Churchill at War: The Prime Ministerís Office Papers, 1940-1945

Publisherís Foreword

Primary Source Media (now Primary Source Microfilm, an imprint of the Gale Group) is proud to present Churchill at War: The Prime Ministerís Office Papers, 1940-1945. This microfilm edition contains all released materials from the Public Record Office (PRO) Classes PREM 3 (Operational Papers) and PREM 4 (Confidential Papers) located at Kew, London. These files, although described as covering the years 1940-1945, also include a number of documents from 1936-1939 and 1946.

Prem 3

The Prime Ministerís Operational Correspondence and Papers relate to the conduct of World War II, reflecting the activities of the Prime Minister in his role as Minister of Defence. They were kept in the War Cabinet Office close to the subterranean War Room. The papers detail a wide range of international wartime activities from military operations in Africa to Germanyís unconditional surrender, events in the Balkans, the Australian war effort and a medical report and interview with Hitlerís deputy, Rudolph Hess. Strategic material pertaining to the British war effort in individual countries is listed in alphabetical order and offers insight into propaganda in enemy countries, prisoners of war, occupied territories, security, naval and land equipment and special operations.

PREM 3 is contained in units 1-7 (reels 1-178) of this microfilm edition.

Prem 4

The Confidential Correspondence and Papers contain material relating to the work of the British civil departments during the war, which was kept at No. 10 Downing Street. The Papers detail a plethora of wartime activity and policies concerning issues on the homefront--from education and finance through to reports on morale, the National Health Service and the visits of foreign politicians and dignitaries to England during the war.

The PREM 4 index (PREM 4/102-135) is arranged alphabetically by the subject of each paper, and directs the reader to the division and subdivision under which the papers were originally arranged. Within the current detailed listing, the broad divisions are ordered alphabetically and distinguished by the use of capitalised headings, with the numbered subdivisions shown in brackets. These numbers are those of the boxes in which the papers were packed. Under the current reference system, a single document represents an original folder in which the papers were assembled within a box, and the PRO reference comprises a number assigned to the box and one to a particular folder in it. The original subdivision numbers do not form part of the reference.

Although changes have generally been noted in the detailed listing, the use of the original index may prove difficult where new divisions were created and involved a change of title for some sets of papers, or where an outgrown subdivision gave rise to sub-subdivisions. No comprehensive list of subdivisions exists.

PREM 4 is contained within units 8-11 (reels 179-291) of this microfilm edition.

In all, the Operational and Confidential Papers present a unique archival resource of World War II, in terms of military operations, wartime organisation, the effect of war on Great Britain and the mobilisation of the country to the war effort. The material is essential for twentieth-century social, political, economic and military historians and of immeasurable importance to university and national libraries worldwide. The collection can be utilised by scholars, researchers, students and the general public alike.

A searchable edition of this guide can be located within the Public Record Officeís Core Executive pilot catalogue, http://www.pro.gov.uk/.

Technical Note

Primary Source Media (now Primary Source Microfilm, an imprint of the Gale Group) has set itself the highest standards in the field of archivally-permanent library microfilming. Our microfilm publications conform to the recommendations of the guides to good microforming and the micropublishing practice, and meet the standards established by the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) and the American national Standards Institute (ANSI).

Attention should be drawn to the nature of some of the original material. Printed material and manuscript documents from PRO Classes PREM 3 and PREM 4 sometimes consist of records and correspondence printed or written with a variety of inks and pens, and on paper which has become discoloured, rendering the original document difficult to read. Occasionally files have been tightly bound resulting in text loss. These original characteristics present difficulties of image and contrast which stringent tests and camera alterations cannot entirely overcome. Every effort has been made to minimise these difficulties though there are occasional pages that have proved impossible to reproduce satisfactorily. Conscious of this, we have chosen to include these pages in order to make available the complete file. Some files may also contain documents that are out of chronological order or numerical sequence, these having been filmed as found at the Public Record Office in accordance with good archival practice.