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Career, correspondence, and papers, 1939-1944

MS. Eng. c. 2386

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Folder B.1. Miscellaneous documents on Kendrew's wartime career: appointment as Junior Scientific Officer Air Ministry December 1939, notification of commissions as Squadron Leader September 1941, Wing Commander-December 1943.

Correspondence and papers.

These are the contents of Kendrew's "Personal" or "D/O" (Demi-Official) files and consist of letters, carbon copies, memoranda and shorter communications sent or received by him, principally during his overseas service at HQ RAF Middle East and with South East Asia Command. The documents had been numbered and tagged by him, a new file being opened when the total reached about one hundred items. The files thus created were bulky and in poor condition, and have been replaced with the contents divided into more manageable units while retaining their original order; it should be noted that this numerical order does not correspond to the chronological order of writing, reflecting the postal and administrative delays often referred to in the letters themselves.

The documents cover all aspects of Kendrew's service career during this extensive period:- postings and promotions of self and colleagues, preparation and circulation of OR reports, personal news of friends serving elsewhere, visits to or with Kendrew by others, testing of equipment, data collection etc. A leit-motif is delays and inadequacy of supplies and personnel.

Folder B.2. 15 December 1941 - 11 September 1942 (numbered 1-25).

Setting up OR in Cairo; Kendrew's manual for pilots; proposal (July) to transfer him to India to initiate an OR Section (strongly resisted because of pressure of work and shortage of personnel in Cairo); includes several letters from Kendrew to R.A. Watson-Watt on OR matters.

Folder B.3. 7 September 1942 - 17 March 1943 (numbered 26-50).

OR in Ceylon; reports; visits by J.D. Bernal and S. Zuckerman, including Kendrew's notes prepared for Zuckerman and P.M.S. Blackett on OR matters and on his own career.

Folder B.4. 10-25 March 1943 (numbered 51-75).

Comment on OR reports 24 and 29; correspondence with Zuckerman.

Folder B.5. 25 March - 19 May 1943 (numbered 76-100).

Includes letter from Kendrew 10 May detailing his Middle Eastern service and requesting return to UK.

Folder B.6. 23 May - 8 November 1943 (numbered 1-33 and one unnumbered).

Return to UK September. Unnumbered letter of 8 November gives account of current work in London and plans under discussion for Far East and South East Asia.

Folder B.7. 13 January - 22 February 1944 (numbered 1-25).

Arrival at ORS SEAC Delhi, organisation and staffing.

Folder B.8. 21 February - 13 April 1944 (numbered 26-50).

OR organisation in Australia, London, Washington, science and scientists in India.

Folder B.9. 14 April - 4 May 1944 (numbered 51-75).

Folder B.10. 28 May - 10 June 1944 (numbered 76-102).

Folder B.11. 6-25 June 1944 (numbered 1-25).

Folder B.12. 17-30 June 1944 (numbered 26-50). N.B. Letters go up to 17 July.

Kendrew's letter of 17 July is a full analysis of the war situation in South East Asia, the future of OR in the Pacific theatre, and his own career for the remainder of the war and subsequently.

Folder B.13. 20 July - 7 August 1944 (numbered 51-75).

Folder B.14. 3-23 August 1944 (numbered 76-100).

Folder B.15. 22 August - 5 September 1944 (numbered 1-25).

Folder B.16. 28 August - 16 September 1944 (numbered 26-50). N.B. Letters go up to 21 October.

Reports and information on SEAC and Pacific theatre, move of ORS to Kandy, Ceylon, visit by J.D. Bernal, proposed visit by A.C. Menzies.

Folder B.17. 22 September - 8 November 1944 (numbered 51-75).

Work on night vision, acclimatisation, reports, visit by J.D. Bernal, A.C. Menzies.

Folder B.18. 15 November - 5 December 1944 (numbered 76-100).

Visits by J.D. Bernal, A.C. Menzies, C.H. Waddington. Kendrew's letter of 17 November (no. 78) refers to the opportunity offered him to return to UK as Officer in charge of ORS Fighter Command, and his view that the commitments of the Command had by then been so reduced that the posting was not attractive to him.


  • 1939-1944


18 folders

Language of Materials



MS. Eng. c. 2386

Former reference:

NCUACS 11/4/89/B.1-18

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom