Scope and Contents
The material held at Churchill Archives Centre mainly consists of Colville's diaries. They provide an insight into the decision-making of three Prime Ministers and the meetings held with other top officials, as well as the lives of key figures during World War II, and its aftermath.
Conditions Governing Access
The collection is open for consultation by researchers using Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge. Churchill Archives Centre is open from Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm. A prior appointment and two forms of identification are required.
Biographical / Historical
Sir John Colville was born 28 January 1915, he was the son of the Honourable George Colville and Lady Cynthia Colville. He was educated at Harrow and went on to Trinity College, Cambridge.
In 1948 he married Lady Margaret Egerton, with whom he had two sons and one daughter. They lived in Hampshire.
Sir John (Jock) Colville was Assistant Private Secretary to three Prime Ministers, Neville Chamberlain, 1939-40, Winston Churchill, 1940-41 and 1943-45, and Clement Attlee, 1945. Although he should not have done so, Colville kept a diary from 1939 - 1957, parts of which have been published ("The Fringes of Power: Downing Street Diaries 1939 - 1955"). He served in World War II as a Pilot in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR), 1941-44. He served as Private Secretary to the then Princess Elizabeth, 1947-49 and was Joint Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, 1951-55. He was an Executive Director of Hill Samuel Ltd, 1955-80. Colville was instrumental in raising funding for the establishment of Churchill College as a national memorial to Sir Winston Churchill and was made an Honorary Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge, in 1971. He was joint honorary secretary of the Other Club for many years. Colville was a Trustee of both Sir Winston and Lady Churchill's estates. At various times in his life he was Company Director of the Provident Life Association, the London Committee, the Ottoman Bank, and Eucalyptus Pulp Mills Ltd. He was knighted in 1974, having previously been awarded the CB in 1955, and the CVO in 1949. Sir John Colville died in November 1987.
Colville wrote or contributed to a number of books including "Fools’ Pleasure", 1935; He contributed to "Action This Day-Working with Churchill", 1968; "Man of Valour: Field Marshal Lord Gort V.C.", 1972; "Footprints in Time", 1976; "The New Elizabethans", 1977; "The Portrait of a General", 1980; "The Churchillians", 1981; "Strange Inheritance", 1983; and a posthumous publication: "Those Lambtons!", 1988.