Catalogue description Ministry of Home Security: Research and Experiments Department: Camouflage Committee: Minutes and Papers

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Details of HO 217
Reference: HO 217
Title: Ministry of Home Security: Research and Experiments Department: Camouflage Committee: Minutes and Papers

Minutes, memoranda and papers of the committee and its technical sub-committee and panel.

Date: 1940-1943

Catalogue references at item level incorporate the original report, paper or memorandum number for each item.

Related material:

For additional papers of the Camouflage Committee, see

HO 186/1343

Separated material:

Minutes of the Camouflage Committee (1940-1941) are in

ADM 1/10268

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

Ministry of Home Security, Camouflage Committee, 1940-1941

Ministry of Home Security, Camouflage Committee, 1941-1944

Physical description: 10 file(s)
Administrative / biographical background:

Early Camouflage Committees

Throughout the Second World War no central authority had sole responsibility for camouflage policy which in the military field was the concern of the Service Departments and in the civil field that of the Ministry of Home Security, the Ministry of Supply, the Ministry of Aircraft Production and other departments with responsibility for buildings or industrial activities. Co-ordination of policies and practices of individual departments were therefore secured through a succession of committees.

Between 28 March and 3 August 1939 co-ordination of industrial camouflage was dealt with by the Camouflage Sub-Committee of the Committee for Co-ordination of ARP in Industry under the chairmanship of Mr. E.A. Taylor of the Home Office with members drawn from that department and the three Service Departments. The Sub-Committee was concerned primarily with the preparation of camouflage schemes and with special problems such as camouflage points.

Its successor was an Advisory Committee on Camouflage, usually known as the Camouflage Advisory Panel, which was appointed on 2 August 1939 under the chairmanship of Major General Sir Ernest Swinton to advise the Minister of Home Security designate on questions of industrial camouflage. The Panel ceased to meet early in 1940 when the first Camouflage Committee 1940-1941 was appointed (see below).

A Camouflage (Policy and Organisation) Committee was appointed by the Minister of Home Security in March 1940 under chairmanship of Viscount Swinton to review the existing national camouflage policy and the organisation to give effect to it. Its members were drawn from the Ministries of Home Security and Supply, the Air Ministry and the offices of the three Chiefs of Staff. The Committee met on three occasions and issued an interim report in April 1940. The Committee did not meet again in view of the appointment of the Camouflage Committee (1940-1941).

Camouflage Committee (1940-1941)

The Committee was appointed in May 1940, under the chairmanship of Dr. R.E. Stradling, Chief Adviser on Research and Experiment in charge of the Research and Experiments Department, to advise the Minister on questions of camouflage and to act as a coordinating body so that all concerned in camouflage work would be aware of the organisation of each department and have prior knowledge of the various problems which arose and their solutions. The Committee was composed of some members of the former Camouflage Advisory Panel and representatives of interested departments including the Admiralty, War Office and Ministry of Supply. The committee of its first meeting decided to form a Technical Sub-Committee, under the chairmanship of Professor W.E. Curtis, Chief Superintendent of the Civil Defence Camouflage Establishment, to examine technical matters connected with camouflage with a view to a solution of outstanding problems and to ensure the fullest technical co-operation between the camouflage sections of Departments. In September 1941 the Camouflage Committee and the Technical Sub-Committee were disbanded following a recommendation of the Mabane Committee on Concealment and Deception that a new Camouflage Committee should be established under the control of the new Directorate of Camouflage of the Ministry of Home Security.

Camouflage Committee (1941-1944)

In September 1941 the Camouflage Committee was reconstituted under the chairmanship of Wing Commander T.R. Cave-Browne-Cave, Director of Camouflage to promote unification of design, practice and methods of maintenance, and the fullest technical co-operation in camouflage in all departments. The Committee again appointed a Technical Sub-Committee under its own chairman and Dr. Stradling and Professor Curtis became the Ministry of Home Security representatives on the main committee and the sub-committee, respectively. The Technical Sub-Committee was charged with the preparation of technical instructions, the investigation of new materials and the allocation of materials in short supply. After the Mabane Committee was disbanded much of its responsibility for camouflage policy devolved on the Camouflage Committee and the Technical Sub-Committee took over more general responsibility for technical aspects of camouflage. The departments represented on the main committee were the three Service departments, the Ministries of Home Security, Supply, Aircraft Production and Works and later the Ministry of Production. A small Aerodrome Panel was formed from members of the Technical Sub-Committee on 23 October 1941 to consider camouflage of aerodromes. After the autumn of 1943 research work on camouflage was discontinued but the Committee continued to meet until 18 September 1944.

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