Collection COOPER, F - COOPER, Rt Hon Sir Frank (1922-2002)

Key Information

Reference code



COOPER, Rt Hon Sir Frank (1922-2002)


  • 1953-1999 (Creation)

Level of description



18 boxes of papers and 1 box of oversized photographs and framed lithographs. 0.18m3.

Scope and content

Papers of Sir Frank Cooper, 1953-1999, primarily relating to his service as Permanent Under Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office, 1973-1976, as Permanent Under Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence, 1976-1982, and post retirement, 1983-1999. The papers include correspondence, articles, press cuttings, press releases, reports, speeches, interviews and conference papers on a variety of topics including: the Air Ministry in the 1950s and 1960s, including the Suez War and Operation MUSKETEER, 1956; the political situation in Northern Ireland, 1973-1976; the Falklands War, 1981-1982, particularly the reaction of the Ministry of Defence and of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and the sinking of the Argentinean cruiser BELGRANO; the Civil Service, including relationships with the Government, structural reorganisations, Parliamentary Committees and policy making; the Ministry of Defence, including the Defence budget, management policy and accountability, the civilian contribution to the MoD, the relationships between defence procurement, industry and the economy; wider defence issues including the relationships between Britain, Europe, America and NATO, the importance of research and development collaboration, arms sales, the Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI), the European aerospace industry, American protectionism and technology transfer; British nuclear weapons policy, nuclear deterrence and disarmament, ATBM (anti tactical ballistic missile) defences and the management of the Trident, Polaris and Chevaline projects; British and French maritime forces; and Westland Helicopters PLC, including correspondence from Cooper's time as Director (1982-1985) and parliamentary reports relating to the sale of the company. Also papers relating to projects and study groups including the Joint Study of European Cooperative Measures for Aeronautical Research and Technology (EUROMART), 1978-1991; the EUREKA research and development programme, 1985-1986; EUROGROUP, 1982; the Foundation for International Security, 1984-1990; the British Rocketry Oral History Project, 1997-1998; the Defence Study Group of the Institute for European Defence and Strategic Studies, 1988-1990; and the Institute for Defence Procurement Studies, 1989-1990. Photographs of the Chiefs of Staff Committee in session, 1965-1977 and the Falklands War, 1982, including Royal Marines progressing through Port Stanley, surrendering Argentinean soldiers and piles of surrendered Argentinean weapons. Prints Ulster Impressions by Joan Wanklyn, 1974, RAF Aldergrove by Ken Howard, 1975 and The Great White Whale by Ronald Dean, depicting the SS CANBERRA, 1982.

System of arrangement

The papers have been arranged in fifteen sections as outlined in the detailed catalogue.

General Information

Name of creator


Biographical history

Born, 1922; educated at Manchester Grammar School and Pembroke College, Oxford; Pilot, Royal Air Force, 1941-1946; Assistant Principal, Air Ministry, 1948; Private Secretary to Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Air, 1949-1951; Private Secretary to Permanent Under Secretary of State for Air, 1951-1953; Private Secretary to Chief of Air Staff, 1953-1955; Assistant Secretary, Head of the Air Staff, Secretariat, 1955-1960; Head of Cyprus Secretariat, including negotiations in Cyprus and responsibility for setting up Sovereign Base Area Administration in Cyprus, 1960-61; awarded CMG, 1961; Director of Accounts, Air Ministry, 1961-1962; Assistant Under Secretary of State, Air Ministry, 1962-1964; Assistant Under Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence, 1964-1968; Deputy Under Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence, 1968-1970; awarded CB, 1970; Deputy Secretary, Civil Service Department, 1970-1973; Permanent Under Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office, 1973-1976; created KCB, 1974; Honorary Fellow, Pembroke College, Oxford, 1976; Permanent Under Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence, 1976-1982; appointed GCB, 1979; Member of Council, King's College London, 1981-1989; Honorary Consultant, Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies, from 1982; Governor, Cranbrook School, 1982-1992; Director, Westland Helicopters, 1982-1985; Privy Councillor, 1983; Chairman, Delegacy, King's College Medical and Dental School, 1983-1989; Director, Babcock International Group, 1983-1990; Director, Morgan Crucible, 1983-1994; Member of Council, Imperial College, London, 1983-1996; Director, N M Rothschild and Sons, 1983-1996; published Communications in crisis management (Council for Arms Control, London, 1985); Chairman, United Scientific Holdings, 1985-1989; Chairman, Institute of Contemporary British History, 1986-1992; Chairman, High Integrity Systems Limited, 1986-1995; Fellow of King's College London, 1987; Chairman of Trustees, Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, King's College London, 1987-2002; Fellow of Imperial College London, 1988; Chairman of Council, Imperial College, London, 1988-1996; Member, Advisory Council on Public Records, 1989-1992. For further biographical information see the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Custodial history

The papers were acquired directly from Sir Frank Cooper in 27 accessions between 1989 and 2000.

Conditions governing access

Open, subject to signature of Reader's undertaking form, and appropriate provision of two forms of identification, to include one photographic ID.

Conditions governing reproduction

Copies, subject to the condition of the original, may be supplied from open material for research purposes only.

Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Trustees of the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, via the Archives.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Physical Description

The collection includes two audio cassette tapes which require an audio cassette tape player, available from the Archivist on request.

Finding aids

This collection level description and detailed catalogue.

Existence and location of originals

The originals of the copy photographs of the Falklands War (Cooper 15/1/2) are held at the Imperial War Museum.

Existence and location of copies

Ministry of Defence papers may be duplicated in the official holdings of the Ministry of Defence held at The National Archives (Code: DEFE).

Related materials

The Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, King's College London, holds the following related material: the papers of Sir Maurice (Joseph) DEAN, including correspondence with Cooper, 1969-1978 (Ref: Dean 3/4/5); the papers of AVM Stewart William Blacker MENAUL, including a Ministry of Defence memorandum introduced by Cooper entitled 'Reorganisation of the Chief of Defence Staff's central staff', Sep 1982 (Ref: Menaul 7/2/177); the Civil Service Oral History Project (Ref: Misc 74) includes a typed transcript of an interview with Cooper, conducted in May 1989, relating to his career as a civil servant; the Suez Oral History Project includes a transcript of an interview with Cooper about the Air Ministry during the Suez War (Ref: SOHP 4).

Related descriptions

Publication note

The papers were used in preparation of the biography of Cooper in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Alternative identifier(s)

People and Organisations

Genre access points

Rules and/or conventions used

Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000.


Archivist's note

Summary guide compiled by Iain Mutch; revised by Rachel Kemsley as part of the RSLP AIM25 project. Detailed catalogue by Katharine Higgon. Source: Who's Who and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Accession area