The Musuem
Floor Plan

The Dennis Wheatley 'Museum' - World War II

The War Papers / 4 ... Total War

The cover and (right) first page of the table of contents of Paper 14/20, 'Total War'

The cover of the abridged public version, and (right) the
inscription in Wentworth Eldredge's copy.

Eldredge was co-opted to look after U.S deception interests
and married DW's stepdaughter Diana after the war.

Some of DW's reading: W D Bird's 'The Direction of War' (1920)
and N Tindal's 'The Economics of National Independance' (1935).

DW did not accept their contents uncritically. For example,
he explicitly rejected some of Bird's assertions in Total War.

DW bought his copy of Tindal in 1935 and corresponded
with the author - underscoring that his interest in
serious matters existed long before the war.

Click on the images to enlarge

Click on the images to enlarge

Two of the more controversial sections that did not make it
into the public version; in one DW argues the pros and cons
of sinking a neutral ship; in the other (right) he advocates the
assassination of Irish President Eamonn de Valera

Click on the images to enlarge

DW, while still a civilian, acknowledges
receipt of a classified document from
no less a person than Air Marshal
(Sir) Richard Peck

DW wrote a paper on 'Total War' in December 1940, and returned to the theme in December 1941, when he wrote a much longer paper on the subject.

This was in many ways DW's most comprehensive paper - analysing the nature of the conflict, putting it in context, and discussing how resources of all kinds would have to be marshalled if it was to be won.

DW distinguished between 'tribal wars' and 'civil wars'; 'tribal wars' being essentially territorial, wars where there were rules governing behaviour, and 'civil wars' being essentially ideological, where no compromise was possible. He placed World War II firmly in the latter category.

DW considered there were three instruments of Total War - propaganda, intelligence and armed force - and he considered that none of these should operate independently, with the whole being greater than its parts.

The paper then went on to consider how the country could most effectively marshal its resources to win the war.

The paper was wide ranging and included ideas across the whole spectrum from religion to strategy and to economics; in the latter area it contained proposals to release men from conscription until they were actually needed - since otherwise many small businesses would disintegrate, and DW considered that these would be the lifeblood of the future.

It was a hard hitting paper, and many parts were controversial and were excluded from the public edition.

For example, in the unpublished version, DW discussed the pros and cons of sinking a neutral ship if this would bring in the neutral country and speed up the war, and a proposition that both enemy leaders and neutral leaders with enemy sympathies should be eliminated so long as the assassins were not caught (see the fourth set of exhibits above).

By the end of this period, as the final exhibit shows, DW was in an extraordinarily privileged position. Although still a civilian, he was in direct communication with some of the most senior commanders of the war effort, such as Air Marshal Peck, who was later to become a lifelong friend. Furthermore he had moved from being a civilian receiving no secret information to being so highly trusted that such men were happy to share with him information of a classified nature. Unusual in the extreme !

References : 'Stranger Than Fiction' Chapter 10.
'Drink and Ink' Chapters 21-22.
Phil Baker pp 410 - 412.

Provenance:Total War Paper 14/20 - ex Humphreys Collection
Wentworth Eldredge's copy of Total War - Phil Baker
Remaining material - Private Collections