A selection of recently released files

February 2008

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Catalogue ref. Date Description
Records of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and predecessors
CO 537/7779 1951-1957 Anti-Communist propaganda: arrangements in AfricaContains correspondence between officials about the effect of communist propaganda in Nigeria, Sierra Leone and the Gold Coast (now Ghana), and includes plans to create anti-communist propaganda to counter this threat. The plans result in the production of various books, newsletters and the setting up of mobile bookshops stocked with 'respectable reading material'.
CO 537/7785 1951-1952 Communist propaganda: indoctrination of officials and prominent persons in AfricaContinues the theme of countering the communist propaganda surfacing in West Africa. Officials discuss the feasibility of bringing accepted community leaders onside, such as church leaders, to successfully influence public opinion and distance the British from any apparent involvement. 
FCO 21/1375 1975 Action on deaths of Chinese leadersIncludes draft messages of condolence and protocol measures to be followed in the event of the death of Mao Zedong (who died on 9 September 1976) and various other top-level Chinese officials. There is some discussion and disagreement about the possibility of flying flags at half-mast in Hong Kong and London in honour of Mao.
DO 35/6984 1957 UK revised policy in Antarctica from November 1956In the mid-1950s the UK was assessing its position in Antarctica. Minutes of Joint Chiefs of Staff meetings show that the UK admitted it no longer had dominance in that part of the world, which was coming increasingly under the influence of the USA and the Soviet Union. The file includes assessments of Soviet strategic interests in Antarctica and the possibilities of Soviet military bases being set up there.
Records created or inherited by the Ministry of Health and successors, Local Government Boards and related bodies
MH 55/1656 1944-1948 Homes for coloured childrenIn the aftermath of World War Two, concerns were being raised about the welfare of children of African-American soldiers who had been stationed in Britain. This file contains a report from the League of Coloured Peoples sent to Aneurin Bevin, the then Secretary of State for Health, asking the government to make provisions for them in the UK. Various solutions were suggested, including sending the children to the United States, though this was met with protest by the press at the time. Also included are reports from social workers inspecting the legitimacy of several ' children's homes' that had been set up by private individuals.
Records of the Metropolitan Police Office
MEPO 3/1288 1939-1940 Bomb explosions at Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus, Lloyds and Midlands banks: award from The Private Individuals and Bow Street Rewards FundsContains handwritten statements from members of the public who witnessed the explosions, including several Irish nationals denying any involvement with the IRA or with the incidents themselves. A detailed description is given by the police officer who discovered one of the unexploded bombs after notification from the attendant in the Oxford Circus public toilets and who took measures to defuse it with considerable risk to himself.