Churchill sets out his priorities

Sound locator crew working with search lights during the Blitz

A sound locator crew working with a Search Light unit during the Blitz. Such methods, as well as the Observation Corps, were given considerable publicity and shown as part of the co-ordination of Air Raid detection. By contrast the Radar system, which was already playing a crucial role, remained highly secret.

On the 15th October 1940 Winston Churchill set out his priorities in a War Cabinet ‘Note by the Prime Minister’.

He was perhaps mindful of the recent success of HMS Ajax in utilising radar against the Italian Navy, which he would just have been briefed about:

THE very highest priority in personnel and material should be assigned to what may be called the Radio sphere. This demands Scientists, Wireless Experts, and many classes of highly-skilled labour and high-grade material.

On the progress made, much of the winning of the war and our future strategy, especially Naval, depends. We must impart a far greater accuracy to the A.A. guns, and a far better protection to our warships and harbours. Not only research and experiments, but production must be pushed hopefully forward from many directions, and after repeated disappointments we shall achieve success.

The 1A priority must remain with Aircraft Production, for the purpose of executing approved Target programmes. It must be an obligation upon them to contrive by every conceivable means not to let this priority be abused and needlessly hamper other vital Departments. For this purpose they should specify their requirements in labour and material.

Other priorities were that he set out were:

The establishment of 10 Armoured Divisions by the end of 1941.

We cannot hope to compete with the enemy in numbers of men and must therefore rely upon an exceptional proportion of armoured fighting vehicles

Rifles and small arms ammunition – the Home Guard was still for the most part without weapons, and there was a shortage of ammunition for all units.

Small craft and anti U-Boat craft in preference to large ships for the Navy.

See TNA CAB/66/12/46

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