[Cross posted at Birmingham “On War”]
I have spent the past week in the archives for the first time in 6 months, which has been a relief as I think I was getting withdrawal symptoms. However, in the course of trawling through the files I came across the following entry in one of the files. I found it in the War Diary for V Brigade RAF for August 1918. I was looking in this file as it was the higher formation for No. 8 Squadron, which was commanded by the subject of my thesis, Trafford Leigh-Mallory. It is a notice relating that this file, and several others, had been stolen by a reader at what was then know as the Public Records Office (now The National Archives), which they had managed to reclaim. They also make clear that the person involved was charged for criminal damages. In itself this is a historical document that relates to the organisational history and culture of the key depository for the UK’s national memory. It also shows that you should not mess with the National Archives as they will come after you!