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Frank Walters, Deputy Secretary-General of the League of Nations and Old Barrovian

Letter to pupils about the status of the League of Nations 1939
King William’s College Courtesy of King William’s College

King William’s College
Courtesy of King William’s College

Frank Walters was born at King William’s College  on the Isle of Man. His father, Rev. F. B. Walters was the Principal of the College at the time. In June 1939 the School asked him to write about the League of Nations  for the school magazine. His role, he said, was that of a civil servant, who worked in the background and who had to be anonymous, discreet and willing to carry out actions that he may disagree with. He was the longest serving member of the Secretariat, having joined in 1919. He pointed out some of the challenges of working with 60 different countries, such as appreciating their different points of view, their prejudices and keeping their secrets. He added that coming from a small country (Isle of Man) within a Great Power (Britain) enabled him to understand smaller countries’ concerns, such as those of an Aaland Islands deputation, whom he met recently.

Frank explained the disappointment within the League over recent events and that Britain and other countries had failed to support the League Covenant in favour of their own security. However, he had no doubt that the League was the way forward and that it was still ‘giving useful service… in many fields.’ He was sure the Covenant would prevail after the current tension had passed. The uncertainty of how that tension would be resolved is evident in his statement on whether there would be war – he did not know, saying ‘We know no more than you.’

References/Further Reading:

The Barrovian, Oct 1939, pp.123-24. King William’s College Archive.