I never cease to get a sense of excitement from opening newly-accessioned files for the first time. Occasionally, documents released to The National Archives will fundamentally change our view of history, but more often, they add colour and fill in the blanks to events and personalities with which we’re already familiar.
Today’s release of almost 500 files from the Foreign Office’s Permanent Under-Secretary’s Department (PUSD) is a good case in point. Among the papers, is an extraordinarily entertaining account of ‘Operation Bracelet’, Winston Churchill’s August 1942 mission to Moscow and first face-to-face meeting with Stalin.
The meeting came at a crucial point in the war and Churchill was there to inform Stalin of Allied plans for the invasion of North Africa (Operation Torch) as well as delivering the bad news that there would be no ‘second front’ in Europe. Accompanying Churchill on the trip was Sir Alec Cadogan, Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office, who later relayed his take on events in a letter to Viscount Halifax (FO 1093/247).