1. M.I. 7 (b.) (1). General Press Propaganda.
This sub-division was started in June, 1916, to supply propaganda articles for the Press, and consisted at first of Captain A.J. Dawson, and one other officer. Before the end of October six other officers had been attached as writers, but the greater part of the early writing was done by outside contributors without payment. The notice referred to above, which was issued by General Headquarters, Home Forces, in August, 1916, and repeated in General Routine Orders 912 of 16th May, 1917, drew nearly 1,000 replies. Most of the outside officer contributors were only able to contribute for 2 or 3 months, but a few continued to send articles up to the end. Altogether the subdivision had 500 outside voluntary contributors.
By January, 1917, the staff of M.I. 7 (b) (1) had increased to 13 officers, which made it independent of outside contributions; and during its second year the staff averaged 20 officers, including such well-known writers as Lord Dunsany, A.A. Milne (Assistant Editor of Punch), Patrick McGill, &c.
The total number of articles produced by the staff and outside contributors from September, 1916, to November, 1918, was 7,500. From December, 1917, the average weekly output was between 60 and 70 articles.
The articles were distributed to newspapers all over the world, and the same article would sometime appear in Great Britain, the United States, in half-a-dozen neutral countries, and in 15 or 20 Dominion papers.
Besides miscellaneous articles, battle-stories, &c., one monthly, one daily, and eight weekly features were developed, including:-
(a.) A weekly and monthly summary of operations, for the use of the Ministry of Information; two weekly causeries on the war, one of which appeared in over 70 home papers; and a daily account of the offensives of 1918, which appeared in 40 or 50 home papers.
(b.) A “ Weekly Letter to Soldiers,” published for British troops abroad and at home; and a “Weekly Letter to the Belgische Standaard,” the weekly of the Belgian Army.
(c.) Le Courrier de l’Air, a single sheet published weekly, giving the war news in French. 5,000 copies were distributed weekly over Belgium by aeroplane (see page 9). The first number appeared on 6th April, 1917. In January and February, 1918, it was suspended until the new system of balloon distribution was completed, and between February and August, 1918, was produced by M.I. 7 (b) (4), when M.I. 7 (b) (1) resumed production. Altogether 78 numbers were produced.
(d.) A daily telegram, started June, 1917, summarizing operations and
replying to the German military critics. Out of this daily telegram developed the wireless branch of M.I. 7 (b).
Lastly, in conjunction with M.I. 7 (b) (2), and in collaboration with the Ministry of Reconstruction, a number of educational leaflets were prepared between July and November, 1918, for the Active Service Army Schools series.
It should be added that Captain Dawson left M.I. 7 (b) (1) on 21st April, 1918, to
organize the Propaganda Department of the Royal Air Force. His place was taken by Major C.J.C. Street, who continued in charge until the subdivision was demobi1ized on 23rd November, 1918.
(NOTE - Pictorial Propaganda - The supervision of the Artists attached to M.I. 7 (b) was in October, 1917, entrusted to M.I. 7 (b) (1). These artists, who included Captain Bruce Bairnsfather and Lieutenant Frank Reynolds, R.I., were lent to the Ministry of Information when anything specific was required to be dealt with, were given every facility to visit the various fronts, and were employed also to illustrate propaganda articles and to prepare sketches for balloon propaganda.)
2. M.I. 7 (b) (2). Collection and preparation of technical information.
This subdivision was started on 8th May, 1916, and consisted at first of one officer, Captain Basil Williams. The staff was subsequently increased to five. The qualifications sought for were a combination of academic with some military experience, and two of the officers were Fellows of Oxford Colleges.
(a.) The main routine work of the subdivision has been the collection and
arrangement of detailed material of an historical and technical nature illustrating the British military effort since the outbreak of war. Captain Williams was given special facilities for this work by a Minute, signed by the Deputy Chief of the Imperial General Staff, empowering him to obtain directly from all branches of the War Office such information and assistance as they could give him.
In addition to the material thus obtained from branches of the War Office and other Departments, visits were periodically made by Captain Williams and his officers to many of the most important military centres in this country and, latterly, in France, the interviews recorded and detailed information and statistics obtained regarding their work.
Collections were also made and fully cross-referenced of all Army Council
Instructions and Army Orders issued since the beginning of the war. Official
communiqués were kept, for all fronts, and a catalogued series of maps covering the whole of the various war zones. Illustrative material was also systematically drawn from Service magazines, newspapers and the literature of the war.
The whole of this material, which is very considerable and includes much
confidential matter, has been exhaustively filed and indexed under 55 main subject headings and over 1,200 subheadings, making it easily accessible. The following selections from the subject headings indicates the scope of the collection: Recruiting; Raising and Training of Officers; Training of New Armies; Housing; Fortifications and Works; Movements of Troops; Equipment; Food, Forage and Supply; Cavalry, Artillery, Engineer and Infantry Training; Machine-Gun Corps; Tanks; Munitions; Remounts; Mechanical Transport; War Finance, Pay, &c.; National Service; Women’s Work with the Army; Help to and from the Allies; Casualties and Pensions, &c.
(b.) From this material, besides occasional short articles, a series of pamphlets has been prepared dealing with most of the subjects named in these subject-headings. Some of the shorter articles and pamphlets have been sent to newspapers at home and in the Dominions, either directly or through the National War Aims Committee. Many of the pamphlets have been issued by the Press Bureau to the Press as a basis upon which newspaper writers could prepare articles. They have also been distributed to the Ministry of Information and to Military Attaches for dissemination in Allied and neutral countries, and some have been sent to foreign officers desirous of information on the British military system.
(c.) In addition to this series of pamphlets, the subdivision prepared from the
original war diaries, a number of regimental war histories for publication in the respective counties. It also composed a series of pamphlets on the work of India and the Dominions in the war, and a comprehensive account, since printed, of the campaigns of 1917. It has prepared lectures, for use in training centres and depots, on such subjects as “The Origins of the War” and “German War Aims,” and has written a number or leaflets for the active service Army schools series. The Field Almanac for 1918 was prepared in this subdivision. Two books have also been published: Captain Basil Williams’ “Raising and Training of the New Armies” (Constable, 1918), and Captain G.S. Gordon’s “Mons and the Retreat,” issued both in America and England with a preface by Lord French.
(d.) The amount and accessibility of the information collected by the subdivision led to many special requests for details, statistics, &c., from its files, both by the Ministry of Information, and, more occasionally, by foreign correspondents, journalists, &c.
The value of the collection has been recognized by the Historical Section of the Committee of Imperial Defence, which has requested that it may be transferred to them for use in compiling the official history of the war. The request was granted and the files have been receipted for and transferred.
Captain Basil Williams was in charge of the subdivision from its inception to July, 1918, and Captain G.S. Gordon from that date until its demobilization on 23rd November, 1918.
3. M.I. 7 (b) (3). Propaganda distribution in the Dominions and the East.
This subdivision was started in January, 1917, under Lieut.-Colonel H.A. Pakenham, C.M.G., as a result of the negotiations described on page 2, for improving the service of propaganda articles to the overseas Colonies and the Dominions. On the transfer of Lieut.-Colonel Pakenham to M.I. 5 in March, 1917, the subdivision was taken over by Major B.R. Cooper. The staff has varied in strength. In October, 1917, it consisted of one distribution officer and two artists, and rose in the summer of 1918 to three officers for distribution and Oriental work and an average of three artists.
(a.) Colonies and Dominions. - A list of 200 newspapers was supplied by the Royal Colonial Institute in January, 1917; the papers were studied in the newsroom of the Institute, and distribution begun of matter thought suitable for each. By 1918 the number of newspapers on the distribution list had risen to 250.
As a rule it was found possible to use each article in eight or ten papers in different parts of the Dominions. Semi-official documents, such as summaries and despatches, were sent to all the papers on the list.
In December, 1917, the Empire Press Union suggested that those papers which had correspondents in London who were members of the Union should receive their articles through their correspondents instead of direct. The suggestion was adopted in January, 1918, and worked satisfactorily.
In May, 1918, at the request of the Air Ministry Propaganda Section, M.I. 7. (b)
undertook the distribution of their articles as well as of its own. These articles were accordingly distributed, with the others, to the Dominion Press. Between May and August, 1918, a number of articles were also distributed on behalf of the Ministry of Information.
In July, 1918, on the formation of the American and Colonial Section of the Ministry of Information, it was decided that articles should no longer be sent out under the auspices of the Royal Colonial Institute, which is a private institution, but in the name of the Ministry of Information. The covering letter was altered accordingly, the method of distribution remaining unchanged.
The total number of copies of articles sent out between 1st January, 1917, and 23rd November, 1918, was 41,891, excluding summaries, despatches, pamphlets, &c., which were circulated broadcast.
One-third of the papers on the distribution list were not available for inspection, and returns were not available for most of the articles sent out in the last 4 months of 1918; but at least 8,000 insertions were observed in the Colonial Press.
Full advantage has been taken throughout of the services of the artists attached.