ISMAY, Gen Hastings Lionel, 1st Baron Ismay of Wormington (1887-1965)

Scope and Content

Papers relating to his life and career, 1917-1963, principally comprising official correspondence with Lt Gen M Brocas Burrows, British Military Mission, Moscow, 1944-1945, Gen Mark Wayne Clark, US Army, 1943-1944, 1951-1952, Maj Gen Richard Henry Dewing, UK Army and RAF Liaison Staff, Australia, 1943-1944, Maj Gen Gordon Edward Grimsdale, Military Attach and head of Military Mission to Chungking, China, 1942-1943, AF Sir Roger John Brownlow Keyes, Bt, Director of Combined Operations, War Office, 1940-1942, Lt Gen Sir Henry Pownall, South East Asia Command HQ, 1944-1945, Lt Gen Sir Harold Redman, British Joint Staff Mission, Washington DC, 1943-1944, AF Sir James Somerville, Commander-in-Chief Eastern Fleet, 1943-1947, and Maj Gen Sir Edward Spears, Minister to the Lebanon, 1940-1944, and Lt Gen Albert C Wedemeyer, US Army, Deputy Chief of Staff; South East Asia Command, 1944; personal correspondence with and about FM Lord Alanbrooke, 1946-1947, 1957-1963, FM Sir Claude John Eyre Auchinleck, 1941-1961, and FM Archibald Percival Wavell, Viscount Wavell of Cyrenaica and of Winchester, 1943-1946; official and personal correspondence with Dwight David Eisenhower, 1942-1965, and AF Louis (Francis Albert Victor Nicholas) Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, 1943-1954, 1960-1964; correspondence with publishers and colleagues, including Gen Sir Richard Nugent O'Connor, about proposed biography of Lt Gen Sir Adrian Carton de Wiart, 1962-1964; papers relating to India, 1947-1951, including his correspondence as Chief of Staff to Mountbatten, 1947, notes on interviews with Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahomed Ali Jinnah, 1947, letters describing the political situation in India, 1947-1948, and correspondence concerning compensation for Indian Government servants, 1948-1951; correspondence concerning the proposed defence reorganisation, 1955-1963; papers relating to his service as Secretary General, NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), 1952-1957, including his official progress reports, 1952-1956; newspaper cuttings, statements to the press and texts of speeches and broadcasts, 1952-1957; papers relating to his memoirs, [1940-1960] including correspondence with publishers, 1960-1961, and colleagues, 1957-1960, notebooks, 1940-1960, and drafts and proofs, [1960]. newspaper cuttings, 1943, 1948, 1951-1952, 1957; texts of speeches, 1943-1958; correspondence relating to operations in Somaliland, 1917-1920; notes and papers relating to his studies at Staff College, Quetta and RAF Staff College, 1922-1924. Papers relating to Rt Hon Sir Winston (Leonard Spencer) Churchill, 1940-1965, including personal correspondence with Churchill, 1940, 1943-1945, 1947-1964; correspondence relating to Churchill's memoir The Second World War (Cassell, London, 1948-1954), 1946-1956, including correspondence relating to Dieppe Raid, Aug 1942, dated 1950, and galley proofs, [1948-1954]. Printed material, 1941-1945, 1947, 1951, notably including copies of telegrams sent by Winston Churchill as Prime Minister, 1941-1942; minutes of Chiefs of Staff meetings, 1943-1944; minutes of Combined Chiefs of Staff meetings, 1943, 1945.

Administrative / Biographical History

Born in 1887; educated at Charterhouse and Royal Military College, Sandhurst; commissioned, 1905; joined 21 Cavalry (Frontier Force), 1907; served on North West Frontier of India, 1908; Captain, 1914; served in Somaliland, 1914-1920; Staff College, Quetta, 1922; Deputy Assistant Quartermaster General, Army Headquarters, India, 1923; RAF Staff College, Andover, 1924; Army Headquarters, India, 1925; Assistant Secretary, Committee of Imperial Defence, 1926-1930; Lt Col, 1931; Military Secretary to Freeman Freeman-Thomas, 1st Earl of Willingdon, Viceroy of India, 1931-1933; Colonel, 1932; General Staff Officer Grade 1, War Office, 1933-1936; Deputy Secretary, Committee of Imperial Defence, 1936-1938; Secretary, Committee of Imperial Defence, 1938; Maj Gen, 1939; Chief of Staff to Minister of Defence (Rt Hon Sir Winston (Leonard Spencer) Churchill), 1940-1945; Deputy Secretary (Military) to War Cabinet, 1940-1945; Lt Gen, 1942; Gen, 1944; Additional Secretary (Military) to the Cabinet, 1945; Chief of Staff of Viceroy of India (R Adm Louis (Francis Albert Victor Nicholas) Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma), 1947; Chairman of Council, 1951 Festival of Britain, 1948-1951; Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, 1951-1952; Secretary General, NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), 1952-1957; Vice-Chairman of North Atlantic Council, 1952-1956, Chairman of North Atlantic Council, 1956-1957; publication of The memoirs of General the Lord Ismay (Heinemann, London, 1960); died in 1965.


Arranged in the following sections: personal papers, including speeches and material relating to Ismay's memoirs; papers relating to Churchill; subject files; special personal correspondence; general and miscellaneous correspondence; printed material.

Access Information

Open, subject to signature of reader's undertaking form.

Acquisition Information

Placed in the Centre by the family in 1966, 1969 and 1970

Other Finding Aids

Summary guide entry on-line at, and detailed catalogue available in hard copy in the Centre's reading room.

Separated Material

The Public Record Office holds correspondence and papers, 1922-1949 (Ref: CAB 127/1-56). The papers of Lionel George Curtis at Department of Western Manuscripts, Bodleian Library, Oxford University, include correspondence with Ismay, 1951-1952 (Ref: MSS Curtis, Eng hist b 224, c 776-877). The papers of Walter Turner Monckton, 1st Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, also at the Bodleian Library, include correspondence with Ismay, 1947-1956 (Ref: Dep Monckton). The papers of Maj Gen Sir Edward Spears at the Churchill Archives Centre, Cambridge, include correspondence with Ismay and his wife, 1940-1971 (Ref: SPRS 1/184). The papers of AF Louis (Albert Victor Nicholas) Mountbatten, 1st Mountbatten of Burma, at University of Southampton Library include correspondence concerning the Dieppe raid, 1942 (Ref: MB1/B19), South East Asia Command, 1943-1946 (Ref: MB1/C145-147), India, 1947 (Ref: MB1/D196) and 1951-1952 (Ref MB1/G25), and Ismay's memoirs, 1961-1964 (Ref: MB1/J246), as well as personal correspondence, 1946-1948 (Ref: MB1/E83) and 1956-1959 (Ref: MB1/I2229). The papers of Col Charles William Garne Walker at the Rhodes House Library, Oxford University, contain correspondence with Ismay relating to East Africa, 1927-1935, (Ref: MSS Afr 57/7). Manuscripts Collection, British Library, includes correspondence with AF Roger John Brownlow Keyes, 1st Baron Keyes, 1941-1942. Nuffield College Library, Oxford University, has correspondence with Lord Cherwell (Ref: CSAC 80/4/81, 99/3/84). Special Collections, Birmingham University Library, has correspondence with Robert Anthony Eden, 1st Earl of Avon (Ref: AP 23/41). Charterhouse School has a collection of press cuttings. The papers of Col Robert Henriques at Reading University Library include eight letters from Ismay. The Liddle Collection, Leeds University holds photographs relating to the Somaliland campaign, 1914-1915.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies, subject to the condition of the original, may be supplied for research use only. Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Trustees of the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, attention of the Director of Archive Services.

Related Material

Papers of ACM Sir William Elliot include correspondence with Ismay and his wife, 1959-1970, memoranda to Ismay, 1939-1940, and a photograph of Ismay with Elliot, [1952-1954] (Ref: GB 99 KCLMA Elliot 1/2/1-5, 4/4/1-22, 8/4/5c).


The following books all refer to the Ismay papers: The worst disaster, the fall of Singapore by Raymond Callahan (University of Delaware Press, Newark and Associated University Press, London, 1977); Burma, 1942-1945 by Raymond Callahan (Davis Poynter, London, 1978); Shattered peace, the origins of the Cold War and the national security state by Daniel Yergin (Deutsch, London, 1978); Allies of a kind, the United States, Britain and the war against Japan, 1941-1945 by Christopher Thorne (Hamilton, London, 1978); 1941, Armageddon by Richard Collier (Hamilton, London, 1981); Churchill's Indian summer, the Conservative government, 1951-1955 by Anthony Selden (Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1981); King George VI by Sarah Bradford (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1989); Conscription and the Attlee governments, the politics and policy of national service, 1945-1951 by Leonard Victor Scott (Clarendon, Oxford, 1993); Dilemmas of appeasement, British deterrence and defense by Gaines Post (Cornell University Press and Ithaca, London, 1993); A world at arms, a global history of World War Two by Gerhard Ludwig Weinberg (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1994)