A selection of recently released files - October 2009
Records of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and predecessors
Anti-communist propaganda: Hong Kong
- Catalogue ref: CO 537/5132
- Date: 1949
This file details proposed actions to curb the infiltration into the British colony of Hong Kong of Communist propaganda. It was thought the Chinese Communists were mounting a campaign to 'liberate' Hong Kong. Their policy was to refrain from military force, exposing the population to the 'full effect' of propaganda, encouraging internal troubles which they hoped would eventually make the colony untenable for the British. Various proposals were put together to counter the effects of this policy, including the translation into Chinese of George Orwell's Animal Farm, the commissioning of information films (considered to be especially effective 'for illiterates'), and sponsored radio.
Messages between Prime Minister Edward Heath and US President Richard Nixon
- Catalogue ref: FCO 82/322
- Date: 1973 Dec 31-1973 Jan 01
In this file, Prime Minister Edward Heath advises President Nixon on how his efforts to build 'constructive Trans-Atlantic relations', in particular with President Pompidou of France, were likely to be received. This file provides a brief glimpse of the 'special relationship' between the USA and the UK.
Human rights in Cambodia (Democratic Kampuchea)
- Catalogue ref: FCO 58/ 1408
- Date: 1978 Jan 01 - 1978 Dec 31
British and Soviet reciprocal missions: vol VIII
- Catalogue ref: FO 1035/96
- Date: 1950 June-Nov
This file details reciprocal missions in British and Soviet zones of Berlin and reveals an increasingly tense and volatile relationship at the beginning of the Cold War. After experiencing a number of disruptions, the British weigh up taking action against the Russians, such as interfering with their missions and delaying telephone calls but all were discounted as it was thought the British had more to lose. The file also contains details of an event in which a locksmith was allegedly approached by two Russians for information on a Bezole factory for which he would be compensated.
Records of the Metropolitan Police Office
Impersonation of Lord Hampton by Ernest Hampton in Budapest
- Catalogue ref: MEPO 3/1955
- Date: 1939-1945
The file is initiated after relatives of the real Lord Hampton alert authorities to the deception. At first, Ernest Hampton was thought to have 'pathological reasons' for his impersonation, however, routine checks reveal his criminal past of larceny, obtaining money by false pretences and conspiracy to defraud, as well as a string of aliases. Real name - Roy Vivian, he's described as 'a clever and plausible rogue'. He's found to be the mastermind behind a criminal smuggling ring. Before the Second World War, he was known to pose as a member of the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) and claimed to have connections with MI5. Towards the end of the file it's suggested that he may be working for the German Intelligence Service, and although no connection was established it's noted he 'gets very nervous under questioning, yet looks you in the eyes when telling lies'.
Records of Special Operations Executives
Special Operations Executive: Personnel Files (PF Series) - Peter Ivan LAKE - born 30.01.1915
- Catalogue ref: HS 9/877/5
- Date: 1939 Jan 01-1946 Dec 31
An unusual file containing detailed reports written by Lake of the subject's mission to train the French resistance - the Maquis - in the Dordogne area two months before D-Day (April 1944). Training included, 'a week long commando course' and 'evening classes in sabotage'. Lake's leadership of the Maquis resulted in the destruction of the railway line at Perigueux. Before leaving he helped to plan Operation Bickford on the French Island of Oleron involving further infiltration of agents and saboteurs. His heroic efforts in the Dordogne resulted in being awarded the Croix de Guerre, a French medal only bestowed to foreign military.
Jacques Chaban-Delmas - born 07.03.1915
- Catalogue ref: HS 9/415/6
- Date: 1939 Jan 01-1946 Dec 31
This file relates to Chaban-Delmas, and his part in the D-day landings. Chaban-Delmas served as Prime Minister of France under President Georges Pompidou from 1969 to 1972. The short file gives him a glowing report, referring to his courage and maturity. A report reads: "…Old head on very young shoulders."
Records of the Prime Minister's Office
SECURITY- List of names found in the flat occupied by IRA terrorists
- Catalogue ref: PREM 16/676
- Date: 18 Dec 1975- 22 Dec 1975
A file compiled immediately after the discovery of an IRA bomb factory following the siege at 22a Balcombe Street, Marylebone. Several dossiers of paper were found detailing a list of targets for the bombers including the names of organisations and Army establishments. The list included the Queen's Gallery in Buckingham Palace and other high profile cultural organisations such as The British Museum and University College London. Other targets listed were power and water pumping stations and Wormwood Scrubs prison. A personal note from Prime Minister Harold Wilson urged the Metropolitan Police to check the names and addresses to identify the date the papers were written as some of the information held seemed inaccurate.