Research guide E1: World War Two: Papers in the National Maritime Museum

This guide is an introduction to papers relating to the World War Two held by the National Maritime Museum, with regard to personal papers and single documents.

Personal Papers

  • BEATTY, David, Admiral Earl, 1871–1936: Commander-in-Chief, Grand Fleet, 1916–19 and First Sea Lord, 1919–27. Papers relating to the First World War, to the capital ship versus submarine debate, to air policy and the fleet air arm.
  • BLAKE, Sir Geoffrey, Admiral, 1882–1968: Liaison Officer with the US Navy in Europe. Notes on attack in Oran in 1940, and fragmentary diary on the origins of Operation Torch in 1942.
  • CHATFIELD, Alfred E M, Admiral Baron, 1873–1967: First Sea Lord, 1933-38, and Minister of Co-ordination of Defence, 1939–40. Papers concerning the Fleet Air Arm, the sinking of the Royal Oak at Scapa Flow, 1939, and correspondence with Churchill and others, 1939–40.
  • COWAN, Sir Walter Henry, Admiral, 1871–1956:. From retirement at 68 to be Liaison officer with Commando Brigade in Eastern Mediterranean in 1941. Letters received and photographic reproduction of the sinking of the Hood and the Repulse.
  • CUNNINGHAM, Andrew Brown, Admiral Viscount, 1883–1963: Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean, 1939-43 and first Sea Lord, 1943–6. Papers concerning honours (bulk of papers in British Library).
  • DENNING, Sir Norman E, Admiral, 1904–79: Operational Intelligence Centre. Naval Intelligence. Ariel intelligence photographs, including some of the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau in dry dock at Lannion, Brest, in 1941. Papers on these vessels. Lectures. Intelligence notes and memoranda 'most secret' 1938–44.
  • DEWAR, Kenneth G B, Vice Admiral, 1879–1964: Deputy Director Naval Intelligence, 1925–27. Labour candidate for Portsmouth, 1931, and Admiral Historical Section, MOD. Memoranda and historical appreciations of strategy tactics. The Norway Campaign. Sinking of the Glorious. The Royal Oak, shipping losses. Convoy. Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, the Bismark action, and Operation Torch.
  • DICK, Royer, Rear Admiral, 1897–1991: Administrative Officer in Mediterranean. Accounts of Royal Navy's contribution to the Italian and North African Campaigns.
  • DOMVILLE, Sir Barry E, Admiral, 1878–1971: President of the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, 1932-34. Interned 1940 in Brixton Prison for pro-German views. Diaries.
  • ELKINS, Sir Robert F, Vice Admiral, 1903– : Liaison Officer with the 51st Highland Division at intended evacuation from St Valerv-en-Caux when captured. Account of escape from prisoner of war camp. Draft reminiscences closed to readers at Admiralty direction until 2004.
  • FRASER, Bruce Austen, Baron of North Cape, 1888–1981: Third Sea Lord, 1939–42. Commander-in-Chief Home Fleet, 1943. Commanded forces that sank Scharnhorst and Commander-in-Chief Pacific Fleet, 1944–46. Correspondence, mainly non-operational.
  • GROHMAN, Harold T B, Vice Admiral, 1888–1978: Naval Force Commander for the Dieppe Raid, 1942. Papers on preparation for the raid. Minutes of the first meeting. Directives. Memoranda. Reports and accounts of raid.
  • HAMILTON, Sir Louis H K, Admiral, 1892–1957: Commander, First Cruiser Squadron, Home Fleet, 1940–2 (during which time he was ordered to abandon the Arctic convoy, PQ 17) and Flag Officer, Malta, 1943–45. Letters to his family, 1906–56.
  • HOLLAND, Cedric S, Vice Admiral, 1889–1950: Naval Attache for Western Europe in Paris, 1938–40. Commander, Ark Royal. Negotiator, Mers-el-Kebir, Oran. Papers, including account of negotiations with French admiral at Mers-el-Kebir.
  • MADDEN, Humphrey P, Commander, 1905– : Served with Naval Intelligence and Fleet air Arm. Photo albums 1934–41.
  • NAISH, George, 1909–1977: Translated summary accounts of war at sea by German Officers in 1947.
  • PEACHEY, Alan T G C, Captain, 1896–1967: Operations Officer for the coast of Scotland, 1939–40. Captain of the Delhi and in the Mediterranean, 1941–44. Signals relating to the outbreak of war. Losses of the Royal Oak and the Rawalpindi. Norwegian operations. Invasion precautions. Sinking the Bismark. North Africa in 1942. The surrender of the Italian Fleet, and the Normandy landings.
  • PRIDHAM-WIPPELL, Sir Henry, Admiral, 1885–1952: Flag Officer, Dover, 1942–44. Dover command war diaries. 1940–44.
  • PURCELL-BURET, Theobald J C, Master Mariner, 1879–1974: Commander employed by Royal Mail Steam Packet Company. In the Highland Chieftain in 1939. Diaries, 1939–41, containing observations about the end of the Graf Spee.
  • TENNANT, Sir William G, Admiral, 1890–1963: Responsible for the 'Mulberry Harbours'. Papers on Dunkirk, 1940. The loss of the Repulse, 1941, and on the Mulberry operations, 1944.

Single volumes

  • BUTHNER, Hermann, Rating in the Altmark: Diary in German. JOD/99
  • GILDON, Charles F, Chief Petty Officer in HMS Decoy on the China Station and in the Mediterranean: Diary, April 1939–July 1941. JOD/184
  • WEST, F Lawrence, Lieutenant Commander RNVR: Diary kept during lifeboat voyage following the sinking of the merchant ship, April 1941. With photographs of the ship. JOD/74
  • SAINT JOSEPH’S CONVENT HIGH SCHOOL: Scrapbook of photographs and cuttings recording careers of HMS Glowworm and HMS Glorious, ships adopted by the school, 1938–46. REC/53

Single documents

  • INGHAM, John F, flourished: 1918–46, Engineer, Merchant Navy, and Royal Navy, 1942-46. Memoirs and photographs. BGY/J/4
  • ATLANTIC CHARTER: Signatures of delegates on Charter, August 1941. HSR/V/8
  • ORDERS for the surrender of the Japanese signed by Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, August 1945. HSR/K/5
  • DOCUMENT of surrender signed by Japanese forces at Hong Kong, 1945. HSR/V/7
  • TRACK CHART showing the course of U-47 in its attack at Scapa Flow, 1939. CMP/27

Sample of uncatalogued papers

  • POSTER warning about postage security. MS79/030
  • CONVOY SECTION, MINISTRY OF WAR TRANSPORT: Papers relating to the organisation of convoys. MS82/174
  • CHAVASSE, Rev E H, Commander: Memoirs. MS84/073
  • MOUNTFORD, P St J R, Captain, Merchant Navy: Memoirs. MS84/088
  • ALGAR, Stanley, Captain: Master of the Agnita, sunk 22 March 1941. Notebook kept in Milag Nord PoW camp. MS90/029
  • BOUCHER, M W S, Rear Admiral: Memoirs, including accounts of convoy experience and periphery of the Scharnhorst action. MS90/002
  • CAMBELL, N, Lieutenant Commander: Letters written as a PoW. MS90/029
  • SEAMAN’S MISSION, TONBRIDGE: Letters received from seamen bye Mrs K Blyth, Secretary, 1941–42. MS90/050
  • SIGNALS sent and received on HMS Scorpion during the action with the Scharnhorst, 26–27 December 1943. MS92/023
  • GRETTON, Sir Peter, Vice Admiral: Papers c.1926–82. MS93/008

Next steps

Other guides in the series which may be useful for researching the Second World War are:

For general research help see:

Although care has been taken in preparing the information contained in this document, anyone using it shall be deemed to indemnify the National Maritime Museum from any and all injury or damage arising from such use.