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The Papers of Sir (Eric) John Hodsoll

Reference Code: GBR/0014/HDSL

Scope and Contents

Hodsoll played a major role in the development of air raid precautions [ARP]/ civil defence and this is reflected in the collection held at Churchill Archives Centre which he described as representing "a unique history of Civil Defence and its allied problems" (letter to Stephen Roskill, 27 August 1967). Until 1935 Sir John seems to have kept very few papers, but from then onwards very little of importance is missing. The printed material is particularly important because it consists of ephemeral pamphlets and reports now difficult to trace and copies of books presented to Sir John on publication. Among the typescripts the long series of reports are invaluable and may be the only surviving copies in many cases.


  • Creation: 1920 - 1967

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 should seek advice from Archives Centre staff.

Biographical / Historical

Curriculum Vitae: 19 October 1894 Eric John Hodsoll, known as John, was born in London. 1904-1911 Educated at Christ's Hospital. 1911-1914 Premium apprentice, Great Western Railway Works, Swindon. 1914 Joined Royal Naval Air Service as probationary Flight Sub Lieutenant. 1915-17 Calshot (Hants.) Seaplane Base. Second in command of Portsmouth Group of Air Stations. 1918 Commanded Seaplane Base at Alexandria. 1918 Married Winifred Joyce Tomlin, with whom he had one daughter. 1919 Air Ministry, Department of Training. 1923 Staff College, Camberley. 1925 H.Q., R.A.F., India. Member of R.U.S.I. (India) Council. Assistant Secretary (R.A.F.), C.I.D. 1929 Organised evacuation of civilians from Kabul. C.B. 1935 Wife died. Retired as Wing Commander; Assistant Under Secretary of State for the new department of Air Raid Precautions (ARP) at the Home Office, where Hodsoll's job was to promote awareness of ARP. 1937 Married Elisabeth Morton Tomlin, sister of his first wife, with whom he had twin daughters. 1938 Inspector-General of Air Raid Precautions. 1942 Passive Air Defence adviser to General Eisenhower. 1944 Knighted. 1948 Director General of Civil Defence Training. 1950 Visit to U.S.A. 1951 Visit to U.S.A. and Canada. 1954 Chief Civil Defence Adviser, N.A.T.O.; Gold Medal of Danish C.D. Association. 1960 U.S. Distinguished Service Award. 1961 Retired. 1961 First Gold Medal of Institute of Civil Defence 14 March 1971 Died


41 archive box(es) (41 Archive boxes)

Language of Materials



The papers deposited at Churchill Archives Centre were chiefly loose papers which were "in a rather unco-ordinated mess" as Hodsoll described them. This was the result of several house moves. They were arranged into nine sections to cover the various periods of Sir John's career: early career (HDSL 1), Committee of Imperial Defence (HDSL 2), Inspector General of Civil Defence (HDSL 3-7), NATO Chief Civil Defence Advisor (HDSL 8) and retirement (HDSL 9).

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Prior to their deposit at Churchill Archives Centre, some of Hodsoll's papers had been stored in conditions which were less than ideal. Some items (mainly printed) were damaged by damp and mice. The rest of the collection was in good condition.

Other Finding Aids

The collection has been catalogued and hard copies of the catalogue are available for consultation in the reading room at Churchill Archives Centre and at the National Register of Archives in London.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Hodsoll deposited the majority of his papers at Churchill Archives Centre in 1967. In November 2002 and January 2003 these were supplemented by additional papers deposited by his daughter, Lady Johnson.

Related Materials

Hodsoll served Sir Maurice Hankey on the Committee of Imperial Defence. Churchill Archives Centre also holds the papers of Sir Maurice Hankey (GBR/0014/HNKY).


From about 1941 the original term 'Air Raid Precautions' (A.R.P.) was succeeded by 'Civil Defence' (see T.H. O'Brien, Civil Defence, 1955 p301). In this catalogue 'civil defence' has been used at all periods unless the catalogue entry is a quotation from the original file or book. A few original files still bear their official number, which has been added to the entry. This collection description and catalogue were prepared by Natalie Adams and Ieuan Hopkins of Churchill Archives Centre in November 2004 using information from the original typescript catalogue of the collection; correspondence relating to its deposit at Churchill Archives Centre and Hodsoll's entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (T. H. O'Brien, ‘Hodsoll, Sir (Eric) John (1894-1971)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004).


Hodsoll, Sir Eric John, 1894-1971, Knight, civil servant

2004-11-15 09:52:30+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