NAVAL INTELLIGENCE DIVISION. The Belgian Congo.

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NAVAL INTELLIGENCE DIVISION. The Belgian Congo. [OUP for H.M. Stationery Office], April 1944.

8vo. Original grey cloth, spine and front cover lettered in gilt; pp.xiii, 558, highly illustrated with plates, maps and plans, two large colour map in rear pocket; spine a bit faded and cloth alittle rubbed; the lines This book is for official use of persons in H. M. Service only and must not be shown, or made available, to the Press or any member of the public on title-verso covered with later label reading This volume was produced and printed for official purposes during the war 1939/45; the British writer Alan Sillitoe's copy, with his name and date 1978 on front fly-leaf.
Uncommon first edition. B. R. 522 (Restricted) Geographical Handbook Series. - Probably one of the best-researched non-Belgian books of the time on the Belgian colony, issued when it was a crucial source of income for the Belgian government in exile in London and the Force Publique who participated in campaigns against Italian forces in Ethiopia. The volume deals with the geology, history of European exploration, geology and mining, shipping and seaports, topography, commerce, natural history, ethnography, climate, in short, all aspects of Congo. 'A series of intelligence handbooks produced during the First World War had proved valuable both during the conflict and as subsequent reference sources. Early in the Second World War the Director of Naval Intelligence ordered the preparation of a new and improved series to meet the requirements of the day. The Handbooks were designed to provide, in the words of the Preface, "information in a comprehensive and convenient form about countries which they may be called upon to visit, not only in war but in peace-time; secondly, to maintain the high standard of education in the Navy and, by supplying officers with material for lectures ... to ensure for all ranks that visits to a new country shall be both interesting and profitable"' (Cambridge Archive Editions, who reproduce a few titles of the series, online).

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