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Literary: "The Second World War", Volume 2 "Their Finest Hour": Notes and comments by Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Pownall., 02 Mar 1941 - 16 Jun 1949

Reference Code: GBR/0014/CHUR 4/196A-C

Scope and Contents

Includes notes and comments by Pownall on subjects including: factual and printing errors throughout Volume 2; the build-up to the German attack on the Soviet Union; the build-up to "Dynamo" [codename for the evacuation of Allied forces from Dunkirk, France]; the British Expedition Force; the meeting between 6th Lord Gort [Commander-in-Chief of British Field Force, earlier John Vereker] and General Maxime Weygand [Commander-in-Chief, French Army], May 1940; British casualties; the defence of Somaliland [later Somalia]; the Italian advance into Egypt, September 1940; difficulties faced by the British forces in Egypt and the Middle East; the despatch of tanks to the Middle East; air losses in the Battle of Britain; the overland Africa air route; the possibilities of a French advance into Germany; home defence; Operation "Catapult" [codename for the seizure or disabling of the French fleet]; naval anti-invasion measures; French forces cut off from Dunkirk; the loss of the 51st Division in France; auxiliary units of the Home Guard; naval operations in the Mediterranean, June - December 1940; the Fleet Air Arm attack on Taranto, Italy; comparative strengths of the RAF and German Air Force; the co-ordination of the German army and defence; the "sticky bomb"; anti-aircraft guns; operations at Calais and Boulogne, May 1940; RAF operations during the Dunkirk evacuation; Operation "Sea Lion" [codename for planned German invasion of Britain]; the Greek campaign in Albania, 1940 - 1941.Also includes notes and correspondence from: Arthur Cornwall- Jones [Senior Assistant Secretary (Military) to the Cabinet] (2); 1st Lord Ismay (2); Brigadier Henry Latham, Cabinet Office Historical Section, on subjects including Pownall's diary of events in France, the use of tanks in France, and in the Middle East, December 1940 - February 1941, the British Expeditionary Force, the attitude of Cameroon to the Allies, the battle of Arras and losses of equipment at Dunkirk (20); William Deakin (6); Sir Desmond Morton; 1st Lord Alanbrooke [earlier Field-Marshal Sir Alan Brooke, Commander of Second Army Corps, British Expeditionary Force], commenting on chapters in Volume 2 relating to his command (2); General Alphonse Georges on French troops cut off from Dunkirk, and those forced to surrender at Armentieres; 1st Lord Dowding on his "prayer" after the French surrender; General Roton (2); Denis Richards, RAF Historian, on subjects including the first line strength of the RAF (4); Sir Colin Gubbins.Also includes: covering letters from Pownall; extracts from the War Cabinet minutes on the Munich Crisis and naval operations off the French coast, May - June 1940; table of British and German aircraft losses in the Battle of Britain; typescript draft of Chapter 5 "The Deliverance of Dunkirk"; list of WSC's minutes, July - December 1940; map of German deployments in Lille and Ghent [Belgium], May 1940; chart of forces in fighting contact with the enemy, 1940; copies of telegrams on the threat in North Africa (March 1941); galley proofs of telegrams used in Volume 2; extract from Pownall's diary on the meeting between Lord Gort and General Georges Blanchard [Commander-in-Chief, French First Army] (May 1940); extracts of Belgian press articles defending King Leopold of Belgium's surrender to Germany; graphs of comparative British and United States forces in contact with the enemy, 1942 - 1945; maps showing the Allied and German forces at the battle of Arras; notes by Sir Martin Gilbert [1960's].The majority of documents in the file date to 1946 - 1949.


  • 02 Mar 1941 - 16 Jun 1949

Conditions Governing Access



3 file(s) (3 files (623 loose folios))

Language of Materials


The UK Archival Thesaurus has been integrated with our catalogue, thanks to Kings College London and the AIM25 project for their support with this.