Catalogue description Records of research establishments

Details of Division within WO
Reference: Division within WO
Title: Records of research establishments

Records of research establishments relating to:

  • Army Statistical Organisation, WO 384
  • Chemical Warfare Research Department and related bodies, WO 142 and WO 188-WO 189
  • Clothing and Stores Experimental Establishment, WO 352
  • Fighting Vehicle Research and Development Establishment and predecessors, WO 194
  • Military Engineering Experimental Establishment and predecessors, WO 321
  • Military Operational Research Unit and successors, WO 291 and WO 342
  • Proof and Experimental Establishments, WO 186
  • School of Musketry, Hythe, WO 140
  • Reports of Army Personnel Research Establishment are in WO 404

Date: 1852-1995
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Army Operational Research Establishment, 1962-1964

Army Operational Research Group, 1946-1962

Chemical Defence Establishment, Porton Down, 1970-1991

Chemical Defence Experimental Establishment, Porton Down, 1948-1970

Chemical Defence Experimental Station, Porton Down, 1916-1948

Military Operational Research Unit, 1941-1946

Ministry of Munitions, Chemical Warfare Department, 1915-1920

Ministry of Supply, Chemical Defence Research Department, 1939-1959

War Office, Chemical Defence Research Department, 1931-1939

War Office, Chemical Defence Research Department, 1959-1964

War Office, Chemical Warfare Research Department, 1920-1931

Physical description: 12 series
Administrative / biographical background:

In 1855 the War Office took over from the Board of Ordnance responsibility for establishments engaged in research and development of munitions. They were made the responsibility of the succession of Artillery and Ordnance Departments which became the Department of the Master General of the Ordnance in 1904. They were also of concern to the succession of Ordnance committees and their sub-committees. During the First World War a number of new research establishments were created, mainly under the Ministry of Munitions, which also took over those previously under War Office control.

After the war responsibility for armaments research returned to the War Office, together with control of its former research establishments and several of the new ones created under the Ministry of Munitions. During the inter-war period administration of these establishments was mostly in the hands of the director of artillery. In 1939 it passed to the Ministry of Supply, whence it returned in 1959 to the master general of the Ordnance at the War Office, except for those establishments which passed to the Ministry of Aviation.

Responsibility for research and development into chemical warfare agents and equipment moved from the Ministry of Munitions to the War Office after the First World War. A Chemical Warfare Research Department was established with headquarters in London, and Chemical Defence Experimental Stations (later Establishments) at Porton and Sutton Oak. By 1939, when responsibility for what was now called the Chemical Defence Research Department passed to the Ministry of Supply, its scope had extended to include biological as well as chemical agents and equipment. In 1959 it returned to the War Office.

The Military Operational Research Unit originated during the Second World War within the Ministry of Supply. When this was transferred to the control of the War Office in 1946 it was renamed the Army Operational Research Group. Until 1954 it was concerned mostly with equipment research, but then began work on war-gaming and other operational analysis techniques which steadily increased in importance. It created several overseas groups such as that with the British Army in Germany.

In January 1962 the name was changed to Army Operational Research Establishment (AORE). Following the creation of a unified Ministry of Defence, a tri-service operational research organisation was established: the Defence Operational Research Establishment (DOAE) which was formed in 1965, and it absorbed the Army Operational Research Establishment based at West Byfleet.

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