RLMH News - The RUSI Council and its Minute Books: Hidden Gems in the RUSI Archive

Established by the Duke of Wellington in 1831, RUSI has been led and governed by key military figures from the Nineteenth century. The discovery of a volume of minutes illustrates how this tradition continued with key generals from the Second World War and Cold War occupying the RUSI Council table well into the Twentieth century.

Council Room

By Laura Dimmock-Jones, Librarian

RUSI Council MinutesStaff and volunteers in the RUSI Library of Military History have begun the detailed cataloguing of the minute books of the RUSI Council – the governing body of the Royal United Services Institute. This task has produced some fascinating hidden material amongst the minutes.

For example, the exciting discovery of the volume, Royal United Service Institution: Council Meetings Attendances, illustrates that around the Council table in the RUSI building have sat some of the most important figures shaping military events in the Twentieth century military.

For example, on Tuesday 3 October 1950, the meeting attendances list was signed by; Field Marshall Viscount Alanbrooke, Chief of the Imperial General Staff for most of the Second World War and General Lord Ismay, Churchill’s Chief of Staff and later the first Secretary-General of NATO. On Tuesday 2 October 1951 Ismay was joined by Field Marshall Sir Claude Auchinleck who served as Commander in Chief of the Middle East Command and was the last Commander in Chief for India.

Many pages of the attendances book are signed by Field Marshall Lord Wilson of Libya who was Supreme Allied Commander in the Middle East in 1943 before he took up the key UK-US liaison position as Head of the joint Staff Mission in Washington. Wilson served as Chair of the RUSI Council from 1947 to 1949.

Other signatures in the attendances book include Marshall of the Royal Air Force Lord Newall, Chief of the Air Staff at the beginning of the Second World War and Air Chief Marshall Sir Robert Brooke-Popham, Commander-in-Chief in the Far East 1940-41, together with naval commanders such as Admiral of the Fleet Sir Arthur Power and Admiral Sir Geoffrey Oliver.

A number of the Council Meeting Attendances sheets are currently on display in the RUSI Library of Military History, If you are interested in the history of RUSI and would like to visit our collection please do contact the Librarian at library@rusi.org.

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