Entertainments National Service Association (E.N.S.A.)

  • Reference
      GB 133 DEA/5
  • Dates of Creation
      1915-1964 [bulk 1939-1946]
  • Physical Description
      9 subseries; 760 items.

Scope and Content

This series comprises correspondence, scripts, photographs and papers relating to productions of the Entertainments National Service Association (E.N.S.A.). Basil Dean was instrumental in the formation of E.N.S.A. in 1939 under the auspices of the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes, and he served as its director throughout the war. This series constitutes one of the most important primary sources relating to E.N.S.A. and its contribution to maintaining and improving the morale of service personnel and factory workers during the Second World War. There is also a small group of papers relating to the Navy and Army Canteen Board, whose entertainment branch fulfilled a similar role during the First World War; Dean served as director of the branch.

A number of items relate to Dean's tours overseas, including his visit to the Allied Armies in North Africa in 1943, during which he entered Tunis shortly after its capture, while other papers concern his tour of India and South East Asia Command in the winter of 1944-5. There is correspondence relating to E.N.S.A.'s role in Europe, and in particular to Dean's production of The Apple Cart for the troops in Occupied Germany in 1946. When the play reached Berlin, Dean insisted that German civilians should be admitted to the theatre.


The series comprises nine subseries:

  • DEA/5/1/1-238, Letters to Basil Dean, 238 items, 1939-1950, 1957.
  • DEA/5/1/239-341, Copy letters from Basil Dean, 103 items, 1938-1948, 1964.
  • DEA/5/1/342-428, Papers, 87 items, 1939-1946.
  • DEA/5/2, Papers relating to Escort, 71 items, 1942-1945.
  • DEA/5/3, Papers relating to Salute to the Red Army, 13 items, 1943.
  • DEA/5/4, Scripts, 3 items, 1942-1943.
  • DEA/5/5, Letters re award of C.B.E., 42 items, 1947.
  • DEA/5/6, Photographs, 182 items, 1941-1946.
  • DEA/5/7, Navy and Army Canteen Board, 21 items, 1915-1919.

Related Material

Material relating to E.N.S.A. held elsewhere includes: papers, letters and programmes, 1940-1953, Cambridgeshire Archives, ref. R88/71; a scrapbook of photographs, cuttings and papers relating to various overseas tours, 1944-1946, Theatre Museum Archive, ref. RF2000/632.