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Secret Files from World Wars to Cold War

British Government Secret Intelligence and Foreign Policy files


Explore this fascinating collection of files spanning four key twentieth century conflicts. Sourced from the National Archives U.K., this material enables rich research into intelligence, foreign policy, international relations and military history associated with:

• The Spanish Civil War  •   The Second World War  •   The Cold War  •   The Korean War

Files date from 1873 to 1953 and include cabinet office papers, daily signals intelligence reports and the files of the Permanent Undersecretary's Department (PUSD), which allow insight into liaison between the Foreign Office and the British intelligence Establishment. These documents provide new insights into key moments of twentieth century history.


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"Secret intelligence has long been regarded as the 'missing dimension' of international relations. However, thanks to the Secret Files from World Wars to Cold War project, Britain's spies, security agents, codebreakers and deceptioneers are no longer missing in action"
Denis Smyth, University of Toronto, Canada.


• British Domestic Security

• Foreign Policy and International Relations

• Intelligence Funding and Finances

• Intelligence Gathering and Surveillance

• Intelligence Operations

• Intelligence Organisation and Administration

• Military Intelligence and Operations

• Propaganda, Censorship and Psychological Warfare

• Signals Intelligence and Code-breaking

• Weapons Technology and Nuclear Warfare


Dr Stephen Twigge, Head of Modern Collections at The National Archives U.K. has provided a description of the content, themes and topics discussed in each file series

CAB 56, 81, 158, 159, 176: Five Cabinet Office file series providing a complete run of papers of the Joint Intelligence Sub-Committee from 1936-1953

CAB 163: Collection of papers that allow analysis of case studies of operations, events and intelligence concerns throughout and after WWII

CAB 301: Papers originating from the private office of the Cabinet Secretary, relating to organisation of intelligence services, signals intelligence and code-breaking

FO 1093: Military operations, foreign policy and defence concerns papers gathered by covert means

HW 1: Signals intelligence reports issued by the government Code and Cypher School and passed to Winston Churchill



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