Catalogue description War Office: Directorate of Staff Duties: Papers

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Details of WO 260
Reference: WO 260
Title: War Office: Directorate of Staff Duties: Papers

This series comprises the unregistered correspondence and instructions of the Directorate of Staff Duties.

Date: 1939-1946
Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

War Office, Directorate of Staff Duties, 1904-1964

Physical description: 51 files and volumes
Access conditions: Subject to 30 year closure unless otherwise stated
Administrative / biographical background:

The Directorate of Staff Duties was established in 1904 in the department of the chief of the Imperial General Staff, and was concerned with the organisation and formation of the general staff and appointments to it. It took over responsibility for officers' education from the short-lived Directorate of Military Education, and was also concerned with the preparation and publication of works on military operations. In 1907 officers' education was transferred to the Directorate of Military Training. The Directorate of Staff Duties became responsible for the study of the war organisation both of the British empire and other military powers, and during the First World War dealt with orders for the mobilisation and movement of troops. In 1918 it became concerned in general questions relating to military communications. In 1916 the Directorate of Military Training was abolished and the Directorate of Staff Duties took over such of its responsibilities as were not transferred to the Commander in Chief Home Forces, including officers' education. A deputy director of staff duties (education) was appointed, and he supervised non-military education in the Army; this post disappeared when responsibility for soldiers' education and Army schools was transferred to the revived Directorate of Military Training in 1927. In 1937 education of officers was also transferred to the latter.

During the first part of the Second World War the directorate was the sole responsibility of an assistant chief of the Imperial General Staff but from June 1942 it was joined with the new Directorates of Air and of American Liaison and Munitions under the deputy chief of the Imperial General Staff.

During the Second World War the work of the directorate was administered by several branches, the number and functions of which changed as the war proceeded. The directorate also expanded, and three deputy directors were appointed. It was concerned with non-operational war plans, orders of battle (allocating formations and units for particular forces and theatres of war), war organisation and liaison with the RAF.

The size of war establishments, as well as composition of formations and units by number and ranks, was considered by a War Establishments Committee headed by a representative of the director but comprising members of other directorates; later in the war powers over local war establishments were delegated to commands.

Questions relating to military communications were transferred to a separate Directorate of Signals established in January 1941.

The directorate was operative until 1964.

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