World War II Official Histories

World War II Official Histories

Does Eng­land have an offi­cial His­to­ry of WW2 like the “Green Books” that are print­ed in the US as their offi­cial his­to­ry of WW2 and where might find them?  —L.L.

Yes: sev­er­al spe­cial­ized mul­ti-vol­ume series, under the umbrel­la title His­to­ry of the Sec­ond World War, were pub­lished by HMSO (Her Majesty’s Sta­tionery Office, since 2006 part of the Office of Pub­lic Sec­tor Infor­ma­tion with­in the UK Nation­al Archives, for­mer­ly the Pub­lic Records Office).

There are five sub-series, for exam­ple, Llewellyn Wood­ward, British For­eign Pol­i­cy in the Sec­ond World War (five vols., 1970). Oth­er series were Mil­i­tary, Civ­il, Intel­li­gence and Med­ical; HMSO also pub­lished indi­vid­ual col­lec­tions of papers and documents.

The scope is colos­sal. For exam­ple, the Mil­i­tary Series alone breaks down into Grand Strat­e­gy, The War at Sea, The Strate­gic Air Offen­sive Against Ger­many, Home Defense, Vic­to­ry in the West, The War Against Japan, Mediter­ranean & Mid­dle East, and Civ­il Affairs & Mil­i­tary Gov­ern­ment–in all, 32 vol­umes. Some series also have abridged one-vol­ume editions.

There are dis­claimers in the vol­umes stat­ing that the opin­ions are of the authors, whose qual­i­ty var­ied, and some were con­tro­ver­sial. Cap­tain Stephen Roskill, who wrote all three vol­umes of The War at Sea, was one of Churchill’s strongest crit­ics, and books were sub­se­quent­ly pub­lished by pro-Churchill naval author­i­ties to refute his charges

You can search for indi­vid­ual titles on Book­find­er, but major libraries should have them; they may also have been digitalized.

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