Cover of magazine The King's Air ForceThere’s lots of changes happening to Government communications right now, not least of which the closure of the Central Office of Information. Quite by chance, I was sorting through some of my Grandfather’s effects and found this issue of The King’s Air Force, published ‘in co-operation with the Air Ministry’.

By my reckoning it pre-dates COI by a few years – this issue is celebrating 20 years of the RAF, which would make it circa 1939. Accordingly, the first page carries a wonderful stiff-upper-lip introduction from the Secretary of State for Air, Sir Kingsley Wood, who advises us of ‘the significance of the air in relation to the security of Great Britain and the Empire.’ Wannabe pilots could not have guessed what an understatement that line would become, with the Battle of Britain just 12 months later.

As a piece of historic Government comms, there’s plenty to enjoy. It must have represented cutting-edge ‘customer’ publishing at the time, full of inspirational stories, technical information, but with the requisite spin and editorial-by-committee.

Tone and channels may have changed since 1939, but the need for communications, and the challenge of creating messages for the public are much the same.

Judging by the sticker in the top right corner of the cover, my Grandfather may have forgotten to return this copy to the Fleet Air Arm, where he served. I’m quite glad he forgot.