Catalogue description War Office: Home Forces: Military Headquarters Papers, Second World War

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Details of WO 199
Reference: WO 199
Title: War Office: Home Forces: Military Headquarters Papers, Second World War

This series contains policy, planning and administrative files originating in the various headquarters [HQs] of Home Command during the Second World War. These comprise General Headquarters and Anti-Aircraft, Eastern, Northern, Scottish, South Eastern, Southern, Western and Guernsey Commands, Areas, Sub-Areas, Districts, Sub-Districts, Garrisons and Sectors.

The series includes files of Northern Ireland District Headquarters, first Armoured Division and the Home Guard.

Although the series is mainly concerned with defence at home there is also material on preparation for the invasion of Europe and other operations abroad. There are papers relating to Operation Overlord (the allied invasion of North-west Europe in 1944) including papers concerned with the build-up of forces for the invasion, material relating to allied deception planning, and reports, etc, on the many exercises which were held in preparation for Overlord.

The papers include information on various subjects, such as action to be taken in the event of a German invasion of Great Britain; restrictions imposed on civil authorities and amenities; enemy prisoners of war; chemical warfare; standing operational orders; organization; conferences; Operation Crossbow (the offensive and defensive measures taken to counter V-weapon attacks); bomb disposal and the Home Guard.

Although the majority of papers on the latter subject relate to organisational, operational and administrative matters, there is also a selection of official unit histories. These documents offer a fascinating insight into the part played by the Home Guard in the defence of Great Britain, from their inception as the Local Defence Volunteers on 14th May 1940 to 'stand-down' on 1st November 1944.

Date: 1914-1956

The papers are arranged as far as possible under separate headings such as General Headquarters [GHQ], commands, districts or areas and sub-districts or sub-areas (during the latter stages of the war, areas and sub-areas were re-designated districts and sub-districts). Papers concerning Operation Overlord are to be found at the end of each section.

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English
Physical description: 3493 files and volumes
Access conditions: Open unless otherwise stated
Immediate source of acquisition:

From 1971 Ministry of Defence

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