The organisation and functions of the War Office

This article is largely a reproduction of ” The War Office List” (London: HMSO, 1932).


The old War Office building on Whitehall, London. It housed the directorates and staffs that were so vital to recruitment, movement, supply and top-level military decision-making.


The War Office, the forerunner of today’s Ministry of Defence, was the organisational machinery responsible to the Secretary of State for War (often known as the War Minister). It was responsible for all military matters and was advised by the Army Council. Naval affairs were the separate responsibility of the Admiralty.

  • The declaration of war on 4 August 1914, the mobilization of the Expeditionary Force and the rapid enlistment of the New Armies caused not only a number of changes in the organization of the War Office, but also a very large increase of staff, and considerable numbers of women were employed. The total staff grew in just over four years from less than 2,000 to over 22,000 (inclusive of audit staff in commands); and the expansion in personnel naturally resulted in the scattering of many branches outside the main War Office building on Whitehall, London.
  • From the War Office (and the Admiralty) sprang three Ministries, viz., the Ministry of Munitions of War, the Ministry of Pensions, and the Air Ministry, while another, viz., the Ministry of National Service, added to its existing duties by taking over, in the autumn 1917, from the Adjutant-General’s Department the very important task of obtaining men for the Army. Further mention will be made in the appropriate place of the causes and origin of these new Departments of State.
  • The Army Council itself was increased during the war by three Military Members:
    • (1) The Deputy Chief of the Imperial General Staff in December, 1915;
    • (2) the Director-General of Military Aeronautics in February, 1916, who ceased to be a member upon the institution of an Air Ministry;
    • (3) the Permanent British Military Representative at the Supreme War Council, Versailles, in February, 1918, who creased to be a member shortly afterwards, his name being omitted in the Letters Patent of 20th April, 1918;
  • and by two civilian members:
    • (i) the Director-General of Movements and Railways in February, 1917, and
    • (ii) the Surveyor-General of Supply in May, 1917. The latter post had been anticipated in December 1914, by the appointment of an additional Civilian Member of the Army Council to supervise Army Contracts.
  • An Order in Council dated 14th October, 1915, laid down that the precedence of the Military Members of Council while the war lasted should be according to Army seniority.
  • From July, 1916, the title of Civil Member of the Army Council lapsed and that of Under-Secretary of State was substituted. The Under-Secretary of State became also Vice-President of the Army Council, an arrangement which still continues. From July to December, 1916, and again from April, 1919, until a short time after the Armistice, the Under-Secretary of State acted as the deputy to the Secretary of State in all matters affecting administrations]).

The Secretary of State for War

Dates: Secretary of State

Since March 1914: Rt Hon. Herbert Asquith (who held this position while he was also Prime Minister)

5 August 1914: Field Marshal Rt Hon. Horatio Herbert Kitchener

6 July 1916: Rt Hon. David Lloyd George

10 December 1916: Rt Hon. Edward Villiers, Earl of Derby

18 April 1918: Rt Hon. Sir Alfred Milner

The Chief of the Imperial General Staff (1st Military Member of the Army Council)

Dates: Chief of the Imperial General Staff

1912: General Sir Charles Douglas

1914: Lt Gen Sir James Wolfe Murray

1915: Lt Gen Sir Archibald Murray

1915: Lt Gen (Temp Gen) Sir William Robertson

1918: Lt Gen (Temp Gen) Sir Henry Wilson

Immediately after the outbreak of war the requirements of Press, Postal and Cable Censorship as well as of Defence Security Intelligence caused a rapid and big expansion of the Department of the CIGS.

In December, 1914, Home Defence was separated from the Military Training Section and formed into an additional Directorate under a Director of Home Defence.

In December, 1915, a Deputy Chief of the Imperial General Staff was created and, by Letter Patent, appointed a Member of the Army Council. In the following month a Commander-in-Chief of the Home Forces was appointed, and the Department of the Chief of the Imperial General Staff was reorganized, certain duties connected with Home Defence and Training being transferred to General Head-Quarters, Home Forces. The appointments of Director of Home Defence and Director of Military Training were abolished, the Director of Military Operations, whose duties had hitherto included Operations and Intelligence, became responsible for Operations only, and the Director of Military Intelligence, responsible only for Intelligence, was added.

As a result of this reorganization the duties of the General Staff were arranged under three Directors, as follows:

(1) the Director of Staff Duties, who had charge of staff duties, training (except for the duties transferred to General Head-Quarters, Home Forces), war organization and fighting efficiency;

(2) the Director of Military Operations, who was responsible for strategical considerations in connection with the military operations of the Great War; records of armed strength and fighting efficiency of British and Allied Land Forces; liaison with Allied Armies; home defence policy; collection, collation and dissemination of information regarding India and British Overseas Dominions and Colonies;and

(3) the Director of Military Intelligence with the charge of the collection, collation and dissemination of information concerning foreign countries, Defence Security Intelligence, and Press, Postal, and Cable Censorship. A Deputy to the Director of Military Intelligence was appointed and called Director of Special Intelligence, the title changed in March, 1918, to Deputy Director of Military Intelligence. A Deputy Director of Military Operations was appointed 1st May, 1918.

During the Great War France, Belgium, Russia and Italy maintained “Military Missions” in London, and officers of the armies of these countries were attached to the Military Operations Directorate for liaison duties.

An Order in Council of 27 January, 1916, entrusted to the Chief of the Imperial General Staff the responsibility for issuing the orders of the Government in regard to Military Operations, by which means the General Staff was intended to be brought into more direct relations to the Cabinet.

In 1917, as a result of the increased use of Tanks in war, a Director-General, Tank Corps, was appointed under the Chief of the Imperial General Staff with charge of questions relating to the supply and employment of tanks and the personnel of the Tank Corps. The Directorate continued to 1st August, 1918, when its work was taken over by branches of the Staff Duties, Artillery and Organization Directorate.

Letters Patent of 19th February, 1918, included the then holder of the office of Permanent British Military Representative, British Section, Supreme War Council of the Allied Governments, as a Member of the Army Council. By an Order in Council of 27th February, 1918, both the Chief of the Imperial General Staff and the Deputy Chief of the Imperial General Staff were made responsible, like the other Members of Council, to the Secretary of State for such business as should be assigned to them from time to time, and the special position assigned to the Chief of the Imperial General Staff in January, 1916, was thereby altered.

In May, 1918, a new section of the Staff Duties Directorate was formed to deal with questions of policy and to co-ordinate all questions concerning the Signal Service, an adjustment of duties being made with the Military Intelligence Directorate.

In August, 1918, a Deputy Director of Staff Duties (Education) was appointed to direct and co-ordinate into one authorized educational training scheme the various schemes of educational work which had for some time been unofficially in operation among the Armies at home and abroad.

The Adjutant General (2nd Military Member of the Army Council)

Dates: Adjutant General

1914: Lt General Sir Henry Sclater

1916: Lt General Sir C F Nevil Macready

1918: Lt General Sir George MacDonough

In August, 1914, the Directorate of Recruiting and Organization was divided into two Directorates, viz., that of Recruiting and that of Organization. As then reconstituted the Directorate of Organization was responsible for organization and establishments (other than “war”) and for the administration of “other ranks” of Cavalry, Artillery, Engineers, and Infantry, together with the organization and administration of Record Offices.

In February, 1915, a Director of Prisoners of War was appointed to deal with the policy and administration of enemy Prisoners of War. A Prisoners of War Information Bureau, as provided by Article 14 of the Regulation respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, had been created in August, 1914, to collect information from internment camps and to keep all records connected with those interned.

in July, 1915, a Graves Registration Commission was established at General Headquarters in France for the purpose of registering and marking all graves behind the line. The necessity for similar organizations in every theatre of war, and the increasing number of enquiries from relatives entailed the creation of a central organization, and in May, 1916, the Directorate of Graves Registration and Enquiries was established at the War Office under the Adjutant-General. In January, 1916, a National Committee for the Care of Soldiers’ Graves was appointed under the presidency of H.R.H. the Prince of Wales. The policy of the Directorate was then governed by the the obligation to hand over to this National Committee (superseded under Royal Charter of 21st May, 1917, by the Imperial War Graves Commission) all war graves concentrated into permanent cemeteries, and the latter body assumed responsibility for the erection of memorials and the perpetual maintenance of the graves.

The state of recruiting in the autumn of 1915 led to the appointment of a Director-General of Recruiting. The office lapsed shortly after the passing of the second Military Service Act in May 1916, and the directorate was re-organised to meet the new conditions. In the summer of 1917, the methods of the recruiting officers were subjected to examination by a committee of the House of Commons, and the business of recruiting was, by an Order in Council dated 23rd October, 1917, transferred from the War Office to the Ministry of National Service, to which department was entrusted the administration of all other man-power problems.

In February, 1916, the subject of releases, which had grown to be one of some magnitude, was assigned to the Organization Directorate, and in the following month those sections of the Recruiting Directorate dealing with Mobilization, Drafts and Reliefs (all arms) and Medals were transferred to the Director of Organization. Soon afterwards new branches of the Organization Directorate were formed to deal with the administration of new Corps, e.g., the Machine Gun Corps, the Tank Corps, and the Women’s (afterwards styled Queen Mary’s) Army Auxiliary Corps. Another branch was formed to deal with the disposal of “temporary non-effectives.”

In April, 1916, the control of the Territorial Force Medical Service was transferred from the Director-General of the Territorial Force to the Director-General, Army Medical Service.

A general reorganization of the Adjutant-General’s Department took place in May, 1917. The Organization Directorate was reconstituted by the formation of a separate branch for the administration of each arm dealt with and of one co-ordinating branch of the whole Directorate, whilst an extra branch was added to deal with labour. This Organization continued practically unchanged (except as stated below) until the end of the war. At the same time the work connected with Mobilization was transferred from the Directorate of Organization to a new Directorate of Mobilization also reconstituted in May, 1917, to deal with all questions regarding the demobilization of the Armies and preparations for future mobilization. The work in connection with medals also passed from the Director of Organization to the Director of Personal Services.

In September, 1917, those functions of the Directorate of Recruiting which were not transferred to the Ministry of National Service, were divided into two sections: that section dealing with “intake” of men (not at first under any Director) was, in December, placed under the Director of Organization, and the section charged with discharges, transfers to the reserve of soldiers for work of national importance, and all questions connected with the civil employment of ex-soldiers, was taken over by the Directorate of Mobilization. Later, the substitution of war-worn soldiers for fit civilians still in civil life was added to its duties.

At the end of May, 1918, the Directorate of Mobilization was placed under a Director-General responsible to the Under Secretary of State.

The Quartermaster General (3rd Military Member of the Army Council)

Dates: Quartermaster General

Throughout: Major General Sir John Cowans

In September, 1914, the Directorate of Supplies and Quartering was divided into two Directorates, viz., that of Quartering and that of Supplies (later named Supplies and Transport). The office of Deputy Quarter-Master General was revived in March, 1916, the holder combining the duties of that office with those of the Director of Quartering. In the autumn of 1917 the two offices were separated, the Deputy Quarter-Master-General assuming also the functions of Inspector-General of Communications, the Forces in Great Britain.

In February, 1915, a Board of Control of Regimental Institutes was formed to deal with all questions of administration in connection with Garrison and Regimental Institutes at home. In April, 1916, the canteen contractor was eliminated, and the powers and duties of the Board of Control were taken over by the Army Canteen Committee, which was later expanded into the Navy and Army Canteen Board, and subsequently again expanded into the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes. In the autumn of 1917 a civilian official was appointed to act as the sole channel of communication between the War Office and the Navy and Army Canteen Board and the Expeditionary Force Canteen.

The Master General of the Ordnance (4th Military Member of the Army Council)

Dates: >Master General of the Ordnance

Since before 1914: Col (Temp Major General) Stanley von Donop

1916: Major General William Furse

Early in the war an Assistant Director of Artillery was appointed to take charge of a branch formed to deal with the provision of high explosives in conjunction with the Committee on the Supply of High Explosives. In April, 1915, contract business relating to warlike stores was transferred to the Department of the Master-General of the Ordnance under the Director of Artillery. An Order in Council dated 16th June, 1915, defined the duties of the Ministry of Munitions of War which was formed under the Ministry of Munitions Act, 1915, to take over for the period of the war matters relating to the supply of munitions. This included questions dealing with high explosives and propellants, munitions contracts, contracts for electrical stores, machinery, mechanical transport (transferred from the Quarter-Master-General’s Department) and the administrative and financial control of Ordnance Factories (Woolwich Arsenal, the Enfield Small Arms Factory, and the Waltham Powder Factory). Part of the War Office staff dealing with these questions was transferred at the same time to the Ministry of Munitions.

In March, 1916, the responsibility for designs, patterns, specifications, and testing of arms and ammunition and for the examination of inventions bearing on such munitions was transferred to the Ministry of Munitions, the Army Council still retaining the responsibility for fixing the requirements of the Army as regards the general nature and quantity of weapons and equipments and for the distribution of munitions to the troops and their maintenance. The Ministry of Munitions also took over the administration of the Research Department, Woolwich, the Experimental Staff at Shoeburyness, and the Experimental Officer and subordinate Experimental Staff at Hythe.

In 1917, to ensure the maintenance of complete association between the Ministry of Munitions and the War Office, the Master-General of the Ordnance became an additional member of the Munitions Council, while a member of this Council was placed at the disposal of the Army Council for the purpose of advice and consultation on all members coming before them affecting the supply of munitions to the troops.

The Director General of Military Aeronautics

Dates: Director General of Military Aeronautics

1916: Major General Sir David Henderson

1917: Lt Col (Temp Major General) John Salmond

At the outbreak of war the Director-General of Military Aeronautics, though not a member of the Army Council was directly responsible to the Secretary of State, but in February 1916, owing to the rapid growth and expansion of the Royal Flying Corps, he was given a seat on the Army Council. In February 1917, the Air Board was erected by an Order in Council, and on it, as representing the Army Council, the Director-General of Military Aeronautics had a seat. Others with a seat on the Board were a Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty and two representatives of the Ministry of Munitions (viz., the Controller of Aeronautical Supplies and the Controller of the Petrol Engine Department). In April the responsibility for the design and supply of material for the Royal Flying Corps was transferred from the War Office to the Air Board, who were in future to obtain their supplies through the Ministry of Munitions. the continued growth of this Department led in the autumn of 1917 to the Air Force (Constitution) Act, which established an Air Council under a Secretary of State. An Order in Council of 21st December, 1917, defined the constitution of the Air Council, and a further Order in Council of 2nd January, 1918, fixed the date for the establishment of the Air Council as 3rd January. The new Royal Air Force, in which were amalgamated the Royal Naval Air Service and Royal Flying Corps, came formally into being on 1st April, 1918.

The post of the Director-General of Military Aeronautics lapsed after a brief period during which he acted as liaison officer between the Army Council and Air Council, and with the exception of certain services which were left to the Army Council for the period of war, the control over the Royal Flying Corps passed to the Air Council as from 1st April , 1918. A liaison officer was then appointed with the object of keeping the Army and Air Councils in close touch. In order to ensure this and to enable him to supply each Department with any information it required be given was full liberty to deal direct with the branches and directorates of each Department.

The Permanent Under-Secretary of State for War (Civil Member of the Army Council)

Dates: Under-Secretary of State

1914: Mr Harold Tennant

1916: Rt Hon Edward Villiers, Earl of Derby

1917: Mr James McPherson

At the outbreak of war in 1914 questions relating to the Territorial Force and individual members there of were transferred to the branches of the Office dealing with similar questions relating to the Regular Army and Special Reserve. The Territorial Force Directorate, however, retained the bulk of the Military Secretarial work of the Force.

In July, 1916, the title of Civil Member lapsed and the Under-Secretary of State for War was appointed to be in all matters affecting administration the deputy of the Secretary of State and to be the Vice-President of the Army Council. This arrangement lasted until December, 1916, when then Under-Secretary of State became Secretary of State. In April, 1918, the arrangement was revived, and continued shortly after the Armistice.

In January, 1917, the Land Branches of the War Office and the Ministry of Munitions were amalgamated under a Director-General of Lands, who thereafter administered questions relating to the acquisition, management and sale of lands on behalf both Departments. In 1918, when the Air Ministry was constituted as asseverate department, the amalgamated Lands Branch assumed similar duties on behalf of that Department.

In April, 1917, a reorganization of the Territorial Force Directorate took place, consequent both upon the transfer of certain duties to the Military Secretary and the Director of Organization and upon the great increase in work connected with the administration and organization of the Volunteer Force which was taken over by the War Office in 1916 under the Volunteer Act. The head of the Directorate became the Director-General of the Territorial and Volunteer Forces.

The Finance Member (Civil Member of the Army Council)

Dates: Finance Member

1914: Mr H. T. Baker

– : Mr H. W. Forster

From December, 1914, to August, 1915, control of the Army Contracts Directorate passed from the Finance Member of the “Additional Civil Member” of the Army Council, an appointment created for the Supervision of Army Contracts. In August, 1915, control of the Directorate reverted to the Finance Member, but was again handed over, in May, 1917, to the newly created Surveyor-General of Supply.

In April 1915, a Committee outside the War Office was constituted on behalf of the Army Council to decide, on appeal, all questions of assessment of separation allowances for soldier’ dependants upon which local pension authorities were not agreed.

In December, 1915, the Central Army Pensions Issue Office was formed under the Director of Army Accounts to pay pensions awarded since the commencement of the war in respect of soldiers below the rank of Warrant Officer, Class I.

In October, 1916, in order to meet the pressure of work arising from the War, it was found necessary to create a Director of Departmental Finance. A Paymaster-in-Chief was also appointed at the same time, whose charge included the administration on the Central Army Pensions Issue Office.

As a consequence of the Ministry of Pensions Act, 1916, the Central Army Pension Issue Office, together with part of the pensions work of the Finance Department, was transferred, as from 15th February, 1917, to the Ministry of Pensions (Order in Council dated 6th February, 1917). The Paymaster-in-Chief then assumed the duty of Chief Inspector of Army Pay Offices, and also took special charge of the pay arrangements in connection with eventual demobilization. The post of Director of Army Accounts was left vacant and a Sub-Director of Finance was appointed.

In March, 1917, a Director of Timber Supplies was appointed to report to the Finance Member. His duties were to control the supply of timber for the Army and effect economies in its use in the United Kingdom, while stimulating its production. This Directorate, however, was in the following June transferred to the Board of Trade.

In April, 1917, a new section under the Director of Departmental Finance was set up to deal with the finance and accounts in connection with the purchase of raw materials by the Department of the Surveyor-General of Supply.

In January, 1918, following upon the transfer of certain members of the Finance Department to the Air Ministry, the Director of Finances Services, the Sub-Director of Finance, and the Director of Departmental Finance were replaced temporarily by three Directors of Finance (a), (b) and (c), and a re-allocation of the Finance branches among the three directors took place.

The Director General of Movements and Railways

Dates: Director General of Movements and Railways

1915: Sir William Guy Granet

-: Sir Sam Fay

Questions connected with railways and transport belonged at the outbreak of war to the Department of the Quarter-Master General, but the growth of the work led eventually to the creation of a new department. Before the war there had been a Director of Transport and Movements, and afterwards Transport duties were undertaken by the Director of Supplies and Transport. Early in 1915, a Director of Movements was appointed. In August, 1916, Sir Eric Geddes was entrusted with an investigation into the transport arrangements connected with the British Expeditionary Force both in this country and overseas, and from 25th September, 1916, all papers and letters relating both to railway stores and establishments for overseas and to Inland Water Transport were passed to him. He was shortly afterwards detailed to act as deputy to the Quarter-Master-General in matters of transport with the title of Director-General of Military Railways, and was appointed also to direct and organize such services in France under the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief with the title of Inspector-General of Transportation. The supply of railway material and personnel and of Inland Water Transport was also handed over to him.

In January, 1917, the Director-General of Military Railways ceased to be a deputy to the Quarter-Master-General and was authorized to report direct to the Secretary of State and to attend those meetings of the Army Council at which matters pertaining to his Department were under discussion. The Director of Movements was report to him. The duty of setting all questions affecting the priority of moves of personnel, stores and supplies required to meet the demands of the various forces in the field was left to the Quarter-Master-General, the Adjutant-General and the Deputy Chief of the Imperial General Staff in consultation, the Director-General of Military Railways being responsible for carrying out the movements.

In March, 1917, the title of Director-General of Military Railways was changed to Director-General of Movements and Railways, and the holder became a civilian member of the Army Council. To him was allotted both the duty of dealing with all questions of movements at home and to and from the various theatres of war and elsewhere and the responsibility for all demands for transportation of personnel and material made from overseas. A separate Inspector-General of Transportation in the War Office for all theatres of war was appointed and charged with the general supervision of transportation by rail and water and through docks in the various theatres of war, so far as supervision was exercised by the War Office. He was to report to the Army Council through the Director-General of Movements and Railways.

The Surveyor General of Supply

Dates: Surveyor General of Supply

1917: Mr Andrew Weir (later 1st Baron Inverforth)

1918: Sir James Stevenson (later 1st Baron Stevenson)

The Director of Army Contracts, which at the outbreak of war was under the control of the Finance Member, was wholly reorganized.

In December, 1914, it was placed, in the charge of an Additional Civil Member of the Army Council, but in August, 1915, it reverted to the Finance Member and remained under him until the appointment to the Army Council of the Surveyor- General of Supply in 1917. In the early days of the war the Directorate expand considerably to meet the enormous demands upon it for the equipping of the New Armies, but during 1915 part of its work was transferred to the Ministry of Munitions. The protraction of the war caused a vast increase of work, as shortages of raw materials began to be experienced and special measures were necessary to ensure an adequate provision of all the materials necessary for the feeding, clothing, and equipment of the Army.

In March, 1916, a Contracts Advisory-Committee was formed to advice the Director of Army Contracts on questions of special importance or difficulty.

In March, 1917, Mr. Andrew Weir was invited to report upon the organization of the supply branches of the Army and in May he was given the title of Surveyor-General of Supply and made a Civilian Member of the Army Council. He was to take over from the Quarter-Master-General, the Master-General of the Ordnance and the Finance Member and to co-ordinate such of their functions as related to the commercial side of the business of supplying the Army; and he was to organize those industries necessary for ensuring adequate supplies and to advise and consult with military departments with a view to forming economical demands. The Military Departments concerned retained responsibility for the fixing of designs and specifications and for the tests to be applied, as well as for research and experimental work. The Surveyor-General of Supply was further enjoined to enquire into existing systems governing the consumption of and demands for, stores and supplies, with a view to suggesting methods by which economy might be effected without prejudice to efficiency. An Advisory Board of six members was set up, of which the Quarter-Master-General, the Master-General of the Ordnance, and the Finance Member (or their representatives), were to be members, the remaining three being nominated by the Surveyor-General of Supply.

This was not the first attempt to secure economy, for the appointment of two Committees in January, 1916, should be noted: (1) an external body appointed by the Cabinet to enquire into the possibility of effecting economies in the expenditure charged to Army Votes; and (2) an internal body appointed by the Secretary of State to consider the possibilities of economy in Army expenditure and to initiate any necessary action.

The Directorate of Army Contracts was now brought under the Surveyor-General of Supply. There were three main branches (1) Demands, (2) Contracts, (3) General. The Demands Branch was to formulate the demands arising out of requisitions made by, or in anticipation of the requirements of, military departments, and for these the military directors concerned were to be responsible to the Surveyor-General of Supply. To co-ordinate the work between the Demands and the Contracts branches various Committees were set up to examine and, if necessary, to suggest revision of demands in the light of available information, to consider possible revision of patterns and specifications in order to secure greater economy or remove difficulties of supply and to consider the adequacy of the provision for existing and probable future requirements. The Contracts Branch was organized in three main divisions dealing with (a) all purchases other than those covered by (b), (b) controlled raw materials and the purchase of articles manufactured therefrom, and (c) branch administration, viz., costings, statistics, labour, commercial relations with the Allies and general questions. This organization, however, never became fully effective and in July the Raw Materials Section of the Contracts Directorate was detached and made a separate Directorate under a Director of Raw Materials immediately responsible to the Surveyor-General of Supply, while an Assistant Surveyor-General of Supply was appointed to supervise the other work of the Contracts Branches.

Toward the end of 1917 a branch was formed in the Surveyor-General of Supply’s Department to deal exclusively with demands from the American Expeditionary Force for stores and supplies. In December the Directorate of Army Priority was established and was charged with the settlement of all questions of priority affecting the Department of the Surveyor-General of Supply, with the final review on his behalf of all Allied demands and with the determination of the general policy in regard to export and import licences. To this Directorate was transferred from the Department of the Civil Member the branch known as Allies’ Munitions Requirements. In May, 1918, the Director, as a member of the Joint Priority Board of the Admiralty, War Office and Ministry of Munitions, became Chairman of the War Office Standing Priority Committee, which was constituted to decide the relative urgency of the requirements of the various branches to the War Office.

In September, 1917, a Contracts Board was established to supervise the work of the Contracts Branch and to deal with important questions of policy, while a further Committee was set up to enquire into the storage, distribution, consumption and salvage of stores and sullies and the system governing demands, with a view of suggesting methods of economy. From the last-mentioned Committee was developed in February, 1918, the Army Salvage Branch, the work of which was placed under a Controller of Salvage on behalf of the Departments of the Quarter-Master-General and Surveyor- General of Supply jointly. Its functions were defined as those of assisting in the general public duty of collecting, sorting and returning such materials as might have become the proper subject of salvage due to usage, the incidence of war operations, neglect or departmental rejections, and of taking possessions as trustees of such materials as had been condemned by the Supply Departments, with a view to their utilization in re-manufacture for national purposes or for disposal by sale or otherwise. This branch was, in effect, part of the larger organization known as the National Salvage Council, under the Chairmanship of Lord Derby. The Council consisted of representatives of various Government Departments and under it an Executive Board was formed and a Director-General of National Salvage appointed, the two main objects in view being to conserve national resources and to reduce the tonnage required for the importation of new raw materials.

A Director of Wool Textile Production was appointed in December, 1917, to supervise, under the Director of Raw Materials, all contracts for wool textiles, and to carry out the executive work of the Board of Control of Wool Textile Production.

In April, 1918, an office was organized in Dublin under the Surveyor-General of Supply, with a view to developing the manufacturing resources of Ireland for Army purposes. The officer in charge was to report weekly to the Surveyor-General of Supply and was placed administratively under the Irish Command.

In July, 1918, the Supply Section of the Directorate of Inland Waterways and Docks was placed under the Director of Army Contracts and was made responsible to the Surveyor-General of Supply so far as the purchase of stores by tender or otherwise was concerned.

In July, 1918, as a result of the report of a Committee under the Chairmanship of Lord Inchcape, appointed by the Treasury in February, 1917, a Standing Inter-departmental Committee on Contracts was established under the Chairmanship of Lord Colwyn. This Committee, which included representatives of the Treasury, Admiralty, War Office and Ministry of Munitions, was intended to secure greater co-ordination in the Contract policy and procedure of the three latter Departments, and generally to deal with any Contract questions that might be referred to it.

The Secretary of the War Office

Dates: Secretary of the War Office

Throughout: Sir Reginald H. Brade

In the Department of the Secretary a large section was necessary soon after the outbreak of war to deal with administration of casualties of the rank and file.

In October, 1916, a second (acting) Assistant Secretary was appointed, and a further temporary appointment, viz., Assistant to the Secretary, was made in the same month, with the special charge of a central statistical department to collect and collate information bearing on the general state of the Army as a whole and of the Armies in the different theatres of war.

During the period under review there was established in France and other theatres of war an organization called the Army Printing and Stationery Services. This Department was charged with the production of printed matter (including in France and Italy photographic printing) and its distribution, the supply of material and machinery necessary to office administration and the issue of Army Forms, Books and Stationery generally. In effect the service was an offshoot of the Secretary’s Department, from which at the outbreak of war it was staffed. The senior officer, who went out to France with the original Expeditionary Force, was later appointed Director of Services.


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