John Crawford was born on 6 February 1889 in West Derby, Lancashire, the son of John Paton Crawford, an assistant manager at a marine engine works, and his wife, Ellen Edith Scott. He was educated at Liverpool College, then Campbell College, Belfast [Northern Ireland], and was apprenticed in a marine engineering works, also travelling widely on the Continent and in the Far East between 1911 and 1915. In 1916 he married Amy Middleton-Andrews; they had two sons.
On his return from abroad, Crawford joined the Royal Army Service Corps in 1915. He was promoted to lieutenant by 1918, and major by 1920. In 1928 he moved to the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, initially as an inspector of mechanical transport, then as deputy assistant director of mechanization at the War Office. By 1934 Crawford had risen to the rank of brevet lieutenant-colonel, and in the following year became deputy director of mechanization. On the outbreak of war in 1939, Crawford left the War Office for the new Ministry of Supply, first as Director of Mechanization in charge of tank production, then Deputy Director-General of Tanks and Transport. By 1941 he had been promoted to major-general, and in 1943, became Deputy Director-General of Armaments Production.
After the war in 1946 Crawford joined the Board of Guy Motors Limited and of FN (England) Limited, became a member of Council of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (serving as Vice-President, 1948-1950 and Treasurer, 1953-1957) and also a Director of the Sunbeam Trolleybus Company Limited. He was also President of the Rubber Research Association (1952-54), the Institute of Engineering Inspection (1953-54) and of Liverpool College (1953-54), and Master of the Court of the Worshipful Company of Carmen (1957-58). In addition Crawford was made a lifetime member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1945 and a member of the Institution of Marine Engineers. His honours included the CBE (1940), CB (1945), and he was made commander of the order of Leopold II of Belgium in 1963. He died on 4 June 1978.
Almost half of the collection is taken up with manuscript and typescript drafts of General Crawford's autobiography and this material is supplemented by his diaries running, with a few gaps, from 1930 to 1975. There are also smaller collections of papers and correspondence dealing in detail with General Crawford's important work during the Second World War on the production of tanks and other armoured vehicles and his continuing interest and involvement in this and similar fields after the war when he headed a Mission to the United States to discuss the simplification of industry. There are also papers from Crawford's task force to investigate NATO's production capacity for armoured vehicles, and from his membership of the Board of Guy Motors and of the Belgian arms firm Fabrique Nationale d'Armes de Guerre.
The papers of General Crawford were given to Churchill College in March 1979 by his son, Major John M. Crawford Retd. MC, acting on behalf of his mother, his brother and himself.
The papers are owned by Churchill College, Cambridge.
The collection is open for consultation by researchers using Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge. Churchill Archives Centre is open from Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm. A prior appointment and two forms of identification are required.
Researchers wishing to publish excerpts from the papers must obtain prior permission from the copyright holders and should seek advice from Archives Centre staff.
Please cite as Churchill Archives Centre, The Papers of Major-General John Scott Crawford, CRRD
A copy of this finding aid is available for consultation at Churchill Archives Centre, Cambridge, the National Register of Archives, Kew and on the Janus website, http://janus.lib.cam.ac.uk/.
This finding aid was prepared by Katharine Thomson of Churchill Archives Centre from an existing catalogue in May 2005. Additional biographical information was taken from "Who Was Who" (A & C Black) and Robin Higham's essay, 'Crawford, John Scott (1889-1978)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004.