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The History of the Second World War is the official history of Britain's contribution to the Second World War and was published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office (HMSO). This immense project was sub-divided into a number of areas to ease publication. Military operations are covered in the United Kingdom Military Series. There are four other series: the United Kingdom Civil Series covering various aspects of the civilian part of the war effort; the Foreign Policy series; the Intelligence series; and the Medical series. There are also a number of other volumes that do not come under the aegis of the actual series, but were published by HMSO and may usefully be read as adjuncts to it as they cover matters not considered in great detail or in one case at all in the main series. Further volumes, published either after the privatisation of HMSO, or in the separate series about SOE, are also useful.

The volumes were written to be read individually, rather than as a whole series. That inevitably lead to some duplication of coverage in the series, but in their respective introductions to their parts of the series, Sir Keith Hancock and Sir James Butler explain why the decision was taken: to eliminate the need to read more volumes than cover the particular part of the war effort desired to be studied. Hancock edited the Civil Series and Butler the Military. The first volume of the series appeared in 1949, and the last as recently as 1993, with a revised edition of another volume appearing in 2004.

Another somewhat unusual decision for the series was to cover the conflict from a theatre of operations point of view rather than an individual service point of view. This decision was taken to acknowledge the fact that military operations of the era were so joint and so interlinked that to try and separate out each service's contribution would have been futile.

The original works also lack references to unpublished sources when published prior to 1970. In the 1940s, it was not anticipated that government archives would be opened at any time within the foreseeable future. The Public Records Act 1958 and the Public Records Act 1966 were still in the future. The decision was therefore taken to publish the works with only references to published sources. British constitutional conventions on the anonymity of Government officials and ministers are also followed, leading to a somewhat detached narrative style in some cases.

However, a parallel series of volumes, for official use, were printed, which referenced the unpublished sources; and these references were added in manuscript, in red ink. A few official copies escaped into public libraries and these additions can been seen. The additional sources can also been seen in some of the Hyperwar versions (see External Links).


United Kingdom Military Series

  • Grand Strategy
    • Volume I, N. H. Gibbs, 1976
    • Volume II, Sir James Butler, 1957
    • Volume III, Part 1, J. R. M. Gwyer, 1964
    • Volume III, Part 2, Sir James Butler, 1964
    • Volume IV, Sir Michael Howard, 1970
    • Volume V, John Ehrman, 1956
    • Volume VI, John Ehrman, 1956
  • The War at Sea
  • The Strategic Air Offensive Against Germany
    • Volume I: Preparation, Sir Charles Webster and Noble Frankland, 1961
    • Volume II: Endeavour, Sir Charles Webster and Noble Frankland, 1961
    • Volume III: Victory, Sir Charles Webster and Noble Frankland, 1961
    • Volume IV: Annexes and Appendices, Sir Charles Webster and Noble Frankland, 1961
  • Defence of the United Kingdom, Basil Collier, 1957
  • The Campaign in Norway, Thomas K. Derry, 1952
  • The War in France and Flanders, 1939–40, Major L. F. Ellis, 1954
  • Victory in the West
    • Volume I: Battle of Normandy, Major L. F. Ellis et al., 1962
    • Volume II: Defeat of Germany, Major L. F. Ellis et al., 1968
  • War Against Japan
    • Volume I: The Loss of Singapore, Major-General Stanley Woodburn Kirby et al., 1957
    • Volume II: India's Most Dangerous Hour, Major-General Stanley Woodburn Kirbyet al., 1958
    • Volume III: The Decisive Battles, Major-General Stanley Woodburn Kirbyet al., 1961
    • Volume IV: The Reconquest of Burma, Major-General Stanley Woodburn Kirbyet al., 1965
    • Volume V: The Surrender of Japan, Major-General Stanley Woodburn Kirbyet al., 1969
  • The Mediterranean and Middle East
    • Volume I: The Early Successes Against Italy, to May 1941, Major-General I. S. O. Playfair et al., 1954
    • Volume II: The Germans Come to the Help of Their Ally, 1941, Major-General I. S. O. Playfair et al., 1956
    • Volume III: British Fortunes Reach Their Lowest Ebb, Major-General I. S. O. Playfair et al., 1960
    • Volume IV: The Destruction of the Axis Forces in Africa, Major-General I. S. O. Playfair, Brigadier C. J. C. Molony et al., 1966
    • Volume V: The Campaign in Sicily, 1943 and the Campaign in Italy, 3 September 1943 to 31 March 1944, Brigadier C. J. C. Molony et al., 1973
    • Volume VI, Part 1: Victory in the Mediterranean: 1 April to 4 June 1944, General Sir William Jackson et al., 1984
    • Volume VI, Part 2: Victory in the Mediterranean: June to October 1944, General Sir William Jackson et al., 1987
    • Volume VI, Part 3: Victory in the Mediterranean: November 1944 to May 1945, General Sir William Jackson et al., 1988
  • Civil Affairs and Military Government
    • Central Organisation and Planning, Frank S. V. Donnison, 1966
    • North-West Europe, 1944–46, Frank S. V. Donnison, 1961
    • Allied Administration of Italy, Charles R. S. Harris, 1957
    • British Military Administration in the Far East, 1943–46, Frank S. V. Donnison, 1956

United Kingdom Civil Series

  • Introductory
  • General Series
    • Coal, William B. Court, 1951
    • Oil: A Study of Wartime Policy and Administration, D. J. Payton-Smith, 1971
    • Studies in the Social Services, Sheila Fergueson, 1978
    • Civil Defence, T. H. O'Brien, 1955
    • Works and Buildings, C. M. Kohan, 1952
    • Food
      • Volume I: The Growth of Policy, R. J. Hammond, 1951
      • Volume II: Studies in Administration and Control, R. J. Hammond, 1956
      • Volume III: Studies in Administration and Control, R. J. Hammond, 1962
    • Agriculture, Keith A. H. Murray, 1955
    • The Economic Blockade
      • Volume I, William N. Medlicott, 1952
      • Volume II, William N. Medlicott, 1957
    • Inland Transport, Christoper I. Savage, 1957
    • Merchant Shipping and the Demands of War, C. B. A. Behrens, 1955
    • North American Supply, H. Duncan Hall, 1955
    • Manpower: Study of War-Time Policy and Administration, H. M. D. Parker, 1957
    • Civil Industry and Trade, Eric L. Hargreaves, 1952
    • Financial Policy, 1939-45, Richard S. Sayers, 1956
  • War Production
    • Labour in the Munitions Industries, P. Inman, 1957
    • The Control of Raw Materials, Joel Hurstfield, 1953
    • The Administration of War Production, J. D. Scott, 1955
    • Design and Development of Weapons: Studies in Government and Industrial Organisation, M. M. Postan, 1964
    • Factories and Plant, William Hornby, 1958
    • Contracts and Finance, William Ashworth, 1953
    • Studies of Overseas Supply, H. Duncan Hall, 1956

Foreign Policy

  • British Foreign Policy in the Second World War
    • Volume I, Sir Llewellyn Woodward, 1970
    • Volume II, Sir Llewellyn Woodward, 1971
    • Volume III, Sir Llewellyn Woodward, 1971
    • Volume IV, Sir Llewellyn Woodward, 1975
    • Volume V, Sir Llewellyn Woodward, 1976
    • Abridged Version, Sir Llewellyn Woodward, 1962


  • British Intelligence in the Second World War
    • Volume I: Its Influence on Strategy and Operations, F. H. Hinsley et al., 1979
    • Volume II: Its Influence on Strategy and Operations, F. H. Hinsley et al., 1981
    • Volume III, Part 1: Its Influence on Strategy and Operations, F. H. Hinsley et al., 1984
    • Volume III, Part 2: Its Influence on Strategy and Operations, F. H. Hinsley et al., 1988
    • Volume IV: Security and Counter-Intelligence, F. H. Hinsley et al., 1990
    • Volume V: Strategic Deception, Michael Howard, 1990
    • Abridged Version, F. H. Hinsley, 1993
  • SOE in France, Michael R. D. Foot, 1966 and 2004

Medical Volumes

  • The Emergency Medical Services
    • Volume I: England and Wales, Edited by Cuthbert L. Dunn, 1952
    • Volume II: Scotland, Northern Ireland and Principal Air Raids on Industrial Centres in Great Britain, Edited by Cuthbert L. Dunn, 1953
  • The Royal Air Force Medical Services
    • Volume I: Administration, Edited by S. C. Rexford-Welch, 1954
    • Volume II: Command, Edited by S. C. Rexford-Welch, 1955
    • Volume III: Campaigns, Edited by S. C. Rexford-Welch, 1958
  • The Royal Naval Medical Service
    • Volume I: Administration, Jack L. S. Coulter, 1953
    • Volume II: Operations, Jack L. S. Coulter, 1955
  • The Army Medical Services
    • Administration
      • Volume I, Francis A. E. Crew, 1953
      • Volume II, Francis A. E. Crew, 1955
    • Campaigns
      • Volume I: France and Belgium, 1939-40, Norway, Battle of Britain, Libya, 1940-42, East Africa, Greece, 1941, Crete, Iraq, Syria, Persia, Madagascar, Malta, Francis A. E. Crew, 1956
      • Volume II: Hong Kong, Malaya, Iceland and the Faroes, Libya, 1942-43, North-West Africa, Francis A. E. Crew, 1957
      • Volume III: Sicily, Italy, Greece (1944-45), Francis A. E. Crew, 1959
      • Volume IV: North-West Europe, Francis A. E. Crew, 1962
      • Volume V: Burma, Francis A. E. Crew, 1966
  • The Civilian Health and Medical Services
    • Volume I: The Civilian Health Services; Other Civilian Health and Medical Services, The Colonies, The Medical Services of the Ministry of Pensions, Sir Arthur A. MacNalty, 1953
    • Volume II: Public Health in Scotland, Public Health in Northern Ireland, Sir Arthur A. MacNalty, 1955
  • Medical Services at War: The Principal Lessons of the Second World War, Sir Arthur A. MacNalty, 1968
  • Cope, Sir Zachary, ed (1952). Medicine and Pathology. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office. LCCN 53017268. OCLC 458306589. 
  • Cope, Sir Zachary, ed (1953). Surgery. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office. LCCN 54001119. OCLC 459817464. 
  • Medical Research, Edited by F. H. K. Green and Major-General Sir Gordon Covell, 1953
  • Casualties and Medical Statistics, Edited by William M. Franklin, 1972

Supplementary Works Published by HMSO

  • British Military Administration of Occupied Territories in Africa During the Years 1941–1947, Major-General Lord Rennel of Rodd, 1948

Other official departmental histories outside of The History of the Second World War

A number of official histories were produced by various government departments. The individual authors worked under the same conditions and had the same access to official files; however their works did not appear in the History of the Second World War.

Supplementary works from other publishers

  • SOE Histories
    • SOE in the Far East, Charles Cruikshank, 1983
    • SOE in Scandinavia, Charles Cruikshank, 1986
    • SOE in the Low Countries, M. R. D. Foot, 2001
  • Secret Flotillas
    • Volume I: Clandestine Sea Operations to Brittany 1940–44, Sir Brooks Richards, 2004
    • Volume II: Clandestine Sea Operations in the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Adriatic 1940-44, Sir Brooks Richards, 2004
  • Army Series, printed by the War Office. 30 Volumes
    • Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, 2 Volumes; 1. Organisation and Operations, Rowcroft, E. Bertram (1951) 2. Technical, Bloor, F. R. (1951)
    • Supplies and Transport. 2 Volumes, Boileau, D. W. (1954)
    • Works service and Engineer stores, Buchanan, A. G. B. (1953)
    • Fighting, support and transport vehicles and the War Office provision for their provision. Part 1. Common Problems, Campagnac R & Hayman PEG, Part 2 - Unarmoured Vehicles, Campagnac R & Hayman PEG (1951)
    • Maintenance in the field. 2 Volumes, Carter, J. A. H. (1952)
    • Maps and Survey, Clough, A. B. (1952)
    • The Auxiliary Territorial service, Cowper, J. M. (1949)
    • Movements, Higham, J. B. & Knighton, E. A. (1955)
    • Signal Communications, Gravely, T. B. (1950)
    • Quartering, Magnay, A. D. (1949)
    • Miscellaneous Q services, Magnay, A. D. (1954)
    • Mobilization, McPherson, A. B. (1950)
    • Discipline, McPherson, A. B. (1950)
    • Transportation, Micklem, R. (1950)
    • Army welfare, Morgan, M. C. (1953)
    • Ordnance services, Officers of the directorate. (1950)
    • Airborne Forces, Oatway, T. B. H. (1951)
    • The development of artillery, tactics and equipment, Pemberton, A. L. (1950)
    • Manpower problems, Pigott, A. J. K. (1949)
    • Army Radar, Sayer, A. P. (1950)
    • Morale, Sparrow, J. H. A. (1949)
    • Personnel selection, Ungerson, B. (1952)
    • Military Engineering (field), Pakenham-Walsh, R. P. (1952)
    • Administrative planning, Wilson, H. W. (1952)
    • Special Weapons and types of warfare. 3 Volumes; 1. Gas Warfare. 2. Screening smoke, signal smoke, flame warfare insecticide & insect repellent & special common use equipment. 3. Visual & Sonic warfare, Wiseman, D. J. C. (1951–53)

See also

  • Churchill's history 'The Second World War'

External links

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