rodney Lowe (and others) on economic and social records.OK, the Cabinet Office is not as anally retentive as in previous generations but a big song and dance about what has been made available ought to lead to thoughts about what SHOULD be there when the music and the dancing have stopped.

   A hyopothetical example: I suspect there are reports series on political activity in the army during the Great War. CO groups were monitored, the Home Office and it's agencies and activities show what it can get up to. But to suggest there were no political grumblings and discontents in the ranks?  No,Sir- and they would have been monitored. So who did it and where are the records???

    In addition to the Public Records Acts, what is held by Departmental Record Officers is a very,very grey area indeed. As a bookseller, I have handled some very interesting stuff from The Treasury that was disgorged in a clear-out. 

   We live in a time when we believe we are inundated with "new" materials- Think Ancetry and FMP. But the greatest way to distract is to place a feat of other materials in front of those who might enquire. As William Blake suggested, the best way to hide something is in plain view.

 

 

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voltaire60
5 hours ago, Terry_Reeves said:

This might give you some clues. The author does not give his sources unfortunately but he clearly has some. He does however give his e mail address.

 

http://www.lse.ac.uk/CPNSS/pdf/DP_withCoverPages/DP58/DP58F.pdf

 

TR

 

        Aaargh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   I know the author well!¬!!!!!!!!!  He used to work for me and is now an independent bookseller specialising in counter culture of the 60s-80s. (I won't say how many times I fired Carl- more than one will suffice). But this concern what in WW2 is "Home Security"-   Let's pause and think that many of the agencies of WW2 did not emerge from the back of a Churchillian sheet of A4- they were already there and went back well beyond the Great War

   I find it inconceivable that the political discontents of the Army in F and F were a) Non-existent and b. Not monitored- and c) Not kept. That is just an example.  Stuff is there-somewhere. For me it started over 30 years ago when I looked at a Colonial Office file on the acquisition of New Guinea in the 1870s. A Victorian blackguard called Robert Henry Armit was prominent in these schemes and his little group of adventurers were penetrated by a version of the Special Branch- that is, in 1875-1876 before the Bernard Porter "Origins of the Vigilant State" and the "Special Irish Branch" were supposed to exist. The jacket of a file is bound up in a CO volume-but not the contents. The officer, Detective Inspector Greenham wrote very discreet memoirs later on and there is some modern work from the Italian archives about how Greenham monitored Italian anarchists in London later on

    It puzzled me as to why bind up the jacket of a file (with a title,file reference and the minutes) without the contents-then it dawned on me that it was a way of saying that the contents of the file would be elsewhere. So where is this military-political stuff- Hanslope Park shows that that type of material would be retained-as well as generated.

   I'll have a word with Carl on Sunday- Thanks Terry-I had almost forgotten he had written this.  When I tracked my man Armit  back in the early 1980s I got to read a closed Home Office file (on the Cleveland Street Scandal-Armit was marginally involved- though not with Post Office boys)-and went over to the Home Office in St.Anne's Gate- I was absolutely stunned by all the volumes on 100 year closure that were racked up there- long series on Victorian child abuse,etc. That's what makes me think there is a fair old chunk of military stuff yet to come

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voltaire60

   Further to this request, I have pointed at the term "migrated records" as something to look for. There are "Guardian" (yes, i know-not impartial, often not even factually correct) that refer to some 66,000+ retained files in a TNT storage facility in Swadlincote, Derbyshire (Again, nothing on GWF about this). While MOD has said most files relate to northern Ireland, then,ergo,there are3 chunks that are not. I am not aware that anything was ever done to make MOD disgorge a listing similar to that put out by FCO and National Archives about Hanslope Park. If anybody can update me, then I would be grateful.

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