The Impact of Duncan Sandys: 1957–62

  • C. J. Bartlett


Duncan Sandys took up his appointment on 13 January 1957 having been specifically instructed to secure ‘a substantial reduction in expenditure and manpower’ in the armed forces, and having been granted much more formidable powers than any previous Minister of Defence. Eleven weeks of furious activity followed during which many toes were trodden on, both in the service ministries and in NATO. But the final outcome, the 1957 Defence White Paper, published on 4 April, was less revolutionary than many believed it to be at the time. As one informed observer, Sir John Slessor, com­mented soon afterwards: ’The White Paper introduces no basic revolution in policy, but merely rationalises and … explains in admirably intelligible form tendencies which have long been obvious and policies most of which successive British Governments have accepted and urged upon their Allies for some years.’ It reached back to the Chiefs of Staff paper in 1952, and beyond that to the thinking of the Air Staff in the later 1940s. Above all it spelt out two well-established principles in British defence policy — the need for economy, and the need to prevent war on a global scale since thermo-nuclear weapons meant that there could be no victors in such a conflict.


Nuclear Weapon Labour Party Ballistic Missile Nuclear Disarmament British Troop 
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  1. 8.
    George Wigg, House of Commons, 29 Feb and 27 July 1960Google Scholar
  2. 35.
    F. O. Wilcox and H. H. Field, The Atlantic Community (1964) p. 106.Google Scholar
  3. 36.
    See especially W. W. Kaufmann, The McNamara Strategy (1964)Google Scholar
  4. 46.
    D. D. Eisenhower, The White House Years: Waging Peace, 1956–61 (1966) II 273, 279–82.Google Scholar

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© C. J. Bartlett 1972

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  • C. J. Bartlett

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