Permanent Organization of the Royal Air Force & Note by the Secretary of State for Air on a Scheme Outlined by the Chief of the Air Staff
Winston S. Churchill
Price: 450.00 USD
London: His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1919. Offered here is a scarce official publication from Churchill's period as Secretary of State for Air. In 1919, at the end of the First World War, Winston Churchill was serving as Secretary of State for War and Air, a post he held until becoming Colonial Secretary in 1921. Even before the First World War, Churchill was intrigued by the possibilities of air power and engaged in efforts to explore the military potential. In 1913, he learned to fly and, as First Lord of the Admiralty, founded the Royal Naval Flying Corps. Having given up flying in 1914 at his wife's request, Churchill again took up flying practice in the summer of 1919 - and very nearly lost his life in a crash soon thereafter. The war itself gave Churchill a unique perspective, since he served both in the Cabinet and on the front; Churchill was First Lord of the Admiralty until 1915 and then, after assuming questionable blame for the Dardanelles tragedy, served as a lieutenant colonel leading a battalion in the trenches. By the war's end, he was exonerated by the Dardanelles Commission and rejoined the Government. In the war's aftermath, Churchill understood and embraced the military potential of air power and used his position - not without resistance - to make military aviation a priority. He sought to build resources and organizational capacity, but also to ensure that the Air Force remained integrated within a unified defense Ministry. In this task, Churchill worked closely with and generally supported his Chief of the Air Staff, Hugh Trenchard. The vision of air power as integral to an effective future military force was prescient; just two decades later, Prime Minister Winston Churchill would famously praise the British pilots ("Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.") who played the vital role in preventing Nazi invasion. Nevertheless, in the wake of the First World War, economy and skepticism limited vision. "The Air Ministry was small and new; it had few friends." (Martin Gilbert, Official Biography, Volume IV, page 208). In late 1919, Churchill and Trenchard presented to Parliament this plan outlining proposals for deploying and financing the Air Force. Here is the original, official government publication, bearing a three-paragraph introductory note from Churchill as Secretary of State for Air dated 11 December 1919. The Memorandum clearly conveys Churchill's and Trenchard's struggle to firmly establish and viably sustain the fledgling service: "The problem of forming the Royal Air Force on a peace basis differs in many essentials from that which confronts the older services. The necessities of war created it in a night, but the economies of peace have to a large extent caused it to wither in a day, and we are now faced with the necessity of replacing it with a plant of deeper root." The pamphlet is bound in paper wraps with string, measures 12.75 x 8 inches (foolscap), and is 8 pages in length. The front cover bears the title and printing information. Churchill's "Note by the Secretary of State for Air" appears at the top half of page 2. The balance of pages 2-7 bear Trenchard's "Memorandum by the Chief of the Air Staff" dated 25 November 1919. The 8th and final page, which serves as the rear cover, is an Appendix in table format detailing proposed air forces and deployments for the next three years, separated into domestic and overseas forces. Condition is superlative, virtually mint condition. There is absolutely no wear and no age-toning to either the covers or contents. Even the original string at the binding is bright, clean, and perfect. Apart from a tiny dark smudge at the bottom of the front cover there is no soiling. The only markings are official-looking ink-stamped pagination (849-855) at the top right corners, indicating that this publication was likely once bound, which would explain the superlative condition. Bibliographic reference: Cohen B20. 1st Edition. Fine.