Reference code: GB99 KCLMA Thompson
Title: THOMPSON, Reginald William (1904-1977)
Dates of creation of material: 1938-1976
Level of description: file level
Extent: 0.04m3 or 4 boxes of papers
Born in 1904; educated at Merchant Taylors' School; worked as a Lloyds marine broker from 1921-1925; began to write professionally while travelling in Argentina and Australia; worked as an author and feature writer on UK depressed areas, 1930-1939; worked as a special correspondent with The Morning Post for which he covered the Gran Chaco War, 1935-1936; on the outbreak of war in 1939 he joined the fire brigade and enlisted in the ranks in 1940; promoted to Capt in 1941, transferred to the Intelligence Corps for training; 1944 worked as a censor and a report writer on the mental and physical health of the 'D' Day forces; later in 1944 was released from the Army to work as war correspondent for The Sunday Times in Western Europe; travelled extensively in post war Europe and attended the Nuremberg trials; employed as a war correspondent for The Daily Telegraph during the Korean War; in 1951 settled in Suffolk to write full time on military subjects; his writing was highly regarded by his close friends Maj Sir Desmond John Falkiner Morton and Maj Gen Eric Edward Dorman O'Gowan (formerly Eric Edward Dorman Smith) and by Capt Sir Basil Henry Liddell Hart to whom he turned for professional advice and criticism, however his books never achieved critical success and he suffered from ill health and financial difficulties; died 1977.
Placed in the Centre by the family in April 1979.
SCOPE AND CONTENT
The collection contains Thompson's correspondence with Maj Sir Desmond John Falkiner Morton, Maj Gen Eric Edward Dorman O'Gowan (formerly Eric Edward Dorman Smith) and Capt Sir Basil Henry Liddell Hart. The letters mostly relate to his books, in particular his studies of Rt Hon Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill and FM Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein. The correspondence with Morton and O'Gowan also contains descriptions of family life and the problems Thompson faced as a writer. Thompson looked to Liddell Hart for advice and encouragement on his writing and their correspondence consists of Thompson's reports on the progress of his work and Liddell Hart's comments. The correspondence with Morton which Thompson edited and published as Churchill and Morton (Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1976), provides insights into the habits and personality of Churchill. The correspondence with O'Gowan is notable for the accounts of his experiences in the war in the Western Desert in 1942 and for his observations on personalities such as FM Sir Claude John Eyre Auchinleck and FM Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein.
Arranged in four sections, by chief and general correspondents.
CONDITIONS OF ACCESS AND USE
Open, subject to signature of reader's undertaking form.
Copies, subject to the condition of the original, may be supplied for research use only. Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Trustees of the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, attention of the College Archivist.
The papers of Capt Sir Basil Liddell Hart (GB99 KCLMA LH 1/687) contain correspondence between Thompson and Capt Basil Henry Liddell Hart, and with Kathleen Liddell Hart, Lady Liddell Hart, 1962-1977; between Mel Thompson and Liddell Hart and Kathleen Liddell Hart, 1963-1969; newspaper cuttings and reviews, 1951-1967, and correspondence between Philip Unwin and Liddell Hart regarding Thompson's books, The Yankee Marlborough (Allen and Unwin, London, 1963) and The Montgomery Legend (Allen and Unwin, London, 1967). The Liddell Hart collection also (LH 15/7/54) contains a page proof of An echo of trumpets (George Allen and Unwin, London, 1964) by Thompson, with comments by Liddell Hart.