Catalogue description Judge Advocate General's Office, Military Deputy's Department, and War Office, Directorates of Army Legal Services and Personal Services: War Crimes Files (MD/JAG/FS and other series)

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Details of WO 311
Reference: WO 311
Title: Judge Advocate General's Office, Military Deputy's Department, and War Office, Directorates of Army Legal Services and Personal Services: War Crimes Files (MD/JAG/FS and other series)

The bulk of this series consists of files of the Judge Advocate General's Military Department, dealing with the investigation and prosecution of war criminals for offences committed in all theatres of the Second World War. There are also some files of the Adjutant General's Directorates of Personal Services (AG 3(V/W)) and Army Legal Services relating to war crimes.

The series also includes policy and procedural files as well as case files. There are some files on the establishment of AG3 Branch, and correspondence between the Judge Advocate General (JAG) and the Directorate of Army Legal Services (DALS).

Date: 1939-1953
Related material:

For indexes to case files see:

WO 353

WO 356

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Former reference in its original department: MO/JAG/FS and other file series
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

War Office, Adjutant General's Department, Directorate of Army Legal Services, 1948-1964

War Office, Adjutant General's Department, Directorate of Personal Services, 1904-1964

War Office, Office of the Judge Advocate General of the Forces, Military Deputys Dept, 1935-1948

Physical description: 1337 file(s)
Access conditions: Open
Immediate source of acquisition:

From 1988 Ministry of Defence

Accruals: Series is accruing
Administrative / biographical background:

The Judge Advocate General's (JAG) Office at the War Office was the central point for legal advice on matters of military law and in 1945 became the focal point for legal questions concerning the prosecution of cases of war crimes committed during the Second World War. The main responsibility for this work rested with the Military Department of the JAG's Office, headed by the Military Deputy to JAG.

The role of the Military Deputy's Department was to provide legal advice on the investigation of cases and the evidence submitted and to examine the completed cases in order to advise on the charges to be brought. The JAG's Office was also responsible for the provision of suitably qualified personnel to act as presidents and prosecutors in the trials before military courts, established under the royal warrant of 14 June 1945.

The various war crimes investigative bodies established in overseas commands such as the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR), Central Mediterranean Force (CMF), British Troops Austria (BTA) and Allied Land Forces South East Asia (ALFSEA), were primarily under the immediate control of the JAG in their respective theatre but the Military Deputy in London had an overall watching brief.

Following reorganisation of the different war crimes investigative elements at the end of 1946, the newly formed war crimes groups for BAOR and BTA came directly under the Military Deputy for all matters concerning war crimes policy and remained so until investigations and trials before the military courts ended in 1948.

In October 1948, following recommendations in the report of the Army and Air Force Court Martial Committee (the Lewis Committee), the Judge Advocate General and his Judicial Department were transferred to and became the responsibility of the Lord Chancellor while the Military Department of JAG became the Directorate of Army Legal Services (DALS) as part of the Adjutant-General's Department.

The DALS was responsible for advising and assisting in the preparation and prosecution of courts martial cases; for defending accused officers and soldiers at courts martial; for advising general officers upon summary jurisdiction matters under section 47 of the Army Act; for military law instructions and general questions; for war crimes policy and related legal questions; and for arrangements for attendance of verbatim reporters at courts martial and courts of enquiry.

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