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KIRKE, Gen Sir Walter Mervyn St. George (1877-1949)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0099 KCLMA Kirke
Held at: Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, King's College London
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Full title: KIRKE, Gen Sir Walter Mervyn St. George (1877-1949)
Date(s): 1921-1949
Level of description: Collection (Fonds)
Extent: 4 boxes (0.04 cubic metres)
Name of creator(s): Kirke | Sir | Walter Mervyn St George | Knight | General
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

Born 1877; educated at Haileybury and at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich; commissioned into the Royal Regt Artillery, 1896; served in Waziristan Campaign, 1901-1902 (medal and clasp); Capt 1901; Commandant Bhamo Bn Burma Military Police; commanded Wellaung, Punitive Expedition in South China Hills, 1905-1906; Graduate of Staff College; General Staff Officer, Grade 3, at War Office, 1912; Grade 2 on mobilisation, 1914; Brevet Maj, 1914; Maj, 1914; served World War One, 1914-1918 (despatches six times, Brevet Lt Col 1915; Brevet Col 1917); Deputy Director Military Operations, 1918-1922; Col on the Staff, General Staff Aldershot, 1922-1924; Maj Gen. 1924; head of British Naval, Military and Air Force Mission to Finland, 1924-1925; President Inter-Allied Commission of Investigation for Hungary; Deputy Chief of the General Staff in India, 1926-1929; Commander 5 Div and Catterick Area, 1929-1931; Lt Gen. 1931; General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Western Command, 1933-1936; Gen 1936; Col Commandant, Royal Artillery, 1934-1946; Hon Col 70 Anti-Aircraft Regt (now 470th Heavy Anti Aircraft Regt TA) 1934-1939; and 2/5 The Queen's Royal Regiment, 1939; Director General of Territorial Army, 1936-1939; Inspector General of Home Defences, 1939; Commander-in-Chief of Home Forces, 1939-1940; Aide-de-Camp General to the King, 1937-1940; retired pay, 1940; President of Witley and District Branch of British Legion and Royal Artillery Association, Surrey; Vice-President of Royal United Service Institution and Old Contemptibles, Godalming, Surrey; died 1949.


Scope and content/abstract:

This collection consists of papers relating to Gen Sir Walter Mervyn St. George Kirke's military career after World War One as Deputy Director of Military Operations, as Colonel on the Staff, General Staff Aldershot, Director-General of the Territorial Army and as Commander-in-Chief of Home Forces and his work during and after World War Two as a public speaker and broadcaster. The collection includes papers relating to the debate over the role of the recently created RAF (1921), officer training at Aldershot (1922-1924), Kirke's leadership of the British Military Mission to Finland (1924-1925) and the work of the committee set up to study the lessons of World War One (1932). The majority the papers in the collection relating to Kirke's service as Director General of the Territorial Army are texts of Kirke's speeches, which are mostly concerned with promoting recruitment (1936-1939). There are also texts of Kirke's morale boosting radio broadcasts during World War Two on the progress of the war and also his speeches at public events particularly those connected with the National Savings Movement. The collection also includes personal correspondence, press cuttings, photographs and autobiographical notes made by Kirke.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Arranged in sections as described above.

Conditions governing access:

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

Conditions governing reproduction:

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 College Archivist.

Finding aids:

Detailed catalogue available on line and also in hard copy in the Centre's reading room.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Placed in the centre by the family in seven accessions between 1982 and 1992

Allied Materials

Related material:

LIDDELL HART CENTRE FOR MILITARY ARCHIVES, KING'S COLLEGE LONDON: Sections 10 and 11 of the papers of Capt Sir Basil Liddell Hart contain papers relating to Kirke; 'Real lessons of the war', article by Liddell Hart in The Daily Telegraph, concerning the Kirke Commitee report (Ref. LH 10/1932/111 1932 Jul 8); Note by Liddell Hart on discussion with Maj Gen Sir John Brown, Deputy Director General of the Territorial Army, about army reform, and Kirke, Director General of the Territorial Army (LH 11/1938/20 1938 Feb 5); Note by Liddell Hart on comments by William Richard Morris, 1st Viscount Nuffield, and Kirke, Inspector General of Home Forces, on the army and its role, especially the lack of preparedness for war, and the danger of Kirke's views on the efficacy of total war (Ref. LH 11/1939/65 1939 Jul 14); 'An outline of the Rumanian campaign, 1916-1918', by Maj Gen Walter Mervyn St George Kirke [Royal United Service Institution Journal, between 1924-1931] (Ref. LH 15/2/83 1924-1969); Correspondence and press reviews of The ghost of Napoleon by Liddell Hart including correspondence with Kirke (Ref. LH 9/12/8 1933-1935)

DEPARTMENT OF DOCUMENTS, IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM, LONDON (GB0062) holds Kirke's war diaries 1914-1917 and papers of his command of Intelligence Section, General Headquarters, France; his memoire on Lt Gen Sir George MacDonagh; personal family correspondence during World War One; correspondence with Lt Gen Sir George MacDonagh while Kirke was preparing the history of the Romanian campaign, 1916-1918 (published by Royal United Service Institution in Nov 1924) (Ref 82/28/1). In another accession they also hold the original of Kirke's autobiographical notes, an edited version of which was reproduced in Army Quarterly and Defence Journal of Oct 85, Jan 86 and Apr 86; a copy of miniaturised questionnaire, referred to in Kirke's war diaries which was floated over enemy lines by gas-filled balloon (Ref 84/14/1). BRITISH LIBRARY ORIENTAL AND INDIA OFFICE COLLECTIONS (GB0059) holds Kirke's letters from Burma to Lilian Ethel MacLeish before their marriage in 1907; papers on Wellaung punitive expedition 1905-1906 led by Kirke; Kirke's papers, including correspondence relating to his appointment as Deputy Chief of the General Staff in India 1926-1929 (Ref MSS Eur E 396). THE INTLLIGENCE CORPS MUSEUM, ASHFORD, KENT has miscellaneous papers on intelligence and a list of papers previously held there and sunsequently withdrawn (most of those withdrawn were added to the Kirke papers held at the Imperial War Museum). THE FINNISH NATIONAL ARCHIVE hold papers relating to Kirke's work for the British Military Mission to Finland which were presented to the Finnish Government in 1972 by Kirke's family, consisting of memoranda 1924-1925; remarks of the Revision Committee on the memorandum of Gen Kirke on the strength and composition of Finland's army, 1924; correspondence, 1924 (Ref Pk 1210/1-3). The Finnish National Archives also hold the reports on the Air Force, the coastal defence and the Navy by the British Military Mission of the Revision Committee within the archive of the Finnish Ministry of Defence (Ref 4525/14-17). Letters exchanged between Kirke and Mannerheim 1924-1925, owned by the the Mannerheim Foundation are also kept in the State Archives. THE ROYAL ARTILLERY MUSEUM, WOOLWICH (GB0400) holds Kirke's memorandum on 'Amalgamation of the Royal Artillery'. The CORPS HEADQUARTERS, WOMENS' ROYAL ARMY CORPS, GUILDFORD, Surrey holds Kirke's correspondence with the Princess Royal, 1938.

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Mannerheim mellan världskrigen [a biography of Mannerheim] by Prof Stig Axel Fridolf Jägerskiöld (Schildt, Helsinki, 1972)

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:

Date(s) of descriptions:
Apr 1998

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