Great War Dust Jackets

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History of the Great War Based on Official Documents

A Collectors Guide


The idea for an Official History of recent conflicts was first mooted in 1906 with regards to the recent War in South Africa and so with the advent of the Great War the idea was already in the minds of Government to make a detailed record of the current conflict. By late 1915 Battalion diaries were being collected and by the end of the War the ground work had already been laid which enabled the first volumes to appear soon after (Parts of the Munitions History had already been printed by late 1918). Beginning in 1920 with the first volumes of Naval Operations & Seaborne Trade up until Military Operations Italy in 1949, 108 separate volumes were published (a final volume consisting of the outline draft of ‘The Occupation of Constantinople’ was published by Naval & Military Press in 2010 bringing the total to 109 volumes). Initially the series was printed by various commercial publishers, Macmillan, Heinemann, Murray, Longmans & Clarendon. Although not principally intended for general consumption, sales were quite respectable to begin with. However as the years passed & interest in the War waned and sales diminished. Prices were reduced but so to were publishers margins making the series less attractive to print. Consequently all of the latter volumes and all those considered to be of only specialist interest were published by the Governments’ own publisher ‘His Majesty’s Stationary Office’ in increasingly smaller numbers.

I do not intend to go into the history of the publication of the series in any detail as this has been well documented in Andrew Green’s book ‘Writing the Great War’ Frank Cass 2003. What I wish to give here is a list of the various works with an indication of their scarcity and value and with a few relevant images to show their appearance.

  Price & Availability

I’ve graded each volume A - D where A = relatively easy to find, B = somewhat scarcer but copies appear fairly regularly, C = hard to find and will require diligent searching, D = rare - may be a permanent gap in your collection. The Map volumes are invariably scarcer than the text volumes. They were sold separately & whereas one might buy the text without the maps, the reverse is less likely. Also many of the Map volumes are incomplete so check before buying.

 Despite the title of this site, dust jackets are not really a consideration here. Their presence won’t greatly influence the price being asked and as most of  the copies you’ll see for sale will be ex-library they won’t have one anyway. Looking at my own collection of the series only 10% have kept their jackets

 As an indication of price I would say ; A = £30 - £60, B = £50 - £120, C = £150 - £300, D = over £500 although the scarcest volumes will fetch well over £1000)

(where I’ve given the number of copies the figure is taken from the limitation line in books published by HMSO and indicates the number printed but not necessarily bound up for sale)


N.B.Text/Maps indicates a single volume with Maps in a rear pocket. Text & Maps indicates separate volumes.

The War on Land

France & Belgium

Under the direction of Brig. Gen. J. E. Edmonds

1914 vol. 1 Text & separate Map vol. Macmillan 1922 A,A

                  2nd ed 1925, 3rd revised 1934

1914 vol. 2 Text & separate Map vol. Macmillan 1925 A,A

                  (inserted 4 page addenda to vol.1)

1915 vol. 1 Text & separate Map vol. Macmillan 1927 A,A

                  (inserted 8 page addenda to 1914 vols. 1 & 2)

1915 vol. 2 Text & separate Map vol. Macmillan 1928 A,A

                  (inserted addenda to 1914)

1916 vol. 1 Text, Appendices & Map vols.  Macmillan 1932 A,B,B

                  (inserted addenda to 1915)  

1916 vol. 2 Text & Appendices/Map. vols. Macmillan 1938 B,B

                  (inserted 4 page addenda to 1914, 15 & 16)

1917 vol. 1 Text, Appendices & Map. vols. Macmillan 1940 B,B

                  (inserted 5 page addenda to 1916 & 1918)

1917 vol. 2 Text/Maps HMSO 1948 C

1917 vol. 3 Text HMSO 1948 C

1918 vol. 1 Text, Appendices & Maps Macmillan 1935 B,B,B

                  (inserted 7 page addenda to 1914, 15 & 16)

1918 vol. 2 Text & Maps Macmillan 1937 B,B

                  (inserted 7 page addenda to 1914, 15, 16 & 18)

1918 vol. 3 Text/Maps Macmillan 1939 B

                  (inserted addenda to 1918)

1918 vol. 4 Text/Maps HMSO 1947 C

1918 vol. 5 Text HMSO 1947 C

                                                £2,500 - 3,000 the set


Egypt & Palestine

Compiled by Lt. Gen. Sir George Macmunn & Cyril Falls

Vol. 1 Text & Map vols. HMSO 1928 (2000 copies) A,A

Vol. 2 Text part 1 & 2 & Map vols. HMSO 1930 (3000 copies) B,B,B

                                                £250 - 300 the set



Compiled by Brig. Gen. C. F. Aspinall-Oglander

Vol. 1 Text & Appendices/Maps Heinemann 1929 A,B

Vol. 2 Text & Appendices/Maps Heinemann 1932 A,B

                                               £200 - 250 the set



Compiled by Brig. Gen. F. J. Moberly

Vol. 1 Text/Maps HMSO 1923 (1500 copies) A

Vol. 2 Text/Maps HMSO 1924 (1500 copies) A

Vol. 3 Text/Maps HMSO 1925 (1000 copies) B

Vol. 4 Text/Maps HMSO 1927 (1500 copies) A

                                               £200 - 250 the set



Compiled by Capt. Cyril Falls

Vol. 1 Text/Maps & Maps HMSO 1933 (2000 copies) A,B

Vol. 2 Text/Maps & Maps HMSO 1935 (2000 copies) A,B

                                              £200 - 250 the set


Togoland & the Cameroons

Compiled by Brig. Gen. F. J. Moberly

Single volume Text/Maps HMSO 1931 (2000 copies) C


East Africa

Compiled by Lt. Col. Charles Hordern

Vol. 1 Text HMSO 1941 (1500 copies) C

Vol. 2 unpublished but draft chapters exist in the Public

Records Office.



Compiled by Brig. Gen. Sir James Edmonds

Single volume Text HMSO 1949 C

(inserted 2 page addenda to 1915, 17, 18 & O of B vol. 4)


Transportation on the Western Front

Compiled by Col. A. M. Henniker

Text & Map vols. HMSO 1937 (1000 copies) C,C


Principal Events 1914 - 1918

Compiled by the Historical Section of the Committee of Imperial Defence. Single vol. Foolscap format HMSO 1922 (1000 copies) C


Operations in Persia 1914 - 1919

Compiled by Brig. Gen. F. J. Moberly HMSO 1929 D

Of the 500 copies printed, 150 were sent to India (marked ‘Secret’),

50 (marked ‘Confidential’) were sent to UK libraries and the rest destroyed. The red binding differs from others in the series.

Public edition HMSO 1987 A


The Occupation of the Rhineland 1918 - 1929

Compiled by Brig. Gen. James Edmonds HMSO 1944 D

Marked as ‘For Official Use Only’ only 100 copies were printed.

(a facsimile was issued by HMSO in 1987) A


The Blockade of the Central Empires 1914 - 1918

Compiled by A. C. Bell  HMSO 1937 D

Restricted circulation of only 100 copies

(in 1961 the restriction on this was lifted and the remaining

650 copies were released with a different binding & over-sticker by HMSO) C


The Occupation of Constantinople 1918 - 1923

Compiled by Brig. Gen. James Edmonds in 1944 in draft

format but unpublished at the time.

Single volume Naval & Military Press 2010 £11.50 in print


The War at Sea

Naval Operations

Compiled by Sir Julian S. Corbett, vols. 1 - 3

& Sir Henry Newbolt, vols. 4 & 5

Vol. 1 Text & Maps Longmans 1920 A,A

          2nd ed. 1938 B

Vol. 2 Text/Maps Longmans 1921 A

          2nd ed. 1929 A

Vol. 3 Text & Maps Longmans 1923 A,A

          Revised ed. 1940 C (lost due to bombing of warehouse).

Vol. 4 Text & Maps Longmans 1928 A,A

Vol. 5 Text & Maps Longmans 1931 A,A

                                                   £250 - 350 the set

Merchant Navy

Compiled by Archibald Hurd

Vol. 1 Text/Maps  John Murray 1921 B

Vol. 2 Text John Murray 1924 B

Vol. 3 Text John Murray 1929 B

                                                  £300 - 350 the set


Seaborne Trade

Compiled by C. Ernest Fayle

Vol.1 The Cruiser Period. Text & Maps John Murray 1920 A,B

Vol. 2 Submarine Campaign. Text John Murray 1923 B

Vol. 3 Unrestricted Submarine Warfare. Text /Maps John Murray 1924 B

                                                  £250 - 300 the set


The War in the Air

Compiled by Walter Raleigh (Vol.1) & H. A. Jones

Vol. 1  Text Clarendon Press 1922 (revised 1939) A

Vol. 2 Text Clarendon Press 1928 B

Vol. 3 Text & Maps Clarendon Press 1931 B,C

Vol. 4 Text Clarendon Press 1934 B

Vol. 5 Text & Maps Clarendon Press 1935 B,C

Vol. 6 Text & Appendices Clarendon Press 1937 B,B

                                                 £1000 - 1500 the set


Order of Battle of Divisions

Compiled by Major A. F. Becke (5-700 copies of each vol.)

Part 1 The Regular British Divisions HMSO 1935 C

Part 2a Territorial Mounted & 1st Line Divisions HMSO 1936 C

Part 2b Territorial 2nd Line & Home Service HMSO 1937 C

Part 3a New Army Divisions (9 - 26) HMSO 1938 C

Part 3b New Army (30 - 41) & 63rd. R. N. HMSO 1945 C

Part 4 Army Council & GHQ’s HMSO 1945 C

                                                £600 - 800 the set


Medical Services

Compiled by Sir W. G. Macpherson

General History Vol. 1 - 4 HMSO 1921 -4 (1500 copies) C,C,C,C

Diseases of the War Vol. 1 & 2 HMSO 1922/3 (1500 copies) C,C

Hygiene of the War Vol. 1 & 2 HMSO 1923 (1500 copies) C,C

Surgery of the War Vol. 1 & 2 HMSO 1922 (1000/1500 copies) C,C

Pathology HMSO 1923 C

Casualties & Medical Statistics HMSO 1931 (1500 copies) C

                                               £ 2 - 3,000 the set


Veterinary Services Ed. By Maj. Gen. L. J. Blenkinsop & Lt. Col. J. W. Rainey. HMSO 1925 (1500 copies) C

(this volume is slightly larger than the others & in purple cloth)


Additional Volumes


History of the Blockade 1920 Restricted - Declassified 1958

Statistics of the Military Effort of the British Empire 1922 (250 copies)

Air Publication 125, A short history of the RAF, 1920, 2nd ed. 1929, revised ed. 1936.

Report of the Battlefields Nomenclature Committee 1922 (500 copies)

Eastern Siberia 1920

The Evacuation of Northern Russia 1920




There is some doubt as to whether or not this series should be included. It is AN Official History but is it part of  THE Official History. The title pages do not bear the usual title strap line that all the others have regardless of publisher and it seems from internal evidence of each volume that part of the series was printed as early as October 1918 to be issued as multiple short publications. Printed by HMSO between 1918 & 1922 and limited to 250 copies each, it eventually appeared in 12 volumes, although parts of each volume are occasionally seen on the market.

The first 8 volumes were sent by the Disposal & Liquidation Commission to a number of reference libraries including the BL, IWM & MoD. In 1952 the remaining 4 volumes were sent to the same libraries.

 A full set was reportedly sold at auction fairly recently but I’ve not been able to ascertain for how much.



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Almost all of the series has been recently re-issued by Naval & Military Press

History of the Ministry of Munitions


Volume 1. Industrial Mobilisation 1914-15

Volume 2. General Organisation of Munitions Supply

Volume 3. Finance & Contracts

Volume 4. The Suply & Control of Labour 1915-16

Volume 5. Wages & Welfare

Volume 6. Man Power & Dilution

Volume 7. The Control of Materials

Volume 8. Control of Industrial Capacity & Equipment

Volume 9. Review of Munitions Supply

Volumes 10, 11 & 12. The Supply of Munitions

All marked ‘Confidential’ & ‘For Official Use Only’


I would expect a full set to fetch from £3 - 4,000 D


The image below is of a full set of the series (less Munitions) which was originally sold by Bertram Rota and has been kindly supplied by John Marrin. John has been one of the leading dealers in Great War literature for many years and usually manages to keep several volumes of the series in stock. He can be contacted via his Website - John Marrin Rare Books or directly by email -


(The image below is not as sharp as I would like but attempts to scan it at a higher resolution resulted in a series of white lines appearing throughout. Unfortunately this will prevent you seeing the 3 restricted volumes -  Rhineland is 2nd shelf, 2nd left of the middle, Blockade is 3rd from left, bottom shelf & Persia is last on the right, bottom shelf before Principle Events)


Title page of two of the restricted volumes