Catalogue description Royal Naval Personnel Research Committee: Reports

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Details of ADM 298
Reference: ADM 298
Title: Royal Naval Personnel Research Committee: Reports

Reports of research into biological and medical problems affecting the health and fighting efficiency of naval personnel so as to increase operational efficiency and improve safety and comfort.

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Date: 1942-1970
Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Royal Naval Personnel Research Committee, 1942-1967

Physical description: 531 files and volumes
Access conditions: Open
Immediate source of acquisition:

From 1988 Ministry of Defence

Accruals: Series is accruing
Administrative / biographical background:

'Personal research' is a term that appeared shortly before the War of 1939-1945. The first committee that used the term in its title was the Flying Personnel Research Committee. It is (in relation to the fighting services) the study by physiological and psychological methods of the best means of increasing the operational efficiency, safety and comfort of servicemen under different environmental conditions, and conversely, the adaptation of ships, fighting vehicles, aircraft and weapons to the convenience and capabilities of those who use them.

In August 1939 the Medical Research Council intimated to the three services that its resources were at their disposal in the event of war. In accepting the offer the Admiralty sought the Council's help in dealing with various problems that were beyond the internal scientific and medical facilities available to the Admiralty at the time.

The Medical Research Council set up a Committee on the care of Shipwrecked Personnel. Following a further request by the Admiralty in 1942 to widen the scope of research, the Council appointed the Royal Naval Personnel Research Committee (RNPRC). As this new committee covered problems of shipwrecked personnel the former committee was dissolved. The Council was the only body with the appropriate organisation and scientific personnel to undertake the work. By the end of the War of 1939-1945 personnel research (or human factor research as it is sometimes called) was considered so important that the RNPRC continued to be active and has remained so ever since. Its main areas of interest were and remain: survival at sea, underwater physiology, environment, effects of ship motion, and operational efficiency. However, the role of the Committee changed with the expansion of research facilities and scientific personnel within the Ministry of Defence. The RNPRC now performs a mainly advisory role, offering completely independent advice to the Ministry of Defence.

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