Memorandum of the Secretary of State for War Relating to the Army Estimates for 1920-21
Winston S. Churchill
Price: 650.00 USD
London: His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1920. Offered here is a scarce official government publication from Churchill's period as Secretary of State for War and Air - a Memorandum to Parliament regarding his Army Estimates for 1920-21 - meant to accompany his speech to Parliament of 23 February 1920. In January 1919, when he became Secretary of State for War and Air, Winston Churchill was only in his early 40s. Nonetheless, he was already a polarizing national figure who had already held several important Cabinet positions and been a force in national politics for nearly two decades. And he was already steeped in the politics, strategy, tactics, and realities of war. As a young man, he had seen and fought in wars on several continents, as both an insightful war correspondent and a professional soldier. In the First World War, Churchill's experience was truly singular, having 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, before being politically rehabilitated and returned to the Cabinet, before the war's end, as Minster of Munitions. As the new Secretary of State for War and Air in January 1919, Churchill immediately faced two overarching challenges: to demobilize the army that had fought the First World War, and to replace it with the army that would be prepared to fight future wars. On 23 February 1920, Churchill presented "The Army Estimates for 1920-21" to the House of Commons, announcing the final phases of demobilization and the replacement of the WWI army with "an entirely new Volunteer Army". The original government document offered here is Churchill's memorandum to Parliament "Issued in Amplification of the Speech of the Secretary of State introducing the Army Estimates for 1920-21." The two paragraph introduction by Churchill is dated 21 January, two days prior to Churchill's speech to Parliament. The Memorandum is intended to prepare the Parliamentary ground for the budgetary plow with what Churchill calls in his page 2 introduction "the interesting details". Churchill's speech to Parliament made the case for a very different army, bolstered by Churchill's assessment of major evolutions in strategic realities and the nature and mechanics of warfare itself. Churchill's memorandum offered here substantiates with details his requests and considerations, summarizing lessons of the war, the requirements of "the Future Army", and discussing a broad range of training, personnel policies, and organizational priorities. By all accounts, Churchill handled the mammoth task of demobilizing nearly 3.5 million British soldiers with success. Creating and sustaining a modern army proved more frustrating for Churchill, who found himself: "in charge of a War Office without a war, committed to economies". (See Martin Gilbert, Official Biography, Volume IV, p.506.) This very scarce document encapsulates much of Churchill's effort with respect to the army and offers a unique and substantial window into his time at the War Office. By 1921, he would be eager to leave the War Office, frustrated the lack of outlet for his talents and by differences with his Prime Minister. He would become Secretary of State for the Colonies in February 1921 and would not return to a military Cabinet post until the onset of the Second World War in 1939. This original Memorandum is in superlative, virtually mint, condition. There is absolutely no wear, no soiling, and no age-toning to either the covers or contents. Even the original string at the binding is bright, clean, and perfect. The only markings are official-looking ink stamped pagination (159-177) at the top right corners, indicating that this publication was likely once bound, which would explain the superlative condition. Bibliographic reference: Cohen B21. 1st Edition. Fine.