War Cabinet and Cabinet: Defence Committee (Operations): Minutes and Papers (DO Series)
This series consists of the minutes and papers of the Defence Committee (Operations) and the Secretary's standard file.
Please Note: Records within this series are available to download free of charge as part of the Digital Microfilm project.
Subject and chronological.
It was routine practice between 1940 and 1943 for one copy of limited or no circulation papers to be filed separately from the main series, within what was colloquially known as the secretary's standard file. These have been preserved in this series as piece 8. It was apparent to Cabinet Office Historical Section at least as early as 1949 that items which should have been within the secretary's standard file(s) were missing, and the Section endeavoured, without success, to locate them - CAB 103/472 refers.
War Cabinet, Defence Committee (Operations), 1940-1945
The Defence Committee (Operations) was one of two panels of the Defence Committee (the other being Supply), which was established following the appointment of Winston Churchill as Prime Minister and Minister of Defence in May 1940, and was a successor to the Military Co-ordination Committee.
The Defence Committee (Operations) was chaired by Churchill, with membership made up of the Service Ministers and the Chiefs of Staff. The membership shortly included Clement Attlee (as senior member of the War Cabinet), Anthony Eden (Foreign Secretary), Lord Beaverbrook (Minister of Aircraft Production), and other ministers and expert advisers who attended as occasion required.
The Committee meetings provided regular direct contact between Churchill and the Chiefs of Staff (who also continued to meet separately as the Chiefs of Staff (COS) Committee) and provided the opportunity for Churchill to meet and settle strategic matters, without the detail with which the COS Committee tended to be concerned, and with due regard to the implications in the field of foreign affairs.
While the Committee had been particularly active during 1940 and 1941, it declined in importance and meetings became fewer as work increasingly became dealt with through Staff Meetings or Conferences.
The Defence Committee continued after the war, being succeeded by the Defence and Oversea Policy Committee in 1964.
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