A graduate of Sandhurst and the Staff College, Camberley, John Dill rose to become Chief of the Imperial General Staff during a crucial stage of World War Two.

Following service in the Boer War and First World War, Dill moved across to become Chief Instructor at Camberley and later Army Instructor at the Imperial Defence College, London, between 1926 and 1928. After Staff duty in Quetta, India, he was appointed Commandant of the Staff College and remained in post from 1931 until 1934. Dill then became Director of Military Operations and Intelligence at the War Office between 1934 and 1936.

Dill's service record was not restricted to Staff or training duties. Between 1936 and 1938, he was appointed GOC to British Troops in Palestine and Transjordan, 1936-1937 and Aldershot Command, 1937-1939. Thrown into active service once again, Dill was promoted to General Officer Commanding 1 Corps, Belgium and France, during the opening stages of the Second World War, 1939-1940.

This preceded promotion to become the effective head of the British Army - Chief of the Imperial General Staff - a post he occupied from May 1940 until December 1941. Dill's relationship with Churchill was often a difficult one and in 1942 he was appointed Head of the British Joint Staff Mission, and Senior British Member, of the Combined Chiefs of Staff Committee, Washington DC, USA. The role required Dill to attend a number of the key Allied conferences that shaped the course of the war, including Casablanca and Tehran. Dill also took the lead in helping to manage the relationship between Britain and the US as the latter entered the war. Following illness, Dill died in November 1944 and was buried at Arlington Cemetery.

A selection of Dill's papers are available via Serving Soldier, focusing on his role as a talented and respected training officer and on the state of British intelligence in 1939. Taken as a whole, they provide an insight into the strategic lessons learned from World War One and the preparedness of the Army for the challenges of World War Two. They also feature a selection of speeches, programmes and other ephemera including cigarette cards which reflect the political and public relations aspects of senior service.

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Dominion Troops - London March Programme

Official programme for triumphal or victory march through London by Dominion troops, 1919. Colour, published in London.

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