Department of the Secretary
|Headquarters||War Office, Whitehall, London|
|Parent department||War Office|
The Department of the Secretary was established in 1904 and previously called Central Office . It was one of the major departments of the War Office's civil departments responsible for the central administration of the British Army. It changed name a number of time from its founding in 1855. The department was controlled and directed by the Permanent Under Secretary of State for War who in 1904 of the Army Council. The Permanent Under Secretary was supported by a number of assistant and deputy secretaries. The department was repalced in 1924 by the Department of the Permanent Under Secretary of State for War
On the establishment of the separate Department of the Secretary of State for War in 1854 a military Under Secretary of State was appointed to share with the Parliamentary Under Secretary for War the administration of the Department. They were joined in 1855 by the Deputy Secretary at War on the merger with the War Office. In 1857 the Military Under Secretary for War and the Deputy Secretary at War were replaced by a civilian Office of the Permanent Under Secretary of State for War who was given a deputy Assistant Permanent Under Secretary for War. The Permanent Under Secretary and his subordinate secretaries superintended of various offices and departments. In 1861 the office of Assistant Under Secretary lapsed and a second (military) Permanent Under Secretary was appointed to join the (civilian) Permanent Under Secretary. In 1862 the civilian under-secretaryship was abolished and the previous office of Assistant Under Secretary was revived.
In 1868 a Comptroller-in-Chief, with the rank of a second Permanent Under Secretary, was appointed to take charge of the Stores, Clothing, Contracts, Commissariat, Purveyor's and Barrack Departments. The First Clerk’s Branch established in the new War Office in 1855 was divided in 1857 into a Chief Clerk’s Branch and an Assistant Chief Clerk’s Branch; a further subdivision in 1858 created a Militia Branch out of the former. In 1861 the Assistant Chief Clerk’s Branch was abolished, its functions being divided between the Chief Clerk’s Branch and the Military Assistant’s Branch. The Chief Clerk’s Branch was now responsible for War Office establishment, military education, submissions to the Queen, printing, army forms, stationery, library and educational supplies and the Registry (R). In 1866 the Chief Clerk’s Branch, the Military Assistant’s Branch and the Library were merged to form the Central Department under the Permanent Under Secretary.
In the reorganisation of 1870 the office of Assistant Under Secretary once again abolished and the his Accounts Department passed to the Financial Secretary. The Permanent Under Secretary became once more a civilian and his responsibilities were confined to the Central Department, which he superintended jointly with the Parliamentary Under Secretary. The Central Department, which was composed of the Chief Clerk’s Division and the Solicitor’s (later Legal Secretary's) Division, lost some of its former functions to the Military and Finance Departments. In 1887 the Central Department changed its name to Central Office, but remained unchanged. In 1904 the Central Office was renamed the Department of the Secretary until 1924 when it was altered again to the Department of the Permanent Under Secretary of State for War, 1924-1964.
Head of Department
Permanent Under Secretary of State for War
Departmental Organisation and Structure by Date
Included: C Branches Chaplains’ Department (from 1908; Chaplains' Branch from 1911)
- C Branches
- Chaplains' Branch
- Directorate of Finance (A)*
- Directorate of Finance (B)*
- Directorate of Finance (C)* from Department of Financial Secretary 1924
- Roper, Dr Michael (1998). The records of the War Office and related departments, 1660-1964. London: Public Record Office. ISBN 1873162456.