Collection DILL - DILL, FM Sir John Greer (1881-1944)

Key Information

Reference code



DILL, FM Sir John Greer (1881-1944)


  • 1857-1963 (Creation)
  • 1814 (Creation)

Level of description



0.13 cubic metres (13 boxes)

Scope and content

Papers, 1814, 1857-1963, of Field Marshal Sir John Greer Dill and his family. Papers relating to Dill's family and family estates date largely from 1857-1953, but include press cuttings, 1814. The collection mainly comprises papers, telegrams and photographs relating to Dill's life and military career, dating from 1901-1944 but particularly from 1914 onwards, and includes correspondence and other papers concerning his service as General Staff Officer 1, 37 Division, and General Staff Officer 1, Operations Branch, General Headquarters, British Armies in France, Western Front, World War One, 1917-1918, notably instructions to 37 Division, 1917; 15 Division Operational Orders for the Battle of Arras, 1917. Official and some personal correspondence and notes, 1916-1939, including record of the advance of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, 1919; lecture notes relating to Dill's service as Chief Instructor, Staff College, Camberley, Surrey, 1920, and to his promotion to Lt Gen, 1936; letters from Captain Basil Henry Liddell Hart, Maj Gen Sir Sydney Frederick Muspratt, Maj Gen Arthur Cecil Temperley, and Maj Gen John Dudley Laverack, 1926-1939; correspondence with Field Marshal Sir Cyril John Deverell, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, relating to Dill's service as General Officer Commanding, Palestine and Transjordan, Sep 1936-Jul 1937. Official correspondence relating to Dill's command of 1 Army Corps France and Belgium, 1939-1940, principally including correspondence between Maj Gen Sir Henry Royds Pownall, Chief of General Staff British Expeditionary Force (BEF), and Lt Gen Ronald Forbes Adam, General Officer Commanding 3 Army Corps, Sep-Oct 1939; correspondence between Dill and Maj Gen Hugh Royds Stokes Massy, Deputy Chief of the Imperial General Staff. and Chief of General Staff Maj Gen Henry Royds Pownall, Oct 1939; correspondence with US Gen George Catlett Marshal, Chief of Staff US Army, relating to Joint Planning Committee, Mar 1940; correspondence on liaison arrangements between the French and British armies in France, Oct 1939, and letter to Dill as Chief of Imperial General Staff, from Lt Gen Claude John Eyre Auchinleck, General Officer Commanding in Chief, Southern Command, Nov 1940. Typescript report relating to imposition of economic sanctions against Ireland due to the refusal of permission for the use of Irish ports by the Royal Navy, Nov-Dec 1940, with letter from Maj Gen Hubert Jervoise Huddleston, General Officer Commanding Northern Ireland District, to Gen Bernard Paget, Chief of Staff, Home Forces, explaining the need for an appreciation of the political situation in Ireland, Jun 1940. Semi-official letters, diaries and notes to Dill as Chief of the Imperial General Staff, War Office, London, 1940-1941, including letter from Rt Hon (Arthur) Neville Chamberlain, Lord President of the Council, Aug 1940, official diary of tour of the Mediterranean, Feb-Apr 1941, correspondence congratulating promotion to Field Marshal, 1941; copy of personal minutes of Prime Minister, Rt Hon Winston (Leonard Spencer) Churchill, May 1941; notes on Dill's visit to Paris, France, with Prime Minister Churchill, including diary of events, May 1940; typescript notes on telephone conversation with Rt Hon (Robert) Anthony Eden, Secretary of State for War, Nov 1940; correspondence with Field Marshal Rt Hon Jan Christian Smuts, Prime Minister and Minister for Defence, Pretoria, South Africa, Nov 1941,Gen Bernard (Charles Tolver) Paget, Commander in Chief Home Forces, Nov 1941, Lt Gen Arthur Nugent Floyer-Acland, Secretary to the Secretary of State for War, Nov 1941. Letters and notes relating to Gen Sir Archibald Percival Wavell, Commander-in-Chief India, including notes on operations in Greece, the defence of Egypt, Palestine and Crete, Sep 1941, and personal letter from Lt Gen Claude John Eyre Auchinleck, Commander-in-Chief, Middle East Command, regarding Prime Minister Churchill's negative attitude to Gen Wavell, May 1941. Four albums of photographs relating to Placentia Bay Conference, Newfoundland, Canada, Aug 1941, official visit to Canada, Aug-Sep 1943, and the Casablanca Conference, code name SYMBOL, Jan 1943, including the Prime Minister, Churchill, aboard HMS PRINCE OF WALES and aboard USS AUGUSTA 1941.

System of arrangement

Arranged in sections broadly as outlined in 'Scope and content'.

General Information

Name of creator


Biographical history

Born at Lurgan, County Armagh, Ireland, only son of John Dill and his wife Jane, née Greer, 1881; educated at Methodist College, Belfast, County Antrim, Ireland, Cheltenham College, Gloucestershire, and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst; commissioned into 1 Bn, The Prince of Wales's Leinster Regt (Royal Canadians), 1901; service in Second Boer War, South Africa, 1901-1902; Assistant Adjutant, 1 Bn, The Prince of Wales's Leinster Regt (Royal Canadians), Fermoy, County Cork, Ireland, Shorncliffe, Kent, and Blackdown, Dorset, 1902-1906; Lt, 1903; Adjutant, 1 Bn, The Prince of Wales's Leinster Regt (Royal Canadians), Blackdown, Dorset, and Devonport, Devon, 1906-1909; Bde Signal Officer, UK, 1909; Capt, 1911; graduated from Staff College, Camberley, Surrey, 1914; General Staff Officer 3, Eastern Command, 1914; served in World War One, 1914-1918; Bde Maj, 25 Bde, 8 Div, BEF (British Expeditionary Force), France, 1914-1916; Battles of Neuve Chapelle and Aubers Ridge, 1915; awarded DSO, 1915; General Staff Officer 2, 55 (West Lancashire) Div, Territorial Force, Western Front, 1916; Maj, 1916; General Staff Officer 2, Canadian Corps, Western Front, 1916-1917; Brevet Lt Col, 1917; General Staff Officer 1, 37 Div, Western Front, 1917; temporary Lt Col, 1917-1918; General Staff Officer 1, Operations Branch, General Headquarters, British Armies in France, 1917-1918; awarded CMG, 1918; temporary Brig Gen, 1918-1920; Brig Gen General Staff, Operations Branch, General Headquarters, British Armies in France, 1918-1919; Brevet Col, 1919; Brig Gen General Staff and Chief Instructor, Staff College, Camberley, Surrey, 1919-1922; Col, 1920; commanded Welsh Border Bde, 53 (Welsh) Div, Territorial Army, 1922-1923; Col Commandant, 2 Infantry Bde, Aldershot, Hampshire, 1923-1926; Army Instructor, Imperial Defence College, London, 1926-1928; awarded CB, 1928; Brig General Staff, Western Command, Quetta, India, 1929-1931; Maj Gen, 1930; Commandant, Staff College, Camberley, Surrey, 1931-1934; Col, East Lancashire Regt, 1932; Director of Military Operations and Intelligence, War Office, 1934-1936; Lt Gen, 1936; General Officer Commanding British Troops in Palestine and Transjordan, 1936-1937; created KCB, 1937; General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Aldershot Command, 1937-1939; Gen, 1939; General Officer Commanding 1 Corps, Belgium and France, 1939-1940; Vice Chief of the Imperial General Staff, 1940; Aide de Camp General to the King, 1940-1941; Chief of the Imperial General Staff, May 1940-Dec 1941; Governor-Designate, Bombay, India, 1941; FM, 1941; Head of British Joint Staff Mission, and Senior British Member, Combined Chiefs of Staff Committee, Washington DC, USA, 1942-1944; appointed GCB, 1942; Col Commandant, The Parachute Regt, 1942-1944; Col Commandant, Army Air Corps, 1942-1944; died, 1944; posthumously awarded US Distinguished Service Medal, 1944.

Custodial history

Presented to the Centre by the family in 1978. A second accession was acquired from the family in 1999.

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.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Finding aids

This collection level description and detailed catalogue.

Related materials

King's College London, Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, holds papers of FM Alan Francis Brooke, 1st Viscount Alanbrooke of Brookeborough, containing official and semi-official correspondence with Dill, 1940-1944 (Ref: Alanbrooke 6/2/1, 6/2/2, 6/2/3, 6/3/10), Chief of Imperial General Staff semi-official file of Dill's papers relating to the BEF (British Expeditionary Force), France, May-Jun 1940 (Ref: Alanbrooke 6/2/58), semi-official correspondence between Dill and Gen Sir Claude Eyre Auchinleck, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Norway, May-Jun 1940, Commander-in-Chief, India, Feb-Jun 1941, and Commander-in-Chief, Middle East, Jul-Nov 1941 (Ref: Alanbrooke 6/2/9-11), semi-official correspondence between Dill and Gen Sir Archibald Percival Wavell, Commander-in-Chief, Middle East, Sep 1940-Jun 1941 (Ref: Alanbrooke 6/2/4-5), typescript copies of letters from Brooke, Commander-in-Chief, Home Forces, to Dill, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, 31 Oct-7 Nov 1941 (Ref: Alanbrooke 6/5/1-22), and subject folder compiled by Marian C Long, research assistant to the Royal Regiment of Artillery and Sir Arthur Wynne Morgan Bryant, relating to Dill [1952-1955] (Ref: Alanbrooke 11/39/1-2); papers of Maj Gen Sir George (Grey) Aston, including a birthday greeting telegram from Dill to FM Paul Sanford Methuen, 3rd Baron Methuen [1932] (Ref: Aston 4/11); papers of Gen Sir William Henry Bartholomew, including correspondence with Dill, Director of Military Operations and Intelligence, War Office, 1935 (Ref: 2/4/1-10), two letters from Dill, mostly relating to Gen Sir Cyril John Deverell, 1936 (Ref: Bartholomew 2/4/3-4), and draft letter from Bartholomew to Dill relating to his working relationship with Gen Sir Robert Archibald Cassels, Commander-in-Chief, India [1936] (Ref: Bartholomew 2/4/5); papers of Maj Gen Robert Clive Bridgeman, 2nd Viscount Bridgeman, include texts of telegrams sent during the Battle of Flanders and the subsequent evacuation of the BEF (British Expeditionary Force) from Dunkirk, France, between General Headquarters BEF (British Expeditionary Force) and Dill, General Officer Commanding 1 Corps, May 1940 (Ref: Bridgeman 2/4); papers of ACM Sir (Henry) Robert (Moore) Brooke-Popham, including telegrams and correspondence between Brooke-Popham, the Air Ministry and AVM Richard Edmund Charles Peirse, Air Officer Commanding British Forces in Palestine and Transjordan, relating to the appointment of Dill as Commander-in-Chief, British Forces in Palestine, 1936 (Ref: Brooke-Popham 4/6); papers of Brig Harold Vincent Spencer Charrington, including a letter from Charrington to his daughter relating to a visit by Rt Hon (Robert) Anthony Eden, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and Dill, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, 1941 (Ref: Charrington 5/1); papers of Adm Sir Gerald Charles Dickens, containing correspondence from Dill, 1929-1936 (Ref: Dickens); papers of Gen Sir Alexander John Godley, including correspondence with Dill relating to Dill's retirement as Chief of the Imperial General Staff, 1941, the whereabouts of Belgian Princess Marie de Croy, and descriptions of Washington DC, USA, 1941-1942 (Ref: Godley 3/104-105).; papers of Gen Sir Charles John Cecil Grant, containing correspondence with Gen Sir John Theodosius Burnett-Stuart relating to Burnett-Stuart's opinion of Dill, 1941 (Ref: Grant 2/4/1-27); papers of Gen Sir Ian Standish Monteith Hamilton, containing correspondence with Dill relating to Hamilton's suggestion that Military Intelligence contact the former Russian spy Col Victor K Kaledin, 16 Apr-20 Jun 1935 (Ref: Hamilton 9/5); papers of Gen Hastings Lionel Ismay, 1st Baron Ismay of Wormington, including correspondence, 1936-1944 (Ref: Ismay 5/4); papers of Maj Gen Sir John Noble Kennedy, including Kennedy's loose-leaf manuscript diary containing reports of conversations with Dill, 1940 (Ref: Kennedy 4/2/2), and note by Kennedy for the attention of Dill, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, May 1941 (Ref: Kennedy 4/5); papers of Capt Sir Basil Henry Liddell Hart, including correspondence with Dill, 1925-1939 (Ref: LH 1/238), notes by Liddell Hart on discussion with Dill on the role and organisation of the British Army, Aug 1932 (LH 11/1932/79), note by Liddell Hart on discussion with Dill entitled 'Imperial defence and British strategy', Mar 1935 (Ref: LH 11/1935/69), note by Liddell Hart assessing Dill as General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Aldershot Command, Sep 1936 (Ref: LH 11/1936/76), typescript article by Liddell Hart on Dill, 'New General Officer Commanding-in-Chief for Aldershot', May 1937 (Ref: LH 10/1937/47), diary notes by Liddell Hart commenting on Dill, Sep 1938 (Ref: LH 11/1938/93), note by Liddell Hart on discussion with Dill relating to Palestine, 1938 (Ref: LH 11/1938/150), post-exercise report by Dill on Aldershot Command Corps Skeleton Exercise, Jul 1939 (Ref: LH 15/3/100), memorandum by Dill, Vice Chief of the Imperial General Staff, to Maj Gen Sir John Ledlie Inglis Hawkesworth, Director of Military Training, on Royal Armoured Corps training, 1940 (Ref: LH 15/12/12), and comment by Liddell Hart on Dill as an outstanding officer, May 1940 (Ref: LH 11/1940/41); papers of Maj Sir Reginald Narcissus Macdonald-Buchanan, containing 1 Corps routine orders by Dill, France, 1940, and notes and drafts of letters written as Dill's Aide de Camp, 1940-[1943] (Ref: Macdonald-Buchanan); papers of Brig Eric Mockler-Ferryman contain correspondence with Sir Arthur Wynne Morgan Bryant, 1978, relating to Mockler-Ferryman's service with Dill, Commandant, Staff College, Camberley, Surrey, 1933 (Ref: Mockler-Ferryman); papers of FM Sir Archibald (Armar) Montgomery-Massingberd, including letters from Dill, 1939-1944 (Ref: Montgomery-Massingberd 160/1-24); papers of Gen Sir Richard Nugent O'Connor, including copy of letter from Rt Hon Leopold Stennett Amery, Secretary of State for India and Burma, to Dill, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, relating to Allied operations in the Mediterranean, 1941 (Ref: O'Connor 4/2/42), letters from O'Connor as POW to Dill, 1941-1944 (Ref: O'Connor 4/5/3), letter from Dill congratulating O'Connor on his POW escape from the Germans, 1944 (Ref: O'Connor 4/5/7), and text of memorial address delivered by the Bishop of Washington DC at the service held for Dill, 1944 (Ref: O'Connor 11/3); microfilm of the wartime conferences of the Combined Chiefs of Staff, 1941-1945 (Ref: MF 460-462); remarks made at the unveiling of the memorial to Dill, Arlington National Cemetery, Washington DC, USA, 1 Nov 1950, on a microfilm of Public Statements by the Secretaries of Defense, 1947-1981 (Ref: MF 212-282). The National Archives, Kew, holds correspondence and papers, 1936-1941, relating to Dill's service as General Officer Commanding British Troops in Palestine, and subsequently as Chief of the Imperial General Staff (Ref: WO282), and extracts from Dill's papers, 1940-1941, passed to the official historian of World War Two by FM Rt Hon Archibald Percival Wavell, 1st Earl Wavell (Ref: CAB 106/1209). Oxford University, St Anthony's College, Middle East Centre, holds correspondence from Dill relating to the supply of maps and plans to British forces in Palestine during the rebellion in 1936 (in the Frederick John Salmon papers). Manchester University, John Rylands Library, holds Dill's correspondence with FM Sir Claude (John Eyre) Auchinleck, 1940-1943 (Ref: Auchinleck papers). Cambridge University, Churchill Archives Centre, holds correspondence between Dill and Maj Gen Sir Edward Louis Spears, 1933-1940 (Ref: SPRS). The Imperial War Museum, London, hold the papers of Dill's Military Assistant, Maj Hon Reginald Henry Winn, 1942-1945; the papers of FM Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein and Hindhead, include two letters from Dill, May and Sep 1944 (Ref: BLM 97/16, 34); the Department of Sound Records holds a recording. Southampton University Library holds papers of AF Louis (Francis Albert Victor Nicholas) Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, including correspondence with Dill as Head of the Joint Staff Mission, Washington DC, USA, 1943-1944 (Ref: MB1/C88). Durham County Record Office holds papers of Lt Col Sir Cuthbert Morley Headlam, containing correspondence with Dill.

Related descriptions

Publication note

Alex Danchev, Very special relationship: Field Marshal Sir John Dill and the Anglo American alliance, 1941-1944 (Brassey's, London, 1986); Alex Danchev, Establishing the Anglo-American alliance: the Second World War diaries of Brigadier Vivian Dykes (Brassey's, London, 1990); a biographical chapter on Dill by Alex Danchev in Churchill's Generals , ed John Keegan (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1991).

Alternative identifier(s)

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

Revised by Rachel Kemsley as part of the RSLP AIM25 project.

Accession area