Army Inventions Directorate, 1942–46

Inventions to support the war effort

In 1942 the Army Inventions Directorate (CA 537) was formed to encourage, coordinate, test and develop inventions of merit – particularly those with military applications – to assist Australia and the Allies in the war effort. The Directorate replaced the Central Inventions Board (CA 153), but had greater functions and resources at its disposal.

With headquarters in Melbourne and offices in each State capital and in Newcastle, the Directorate used the mass media and various technical journals to call for inventions. It also circulated lists of problems to selected inventors and scientific and technical organisations. By the time it was disbanded in 1946, the Directorate had received over 20,000 submissions and had accepted 127 for development. DP Mellor devoted a chapter in The Role of Science and Industry (volume V of the 'Civil' series of the Official History of Australia in the War of 1939–45) to the Directorate's role and detailed some of the most notable submissions.

Record holdings

The Melbourne office of the National Archives holds a relatively comprehensive collection of Army Inventions Directorate records, including correspondence records about inventions; drawings, plans and photographs of inventions; and a range of indexes and registers. Details of these records are listed below.

Army Inventions Directorate records held in Melbourne

Correspondence records

Title or description of record Date range Series number
Inventions correspondence files, single number series 1939–46 MP76/1
Inventions correspondence files, single number series with 'M' (Miscellaneous) prefix 1939–46 MP76/2
Inventions correspondence files, single number series, 'G' (General) prefix 1939–46 MP76/3
Inventions correspondence files, annual single number series, 'LP' (Letters Patent) prefix 1939–46 MP76/4

Drawings, plans and photographs

Title or description of record Date range Series number
Drawings of inventions 1939–45 MP100/1
Blueprints of inventions 1939–45 MP100/2
Volumes of photographs of inventions (the second volume of this series is an incomplete duplicate of the first) 1939–45 MP100/3

Indexes and registers

Title or description of record Date range Series number
Names and addresses of inventors 1938–40 MP1164/14
Index to Army Inventions Directorate drawings, blueprints, etc 1939–46 MP1164/4
Inventions Board nominal index, alphabetical series 1939–42 MP1164/5
Card index of inventions, alphabetical series 1939–42 MP1164/6
Numerical subject index cards to inventions 1939–46 MP1164/7
File location book to 20,001 onwards and Letters Patent numbers 1939–46 MP1164/9
Inventory of drawing numbers and titles 1939–45 MP1164/15
'G' (General) series file register 1939–46 MP1164/17
Nominal index to inventors, alphabetical series 1940–46 MP1164/1
Secondary index to inventors 1940–45 MP1164/20
Nominal and subject index cards to 'G' (General) series inventions files 1942 MP1164/2
Reference cards to Army and Not Army requirements 1942 MP1164/3
File location book 1942–46 MP1164/8
Register of inventions files 1942–46 MP1164/12
Index to inventions of possible interest and branch development reports 1942–45 MP1164/18
Index cards of rejected inventions 1942–45 MP1164/19
Registers for Letters Patent applications 1943–46 MP1164/10
'M' (Miscellaneous) series submissions and inquiries register 1945 MP1164/11
Classification of submissions – supplementary index 1946 MP1164/13
New South Wales schedule of cases and files 1946 MP1164/16