History of the Second World War

Discussion in 'Historiography' started by ritsonvaljos, Oct 23, 2011.

  1. ritsonvaljos

    ritsonvaljos Senior Member

    History of the Second World War
    (United Kingdom Civil Series)

    Can anyone help with a question about the 'official' history about civil life in the UK commissioned by the British Government in the 1950s, please?

    Specifically, has does anyone know if the following planned study was ever published?

    'The Royal Ordnance Factories' by W.C. Hornby and others.

    If so:
    (a) has anyone ever come across this study?
    (b) is there a summary of the number of fatal accidents during the war?

    Much of the specific information about accidents at the ROFs was "hushed up" due to wartime reporting restrictions. But an official postwar study of this nature should have summarised this information. It is not information that seems to be readily available elsewhere, even in the modern era.

    "The History of the Second World War" (United Kingdom Civil Series) was edited by W.K. Hancock. The overall series was split into the following three main categories:

    General Series
    War Production Series

    Within each category there were specific studies (e.g. British War Economy, Problems of Social Policy, Coal, etc). The authors of each work had access to official Government documents and figures (hence the use of the earlier use of the term 'official' above). I have come across one or two of these studies and I own a copy of the one entitled 'Coal' by Professor William B. Court , published by HMSO in 1951. Professor Court was Professor of Economic History, University of Birmingham.

    The planned work on the Royal Ordnance Factories was to be part of the War Production Series. The author should have been William C. Hornby. He was also the author of 'Factories, Machinery and Plant' in the same series, which does seem to have been published. Some of the studies in the series may not have progressed beyond the provisional stage and possibly the one about Ordnance Factories was one of them?

    Thanks very much in advance to anyone who can assist with this enquiry.
  2. Alan Allport

    Alan Allport Senior Member


    Your inquiry implies that you haven't read the 1958 Factories and Plant volume by Hornby. A quick check on WORLDCAT suggests that it's widely available. Perhaps the information you're looking for is in there?

    Best, Alan
  3. Vitesse

    Vitesse Senior Member

    Possibly "R.O.F.: the story of the Royal Ordnance factories; 1939-1948" by Ian Hay (Maj.-Gen. John Hay Beith, C.B.E., M.C.)? Published by HMSO 1949. 104p., 30p. of plates : ill., figs., ports. ; 21cm. Paperback in folding case.

    Bibliographic details from COPAC: there are several copies in various academic libraries. The only one currently on ABE is a staggering £217!
  4. ritsonvaljos

    ritsonvaljos Senior Member

    Thanks for the replies.

    The 'Factories and Plant' study by W.C. Hornby I take to be the one I referred to in the original posting as 'Factories, Machinery and Plant' (provisional title). It is not one I have seen, but is mentioned as one of eight in the War Production Series on the book cover of the study on 'Coal' (1951). The study about Royal Ordnance Factories was another one of these eight.

    The 1949 study may have the information. I would guess that information in this document would have been incorporated into the later work that was planned. The 'British War Economy' and 'Coal' studies seemed to incorporate a number of papers taht had been written earlier.
  5. Alan Allport

    Alan Allport Senior Member

    The Factories and Plant volume may cover the ROF as well. There's some overlap in the Civil Series volumes. Might be worth having a look anyway.

    Hopefully the 1949 work may have what you're looking for. Bear in mind, however, that John Hay Beith (whose pen-name was 'Ian Hay') was a popular writer whose volumes for the UK official history series did not go into the same technical detail as the more 'academic' works by professional historians - they were meant to complement the drier histories with more 'reader-friendly' material. Don't necessarily expect Beith to dwell too long or too deeply on the less salubrious details of the ROF story.

    Best, Alan

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