Declassified Documents Online: Twentieth-Century British Intelligence, An Intelligence Empire

Scan of a Telegraph. Security Liaison Officer, Trinidad: security reviews of Eastern Caribbean and British Guiana. (January 1, 1955-December 31, 1956). CO 1035/16. The National Archives (Kew, United Kingdom).

│By Clem Delany, Associate Acquisitions Editor, Gale Primary Sources

The twentieth century was an era of global conflict and careful diplomacy, of the rise and fall of political extremes, of great strides in technology and vast change in the everyday lives of people around the world. Britain began the century with an empire that straddled the globe, and ended it with just a handful of small overseas territories. Warfare moved from trenches and bayonets, to weapons of mass destruction and long-distance drones. The global population skyrocketed. The internet came to be.

The scope and geographical spread of the interests of the British government over this century was vast. It reached beyond the UK and the mandates, protectorates and colonies of the British Empire, to the affairs of the self-governing Dominions and the later Commonwealth, as well as those of allies and enemies. British interests and British intelligence reached every corner of the globe from Aden to Zanzibar.

Declassified Documents Online: Twentieth-Century British Intelligence, An Intelligence Empire makes available online over half a million pages of British government papers relating to security and intelligence work in the twentieth century. It brings together files from the Security Service (MI5), the wartime Special Operations Executive (SOE) and Ministry of Economic Warfare, the Intelligence and Security Departments of the Colonial Office in the twilight of Empire, communications and intelligence records of the Ministry of Defence, and material from the Cabinet Office, including Joint Intelligence Committee reports, documents from the Special Secret Information Centre of WWII, and papers of the Cabinet Secretary relating to intelligence and espionage matters.

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Celebrating VE Day in 1945 and 2020

│By Megan Bowler, Gale Ambassador at the University of Liverpool│

With Remembrance Day events looking a little different in the UK this year, you may recall that we also celebrated the 75th anniversary of VE Day under lockdown. Due to coronavirus restrictions, many of the big celebrations that were planned were postponed. While we wait for large public gatherings and events to become possible once more, I took the opportunity to use archival sources to look back to the first VE Day celebrations, and, using recent news stories from Gale OneFile: News, compare the events of 2020 with those of 1945. Providing access to articles written up to the present day from over 2,300 major world newspapers, Gale OneFile: News will be extremely useful for a study of this kind, whilst Gale Primary Sources offers perspectives from both national and regional newspaper archives.

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Sir Bertram Ramsey – Britain’s Unsung War Hero

By Matt Chivers, Gale Ambassador at the University of Liverpool
I am in my third year studying History at the University of Liverpool. I am obsessed with golf and regrettably even more obsessed about football. But at school, History took my interest; throughout sixth form and university I have loved studying the Cold War and, for my dissertation, the nuclear arms race. I am keen to pursue a career in sports writing and journalism – I couldn’t think of anything better than being paid to watch and write about the biggest sporting events in the world! I like film and tend to binge-watch a series or two.

If you hear the phrase ‘War Hero’ names such as Winston Churchill and Dwight Eisenhower would naturally come to mind, as they were the key leaders in the Second World War that were instrumental in coordinating the Allied victory. I feel there is another leader who deserves recognition for his vital work during these significant years; Sir Bertram Ramsay.

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In or Out? Exploring Britain’s Relationship with Europe using Chatham House Online Archive

Mahatma Ghandi, Winston Churchill, Benazir Bhutto. Three iconic political figures who each touched the lives of scores of people around the world during their illustrious lives. What is perhaps lesser known is that all three feature in Chatham House Online Archive, having contributed in one form or another to the world-renowned UK think tank. Ranked the second most influential think tank globally in 2015, Chatham House has offered the perfect platform for leading thinkers in their fields to voice their thoughts on the international affairs of the day.

As the EU Referendum in the UK draws ever nearer, and the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ campaigns gather pace, I took the opportunity to delve into Chatham House Online Archive; its comprehensive coverage of over 80 years of international affairs includes the last UK referendum in 1975, which saw a two-thirds majority in favour of continued European Economic Community (EEC – the precursor to the EU) membership. Looking at five pieces of content from a range of contributors reveals some intriguing insights, and continuities, which have characterised Britain’s relationship with Europe over the past forty-four years.

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Tales for the ‘Every-day Reader’: Winston Churchill and the ‘War in the Indian Highlands’

When the name ‘Winston Churchill’ is mentioned, images of a heroic war leader with cigar in mouth and face set in steely determination are usually the first to come to mind. His wartime speeches became iconic in symbolising gung-ho British determination to battle on through endless bloodshed, helping steer Britain through the turmoil of a cataclysmic conflict. Yet, with perhaps less well-known flair, the former Prime Minister proved equally adept on paper. This is evident in his first published material: a series of war letters commissioned for British newspaper The Daily Telegraph.

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