Got your ticket? Churchill’s June 15, 1904 speech in Manchester

Have you ever reached into a coat pocket to find an old theatre or concert ticket, only to wish you could use it again?

At 3:00 pm on Wednesday, June 15, 1904, Winston Churchill delivered a lengthy speech in the hall of the Midland Hotel to the local Free Trade League branch of his future North West Manchester constituency. The rather remarkable little item we write about today is an original admission ticket to the meeting.


Just 29 years old, Churchill was a promising but already controversial young leader who had yet to experience either the trying failures or supreme triumphs that cemented his place in history. And he had just made one of the watershed decisions that would define the early decades of his political career and set the tone for the obdurate anti-orthodoxy in the face of personal conviction that would characterize the entirety of the six decades in Parliament that still lay before him.

Background_Image_for_Page_5Only two weeks before, on May 31, 1904, Churchill had left his father’s Conservative Party and crossed the aisle to become a Liberal. Churchill was beginning a dynamic chapter in his political career that saw him champion progressive causes and be branded a traitor to his class. Free trade was a policy issue on which he had opposed Conservative Party leadership and which had helped precipitate his defection from the party.

It would be North West Manchester that would soon provide a constituency to Churchill, even if his relationship with the constituency proved brief and fraught. In his 64-year parliamentary career, Churchill represented five different constituencies. His second – North West Manchester – was also his shortest.

Churchill’s speech of June 15, 1904 was delivered to “a meeting of business men belonging either to the Manchester Chamber of Commerce or to the Free Trade League.” His speech would be published in 1906 in the now exceptionally rare volume of his speeches titled For Free Trade (pp.82-106). Of note, in the summer of 1903, Churchill’s close friend and political ally Lord Hugh Cecil (who would serve as best man at Churchill’s wedding in 1908), helped found the Free Trade Union, which was “primarily a central propaganda body” that “maintained relations with spontaneously formed local Free Trade organisations. The most important of these was the Free Trade League of Manchester…” (P.F. Clarke, Lancashire and the New Liberalism, p.276)

Churchill’s first constituency (from 1900-1906) as a Member of Parliament – Oldham – favored the Conservative policy of protectionism. Churchill’s advocacy of free trade and defection to the Liberal Party led the Oldham Conservative Association to pass a resolution that he “had forfeited their confidence in him.” Churchill was invited to stand for North West Manchester, a traditionally Conservative seat that he won as a Liberal in the 1906 General Election.

North West Manchester was “one of nine of that city’s constituencies, with a tiny electorate of just 10,000, of whom almost a third were Jewish. Churchill polled 5,639 votes with a majority of 1,241… By now a junior minister, he was almost entirely concerned with national and international affairs.” (Douglas Hall, Finest Hour #103, pp.49-50) In 1908, when Churchill was promoted to the Cabinet as President of the Board of Trade, custom required that he submit to re-election. His by-election became a test of confidence in the Liberal government. Forced to defend the Government’s policy, targeted by vengeful Conservatives, and hounded on the hustings by Suffragettes, Churchill was narrowly defeated by the Conservative candidate.

The survival of this original ticket to Churchill’s June 15, 1904 speech on the issue of the day to his future Manchester constituency seems a little remarkable. It is an evocative and precious piece of ephemera.

The ticket measures 4.5 x 3 inches and is printed in black ink on one side of bright yellow card stock. “MR. WINSTON S. CHURCHILL, M.P.” is prominently printed at the center the card and the subject of his address titled “THE FISCAL QUESTION.” Condition of the ticket is nearly perfect, with virtually no soiling or wear and retaining bright, unfaded color.

Alas, we cannot offer you the chance to use it, but this ticket is nonetheless available for purchase HERE.

A Significant Discovery

Winston S. Churchill may well be one of the most well-known, studied, quoted, and collected figures of twentieth century leadership and literature.

This means that even though we are privileged to handle some of the most interesting and rare Churchill material in the world, we seldom encounter items that are truly unique, previously unknown, or potentially significant to the historical record.

The item we are writing about today is all three – an apparently singular item and a rather remarkable discovery.


This is a previously unknown publication of Churchill’s 16 October 1938 address to the American people about the Munich Agreement. Prior to this discovery, no contemporary stand-alone publication of this speech was known. There is no doubt that this publication was contemporary, as it is accompanied by a slip on Churchill’s Chartwell stationery printed: “19th November 1938 | With Mr. Churchill’s compliments.” As we discuss in this post, it may have even been printed prior to delivery of the speech. This copy bears substantial textual and format differences from the speech as hand-emended and delivered by Churchill, and as subsequently published. Finally, it is not just the only known copy to survive of a textually unique edition, it is also signed by Churchill in bold black ink on the front cover.

The Speech



Munich_AgreementOn 30 September 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain returned from meeting with Hitler in Munich to announce that he had ceded Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland to the Nazis in return for “peace in our time.”

After receiving the news, Churchill paused with a friend outside of a restaurant from which echoed the sounds of laughter. Churchill “stopped in the doorway, watching impassively.” Turning away, “he muttered ‘those poor people! They little know what they will have to face.’” (Gilbert, Vol. V, p.990)

Churchill was both weary and desperately worried. “He was sixty-three years old, and the strain of his five-year campaign… had begun to take its toll.” (Gilbert, Vol. V, p.961) As he had told the House of Commons in March when speaking about Czechoslovakia, “For five years I have talked to the House on these matters – not with very great success. I have watched this famous island descending incontinently, fecklessly, the stairway which leads to a dark gulf.”Churchill

Privately, Churchill’s feelings were even more deeply disturbed. He wrote to Lord Moyne on 11 September: “Owing to the neglect of our defences and the mishandling of the German problem during the last five years, we seem to be very near the bleak choice between War and Shame. My feeling is that we shall chose Shame, and then have War thrown in a little later on even more adverse terms…” Of the time, Churchill’s biographer, Martin Gilbert, wrote: “For the first time in his political career – and it was nearly forty years since he had first stood for Parliament – Churchill’s optimism deserted him. Despite his appeal in Parliament for a national revival, the events of September 1938 filled him with a deep despondency…” (Gilbert, Vol. V, p.1007)

On 16 October 1938, NBC broadcast an address by Churchill directly to the American people. It may seem odd that Churchill – merely a Member of Parliament and representative of neither his Party nor his Government – would address the people of the United States. The fact is that Churchill’s tireless campaigning for prudent rearmament and collective security had given him a voice and audience independent of his Government. By this time, it was almost as if Churchill was Leader of the Opposition, despite sharing the party of the sitting Prime Minister. Churchill now used his personal platform to redouble his efforts to rouse Britain and America.

Churchill’s speech was a boldly unequivocal statement of the situation. “As a result of the Munich debate, relations between Churchill and Chamberlain had worsened considerably.” (Gilbert, Vol. V, p.1008) Whereas Churchill might have shown a modicum of restraint even a few weeks earlier, Munich was a breaking point – for him, for Chamberlain, and for the ever worsening strategic situation in Europe. Sixteen days after Munich, Nazi Germany had not only occupied the Sudetenland, but exceeded the agreed boundaries and begun carrying out its customary Gestapo pogroms.

All of which is to say Churchill did not hold back. To convey the dire nature of the situation and set the tone, he began “I avail myself with relief of the opportunity of speaking to the people of the United States. I do not know how long such liberties will be allowed… Let me, then, speak with truth and earnestness while time remains.”

Churchill frontally assaulted both the moral and strategic infirmity of the Munich agreement. “All the world wishes for peace and security. Have we gained it by the sacrifice of the Czechosolvak Republic… the model democratic State of Central Europe… has been deserted, destroyed, and devoured… Is this the end, or is there more to come?… Can peace, goodwill and confidence be built upon submission to wrong-doing backed by force?”

Sensitive to both America’s isolationist sentiment and its proud sense of democratized progress, Churchill couched the present in terms of both the wartime threats and failures of the past and the nature of the impending future. “The culminating question to which I have been leading is whether… the world of increasing hope and enjoyment for the common man, the world of honoured tradition and expanding science – should meet this menace by submission or by resistance.”

Though he spoke of history and moral imperative, he did not eschew blunt practicality. “We are left in no doubt where American conviction and sympathies lie: but will you wait until British freedom and independence have succumbed, and then take up the cause when it is three-quarters ruined, yourselves alone?… We shall do it in the end. But how much harder our toil for every day’s delay!”

Churchill was well aware that his calls to action were pejoratively characterized as war-mongering. Hence the title of the speech – “The Defence of Freedom and Peace.” Hence also his rhetorical inoculation against the charge: “Is this a call to war? …I declare it to be the sole guarantee of peace. We need the swift gathering of forces to confront not only military but moral aggression; the resolute and sober acceptance of their duty by the English-speaking peoples…”

A year later, in September 1939, Churchill returned to the Admiralty. He replaced Chamberlain as Prime Minister in May 1940. America would not formally enter the war until December 1941, but until she did Churchill’s relationship with America and her President, and the vital material support it brought, enabled Britain to survive.

The Pamphlet


003701_2This pamphlet is in four-page folded leaflet format, the front cover as title page with text on pages 2-4, drop-head title at page 2, printer information on the lower right corner of the fourth and final page, and subject sub-headings in bold punctuating the text.

003701_3It is quite striking and unusual for a speech pamphlet publication in several respects. First, it is large, measuring 11.25 x 8.75 inches. Rather than being printed on thin, wove paper, it is printed on substantial and good quality, watermarked, laid paper. The layout features paragraph breaks for nearly every individual sentence, more analogous to the famous ‘psalm form’ in which Churchill printed his speech notes, rather than to the more conventional, condensed paragraph format of published versions. Although the printer is specified (“St. Clements Press Ltd, Portugal St., Kingsway, London, W.C.2.), no publisher is specified.

003701_4Churchill’s signature is boldly inked in black on the lower right front cover in a style we have previously catalogued spanning the 1920s to the 1940s and observed as not uncommon to his 1930s signatures, namely “WChurchill” with the final letters of his surname underscored.


003701_5Accompanying the pamphlet is a sheet of Churchill’s Chartwell stationery printed in two lines: “19th November 1938 | With Mr. Churchill’s Compliments.” 19 November 1938 was a Saturday, which would have found Churchill staying at Chartwell for the weekend. “Throughout the spring and summer of 1938 Churchill spent as much time as possible at Chartwell.” (Gilbert, Vol. V, p.958)

The signed pamphlet and accompanying compliments slip were acquired from the descendant of the original recipient, who held a significant and diverse collection of autograph material.

Differences between the pamphlet and Churchill’s corrected speech notes and delivered speech

Churchill often made revisions to his speeches until the final moments preceding delivery, including this specific speech. Courtesy of The Churchill Archives Centre, we have reviewed Churchill’s hand-corrected delivery notes for this speech. Comparison of this pamphlet’s text to Churchill’s original speech notes reveal a number of hand-made emendations to the speech as delivered which are not incorporated into this printed pamphlet.  These differences (excepting minor and obvious spelling or transcription errors and small punctuation differences) are detailed in the table below.

In Speech Notes In the Defence of Freedom and Peace Pamphlet Comment Location References
Notes Page Pamphlet Page / Column
the French and British peoples have yet done the French and British peoples have done ‘yet’ added by hand in notes 1 2 / Left
It is no good using hard words among friends It is no good using hard words ‘among friends’ added by hand in notes 3 2 / Left
will bring upon the world a blessing or a curse Will bring a blessing or a curse upon the world ‘upon the world’ circled and moved to a new location in notes 4 2 / Right
And then on top of all But then on top of all ‘But’ is crossed out by hand in notes, changed to “And’ 8 3 / Left
(to quote the current jargon) To quote the current jargon Parenthesis added by hand in notes 9 3 / Right
A substantial five-sentence passage – essentially the “hard-sell” to the American people, beginning with the line “Far away, happily protected by the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, you, the people of the United States…” Same Appears as the final paragraph in the pamphlet but was relocated closer to the mid-point of the speech when delivered. This is the greatest substantive difference between the printed pamphlet and the delivered speech. 11 4 / Right
For after all Yet after all Difference in printed text 12 3 / Right
they have but to be combined to be obeyed They have but to be united to be obeyed ‘united’ is crossed out by hand in notes, changed to ‘combined’ 12 3 / Right
We must arm. Britain must arm. America must arm. We must arm. Additional two sentences in noted added by hand 13 4 / Left
make up for it by redoubled exertions Make up for it by redoubling exertions Difference in printed text 13 4 / Left
But how much harder our toil for every day’s delay But how much harder our toil the longer the delay ‘the longer the delay’ crossed out by hand in notes, new phrase added by hand 15 4 / Right
Does anyone pretend that preparation for resistance to aggression is unleashing war? This phrase not present in the pamphlet was added by hand in the notes 16 4 / Right
The swift and organized gathering of forces The swift and resolute gathering of forces ‘resolute’ crossed out by hand in notes, ‘organized’ written above 16 4 / Right
the fear which already darkens the sunlight to hundreds of millions of men the fear which already darkens the sunlight to millions of men ‘millions of men’ is crossed out by hand in the notes, the phrase ‘to hundreds of millions of men’ added by hand 16 4 / Right

Among numerous small, substantive differences between the pamphlet and the speech as delivered and later published is inclusion of two notably blunt lines which the original speech notes show were added by hand by Churchill to the final draft: “Britain must arm.  America must arm.”

Most significant among the changes to the version Churchill delivered on 16 October is the conclusion.  A substantial five-sentence passage – essentially the “hard-sell” to the American people, beginning with the line “Far away, happily protected by the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, you, the people of the United States…” – appears as the final paragraph in the pamphlet but was relocated closer to the mid-point of the speech when delivered.

Speculation about the origin and publication of the pamphlet

While evidence supports a conclusion that the pamphlet was printed prior to delivery of the speech, the dated compliments slip definitively bounds the publication date.

The pamphlet features numerous and noteworthy textual differences from the speech as delivered on 16 October and versions printed subsequently, notably in its first volume publication in a work by Churchill (Into Battle in February 1941).

At this time, evidence available supports speculation that this edition was printed for Churchill prior to delivery of the speech using a late-stage draft of Churchill’s speech notes.

Evidence considered includes:

  • The format of the speech is uncommonly large for a speech pamphlet and printed on unusually thick, quality watermarked laid paper.
  • While a printer is noted on the lower right rear cover, no publisher is specified.
  • The layout of the speech with paragraph breaks for nearly every sentence is more analogous to the manner in which Churchill laid out his speeches for delivery than the more conventional, condensed paragraph format of the final version printed in Into Battle and subsequent publications. Spacing speech lines almost as verses rather than narrative text, Churchill used a distinctive ‘speech form’ or ‘psalm form’ for his speeches for more than half a century. (Gilbert, Vol VIII, p. 1120)
  • Churchill is known to have made emendations and revisions to his speeches up until the final moments preceding delivery, including this specific speech. (Churchill’s original typed notes with his hand-made emendations are held by The Chartwell Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge, and the text of these original notes is printed in Gilbert, Companion Volume V, Part 3, at pages 1216-1227.)
  • Britain_Must_ArmLine-by-line comparison of the pamphlet speech text to the notes of the speech as delivered by Churchill reveal substantive differences between the printed pamphlet text and the speech as delivered. Many of these revisions and additions were made by hand in Churchill’s speech notes.

Typos within the speech pamphlet, as well as the numerous and substantive differences from the final text, may explain why no other copies are known. Copies may have been distributed only by Churchill. Changes made to final version of the speech not reflected in the pamphlet would ostensibly have prevented either a large print run or any subsequent editions. The notionally limited distribution, coupled with the large size and comparatively perishable nature of the publication, would help to explain why we find no record of any other copies known to Churchill’s bibliographers or collectors.

While evidence supports a conclusion that the pamphlet was printed prior to delivery of the speech, there is no doubt that it was printed not long thereafter; the presence of the dated “19th November 1938” compliments slip on Chartwell stationery definitively bounds the publication date between mid-October and mid-November 1938.


Condition of the pamphlet is superb. We note no loss, tears, appreciable wear or soiling. A hint of toning and a horizontal crease – ostensibly from when the speech was originally posted – are the only signs of age and handling. The compliments slip on Chartwell stationery is in identical condition, showing only a neat horizontal crease and mild age-toning.

We will supply scans of the pamphlet upon request.

We are pleased to offer this singular and significant item to the collecting community HERE.

Two announcements

First, a downloadable version of our 2016 catalogue of Works by Winston S. Churchill Signed or Inscribed by Churchill is now available on our website. Click HERE or on the image below.


In our catalogue you will find 47 Churchill signatures spanning six decades of his life, from 1900 to 1959. You will also, we hope, find good reading in our detailed descriptions, profusely illustrated with full colo(u)r images.

As the front cover indicates, we approach Churchill with our customary reverential irreverence – fully appreciating Churchill’s magnificence of spirit, of mind, and of will that both embraced and eclipsed his imperfections.

Second, last call for complimentary VIP tickets to the forthcoming book fair in Pasadena, California…


Churchill Book Collector will be at the Pasadena Convention Center on Friday February 12th, Saturday February 13th, and Sunday February 14th for the 49th California International Antiquarian Book Fair.

This will be an impressive fair, exclusively featuring booksellers who are members of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (ABAA) and the affiliated International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB). The ABAA is the oldest association of professional booksellers in America and includes some of the most distinguished names in the book trade. If you are able to come, please visit us in Booth #803.

A Unique Archive of WWII Nazi Occupation of British Soil

Unique is a bold word in book collecting. Many items are scarce, rare, or even extravagantly rare. Few are truly singular. This particular item – a WWII archive of the Nazi occupation of Jersey – is genuinely unique, an intimate and intriguing piece of history.



It was not published, but rather privately hand-compiled by a resident of Nazi-occupied Jersey and so is unequivocally the only copy. The Channel Islands were the only British territories to be occupied by the Germans during the Second World War, so this archive chronicles that occupation from the perspective of a British citizen of occupied Jersey living under half a decade of Nazi rule.

This archive is made further compelling by the fact that the compiler had it signed by both Churchill and Montgomery in the war’s aftermath.

003515_3Churchill chose to sign at the beginning of the album, at the upper right corner of the message from the King announcing the strategic withdrawal from the Channel Islands that precipitated their Nazi occupation. This was, of course, a decision Churchill made very early in his premiership, and for which he bore ultimate responsibility, so it is interesting that he chose to sign here – apparently a different spot from where the album’s compiler had requested he sign.

003515_2The fact that Churchill signed in a location different from what was requested is evident from two 1947 letters on House of Commons stationery from Churchill’s secretary, one conveying Churchill’s assent to a request to sign the album and the second returning the signed album. Both letters are pasted into the archive. The correspondence is from Churchill’s Honorary Secretary A. D. Curtis. Churchill’s signature was requested by the archive’s compiler, Ms. Hopper, in December 1946.  In January 1947 she received permission to send her album to Churchill, whereupon it was swiftly signed by him and returned to her

003515_4Montgomery’s own signature in the album is dated 24 May 1947. Montgomery visited Jersey in late May, evidenced by new clippings included in the album itself.

The Channel Islands archipelago of British Crown Dependencies is located in the English Channel off the French coast of Normandy and is comprised of Jersey (the largest island), Guernsey, and a number of smaller islands.  These islands were the only British territories to be occupied by the Germans during the Second World War.  Jersey was occupied from 1 July 1940 to 9 May 1945.

ArchiveThis archive consists of the following:

  • A 245-page album in its original quarter-leather over cloth binding measuring 10.75 x 8.25 x 2.25 inches and blind-stamped on the spine “Under Two Flags 1st July 1940 – 9th May 1945”.
  • A 44-page wire-stitched newsprint pamphlet (no date or printer specified) titled “PRESS” DIARY of Island Life during the German Occupation 1940-1945.
  • A 32-page wire-stitched newsprint pamphlet dated “Wednesday, May 23rd, 1945” entitled Report of Five Years of German Occupation by Jurat John Leale, President of the Controlling Committee, States of Guernsey.  This pamphlet states “Reprinted from the Guernsey Evening Press
  • Seven original 1942 issues of Guernsey’s newspaper, The Star, spanning January 27 to March 28, published during German occupation and under German censorship.

ID_card_CropThe album is, of course, the heart of this archive.  It was compiled by Vera Winifred Orwyn Hopper (b. 1889), at the time of the German invasion an unmarried resident of St. Helier, Jersey’s capital.

003515_7It is a remarkable piece of history, stuffed with wartime occupation artefacts including newspaper clippings from the Nazi-censored Channel Islands press, orders issued by occupying Nazi forces, stamps issued during the German occupation, German currency, Ms. Hopper’s German identity card, notes on hardships suffered, including clothing, food, health, and deportations of families to Germany, wartime correspondence, and accounts of postwar recovery.  The documents within span June 1940 to September 1948.

003515_8_CropWhile the album generally recounts hardship, patriotism, and resilience, among the most interesting items found within is an unsigned and undated typed and hand-corrected portion of a typed sheet that is decidedly reflective: “The idea of the “Hun” or “Boche” has faded from our minds, and most of the Islanders feel a sense of regret that these tall, well-built fellows, more like the English than any other race on earth, should be enemies.”

In June of 1940, only a little over a month after Churchill became wartime Prime Minister, his Chiefs of Staff recommended that the Islands, which could not be defended, be demilitarized, effectively ceding the territory to Nazi Germany.  “Churchill opposed this recommendation” saying it was “repugnant now to abandon British territory which had been in the possession of the Crown since the Norman Conquest.”  Nonetheless, the Chiefs of Staff defended their conclusion and Churchill deferred to them.  (Gilbert, VI, p.573)

Once made, it was a decision to which Churchill steeled himself, refusing several suggestions throughout the war (from Stalin and Montgomery, among others) to devote precious military resources to retaking the strategically ancillary Channel Islands.

Nonetheless, the occupation was a moral nettle – enough for Churchill to comment to Eisenhower in a 4 May 1945 telephone conversation “that the Channel Islands had been in British possession for many centuries, and that he hoped that the [German] surrender would be made to a British Officer.”  (Gilbert, VI, p.676)

003515_6The album is in very good condition overall, worn at extremities with some insect damage to the rear hinge and shaken, but obviously original and still intact, with contents that show little spotting or deterioration.

003515_10The accompanying Guernsey occupation newspapers and the two occupation pamphlets variously show age-toning and some spotting and wear endemic to the newsprint, but are nonetheless in sound condition, noteworthy given their age and perishability.

It has truly been a pleasure to explore and write about this item. This archive will be offered in our forthcoming 2016 catalogue of items signed or inscribed by Churchill. We look forward to helping it find the library of a discerning collector or institution.

An inscribed “souvenir” from Churchill’s last day as wartime prime minister

All collectors can appreciate the notion of opening a book they have acquired and being pleasantly surprised to find a signature or inscription of the author. That’s not quite what happened to us recently, but what did happen is just as noteworthy.

Recently we acquired a copy of the 1944 wartime reprint of Churchill’s biography of his early life. By itself, the book is a desirable, but unremarkable edition. But this particular copy is anything but unremarkable. When we bought it, we knew it was inscribed. And we knew it was inscribed to the man who helped create and served as custodian of Churchill’s Cabinet War Rooms. What we did not find out until we opened the book is that it was presented as a wartime “souvenir” (Churchill’s word for it, not ours!) on the final day of Churchill’s wartime premiership.

The inscription, in black ink in five lines on the front free endpaper, reads: “To | G. Rance | from | Winston S. Churchill | 1945”.


Affixed to the verso of the following blank end sheet is a typed presentation message on “10 Downing Street, Whitehall” stationery. Four typed lines read: “With Mr. Churchill’s Compliments. | A Souvenir of 10, Downing Street | 1940-1945 | 26th July, 1945”. Below the date, the words “Mr. Rance” are inked in black. July 26th would of course be the last day Churchill would have ministerial 10 Downing Street privileges until his second and final premiership began in October 1951.



The Cabinet War Rooms

war%20room%202The sprawling maze of subterranean offices below Whitehall that became the Cabinet War Rooms were meant to provide a secret location safe from air raids for the War Cabinet to meet. The Cabinet War Rooms became fully operational on 27 August 1939, “But it was under Churchill [who became prime minister in May 1940] that it assumed the air of urgency and excitement which a visitor can still feel today.”

Soon after becoming Prime Minister, “Churchill made an inspection of his fortress. He arrived without warning, swept through the rooms, then asked for the exit that let most directly to No. 10 Downing Street.” The Cabinet War Rooms came to serve as the center of Britain’s war effort. Churchill’s War Cabinet met here 115 times.

war%20room%206From here Churchill delivered four of his wartime addresses and “from a room no larger than a lavatory held… conversations with President Roosevelt” using a phone installed for the purpose by the U.S. Signal Corps. “The Cabinet War Rooms were in use 24 hours a day until 16 August 1945, when the lights were turned off in the Map Room for the first time in six years.”

To the 300 people who worked here during the Second World War, it was “The Hole” or simply “down there” but to Churchill it was “This Secret Place.” More than any other individual, the man who helped create and keep it secret was George Rance.


George Rance

An ex-Army Rifle Brigade sergeant the same age as Churchill, Rance was a member of the Civil Service tasked with filling pay sheets of government ministry charwomen when he was called upon to help set up the Cabinet War Rooms. In this role “Rance proved to be a man of vast talent and enterprise.” It was Rance who fitted out the bunker with furniture, equipment, and supplies, attaching unauthorized applications to legitimate ministry orders and having the surplus material delivered to ‘c/o Mr. Rance’ and then smuggled into the War Rooms. “With Rance holding the only keys and the ‘c/o Mr. Rance’ address effectively becoming the codeword for the entire operation, secrecy was maintained.”

_86789694_georgeranceSecrecy was no joke. Despite a reinforced concrete slab up to three metres thick installed above the rooms in December 1940, a hit from anything larger than a 500-pound (227-kg) bomb could have penetrated the building and destroyed the War Rooms.” Hence “Secrecy was the best security for the site.” But this was Churchill’s bunker, and so an intensity and seriousness could never fully suppress impish impulse. Rance made a board with movable strips to indicate the ever-changing English weather outside. The board would be changed to “Windy” when bombing was reported.

“On one occasion, when Churchill was due to return from a journey, Rance was asked by Mrs. Churchill to think up a small surprise. Someone had sent the Old Boss a small black wooden cat as a mascot. Rance made a small wooden wall for the cat to peer over. Churchill was delighted with the gift and put it on his bedside table. On the way back to his office Rance met an august admiral who asked, “How is the Prime Minister?” “Very well, sir,” Rance replied. “When I left him he was playing with his toy cat.”

Churchill had his First World War service revolver and a dagger on his Cabinet War Rooms desk. When George VI paid a visit during the darkest days of the war, he noticed the dagger and asked its purpose. “For Mr. Churchill, sir,” Rance replied. “So that he can use it when Hitler is brought before him.”

Rance ran the bunker throughout the war, eventually receiving an MBE. “If it was the personality of Churchill that gave This Secret Place its character, it was the skill of George Rance that kept things running smoothly… Both were old soldiers. Both were the same age… Of course one was the Prime Minister and the other the custodian, but it was more a feeling of the colonel of the Regiment and the Regimental Sergeant-Major.” To Churchill’s requests, Rance would most often respond with “Saah” stamp his foot. But if Churchill “wanted Rance to do something that Rance felt was out of order, Rance did not hesitate to say so.” Churchill spent so much time in the Cabinet War Rooms that he literally argued with Rance over placement of his bed (an argument which Rance won).

WSC_funeral_invitationIn 1950 when Rance retired, Churchill wrote to him: “This secret place began under the address ‘c/o Mr. Rance’ and under your faithful custody it remained until it grew into the great wartime centre.” In 1965, at the age of 91, Rance sat in a back pew of St. Paul’s Cathedral during Churchill’s state funeral. “He remembered then the few gruff words that had passed between the ex Lieutenant-Colonel of the Royal Scots Fusiliers and the ex-Sergeant of the Rifle Brigade when the war was over. ‘I suppose, Rance,’ Churchill had said ‘you think I don’t know all you have done. Well, I do. Thank you. Thank you very much.”

Clearly, Churchill did remember Rance with gratitude. On July 26, 1945, having done so much to win the war, Churchill faced frustration of his postwar plans when his Conservatives lost the British General Election. That day, Churchill resigned, yielding the premiership to Clement Atlee. It is on this very day – the last of his wartime premiership and the last day that 10 Downing Street stationery would bear messages from Churchill until October 1951 – that this inscribed copy was presented to George Rance.

Edition and condition

003550_4This is the fourth and final 1944 wartime reprint of Churchill’s extremely popular autobiography, covering the years from his birth in 1874 to his first few years in Parliament. Macmillan acquired the rights after the original publisher, Thornton Butterworth, went under in 1940. During the war, Macmillan issued these desirable reprints (issued from first edition plates) in dark blue cloth wrapped in attractive tan dust jackets.

003550_5Two more surprises awaited us when we examined this book. First was finding this inscribed presentation copy remained in near fine condition, clean and tight with unusually well-preserved binding and contents. The second was finding what appears to be an old copy of Rance’s invitation to Churchill’s state funeral laid in between the pages.


See this book offered for sale on our website HERE.

“To Pug from Winston” – Churchill’s last epic work, inscribed to his indispensable wartime Chief of Staff

We recently had the privilege of cataloguing a remarkable, inscribed first edition set of Churchill’s A History of the English-Speaking Peoples. Only one collector will have the good fortune of being this set’s next owner, but it is compelling enough to merit sharing with a wider audience. Hence this post.



IsmayThis set is inscribed and dated in three volumes to Churchill’s close friend and indispensable wartime Chief of Staff, General Lord Hastings Lionel “Pug” Ismay, 1st Baron Ismay (1887-1965). Each of the three volumes is intimately inscribed using Ismay’s nickname and Churchill’s first name.







Volume II is inscribed in five lines in black ink: “To | Pug | from | Winston | November 1956”.







003122_Cropped_Volume_III_InscriptionVolume III is inscribed in four lines in blue ink: “Pug | from | Winston | October 1957”.







003122_Cropped_Volume_IV_InscriptionVolume IV is inscribed in five lines in black ink: “To | Pug | from | Winston | April 1958”.







The Association 

We became hand in glove and much more…”

(Churchill, The Gathering Storm, 1948)

This was Churchill’s own and ultimate tribute to his friend.

Churchill_with_Chiefs_of_StaffWhen Churchill became Prime Minister in May 1940, he also assumed appointment as Minister of Defence. Ismay served as Churchill’s Chief of Staff in that capacity and others, for Churchill’s entire wartime premiership. During the war, Ismay also served as Deputy Secretary to the War Cabinet. Ismay described his role thus: “I had three sets of responsibilities. I was Chief of Staff Officer to Mr. Churchill; I was a member of the Chiefs of Staff Committee; and I was head of the Office of the Minister of Defence. Thus I was a cog which had to operate in three separate though intimately connected mechanisms.” Less formally, Ismay summarized: “I had a legitimate foot in every camp – naval, military, air, as well as political. I did not have a finger in every pie, but it was my duty to know about all the pies that were being cooked and how they were getting on.” (Ismay, Memoirs, p.168)

Ismay_WSC_FDR_Mountbatten_Casablanca_ConferenceIsmay’s position was unique, both in the confidence he enjoyed and the scope and duration of his service. “Hundreds of Churchill’s famous minutes and the replies to them were personally handled by Ismay, who commanded the prime minister’s absolute trust. He was the essential link with the chiefs of staff… Difficult allies respected him as much as did difficult colleagues. On delicate missions abroad, amid growing responsibilities for the most secret matters, from 1940 to 1945 Ismay endured strains more continuous than any battle-commander, and sometimes equally intense. Not even Sir Alan Brooke was so exposed to the exigencies and exhaustion of intimate work with Churchill by day and by night.” Ismay was “Shrewd, resilient, accessible, emollient in diplomacy but of an unbreachable integrity.” (ODNB)

When Churchill’s second premiership began in October 1951, Ismay was first appointed Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and, swiftly thereafter, Secretary-General of NATO, a post he held from 1952 until his retirement in 1957.

Even Ismay’s early career was deeply shaped by his future Prime Minister and patron. As a young officer in India in 1910 “Mr. Winston Churchill, whom I had never met, and, as it then seemed, was unlikely ever to meet, exercised a decisive influence on my future.” Despite shock that “anyone who had started so brilliantly should have thrown it all up and gone into Parliament” Ismay was critically inspired by Churchill’s intrepid early accomplishments with both sword and pen. Ismay felt “on the whole, I could not do better than try to emulate the example of his early years” and resolved to apply himself diligently to both active service opportunities and self-education. This included close reading of Churchill’s The River War (which he would argumentatively quote to Churchill more than three decades later). (Ismay, Memoirs, pp.15-16)

Like Churchill, Ismay was educated at Sandhurst and saw early service as a cavalry officer in India. Unlike Churchill, Ismay did not leave soldiering for politics. By the early 1920s, recognition of his talents and his performance at the Staff College in Quetta ended Ismay’s regimental soldiering.   Ismay would serve the Committee of Imperial Defence in various capacities, becoming CID Deputy Secretary in 1936 and Secretary in 1938, and being promoted major-general in 1939. “Inadequacies of government policy made the months before and immediately after the outbreak of war in 1939 the most frustrating of his life.” (ODNB) But in April 1940, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain chose Ismay to assist Churchill in his role as chairman of the ministerial co-ordinating committee. A month later Churchill became Prime Minister. Ismay would be promoted Lieutenant-General in 1942 and General in 1944, and made Baron in 1947.

Both their close bond and Churchill’s reliance upon Ismay endured after Churchill’s wartime premiership. When Churchill wrote his six volume war memoirs, Ismay was his principal advisor on all military questions. (Gilbert, VIII, p.221) “With Ismay as a guide, Churchill knew that he could be certain of a careful, accurate scrutiny of his work, and the bringing in wherever necessary of other experts and helpers.” (Gilbert, VIII, p.235) Ismay proved as indispensable in this as he had in the war, providing a steady stream of substantive notes and documents, edits and amendments, recollections, and perspective. Bill Deaken later recalled “Ismay read everything on the military side. He was frequently a guest at Chartwell and at Hyde Park Gate. He loved Winston with a passion. Winston relied on his judgement. He had no military confidant except Ismay.” Gilbert, VIII, p.315)

One anecdote among many testifies to the depth of a personal relationship that underpinned and transcended shared service: Within hours of becoming Prime Minister for the second and final time on 26 October 1951, Churchill phoned Ismay, rousing him from sleep: “Is that you, Pug?” “Yes, Prime Minister. It’s grand to be able to call you Prime Minister again.” “I want to see you at once. You aren’t in bed, are you?” Ismay recalled “I put my head under a cold tap, dressed in record time, and was at 28, Hyde Park Gate within a quarter of an hour of being wakened… I was overjoyed at the prospect of serving under Churchill again.” (Ismay, Memoirs, pp.452-453)

WSC_tribute_for_MemoirsWhen Churchill inscribed these books to Ismay, both men were entering their twilight, both adding final words to a lifetime of deeds. Two years after Churchill inscribed his final volume of A History of the English-Speaking Peoples to “Pug,” Ismay’s own Memoirs were published, opening with a Tribute from Churchill “to the signal services which Lord Ismay has rendered to our country, and to the free world, in peace and war. Churchill was the guest of honor at a London dinner to celebrate the publication of Ismay’s Memoirs. (Gilbert, VIII, p.1315) Both men died in 1965.



The Edition

A History of the English-Speaking Peoples is Churchill’s sweeping history and last great work. The first draft was completed just before the Second World War, but the work was not completed and published until after Churchill’s second and final Premiership, nearly 20 years later. The work traces a great historical arc from Roman Britain through the end of the Nineteenth Century, ending with the death of Queen Victoria. Perhaps not coincidentally, this is the very year that saw Churchill conclude his first North American lecture tour, take his first seat in Parliament, and begin to make history himself.

The first British edition is regarded as one of the most beautiful productions of Churchill’s works, with tall red volumes and striking, illustrated dust jackets. Churchill seems to have taken an active and detailed interest in the aesthetics of the publication. He told his doctor: “it is not necessary to break the back of the book to keep it open. I made them take away a quarter of an inch from the outer margins of the two pages and then add the half-inch so gained to the inner margin.” He was clearly satisfied with the result, remarking with pardonable exuberance “It opens like an angel’s wings.” (Gilbert, Volume VIII, p.1184) Unfortunately, as beautiful as the first editions are, they proved somewhat fragile. The dust jackets commonly suffer significant fading, wear, soiling, and spotting, and the books typically bear spotting and fading of the red-stained top edges.

To read more about the first edition of Churchill’s A History of the English-Speaking Peoples in our online Guide to Churchill’s Books, click HERE.

In recent years, several items inscribed by Churchill to Lord Ismay have been offered, but few as first edition sets in original bindings. The inscriptions would make this set special even if it were rebound and later printing, but the fact that it is first printings in original bindings makes it especially compelling.

This set is currently offered for sale HERE.


A unique WWII archive from Churchill’s nurse

History is often told from the perspective of great events and the great personalities who shape them. The few who conspicuously make history are also those most likely to record it; the voices of the many who are busy living history are often lost.

That’s why an archive we have recently catalogued is so remarkable, offering an intimate, detailed, and uncommonly common perspective on the Second World War and one of its greatest figures, Winston Churchill.

003427This remarkable Second World War archive belonged to Churchill’s wartime nurse, Dorothy Pugh (1919-2014). It includes her inscribed copy of Churchill’s autobiography, her personal wartime diary, photographs and wartime correspondence, and later correspondence from Churchill’s official biographer, Sir Martin Gilbert.

Nurse_PughIn February 1943, Churchill was struggling to recover from a series of illnesses, the most recent of which was pneumonia. Churchill’s doctor, Sir Charles Wilson (made Lord Moran that March), Dean of St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School, hired a young St. Mary’s nurse to attend the Prime Minister.

Nurse Pugh’s diary records that all she knew on 19 February 1943 was “Am to go out on a case tomorrow… all very exciting.”20_Feb_1943

The next day she “Met Sir C Wilson who duly introduced me to Mr WSC met Mrs C a little later. Both of them very nice indeed… it all feels strange and unreal but no doubt I shall soon get used to it…”


By the following day, it was decided she would reside with the Prime Minister: “Am going to live in as it’s a rush to get here in the morning.” She would stay with him for several weeks, and thereafter as needed.


For the next eighteen months, Nurse Pugh would not only serve the Prime Minister in London, but also accompany him to Chequers and travel with him to both the first and second Quebec conferences with Roosevelt.


Inscripton_CropDuring her first week with Churchill, he gave her a copy of My Early Life inscribed: “To | Nurse Dorothy Pugh | from | Winston S. Churchill | February 1943”. Her inscribed copy of My Early Life is the 1941 first printing of the wartime Macmillan reprint from the 1930 first edition plates. Macmillan acquired the rights to several Churchill books after the original publisher, Thornton Butterworth, went under in 1940. There were ultimately four Macmillan printings of My Early Life between 1941 and 1944. The first printing is both aesthetically superior and distinctly different from the three subsequent printings, printed on thicker paper than later printings. The first printing dust jacket also differs in the Churchill titles it advertises on the rear face.Jacket_Front_Face

Nurse Pugh’s inscribed copy is in near fine condition except for wrinkling to the front cover binding cloth, which appears to be a binding flaw rather than the result of any subsequent damage. The dust jacket is in near very good condition, showing overall age and wear, including modest spine toning, with only minor losses to extremities.Binding_Front_Cover

The inscribed book is significant, but Nurse Pugh’s remarkable personal diary is what truly anchors this archive, primary source material with myriad unique glimpses of wartime history – and of Churchill himself. The diary, in superior condition in the original blue leather binding, bears entries spanning 1942 to 1946.


Nurse Pugh’s entries juxtapose movie reviews, enthusiasm for eggs, and concern for her RAF husband with first-hand accounts of Churchill and key wartime figures that range from humorous and poignant (“Bed bathed P.M…. Mrs C as an audience – not a very pleasant job – still all was well. P.M. very sweet.”) to grave import (“PM told me that Tunisia will be O.K. now.”).23_Feb_1943

Pugh’s entries interweave daily London life of rationing, air raids, and “carry on” ethos with the momentous figures, events, and decisions shaping wartime Britain. Among the “mundane” but viscerally affecting wartime entries are those from the month before she met Churchill:

17 January 1943 “Air raid warning went at 8:30 pm – real gun fire so quite noisy for about 20 mins. All patients good. Dr. Gosse came to see if everyone O.K.”
18 January 1943 “Another warning at 4:40 am. Very heavy barrage…”
28 January 1943 Two letters from Roger… It’s a year now since R. joined the R.A.F.
3 February 1943 “Felt very depressed & had a jolly good howl. Felt much better after.”

An appreciation for Nurse Pugh’s unique perspective was doubtless shared by Churchill’s official biographer, Sir Martin Gilbert, who contacted her on 22 March 1982 asking for her recollections about Churchill. She replied on 6 April 1982 and some of her reflections were recorded in Churchill’s official biography, including her conversation with Churchill aboard the Queen Mary en route to the second Quebec conference with Roosevelt in September 1944. (See Gilbert, VII, p.950)


The three letters from Gilbert are included in this archive, as are five photographs of Nurse Pugh, among them two taken in Quebec during her travels with Churchill, as well as a Christmas 1944 letter to Nurse Pugh from her superior at St. Mary’s Hospital.

DocumentsNurse Pugh’s diary was given to her by her fiancé, Roger. In February 1942 Roger was posted. They married in May. Roger served in the RAF with the 252 Squadron, flying Bristol Beaufighters in the Mediterranean, including Libya and Greece.From_Roger

Interspersed among the historic personalities and great events her diary records, it also records private moments of both fraught concern and staid resolve for her husband. Roger survived the war; they would have two children and six grandchildren. At the end of her long life Dorothy Pugh was remembered for many things – a generous nature, charity work, love of gardening and keenness for ornithology – but perhaps most for her wartime service to Churchill. Her unique experience is remarkably encapsulated and illuminated in this archive, in both Churchill’s hand and her own.

I could prattle on at length about Nurse Pugh’s perspective on wartime Britain and Winston Churchill, but since we have the benefit of her diary, I will spare you more of my prose and share excerpts from her diary entries.

19 August 1942 “Day of Dieppe raid. First time Roger’s boys really went into action. First operational flight as new 252 squadron.   Strong didn’t come back.”
24 September 1942 “Busy afternoon doing blackout curtains.”
19 November 1942 “just horrid leaving him [Roger] – he looked so young & forlorn.”
17 January 1943 Air raid warning went at 8:30 pm – real gun fire so quite noisy for about 20 mins. All patients good. Dr. Gosse came to see if everyone O.K.
18 January 1943 Another warning at 4-40 am. Very heavy barrage…
28 January 1943 Two letters from Roger. Telephoned o.w. after duty. It’s a year now since R. joined the R.A.F.
3 February 1943 Felt depressed & had jolly good howl.   Felt much better after.
19 February 1943 “Am to go out on a case tomorrow… all very exciting.”
20 February 1943 “Met Sir C Wilson [Churchill’s doctor, later becomes Lord Moran] who duly introduced me to Mr. WSC met Mrs. C a little later. Both of them very nice indeed. Quiet day – really very little to do – it all feels rather strange and unreal but no doubt I shall soon get used to it… Met Lord Beaverbrook”
21 February 1943 “P.M. had a better night + felt much better. Saw Sir Charles. Quiet morning. A Eden came just before lunch… General Ismay arrived… Am going to live in as its a rush to get here in the morning.”
22 February 1943 “Fairly busy day. P.M. kept finger on bell pretty well all day… Letter from Roger – not much news but he seems very well & quite busy too. PM told me that Tunisia will be O.K. now.”
23 February 1943 “Bed bathed P.M… Mrs C as an audience – not a very pleasant job – still all was well. P.M. very sweet.”
25 February 1943 “Sir C told off by P.M. – rather funny.”
27 February 1943 “P.M. wants Doris [another nurse] & me to go to Checquers w/ him!!!”
1 March 1943 “P.M. had cinema show after tea – 7 pm. I went. Saw 2 news reels + “Nine Men”. Quite good.
2 March 1943 “Cinema during afternoon. “Once Upon a Honeymoon”. P.M. did not think much of it… Lord Louis came to dinner. Handsome man.”
3 March 1943 “P.M. had cabinet meeting. Lunch at No 10. shown around the house all very interesting. Saw P.M. off – was very sweet to me”
12 August 1943 “Started day very well w/ a letter from R. who is now in Sicily!!… Watched large formation of bombers – made me feel very lonely for R.”
17 August 1943 “All organized resistance stopped in Sicily today, All news quite good.”
7 January 1944 “Wakened by Johnson – just heard her fiance has been killed. Tried my best to give her some comfort. Could not go to sleep after.”
6 April 1944 “Still no mail. I feel at the moment that’s all I live for – just a letter from Roger. It hardly seems possible that its 16 months since I saw him – Some times it seems like yesterday when he said good-bye on Edinburgh Station – I’ll never forget that.”
6 June 1944 “8AM NEWS. First stages of invasion started. Allies made landings from Le Harve to Cheubourg. Great excitement. Makes one really feel that the end is beginning.”
29 August 1944 “Call from Matron – am to go to Stoney Gate … P.M. just landed – slight chill – I hope nothing more. Welcomed by them all – as an old friend.”
30 August 1944 “Visit from Dr. G. M. Lord M + Col. Drew. T[emperature] down. Gen Eisenhower called & stayed very late…”
4 September 1944 “P.M. in very good form. Told by Lord M at 6:30 pm that I’m to go on the trip to Canada!! Called at S.M.H. to collect clothes…”
5 September 1944 “Left London at 10 AM for Port of Embarkation. Sailed at 8:30 pm from Scotland in Q.M.”
10 September 1944 “5th day land sighted by 11:30 am. Landed Halifax Nova Scotia at 2:30 pm.”
13 September 1944 “Reception for British Delegation. Present to Mrs. F.D.R. Mr. Mackenzie King. Dancing after dinner.”
20 September 1944 “Sailed at 4:30 – saw Statue Liberty. Picked up P.M. etc at Staten Isle. Then sailed.”
23 September 1944 “Chat w/P.M.”


Churchill’s signature from the Paris Peace Conference in May, 1919

In a 2013 interview by the Churchill Centre I was asked: What story from your experience dealing in Churchill books stays with you?” I replied: “What intrigues me most these days are the speculative fractions of a story that emerge from some of the objects we handle. The story I don’t fully know…”

CropWe had the opportunity to catalogue just such an item recently – an item that intrigues me as much for what I will never know about it as for what I do know.

This compelling little piece of history is a British War Cabinet Document Receipt from the Villa Majestic, Paris, signed by Winston Churchill on 17 May 1919 during the Paris Peace Conference.


003451The receipt measures roughly 5 x 4 inches, printed and stamped in purple ink on plain white stock, with autograph in both pencil and red.  The words “RECEIVED from –“ and “ADDRESSED to –“ as well as a line for “Signature” are printed in purple and the upper right corner bears the oval stamp, also in purple, of the “BRITISH WAR CABINET * VILLA MAJESTIC, PARIS *” date stamped “17 MAY 1919”.  In pencil below “RECEIVED from –“ is “B.E.D. Notice” (“B.E.D.” being the abbreviation for “British Empire Delegation”).  In pencil beside and below “ADDRESSED to –” is “The Rt Hon Winston Churchill, M.P.”  On the signature line, in red, Churchill signed “WS CHURCHILL”.

003451_2Tantalizingly, the receipt’s upper blank verso retains a fragment of the document to which it was ostensibly affixed as a receipt.

During the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, the British government delegation resided at the Hotel Majestic.  In May 1919 Churchill was serving as Secretary of State for War and Air.  Only in his mid-40s and still two decades away from becoming Prime Minister, he was nonetheless already a polarizing national figure who had held several important Cabinet positions and been a political force since the turn of the century.  In the First World War, Churchill remarkably served both in the Cabinet and at the front, nearly losing his political life in the former and his corporeal life at the latter.  Churchill was First Lord of the Admiralty from 1911 until 1915, but was scapegoated for the Dardanelles tragedy and the slaughter at Gallipoli and forced to resign.  He would spend part of his political exile as a lieutenant colonel leading a battalion in the trenches.

By the war’s end, he was exonerated and rejoined the Government, initially as Minister of Munitions.  In January 1919, Churchill became Secretary of State for War and Air – the same month that the Paris Peace Conference convened.  On 17 May 1919, Churchill arrived in Paris at 2:00 am.  His meetings in Paris that day included Field Marshal Sir Henry Hughes Wilson (Chief of the Imperial General Staff), Lord Alfred Milner (Secretary of State for the Colonies), Edwin Samuel Montagu (Secretary of State for India), General Maharaja Sir Ganga Singh, and Edward George Villiers Stanley (Lord Derby, British Ambassador to France).  Issues commanding his attention ranged from occupation of Jellalabad, to who would be British Military Attache in Paris, to his exhaustive efforts to secure support for anti-Bolshevik factions in Russia.

We do have a snapshot of Churchill’s disposition on the day, which might be aptly characterized as quintessentially Churchillian; Winston was described on 17 May 1919 by Sir Henry Wilson as being both “in good form” and “very mulish.”  (Diary of Sir Henry Wilson, Gilbert, CV IV, Part I, p.654)

Churchill is standing in the front row, third to the right of David Lloyd George. Sir Henry Wilson is immediately behind and to the right of Churchill.

Churchill is standing in the front row, third to the right of David Lloyd George. Sir Henry Wilson is immediately behind and to the right of Churchill.

Churchill expressed profound – and ultimately prophetic – reservations about harshly punitive terms in the Treaty of Versailles, which was signed on 28 June 1919, six weeks after Churchill signed this receipt.  On 7 July 1921, Churchill would tell the Imperial Conference in London: “The aim is to get an appeasement of the fearful hatreds and antagonisms which exist in Europe…”  Advocating a policy of reconciliation, Churchill wanted Britain to be both “the ally of France and the friend of Germany” to mitigate “the frightful rancour and fear and hatred” between France and Germany which he warned “if left unchecked, will most certainly in a generation or so bring about a renewal of the struggle of which we have just witnessed the conclusion.”

Churchill’s argument did not prevail.  The triumphant army of a bitterly resurgent Germany would set up its headquarters in the ex-Hotel Majestic after France’s conquest in June 1940, a month after Churchill became wartime Prime Minister.  The fascinating historical irony lends poignance to this humble receipt.

This item comes to us from the collection of former British book collector and book seller David B. Mayou, known for his knowledge and collection of Churchill material. Churchill’s biography literally sets a world record for length and comprehensiveness. The man led a conspicuously public life and most stories – from famous quips to great events – are already known and exhaustively discussed. Mayou’s passing without imparting any further information he may have known about this receipt means that – along with the glue and document fragment – a little mystery adheres to this receipt and it can continue to intrigue us, for which I’m strangely grateful.

Churchill’s Second World War – A Unique Inscribed Set

We recently had the privilege to catalogue a compelling, inscribed set of Churchill’s history of the Second World War. This set belonged to the pilot who flew Churchill to England from Madeira in a flying boat on 12 January 1950 for the run-up to the February 1950 General Election.


Captain Andrew Cannon Treyer Evans (1923-2000) was an RAF pilot during the Second World War.  Evans enlisted at age 18 in 1941, earned his wings on 25 March 1942, and was demobilised with the rank of Flight Lieutenant on 25 July 1946.  During the Second World War he trained in Airspeed Oxford bombers, flew anti U-Boat patrols and gave instruction in Catalina flying boats, and flew Liberators used in troop transport.

One of the planes that Evans flew – the B-24 Liberator – was designed and built by Consolidated Aircraft in San Diego, only a few short miles from where his inscribed books now sit in our library. Of course the connection is only tangential, but that does not keep it from kindling some imagination and reflection. About the constantly changing tides of human endeavor. About the things which endure, the many which do not, and the role of chance in separating the former from the latter.

More than 18,000 Liberators were built during the war. There are reportedly only two still flying today. Happily, this set of books has also endured, and is a truly unique collection of signatures that physically connect to one of the many pivotal moments in Churchill’s long life.

Before this set passes from view into the hands of a collector, it seemed fitting to share. Hence this post.


003280_18Volume I is inscribed in five lines in black ink on the front free endpaper: “Inscribed for | Captain Evans | by | Winston S. Churchill | 1950”.

Volume II is signed by Churchill on the front free endpaper in black ink.

003280_25Captain Evans’ original flight log book is signed by Churchill in blue ink on the page logging his 12 January 1950 flight with Evans.

003280_21A typed presentation letter on Chartwell stationery conveying the two signed books to Captain Evans is dated “28 March, 1950” and signed by Churchill’s private secretary, Cecily Gemmell. Also included with the set is an original 13 January 1950 newspaper clipping with quotes from both Captain Evans and Churchill about the flight.




The exceptional fine binding is newly commissioned by us from a highly skilled binder. The entire set is finely bound in full red morocco with gilt decoration and print, raised spine bands, contrasting morocco title and author panels, top edges gilt, and marbled endpapers. All seven volumes are housed in two red cloth slipcases.

003280_12Volume I is the edition available at the time of presentation – that being the first printing of the second (revised with Churchill’s many corrections) edition, published November 1949. The signed Volume II, as well as the additional four volumes comprising the set, are British first edition, first printing.

A seventh “volume” is a clamshell case housing the signed flight log book, presentation letter, and newspaper clipping.

003280_8We had Captain Evans’ book plates carefully recovered from the original pastedowns of the two signed volumes and affixed to the new pastedowns. We also had protective tissue covers tipped in preceding the inscribed Volume I page and signed Volume II page.




The overall aesthetic is lovely but, more important, should ensure that the books comfortably outlast many collectors yet to come.





After the war Evans flew commercially for the British Overseas Airways Corporation, The British European Airways Corporation, and Aquila Airways Limited.

Captain Evans was piloting a flying boat for Aquila Airways on 12 January 1950 when he flew Churchill back to England from the Portuguese island of Madeira.

“Churchill had intended to stay in Madeira for several weeks, hoping to make considerable progress on the fourth volume of his war memoirs.  But while he was away, Attlee announced that a General Election would be held on February 23.”  Hence Churchill cut short his trip, leaving his wife in Madeira while he returned to London.  (Gilbert, Volume VIII, p.500)

003280_23The flight proved nearly as dramatic and uncertain as the election itself.  Poor visibility due to fog threatened to divert the landing site and caused a scramble for the reception party on the ground.

Walking ashore at the Southampton Marine Airport, Churchill told reporters: “I heard there was going to be a general election, so I thought I had better come back in case I was needed!”

The next morning, Churchill telegraphed his wife “We were lucky yesterday with fog which obligingly lifted for half an hour.”  (Gilbert, Volume VIII, p.500)  The press quoted Captain Evans: “Providence was on our side all the way, and the fog lifted at just the right time.”  Providence was not so partisan with the election, which left the Labour-led Government with a thin, five-seat majority.  Not until the next General Election, in October 1951, would Churchill’s Conservatives return to majority and Churchill himself to 10 Downing Street for his second and final premiership.

Despite the uncertainties of both the flight and the election that awaited, Churchill reportedly – and characteristically – enjoyed the journey.  The press reported that “On the journey Mr. Churchill ate a hearty breakfast and lunch” and “chain-smoked cigars most of the time.”

Churchill signed Captain Evans’ personal flight log book at the time of the flight.  Two and a half months later, on 28 March 1950, Churchill’s Private Secretary, Cecily “Chips” Gemmell (Private Secretary from 1947-1951) sent a presentation letter and signed copies of the first two volumes of Churchill’s The Second World War (the third volume would not be published until July 1950) to Captain Evans.  Gemmell’s typed, signed letter on Chartwell stationery reads:

28 March 1950.

Dear Captain Evans,

I am sorry you have not received these books before, but as you may imagine Mr Churchill has been extremely busy during the past few months.  But he has now been very pleased indeed to inscribe your two copies of his War Memoirs, as you requested, and I return them to you with his good wishes.

Mr. Churchill still recalls with pleasure his comfortable flight back from Madeira in your aircraft.

Yours Truly,

Cecily Gemmell

Private Secretary.

Captain A.C. Treyer Evans.


The Second World War is Churchill’s history of the epic 20th Century struggle that was so indelibly stamped by his leadership. The six volumes of the British first edition were originally published between October 1948 and April 1954.

Seldom, if ever, has history endowed a statesman with both singular ability to make history and singular ability to write it. As with so much of what Churchill wrote, The Second World War is not “history” in the strictly academic, objectivist sense, but rather Churchill’s perspective on history. In his March 1948 introduction to the first volume, Churchill himself made the disclaimer, “I do not describe it as history… it is a contribution to history…” Nonetheless the compelling fact remains, as stated by Churchill himself, “I am perhaps the only man who has passed through both the two supreme cataclysms of recorded history in high Cabinet office… I was for more than five years in this second struggle with Germany the Head of His Majesty’s government. I write, therefore, from a different standpoint and with more authority than was possible in my earlier books.” Certainly The Second World War may be regarded as an intensely personal and inherently biased history. Nonetheless, Churchill’s work remains seminal, iconic, and a vital part of the historical record. Richard Langworth calls the six-volume epic “indispensable reading for anyone who seeks a true understanding of the war that made us what we are today.”

Publication of The Second World War became known for a rather dizzying array of corrections and what Churchill called ‘Overtake Corrections’ (still arriving after the electroplates of the first edition had been made and thereafter accumulating in anticipation of a later edition).  This second edition of Volume I of the British edition – denoted on the copyright page as “New Edition, revised and reset” – was published in November 1949, only five months after the second volume was published and more than eight months before the third volume was published.  Hence, the first printing of the revised edition of Volume I was the edition readily available when Captain Evans received his inscribed copy.

The Truth About Hitler – Churchill’s original, unexpurgated profile of Hitler in November 1935

Article_Header_CropA powerful argument can be made that Adolf Hitler is the reason why Winston Churchill is so iconic.

During his long public life, Winston Churchill played many roles worthy of note – Member of Parliament for more than half a century, soldier and war correspondent, author of scores of books, ardent social reformer, implacable wartime foe, conciliatory advocate of peace and transnational unity, combative cold warrior, painter, Nobel Prize winner. So even without the Second World War, one could argue that Churchill’s extraordinary life and endeavors would remain remarkable.

Remarkable perhaps, but certainly less remarked upon. Churchill without the Second World War would be far less well-known. Churchill’s preeminence as a historical figure owes most to his indispensable leadership during the Second World War. And Hitler bears more responsibility for that war than any other single figure.

Hence, what the one man had to say about the other is fascinating. Neither man was known for a strong inclination to self-censorship.

Particularly fascinating is what Churchill had to say about Hitler in an article titled “The Truth About Hitler” published in The Strand Magazine in November 1935.


This article is fascinating not just for what it said, but for how it was considerably expurgated and tamed when published less than two years later in October 1937 in Churchill’s well-known book, Great Contemporaries. There, in the form it has become known to most readers, it was retitled as “Hitler and His Choice”.

Cover_CroppedThe unexpurgated “The Truth About Hitler” in The Strand Magazine was the headline, featured article. The title and author appeared prominently in bold yellow letters within a red banner across the upper front cover. Within, the article spanned pages 10 -21 and included 24 photograph illustrations.

The opening paragraphs of this fuller, 1935 version contain an entire paragraph about the question of whether “history will pronounce Hitler either a monster or a hero. It is this which will determine whether he will rank in Valhalla with Pericles, with Augustus, and with Washington, or welter in the inferno of human scorn with Attila and Temerlane. It is enough to say that both possibilities are open at the moment.” This paragraph, excised from the 1937 version, concludes: “If, because the story is unfinished, because, indeed, its most fateful chapters have yet to be written, we are forced to dwell upon the dark side of his work and creed, we must never forget nor cease to hope for the bright alternative.”

003441_12Other small details are altered or excised, but by far the primary difference between the 1935 and 1937 versions is removal of the final six paragraphs of the former from the latter. Churchill spends four of these six paragraphs describing and excoriating the horror of Hitler’s bloody “Night of the Long Knives” purge (30 June 1934) in emotionally evocative detail, concluding: “Adolf Hitler took upon himself the full responsibility…. I call the slaughter of a human being in peace without trial murder…”

Churchill’s closing paragraphs about Hitler clearly echo the defiant, combative, and unyielding Nazi foe Churchill would become as wartime Prime Minister less than five years after this article was published. But in 1935, Churchill was still a political outcast, out of power and out of favor. So it is all the more remarkable that The Strand Magazine would have not just printed, but overtly solicited this piece from Churchill. On 15 May 1935 Strand editor Reeves Shaw wrote to Churchill asking specifically for “an article entitled ‘The Truth About Hitler’” and specifically requested “…be as outspoken as you possibly can in your appraisement of Hitler’s personality and ambitions, and absolutely frank in your judgement of his methods.” (Gilbert, Vol. V, C.V. 2, p.1175)

003441_13Perhaps most surprising is Churchill’s harsh criticism of the German people for their complicity in Hitler’s reign. Throughout the Second World War, Churchill’s speeches are noteworthy for distinguishing the inherent virtues of peoples from the deficiencies and vulgarities of their leaders. But in the final two paragraphs of “The Truth About Hitler” Churchill extends his indictment of Hitler to the German people themselves: “But the astounding thing is that the great German People, educated, scientific, philosophical, romantic… have not only not resented this horrible blood-bath, but have endorsed it and acclaimed its author with the honours not only of a sovereign but almost of a God. Here is the frightful fact before which what is left of European civilization must bow its head in shame, and what is more to practical purpose, in fear.” Churchill’s final paragraph asks: “Can we really believe that a hierarchy and society built upon such deeds can be entrusted with the possession of the most prodigious military machinery yet planned among men?”

“The Truth About Hitler” is perhaps a window into the deep outrage and genuinely fearful concern of a quintessential man of action both caged and provoked, rattling the bars of his cell to call attention. The Churchill of 1935 had full, even prescient knowledge of the imminent danger to his country, but remained confined to the political exile of his “wilderness years” with his voice substantially relegated to the parish pulpit of periodicals rather than the bully pulpit of national leadership. The comparatively tamed and truncated version of Churchill’s profile of Hitler published in Great Contemporaries in 1937 is a marked contrast. Ironically, Churchill’s 1937 version can be seen as a more conciliatory and restrained appraisal of Hitler, perhaps reflecting Churchill’s earnest desire to avoid the war that he would fight with such ferocious resolve only a few years later.

We will provide scans of all pages of “The Truth About Hitler” in the November 1935 issue of The Strand Magazine upon request.