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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 11: PREM 3/451-515 (Subject files cover USA, Venezuela, Vulcan, 
War Department, West Africa, Women's Services and Yugoslavia)

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 throughout Parts 1-11include 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.

The Papers comprise a large series of subject files and these are made available in their alphabetical arrangement. The entire PREM 3 class is covered in the eleven parts of this microfilm project.

Major themes predominant throughout the archive are:

Anglo-American Relations:
There are many files covering the central direction of the Allied War Effort; Lease Lend; supplies and aid to the Soviet Union; conversations regarding De Gaulle and De Valera; Explosives, Tube Alloys and the use of the Atomic Bomb; Meetings and telegrams exchanged between Churchill, Roosevelt, Truman (see files on USA: Former Naval Person) and discussions with Eisenhower, Hopkins and Harriman; on the planning of the peace and the post-war settlement; and finally on Zones of Occupation in Germany and the role of the United Nations.

The Far East, China and the War in the Pacific:
Japanese offensive operations and the progess of the War in the Pacific are discussed in detail covering a wide range of topics and issues involving many different nations. China - supply routes and operations; Hong Kong and Singapore; Burma; discussions with Chiang Kai-Shek, Mounbatten and MacArthur; forces under South East Asia Command (including units fighting under the direction of Mountbatten, Stilwell and Leese) and operations relating to Sumatra, Malaya and the Defence of India, Ceylon, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the Netherlands East Indies are all well described in these files. All the major operations of the Pacific theatre and all its different aspects are brought to Churchill's attention, from the fall of Singapore to the Allies plans for the Occupation of Japan. There are many exchanges between Churchill and Dominion Prime Ministers. Finally there are a considerable number of files on Fleet Operations and actions involving Australian Divisions.

Operations in Europe:
There is a wealth of detail on the Fall of France, Dunkirk, the Dieppe Raid, Canadian forces, the invasion of Italy, Overlord and the Liberation of Occupied Western Europe, the crossing of the Rhine and the final defeat and surrender of the Axis Powers in Europe. There are files on particular campaigns such as Operation Husky (Sicily), the Anzio Landings, D-Day, Normandy, Falaise Pocket, the Ardennes and Arnhem.

Three-Power and Four-Power Conferences:
Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin, Chiang Kai-Shek and other Allied leaders met throughout the war at various major conferences to co-ordinate the Allied War Effort. For instance, Argonaut (Malta and Crimea Conferences including Yalta), Bracelet (Cairo and Moscow Conferences), Eureka (Teheran), Sextant (Cairo), Octagon (Quebec), Quadrant (Quebec), Quintette (Bermuda), Trident (Washington) and consultations with Stalin over Vulcan (allied operations in North Tunisia following the Torch lanfdings) are all covered here. Foreign Secretaries Meetings and the various liaison meetings with the Soviet Union for the Yalta Conference (see PREM 3/397/4 & 398/6) are also well covered in this archive.

The Air War:
Aerodromes, the Battle of Britain, Bombing Policy, the Bomber Programme, Co-ordinating strategy with the United States, the air offensive in preparation for the D-Day landings, Trenchard's views, reports on German raids, Anti-aircraft defences, Night interception, Radar, RDF (Radio Direction Finding), Pilot training, Air Raid warning measures, data on the front line strength in Fighters and Bombers, Aircraft Production and the use of Airborne troops are some of the many aspects of the Air War documented in Churchill's subject files made available in this microfilm project.

The War at Sea:
All aspects of the naval side of Operations are documented in depth. Of particular importance are the files on the Battle of the Atlantic; Anti-Submarine Warfare; Convoys; U-Boats and Submarines; Coastal Command; the Fleet Air Arm; Aircraft Carriers; Pacific Operations and the great carrier battles; amphibious landings from North Africa to the Philippines; the Mediterrranean theatre; the Soviet Union and convoys PQ 17 and PQ 18; Sonar and Radar; operations against the Bismarck, Tirpitz, Graf Spee, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau; Mines; Shipping; Shipbuilding and Shipping Losses.

The Home Front:
Files cover Beach and Coastal Defences, Home Defence and the Home Guard, Morale and Propaganda, as well as Civil Defence and the Defence of London.

The Mediterranean and North African Campaigns:
From Egypt and the Middle East to Libya and Tunisia, including some famous actions such as Beda Fomm, Operation Battleaxe, Compass, Crusader, Sidi Rezegh Gazala, Bir Hacheim, Tobruk; the First and Second Battles of El Alamein; the Torch landings in North Africa and the Battle of Tunisia including Kasserine Pass and Mareth, Churchill's files contain an extraordinary amount of detail, comment and analysis crucial to any understanding of these operations and their overall influence on strategic planning. Featuring Australian, New Zealand, British, Indian and South Afican Divisions with US Divisions from Torch onwards, these files allow researchers a daily or week by week view of the decision making process. There are also important files on the Balkans, including Greece and Yugoslavia; on Gibraltar, Cairo and Alexandria as well as on vital bases in the supply chain such as Malta; on operations against the Italian fleet; on Crete, Sicily and the Dodecanese (the latter of particular interest to Churchill stemming from events in 1915). The entirety of the Italian campaign is well documented.

Special Operations:
There are important files on SOE (Special Operations Executive) - its creation, role, prospects and its successes and failures as reported to the PM (see PREM 3/408-9); on the Commando units, Lovat Scouts and Special Companies; on Glider troops and Airborne Divisions; on secret operations in France, Norway, Yugoslavia; on activities behind enemy lines throughout Occupied Western Europe and with regard to intelligence operations in Spain, Gibraltar, Morocco and the Balkans. Various daring operations including the St Nazaire raid (Operation Chariot - see PREM 3/376), the Bruneval raid (Operation Biting - see PREM 3/73), attacks on German rocket sites and pilotless aircraft (including Operation Crossbow) as well as raids in Norway (including Narvik) are documented in particular detail. Churchill was also very concerned with the assembly of special equipment ranging from the flail tanks, the amphibious Sherman DDs and the airborne Tetrarch light tanks carried by Hamilcar gliders to the more sophisticated engineering equipment needed to neutralise the German beach defences and coastal batteries during the D-day landings. He was also very involved with special items such as the Mulberry Harbours (pictured below), underwater pipelines and the provision of an adequate numbers of LCTs (Landing Craft Tank), drawing on expertise gained at Dieppe, the Sicily landings, the Anzio beachhead and amphibious assaults in the Pacific theatre.

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