Complete classes from the CAB & PREM series in the Public Record Office
Series One: PREM 3 - Papers concerning Defence & Operational Subjects, 1940-1945
Winston Churchill, Minister of Defence, Secretariat Papers
Part 1: PREM 3/1-51 (Subject files covering Acrobat, Aden, Aegean, Aerodromes,
Afghanistan, Africa, Air, Air-Bombers, Air-Fighters, Airborne, Aircraft, Aliens, Allies,
Ammunition, Anti-Aircraft, Argentina & Argonaut)
In Series One we cover the complete files of Public Record Office class PREM 3 including all recently released material. Some of these files were only opened in 1997.
For the period of Winston Churchill's war-time administration, PREM 3 contains Papers of the Prime Minister's own Secretariat, including details of his discussions with advisers outside the Cabinet, and Churchill's Papers concerning Defence and Operational Subjects, 1940-1945, a period during which he was both Prime Minister and Minister of Defence.
Churchill made it a clear rule that "all directions emanating from me are made in writing." As a result, the PREM 3 series offers a complete record of the war from Churchill's perspective, including his directives, memoranda and general papers submitted to him for discussion. Examples of items featured include Trenchard's views on Air Policy, Mountbatten on MacArthur, Churchill's telegrams to Stalin and other leaders, papers concerning defence plans for Singapore and Australia, records of Anglo-American discussions, papers on Japan, the Soviet Union, Overlord, Torch, Submarine Warfare, SOE and Occupied Europe.
"Churchill's impact was nationwide through his speeches on the radio and in Parliament, which gave comfort and encouragement at critical periods. But in the narrow circle of those who comprised his administration, or who were the heads of Commonwealth or Allied governments, that impact was largely felt through several thousand personal minutes and telegrams; these represent an astonishing output..."
S S Wilson writing in The Cabinet Office to 1945 (HMSO 1975)
"The PREM 3 series is essential to understanding the evolution and conduct of British grand strategy during the Second World War, particularly in the context of inter-allied relations."
Corelli Barnett, author of The Collapse of British Power, The Audit of War and Engage the Enemy More Closely: The Royal Navy in the Second World War
The Papers comprise a large series of subject files andthese are made available in their alphabetical arrangement. The entire PREM 3 class is covered in the eleven parts of this microfilm project. Part 1 covers PREM 3/1-51. This starts with the subject files on Operation Acrobat in North Africa in 1941, the material on Aden and the files on the Aegean which offer much detail on the campaigns in this part of the Mediterranean Theatre, from February 1943 to July 1944, including Operation Hercules (Rhodes), the Dodecanese (of significant interest to Churchill) and comments on Auchinleck and specialist commanders. The files on Aerodromes are important for the Battle of Britain, air defence and the construction and siting of new airbases from 1940 through to the end of 1944. There is a small amount of material on Afghanistan. The files on Africa start with Operation Torch, the Allied landings in North West Africa, the Battle of Tunisia in the first half of 1943 and are followed by a huge amount of material on all aspects of the war in the air: Air-Fighters, Air-Bombers, Air, Airborne and Aircraft. These include great detail on Bombing Policy, the Bomber Programme, the Command structure, British and German raids as well as other topics such as jet propulsion, suicide bombers, manpower, night fighting, pilots, training schools, aircraft production and operational strength in terms of both fighters and bombers.
There are small files on Operation Ajax in Norway in 1941, Albania (liaison with communists, 1943-1945) and Aliens. Meetings of Allied Representatives and papers on the co-ordination of the Allied war effort come under the heading Allies. Papers on different types of Ammunition, Operation Anklet, Anti-Aircraft Defences, Argonaut (the Malta and Crimea Conferences, including the meetings of the Supreme Commenders in Malta (Cricket) and at Yalta (Magneto) and Heads of State meetings in 1945, as well as a file on the Argentine comprise the rest of the material in Part 1.