ARCRE Archives

The ARCRE archives contain selected documents of historical interest discovered during our research at the British National Archives and other international archives and libraries.

There is a particular focus on documents related to military, political and intelligence history. All transcripts are made by ARCRE directly from the primary source material.

Crown Copyright material reproduced under terms of the Open Government License.




British Politician’s Scathing Phrenological Assessments of President Kennedy and Charles de Gaulle

Lee Richards, 25 January 2012

One of the more bizarre releases of British Government papers to the National Archives this month includes a strange set of correspondence from 1961 between Robert Jenkins MP and the Prime Minister’s Office. Using phrenological ‘analysis’, Jenkins claims President Kennedy to be superficial beyond belief and a political adolescent and brands President de Gaulle as egotistical and almost a megalomaniac.



The Sovietisation of Afghanistan

From the archives: a briefing paper written by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Research and Analysis Department in February 1986. It gives a brief overview on how the Soviet Union has attempted to impose Soviet ideology onto Afghanistan, following its invasion of the country, through the attempted control and manipulation of religion, aid programs, the media, education, politics and economics.


Master of Deception Brigadier Dudley Clarke

Brigadier Dudley Wrangel Clarke, CB, CBE

A newly released file at the British National Archives sheds more light on the arrest of the Times journalist and Britain's master of deception in WW2, Brigadier Dudley Wrangel Clarke, CB, CBE.


Military Reaction Forces in Northern Ireland

This week the BBC's flag ship investigative journalism series Panorama broadcast allegations against plain clothes military units operating in Northern Ireland known as "Military Reaction Forces" (MRF). The programme asserts that the MRFs operated outside the British military's rules of engagement and were responsible for the death and wounding of a number of unarmed civilians in West Belfast in 1972. One document from British archives that appears to be referenced in the broadcast is the following Ministry of Defence review of the MRFs. Recognising the valuable contribution plain clothes units could make in countering the troubles in Northern Ireland, especially in regard to intelligence gathering, it is recognised that the units required more specialist training and tighter command and control. The proposed training would by necessity have to come from the Special Air Service. However, it was equally recognised that should the SAS's involvement become public, it would be a gift to propagandists and "might also give rise to genuine concern among the well-intentioned."



Government Censorship of BBC Panorama Documentary

In 1980 the British Broadcasting Corporation commissioned its flagship Panorama news and current affairs programme to produce a documentary on Britain's intelligence services. Although the documentary nominally purported to tackle the issue from the viewpoint of accountability of the intelligence services, the Government was concerned that the BBC was being embroiled in a campaign led by journalist Duncan Campbell and opposition MP Robin Cook to undermine Britain's intelligence services.

The following memorandum is a report on a meeting between civil servant Robert Armstrong and the then Director-General of the BBC Sir Ian Trethowan where the Government tries to prevent, or at least censor, the broadcast of the programme.



OSS Personnel Search

Jedburghs in front of B-24 just before night takeoff. Area T, Harrington Airdrome, England, circa 1944.

Jedburghs in front of B-24 just before night takeoff. Area T, Harrington Airdrome, England, circa 1944.

Search engine to locate Office of Strategic Services personnel files held by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), College Park, Maryland.

In total there are 23,978 personnel files available in Record Group 226, entry 224.

OSS staff can be searched by last name using the form below.

Search for OSS Personnel

Operation Mincemeat - Captured Abwehr Documents

The following four captured German Abwehr documents illustrate how Operation Mincemeat was swallowed hook, line and sinker. Each of the original documents beared the initials of Admiral Doenitz.


Operation Mincemeat - Top Secret Ultra Report

Extracts from a Top Secret - ULTRA report on Operation Mincemeat, aka "The Man Who Never Was".

(Taken from National Archives file: CAB 154/112)



Once the Africa campaign was completed, the problems of Security and Deception, which have already been discussed in connection with TORCH, assumed a new form. The next target was Sicily. For many reasons it was an obvious target and the difficulty of deceiving the enemy was great.


Should the secret of Operation Mincemeat be revealed?

Digging around in the National Archives yesterday I came across this correspondence regarding Operation Mincemeat.

The story of Mincemeat was originally told in 1950 by Sir Duff Cooper in his book 'Operation Heartbreak'. The book claimed to be a work of fiction but was very close to the real story. Obviously Commander Montague was not best pleased when Duff Cooper published this book, as he wanted to tell the story himself.

This correspondence, between members of the Joint Intelligence Committee, discuss why they did not want the real story told. Nevertheless, in the end Montague was able to publish his truthful, abeit incomplete, account of Operation Mincemeat which led to the famous film "The Man Who Never Was".




British Army War Diary Abbreviations

A list of some of the common abbreviations used in British and Commonwealth Army war diaries:


14 Amplifier Unit & 19 Leaflet Unit War Diary

Extracts from War Diary of 14 Amplifier Unit & 19 Leaflet Unit

Monthly Report (in lieu of war diary) of 14 Amplifier Unit and 19 Leaflet Unit for month April 1945
15 leaflet shells, containing approximately 6,000 leaflets were fired into CELLE on April 11, at the request of GOC 15(S) Div. From 12-15 April the amplifier unit was placed under command of 159 Bde, 11 Armoured Division, for the advance from SCHWARMSTEDT to WINSEN-ON-ALLER. The fierce enemy resistance outside WINSEN, however rendered the use of broadcast propaganda impracticable.

At the request of Mil Gov (8 Corps) and OC 218 Mil. Gov. Det. the following amplifier announcements were made:- Forbidding civilians to enter 8 Corps HQ area without a permit; warning civilians against looting from Army dumps; forbidding civilians to use cars and bicycles on the roads; warning troops against looting from dumps established for civilians; instructing troops not to interfere with free circulation of civilians or outside the hours of curfew (all in GREVEN on the Ems on 2 April ’45); announcement imposing a curfew in OSNABRUECK from 1700 hrs to 0800 hrs; announcement to DPs [Displaced Persons] instructing them to stay put in OSNABRUECK, so as not to interfere with military traffic; announcement instructing DPs to assemble in the LEDENHOR, OSNABRUECK on 5 April, to receive instructions (all on 4 April).



  • Operation Mincemeat
  • War Diaries
  • Special Operations Executive

    Archival material and references related to the activities of the Special Operations Executive in the Second World War.

  • World War Two
  • Brunei Revolt

    To mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Brunei Revolt and the origin of the Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation, ARCRE is publishing transcripts of official British Government reports and records documenting events in Borneo. These records come from the recently released Colonial Office migrated archive and quarterly historical reports of the British Army Borneo HQ Forces.

  • Carrier Pigeons
    The use of carrier pigeons for communication purposes in wartime.
  • Cryptography
    Documents from the archives related to cryptography and code-breaking.
  • MI9
    Archive documents related to the work of MI9, the military intelligence branch responsible training operational personnel in techniques to evade capture and to assist prisoners of war to escape.
  • Falkland Islands Conflict

    An archive of recently released British Government records regarding the 1982 Falkland Islands Conflict with Argentina.

  • Office of Strategic Services
    Archive records regarding the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in World War II.
  • Secret Intelligence Service (SIS)
  • T Force

    In the closing months of the Second World War in Europe, T Force was assigned the task of securing enemy military, scientific and industrial sites of interest to Allied intelligence. The following history written by the T Force teams after the end of hostilities documents these attempts at capturing the Germany's technological secrets.

  • British Army