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Report on the Deputy Directorate of Information and Propaganda, 1940-45

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Taken from the War Diary of the Deputy Directorate of Information and Propaganda, this report outlines the history of the British Army's liaison with Government civilian information departments, how it gave guidance to the press on military matters throughout the Second World War, and organised Amplifier and Leaflet Units in North-West Europe.

A Leaflet Unit in Holland loading artillery shells with leaflets for firing over German lines.

A Leaflet Unit in Holland loading artillery shells with leaflets for firing over German lines.

Report on the Deputy Directorate of Information and Propaganda, 1940-45

1. The Deputy Directorate of Information and Propaganda was formed in November, 1940, as part of the P.R. Directorate, absorbing M.I.7(a), (b), (c) and (d), all of which had existed under the control of D.M.I. since the outbreak of the war in 1939.

2. The functions of the Deputy Directorate were as follows:-

(a) To act as a link between the War Office, Press, B.B.C. and the Ministry of Information on all questions of operational publicity.

(b) To act in an advisory capacity as the link between the War Office and the Political Warfare Executive (P.I.D.) on all matters connected with the military side of Political Warfare.

(c) To give advice on all matters of military security to the Press Censorship Division of the Ministry of Information.

A Deputy Director (Brigadier) was in charge of the Deputy Directorate, each section of which consisted of one G.S.O.1 (Lt.-Col.) and a number of G.S.Os.2 and G.S.Os.3. There were three such sections: I.P.(1), (2) and (3), whose duties are summarised below:-

3. I.P.(1) (in the War Office)

I.P.(1) was in direct touch with all branches of the General Staff, from whom it obtained direction on policy and detailed information when required. This section was responsible for:-

(i) Providing General Staff guidance and information for P.W.E. and, in conjunction with P.W.E., planning of propaganda ancillary to operations.

(ii) Provision of information and guidance for the Press, through I.P.(2); and the preparation of hand-outs on operational publicity matters.

(iii) Examining enemy and neutral broadcasts to detect:-

(a) lines of military propaganda which should be countered.

(b) enemy intentions indicated by the propaganda policy.

4. I.P.(2) (in the Ministry of Information)

This section acted as a link between the War Office, the Ministry of Information, the Press and the B.B.C. on all operational publicity matters. It was responsible for immediate and constant guidance on, and interpretation of, all operational news. A 24-hour service was maintained through the war and Press Conferences were held daily up to VE-Day, and subsequently twice weekly.

5. I.P.(3) (in the Ministry of Information)

This section was also known at Military Advisers to Censorship. As such, it was responsible for giving military security advice on all Press articles, films, photographs, etc. This section dealt direct with all branches of the War Office and with Commands at home and overseas, and co-ordinated "Stops" and "Releases" with Field Press Censorship in all theatres of operations. Close liaison was maintained between this section and other Government Departments on all security matters.

6. The organisation set up in November 1940 remained substantially unchanged until the end of the war, when the Deputy Directorate was abolished. In September 1941 a Cabinet decision was taken that a senior officer should be appointed as Military Adviser to the Ministry of Information. Major-General Hon. E. F. Lawson, C.B., D.S.O., M.C., was appointed w[ith] e[ffect] f[rom] 12th September 1941. Though no alteration was made in the organisation that then existed, in practice, there was a split; the I.P. branches becoming responsible to the Senior Military Adviser, Ministry of Information, whilst the P.R. branches remained under D.P.R.

On 29th December 1941, Major-General Lawson was appointed Director Public Relations in addition to the M. of I. post and the branches were again united.

7. From the commencement the work of I.P.(1) and I.P.(2) was made difficult through an understandable suspicion, entertained by other Directorates, of a branch that dealt with the Press. This difficulty arose in varying degrees from time to time, and was mainly overcome through personal contact between individuals at all levels.

8. Daily guidance to Press and B.B.C. was based on the Despatches of War Correspondents, Officer Observer stories, and the Daily Communiqués. It was found by experience that where these Daily Communiqués were supplemented by Daily "on record" guidance from the theatre of operations, it was possible to give more detailed and accurate guidance, especially to Military Correspondents.

From time to time "off record" guidance was received from theatres giving a forecast of future operations and the general lines on which the progress made should be represented. In this way it was possible to guide the Press as to the relative importance of day-to-day operations, and to assist them in what should be head-lined as of decisive character in the conduct of the battle. This system worked particularly well in the case of the Italian Campaign of 1944-45. Close liaison by teleprint and cable was maintained between I.P. War Office and P.R. Division, SHAEF, in Paris, with A.D.P.R.'s, C.M.F. and M.E.F., also with D.I.C.A. in SEAC.

9. The writing of "hand-outs" on operational matters varied from short explanatory notes on specific aspects of current operations or on achievements of formations and units that were headlined in correspondent's despatches, etc., to longer articles on definite aspects of modern warfare written by more experienced writers. The former were compiled by I.P.(1), based on such material as was available, and checked for accuracy with Sitreps [Situation Reports] and War Diaries. Writers were included in the establishment of I.P.(2) to write the longer articles, and were given special facilities to visit the theatres in order to gain the necessary background and material. Many of these longer articles were used by the Ministry of Information for propaganda purposes overseas, especially in the U.S.A. and Russia.

10. The Press Censorship setup in the United Kingdom at the commencement of the war was of a "voluntary" nature. Thus there was no obligation on the part of editors to submit articles to censorship. Under the Defence Regulations it was an offence to publish any information that "would or might be directly or indirectly useful to an enemy" or might "prejudice the defence of the realm or the efficient prosecution of the war." To guide the Press a series of Defence Notices were drawn up showing what matters should be referred to censorship before publication. It was, therefore, open to editors to publish and risk a prosecution. The fact that only a few prosecutions took place during the six years of war is an indication of how the system of voluntary censorship worked. The system did not, however, fully meet military requirements; this was noticeable over such stories as escapes from prisoner-of-war camps in enemy countries.

11. The voluntary nature of Press Censorship in the U.K. was not always understood by branches of the War Office. From time to time requests were received to stop certain articles without sufficient security grounds for doing so. It was also not generally realised that the Military Advisers to Censorship were not themselves the censors. In the event of disagreement between the Censorship and the Military Advisers, the matter could be referred to the V.C.I.G.S. whose decision was, by a Cabinet ruling, final.

12. Attached Appendices I, II and III are summaries, compiled by each section, of their main activities throughout the war.

September 1945





I.P.1.(a)., I.P.1.(b)., and I.P.1.(c).


At the outbreak of war, propaganda, which hitherto had been the function of M.I.(b), was entrusted to a special sub-section designated M.I.(b). (P). This was almost immediately expanded into a separate branch - M.I.7. As a result, M.I.7. was organised in two sections. These were:

M.I.7.(a):       responsible for liaison with Ministry of Information and Department "E.H.", and distribution of propaganda material produced by:

M.I.7.(b):       responsible for producing material suitable for propaganda out of information obtained from all war office sources; and for scrutinising enemy and foreign propaganda.

At that time the War Office representation at the Ministry of Information was a section of Public Relations known as "P.R. Senate House". Through that section, the output of M.I.7. destined for the British, Allied and Neutral Press was handed out, and censorship questions were referred to M.I.7. for clearance with the appropriate branch of the War Office.

The output of M.I.7. for propaganda against the enemy was sent direct to Electra House, known as Department "EH" - (the forerunner of Political Warfare Executive - or, in short, "P.W.E.").

M.I.7. also began to supply British Military Attachés abroad with Notes for Propaganda Material. These were very gratefully received in the early days of the war, but the service had to be discontinued owing to the fact that the Foreign Office had not yet laid down policies for propaganda in which the Ambassador had no brief to which to speak whereas his Military Attaché had, albeit ad hoc.

In the spring of 1940 a reorganisation took place with the following results:

M.I.7.(a). was transferred into the Ministry of Information building at Senate House and served as the link between the War Office, the Press and the B.B.C. on all matters affecting the army in its operational aspects.

M.I.7.(b). remained in the War Office and was responsible for production of propaganda material and liaison with all War Office branches.

M.I.7.(c). was inaugurated as a section responsible for scrutinising foreign and neutral press and wireless broadcasts from the propaganda aspect.

But in November 1940 a further reorganisation occurred. This was due to the following considerations:

(a) M.I.7. was an anomaly in the M.I. Directorate for it was a branch with responsibility for taking action outside the War Office.

(b) the P.R. machinery for giving publicity to the Army was considered to require improvement.

The result of this reorganisation was the establishment of a Deputy Directorate of Information and Propaganda, under the Director of Public Relations and in the Department of the Permanent Under Secretary of State. Co-incidentally, I.P. officers retained their status as General Staff Officers. Under that arrangement:

M.I.7.(a) became.............. I.P.(2).

M.I.7.(b) became.............. I.P.(1)

M.I.7.(c) became.............. I.P.(1).c.

I.P.(1). was sub-divided as follows:

I.P.(1).a. Provision of propaganda material and briefing of D.D.I.P. on current operations.

I.P.(1).b. Provision of publicity articles. Actually, up to 25 August 1945, two thousand three hundred and eighty five of these articles were written by a staff whose writers seldom exceeded two and for large part of the period were reduced to one writer officer. The subjects covered all infantry and most armoured units engaged in all the theatres, except the Far Eastern Campaigns, as well as articles on the planning of campaigns, preparations for "D" Day, etc. I.P.(1).b. passed for a period under command of I.P.(2) returning to its original sub-section in 1943.

I.P.(1).a., while I.P. (l).b. was attached to I.P. (2), was sub-divided into:

I.P.(1).a. responsible for briefing D.D.I.P. on current operations, briefing C.I.G.S. on propaganda and publicity matters, referring all queries from I.P. (2) on operational matters to the relevant War Office Branches, writing accounts of operations for publication.

I.P.(1).b. responsible for - advising Political Warfare Executive and B.B.C. on all matters relating to military operations in the German and Italian services of the B.B.C. and the writing of scripts and exercising general supervision over the German and Italian forces programmes.

It was the responsibility of the G.S.O. of I.P.(1). to supply briefs on the current military situation for Political Warfare Executive's Weekly Propaganda Directives, and with material and themes for the guidance and use of Political Warfare Executive's "black" and other similar activities.

A further function of I.P.(1). was to serve as Sponsor Branch for the formation of Field Propaganda Units. Suitable equipment was found and tested and requests made to the Ministry of Supply for the production of prototype loud-speaker equipments. An equipment of this kind was supplied for operation "TORCH" and operated in North Africa and subsequently, in Italy. For Operation "OVERLORD", I.P.(1). drew up establishments for a Psychological Warfare Section at Headquarters 21 Army Group, for amplifier units and leaflet units and selected special equipment.

NOTE:- The work of I.P.(1). was handicapped by two factors:

(a) inclusion of the Branch in the Directorate of Public Relations was not conducive to complete freedom of access to information from Branches of the General Staff; the reluctance encountered was overcome on the basis of good personal relations between officers concerned;

(b) the Military Wing of P.W.E. was endowed with more power and prestige than I.P.(1). For instance, the Madagascar forces contained representative of P.W.E., while I.P.(1). was not even informed of the forthcoming operation; military propaganda was performed by personnel responsible to the Foreign Office over which the War Office had no control. Similarly, in North Africa, Sicily and Italy, P.W.E. personnel were operating in the field without the knowledge or control of the War Office. It was only in Operation "OVERLORD" that propaganda in the field was the responsibility of personnel owing no allegiance to P.W.E. or the Foreign Office, albeit of course receiving directives from P.W.E. A full report of the results of the propaganda operations by 21 Army Group has not yet been prepared. Instances of successful front-line propaganda are:-

(i) resistance in Cherbourg Arsenal collapsed in 10 minutes following a loud-speaker broadcast.

(ii) Approximately 5,000 prisoners have been directly attributed to the immediate effect of loud-speaker broadcasts.

21 Army Group consider that the main lines of the establishments put forward by I.P.(1). are sound, but require modification as regards organisation, representation at Headquarters Armies and Corps, provision of "hard" vehicles for loud-speaking equipment, and establishment of liaison with R.A.F. formations for leaflet-dropping by aircraft.

I.P.(1).c. functioned during the war with the production of reports and summaries on the trend of German morale and propaganda based on a detailed analysis of comment in enemy and neutral press and radio. Two summaries were produced. These were:

(a) FACTUAL. These comprised the reproduction of extracts from enemy and neutral newspapers and other publications considered to be of interest either from the point of view of intelligence or of use in Allied counter-propaganda.

(b) A DAILY SUMMARY of world wireless comment, of which by far the most important part was the German section. This summary was based on the material contained in the daily monitoring reports of the B.B.C.; it was, in the main, a reduction to a readily assimilable form of all the main trends of German propaganda on current military and political issues.

The daily production of I.P.(1).c. enjoyed a fairly wide distribution, which extended far beyond the confines of the War Office. Apart from its internal distribution within the War Office, it was distributed daily to SHAEF, B.G.S. (I) Home Forces, G.S. (I) Commands, 21 Army Group, Canadian Military Headquarters, Polish Headquarters, P.W.E., Admiralty, Air Ministry, B.B.C., Soviet Military Mission and others.

Four press readers were employed and newspapers from the following countries were read for possible information:

Neutral or Allied

Russia, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Holland, Spain, Portugal, and France.



Germany, Italy, and Rumania


5 September 1945






1. The overriding function of I.P.2., also known as Military Affairs, was to be the interpreter of the operational side of the Army to the British, Allied and Neutral Press, the B.B.C. all branches of the Ministry of Information, and where required other Ministries. I. P. 2. was also at the disposal of the General Public for any queries within the scope of its terms of reference.

The work fell under two main heads:-

(a) Policy censorship. This was voluntary, i.e. I.P.2. could only advise against the use of material considered unsuitable, but could not enforce an embargo.

(b) Provision of material, advice and technical detail for the writing of articles.

2. Other activities were:-

(a) The editing and distribution to the Provincial Press Liaison Branch of the News Division, M. of I., of officer observer stories from all British war theatres, especially designed to meet the requirements of the otherwise unrepresented Provincial Press. Citations of awards were also handled in a similar fashion.

(b) The selection and briefing (from the Military angle) of front line officers and other ranks as lecturers in the U.K. (principally for war factories) and U.S.A.

(c) The answering of all Military questions, which were many and varied, and ranged from the place and date of a Field Marshal's birth to the rates of pay of a newly joined infantryman, and the cost of a heavy railway gun to the muzzle velocity of a .38 revolver. For all these questions I.P.2. were either the source of information or the sorting house, and to this purpose maintained throughout the war a 24 hour service.

(d) Assisting Military Commentators in writing their articles, and editing them when submitted before publication.


There was a very close liaison between this branch and the War Office branches of I.P.1, I.P.3, and P.R.1, with the News Division M. of I, and News Information of the B.B.C. I.P.1, was I.P.2's source of operational information, and I.P.3. (Military Advisers) was the branch to which all questions and articles were referred for security censorship. During the war nothing was issued from I.P.2. without submission to I.P.3, no matter from what source it came. P.R.1, issued all their military handouts through I.P.2, who were responsible for the policy censorship and for ensuring that they were submitted to I.P.3. for security, before going to the News Division M. of I. for issue.

Other branches with which I.P.2. had close relations were P.R.5 (A.T.S.) and M.S.3. (Citations).

An officer of I.P.2. was permanently stationed at the B.B.C., and acted as the link between the War Office and the Corporation on all Military matters.

There was a daily Press Conference at which guidance was given by a senior officer. This was well attended and apparently much appreciated.


I.P.2. is one of the successors of M.I.7, which was formed in 1939 at the War Office. Early in 1940 M.I.7. was split into I.P.1. and I.P.2, and the department hitherto known as the Military Advisers to the Censorship, and stationed at the M. of I., became I. P. 3. I.P.1. remained at the War Office, and I.P.2. moved to the Ministry of Information, Senate House, Malet Street.

The Service opposite numbers in the M. of I. are Naval Affairs and Air Affairs, and with these departments, as with the Naval and Air Advisers and Foreign Office News Room, relations have always been close and mutually helpful.





On the outbreak of war Press Censorship became operative throughout the country and the Press and Censorship Bureau under the M. of I. commenced to function.

In a letter from the Secretary of State for War on October 6th, 1939, to Sir Walter Monckton, Director of the Press and Censorship Bureau, (later to be known as the Censorship Division, M. of I.) it was made clear that the responsibility for censorship must rest, like the responsibility for news and its distribution, upon the Department which is concerned with the subject matter, and in the event of questions arising as to any particular censorship decision, the Minister in charge of the Department affected would answer for it in Parliament. This authority was acknowledged in a letter from Sir Walter Monckton to the Secretary of State on October 7th.

To avoid delay in obtaining answers to Military questions on which the censorship might require guidance, the Secretary of State appointed Colonel Turner (now Brigadier Turner) to act as Military Adviser to the Press Censorship at the Ministry of Information and he and his staff of 3 G.2s commenced their duties on October 9th, 1939. The Secretary of State also laid down that Colonel Turner would be directly responsible to him, otherwise more channels than were conducive to prompt decisions would be introduced. In practice recourse to such a high level was rarely, if ever, needed.


The section formed under Colonel Turner known as "Military Adviser to the Press Censorship" formed part of the P.R. Directorate until October 9th, 1940, when it became M.I.7(d) under the control of D.M.I. The reconstitution of P.R. Directorate on November 11th, 1940 into P.R. and I. & P. branches brought back the Military Advisers section under D.P.R. and the section henceforth, became I.P.(3).

The original establishment of the section consisted of Colonel Turner who held the appointment of Chief Military Adviser until he became D.D.P.R. in 1940, and 3 G2s. The establishment was increased later to a G.1 and 5 G.2s under D.D.I., owing to the great increase of its responsibilities.


From the commencement a 24 hour service was instituted and it was found that the most satisfactory way was for a duty officer to continue his tour of duty for 24 hours. This may sound too long for one officer to maintain maximum efficiency, but it was discovered by the section that owing to the specialist nature of the work involved, and the variety of subjects which had to be dealt with during the day, better consistency in censorship was obtained than would have been possible by more frequent changes - in spite of the fact that very full log entries were kept of all day to day rulings and a complete card index relating to Units and Formations and the appointments of Senior Officers was maintained to help the relieving officer.

After the evacuation from Dunkirk the work of the section had so increased that it became necessary to appoint two additional officers - one who would be responsible for co-ordinating the section's daily activities - known as the "Continuity Officer" and one who would deal primarily with the censoring of films and photographs. This set-up was proved very successful and was maintained until the end of the Japanese war. The value of a "continuity officer" and a specialist officer for films and photo­graphs was appreciated by the American U.S. Advisers to the Press Censorship, who adopted a similar procedure and this procedure greatly enlarged, was carried out by SHAEF.

It will be appreciated that one of the primary functions of the section was to give a quick reply to the censorship on questions on which military advice was required. Reference was made to appropriate War Office or Service departments when necessary but in the earlier days it was hardly appreciated by these departments that speed was so important. Therefore, the section officers were encouraged when possible to make the decisions themselves based on their general knowledge of security requirements and thus eliminate when possible unnecessary reference. This practice gave them confidence in themselves - a very necessary attribute in dealing with this specialist work and one which continued to be carried out throughout the war. In the earlier period the work of the section was confined chiefly to military matters at home and happenings in the Middle East. When this country began to assume the offensive by starting large scale raids on the continent, together with the increased activities of A.A. Command and the desire of this Command for maximum publicity, the work of the Section increased considerably. The entry of the U.S. into the war, and the arrival of American troops in this country, together with the influx of U.S. and Dominion correspondents contributed to increased work for the duty officers on account of the volume of cables leaving the country nightly in "Cablese". By the time we had definitely gone over to the offensive in North Africa and Italy the routine duties assumed proportions which kept the section officers more than fully occupied.


The arrival of B.E.F. in France and the setting up of Field Press Censorship in a theatre of war made it clear that to get consistency in censorship co-ordination had to be established between the Field Press Censor and the Military Advisers to the Press Censorship in London. To this end arrangements were made with D.M.I. (theatre of operations) under whose direct control the Field Press Censors worked, whereby the Military Advisers from time to time visited the theatre of operations for the purpose of maintaining personal relationship with the Field Press Censors and establishing consistency in censorship.

The evacuation from Dunkirk and the subsequent threat of invasion necessitated arrangements being made for the dividing up of this country into operational Commands. Provision was, therefore, made for Field Press Censorship to be carried out in this country should invasion take place.

On the return of the Field Press Censors to this country this section arranged for an establishment to be created in which seven Field Press Censors could be carried. The establishment was part of P.R. (Home Forces) the Field Press Censors coming under P.R. (Home Forces) for administration purposes, but under this section for operational ones. They were located at the M. of I. in order that they might become cognisant with the general work of Press Censorship and our censorship problems. A plan was made whereby in the event of invasion these Field Press Censors would be attached to the various commands. In order that they might gain experience the Field Press Censors were sent out from time to time on Press Sorties and also attached for short periods to the various commands, thereby gaining valuable experience in their work. We held the view that this training would prove invaluable when this country could once more assume the offensive overseas and these trained Field Press Censors would be available to form the nucleus of our overseas Field Press Censorship. This view was amply justified by the high standard of Field Press Censorship which was maintained during the North African campaign.

The vacancies in the Field Press Censors' Establishment caused by their departure overseas were filled by additional personnel who were trained under us with a view to subsequent operations. In addition, in the spring of 1943 a team of Canadian Press Censors was brought into being and they also were attached to us for similar training.

It was these Field Press Censors who in due course formed the nucleus of the 21st Army Group Field Press Censorship sections.

It should be mentioned that in 1944 the Norwegian Govern­ment in this country approached us with a view to instruction in censorship being given to the officer selected by them to become their Chief Press Censor when Norway was liberated. The facilities of this section and the British Censorship were readily made available to him.




During the foregoing period the work of the section was growing daily in quantity and importance. This country became a theatre of war; new weapons and equipment were coming into the experimental stage and even into the hands of troops; new armies were being built up, and special task forces brought into being (i.e. Commandos), therefore, it became more and more important that no leakage of these matters should be permitted to be disclosed by Press or Radio. As well as these problems at home, security had to be maintained regarding our operations in the Middle East, and it became apparent that some co-ordination was necessary between us and the Middle East as regards security of new weapons and equipment, etc. Therefore we formulated a list of secret equipment for the use of ourselves, the Home and Overseas Commands and in addition a list of the principle censorship military 'stops and releases'. Fresh monthly editions of the Secret List together with amendments to the List of 'Overseas Stops and Releases' were forwarded to all concerned.

The first Secret List and List of 'Overseas Stops and Releases' were despatched to Middle East Command in November 1940. This arrangement had remained in force permanently, distribution being increased to cover fresh theatres of operations as they came into being, our Dominions and Colonies.

Although the first lists were compiled by us after reference to various War Office Sections, it was soon found that, owing to the increasing volume of new equipment and the decision that Canadian equipment should be included, the section had not the establishment to deal with the compilation of the monthly Secret List. Therefore, arrangements were made for a new War Office branch to be formed for this purpose, which became known as L.M.5 (later as G.S.(W)). From then onwards the Secret List was compiled by this Section on our behalf but distributed under our signature. The amendments to the overseas stops and releases have, however, always been compiled by this Section.

In the early days the methods of deleting equipment from the Secret List was by consultation with a representative of the War Office Branch concerned. This practice was found to be unsat­isfactory as it led to inconsistency of decisions within the War Office Branches concerned. Therefore, it was decided that the authority for the release of Secret equipment should be invested in A.C.I.G.S. alone.

In order to avoid information of the increase of our battle order and the location of units and new equipment being disclosed in Regimental Journals, a specially prepared list of censorship guidance and instructions was drawn up for the benefit of Editors of these Journals. Amendments to the list were forwarded from time to time. This list enabled Editors to realise their responsibilities and safeguarded to a large extent military information of a security nature being inadvertently disclosed in these Journals.


When the Canadian Forces arrived in this country it was agreed by C.M.H.Q. that all P.R. and Press material would come under British censorship.


The entry of the United States into the war and the subsequent arrival of American forces in this country necessitated the setting up at the M. of I. of U.S. Military and Naval Advisers to the censorship. The Americans after studying the set-up of this section decided to operate their section on similar lines as regards organisation, and to base their censorship rulings largely on our own rulings, adapting them to their particular requirements when necessary.

The U.S. authorities after the attack on Pearl Harbour (December 1942) instituted Press Censorship and a list of secret equipment was later issued by the War Department, Washington.

A Joint Secret List Committee was formed of officers of the War Department and representatives of the British Army Staff in Washington during 1943. After consultations early in 1944 with G.S.(W) (the L.M.5) and ourselves a monthly joint British and American Secret List was compiled in two sections, stencils being forwarded by Washington to the War Office to cover the U.S. equipment, and distributed by this section to all theatres both British and American.


With the formation of SHAEF and the establishment of censorship by SHAEF as opposed to M. of I. censorship, the U.S. Military and Naval Advisers became absorbed into the P.R. Division of SHAEF and a body of censors composed of U.S., British and Canadian personnel commenced to operate at the M. of I. and censor material dealing with the opening of the second front and with their accredited correspondents despatches written in this country.

When P.R. Division SHAEF (Main) moved overseas the rear Headquarters remained at the Ministry of Information.

On the dissolution of SHAEF in July 1945 a body of U.S. Military and Naval Advisers to the censorship once more came into operation at the M. of I.

At the same time the Military Liaison Censors, who had been attached to the Allies' Governments to advise on censorship matters, were transferred to a War Office Establishment and came under the control of this section until the end of the Japanese war.


The general work of the section comprised giving security rulings to the censorship on the following:-


Press Articles and Radio scripts.

Outgoing Press Cables, including Allied and Foreign.

Books and technical magazines.

Films and photographs (including those taken by our Allies and Canadian Forces in U.K.)

The censoring of:


All War Office official hand-outs, citations and awards.

Facility visits. (War Office, Home Forces Commands and A.A. Command).

Ministry of Supply hand-outs and facility visits of a military nature,

and Canadian Military H.Q. Public Relations Division hand-outs and articles.

Throughout the war the section has maintained the closest personal contact with M.I.5. and M.I.6., thus obviating premature leakage of matters concerning their activities. Close contact has also been maintained with operational and intelligence branches of the War Office.


1. Although Field Censorship (which embraces both Press and Postal Censorship) is laid down as being a function of M.I., there would seem to be little doubt that Press Censorship generally should be a responsibility of P.R. as co-ordination between publicity and censorship requirements is more satisfactorily undertaken by a Directorate which thoroughly understands the requirements of the Press.

2. The early difficulties experienced by the section in dealing with the various War Office departments would have been much reduced if a War Office Kite setting out the functions of the Military Advisers to the Press Censorship had been sent out when the section was formed.

The belief that we were 'censors' would have been less prevalent and it would have been more clearly understood that our powers were limited to those of advising the Civil Censorship on matters of military security.

3. Much of the smooth working of the section was due to the fact that for several years the personnel underwent comparatively little change, but that when such changes, caused by promotion took place, the vacancies were filled generally by trained Field Press Censors.


August 1945


[Source: TNA WO 165/95, transcribed by]




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