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The Papers of Sir George Binney

Reference Code: GBR/0014/BINN

Scope and Contents

Papers comprising correspondence, official reports and press cuttings.
With correspondence and notes of Ralph Barker, author of 'The Blockade Busters', 1974-80.
Mainly in English, with some items in Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish and French.


  • Creation: 1939 - 1982

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for consultation by researchers using Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers wishing to publish excerpts from the papers must obtain prior permission from the copyright holders and seek advice from Archives Centre staff.

Biographical / Historical

Frederick George Binney was born at Great Bookham, Surrey, 23 September 1900, the son of Maximilian Frederick Breffit Binney and Emily Blinkhorn. He was educated at Summer Fields, Eton College and Merton College, Oxford, 1920-3. He married Evelyn Mary Fane (née Marriott) in 1946 (divorced 1954) and Sonia Simms (née Beresford Whyte) in 1955.

As an undergraduate he was recruited to organize and be secretary of the Oxford University Spitsbergen Expedition, 1921, and subsequently led the Merton College Arctic Expedition, 1923, and the Oxford University Arctic Expedition, 1924. He pioneered the use of the seaplane for Arctic survey work. He was employed by the Hudson Bay Company, 1926-30, and United Steel Companies Ltd, 1930-9, where he was responsible for establishing an extensive export network. He travelled widely in the course of his work and developed a particular empathy for Iran.

In 1939 he was recruited by Iron and Steel Control, Ministry of Supply, as their representative in Sweden to purchase steel, machine tools and ball-bearings essential to the British armament industries. Following the German invasion of Denmark and Norway, which cut Sweden off to the west, he masterminded two operations to run supplies past the blockade: Operation Rubble, January 1941, and Operation Performance, March 1942. He was working under the guise of Assistant Commercial Attaché to the British legation in Stockholm but was expelled from Sweden nonetheless. He returned as a Commander in the Royal Naval Reserve to oversee Operation Bridford, 1943. Invalided out following a heart attack, he was involved in Operation Moonshine to run arms via Sweden to the Danish resistance, 1944-5.

After the war, he returned to United Steel Companies Ltd and also led a British trade and industrial mission to Ghana, 1959.

He died on 27 September 1972.

He was knighted, 1941, and appointed DSO, 1944. He was awarded the Patron's Medal of the Royal Geographical Society for his Arctic exploration, 1957.

His publications include: "With Seaplane and Sledge in the Arctic" (1925) and "The Eskimo Book of Knowledge" (1931).


11 archive box(es)

Language of Materials


Other Finding Aids

Copies of the collection level description and catalogue are available at Churchill Archives Centre, Cambridge, and the National Register of Archives, London.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers were given to Churchill Archives Centre by Lady Binney, via Ralph Barker, 1982.


This collection level description was prepared by Sophie Bridges, March 2005. The papers were catalogued by Marion Stewart, 1982. Biographical information was obtained from Sir George Binney's obituary in 'The Times', 13 October 1972; 'Who's Who 1897-1996'; and the website of the 'Oxford Dictionary of National Biography'. The catalogue was retroconverted by Lynsey Robertson in October 2009.


Binney, Sir Frederick George, 1900-1972, Knight, explorer

2005-03-08 09:55:48+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Churchill Archives Centre Repository

Churchill Archives Centre
Churchill College
Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB3 0DS United Kingdom
+44 (0)1223 336087