News archive 2005
National treasure secured at King's10 Nov 2005, PR 97/05
On the eve of Remembrance Day, the Fund set up 25 years ago in memory of those who gave their lives for the UK, has saved top secret papers, diaries and letters of the man who headed the British Armed Forces, Field Marshal Alan Francis Brooke (Lord Alanbrooke).
Press Release issued by the National Heritage Memorial Fund
With a £182,000 grant, the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) is helping King's buy the papers, ensuring they will be kept safe and accessible for the nation. Additional funding came from the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund, The Friends of the National Libraries, The King's College London Annual Fund, and alumni of the College.
As Churchill's military right-hand man, Brooke's papers give a compelling insight into WWII. The revealing collection ranges from incisive diaries to candid top secret letters signed by Montgomery, Eisenhower and Churchill. They were under threat of being split up and sold off to private collectors until the National Heritage Memorial Fund stepped in.
Modern day war hero, Private Johnson Beharry VC, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for outstanding gallantry whilst in Iraq in 2004, commented: ‘We must never forget the men and women who have given their lives for this country. The National Heritage Memorial Fund allows us all to honour their extraordinary acts of courage, and ensures future generations can do so too. Congratulations on 25 years of inspiring service to the nation!'
Director of Archives & Information Management at King's, Patricia Methven said: ‘These archives are quite with out parallel in the UK as a source of study for the Second World War. We are really delighted to be able to secure them for the College and the nation and are particularly grateful to our alumni who supported the purchase.'
Liz Forgan, Chair of the NHMF, said: ‘What wonderful news to mark this year's Remembrance Season. It's also a poignant way to celebrate our own Silver Jubilee and 25 years of saving the very best of Britain's heritage, as a ‘living memorial' in honour of those who fought so bravely. Like every item saved, these papers and the stories within them are part of our shared inheritance. Their loss would have been a national tragedy.'
Known as ‘the soldiers' soldier' , Field Marshal Alan Brooke (1883-1963) was a key figure in WWII and was famous for keeping Churchill ‘in-line'. Following the outbreak of World War II, Brooke commanded the II Corps of the British Expeditionary Force, playing a vital role in the evacuation of Allied troops from Dunkirk. In his role as Chief of the Imperial General Staff and Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, he served as the foremost military advisor to Winston Churchill, the War Cabinet, and Britain's allies. Today he ranks as the fourth most decorated man in British military history.
His papers give the reader a rare insight into the top-level direction of the war, with descriptions of War Cabinet meetings, details of informal conversations and records of official meetings with Allied army commanders and members of British, US and Russian High Commands. Packed with gems of information, such as observations on Churchill's first meeting with Stalin and Montgomery despairing of Eisenhower's ‘ignorance as to how to run a war', each document is a piece of world history.
The papers also offer glimpses of social history such as Indian high society life, through items including a gold framed invite to Christmas Week from a Maharaja in 1910. With many documents yet to be fully researched, the collection will have many more revealing stories in its midst.
The Brooke papers join more than 130 other archives saved by the NHMF including the manuscripts of Sir Walter Scott, Siegfried Sassoon and Bryson and McAdam - the latter being the most important Irish Language manuscripts in Northern Ireland.
Notes to editors
The National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF)
The National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) was established in 1980 as a memorial to those who gave their lives for this country and it continues to operate as a fund of ‘last resort', focussing on saving heritage which is under threat, whether from sale overseas, the break-up of collections, or, in the case of land, from unsympathetic development. The Fund's current budget is £5million per annum which comes from government grant-in-aid. Outstanding treasures that have been saved for the nation include the Flying Scotsman, the Becket Chasse, The Macclesfield Psalter, Three Graces, the Mappa Mundi, the Sherborne Missal and the National Trust's Victorian country house in Bristol, Tyntesfield.
King's College London
King's College London is one of the two oldest and largest colleges of the University of London with over 13,800 undergraduate students and nearly 5,700 postgraduates in nine schools of study. It is a member of the Russell Group: a coalition of the UK's major research-based universities. The College has had 24 of its subject-areas awarded the highest rating of 5* and 5 for research quality, demonstrating excellence at an international level, and it has recently received an excellent result in its audit by the Quality Assurance Agency. King's is in the top group of UK universities for research earnings, with income from grants and contracts of £100 million, and has an annual turnover of more than £348 million. In 2004 the College was once again awarded an AA- financial credit rating from Standard & Poor's.
Housed within the College Archives, the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives hold the personal and semi personal papers of over 650 senior British defence personnel of the twentieth century. Access is free and anyone can use the archives, by appointment.
For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact Sam Goody or Ali Scott, NHMF Press Office on 020 7591 6033/ 32, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.nhmf.org.uk
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