New York: British Information Services, 1945. 1st Edition. Paperback. The 12 June 1945 Statement printed here was made very near the end of Churchill's famous tenure as wartime Prime Minister. In July 1945 Churchill's Conservative Party would lose the General election and Labour's Clement Attlee would succeed Churchill. Here Prime Minister Churchill makes a statement to the House of Commons regarding communication with the Vichy French government in 1940. Apparently in the aftermath of victory in Europe former Vichy collaborators were making claims about the British government in attempts to defend themselves.
Churchill opens his statement by explaining that the question of what negotiations took place in 1940 between the British and Vichy governments "should be answered in a way which will bring it to notice abroad". After a lengthy explanation, Churchill's statement ends with: "The reply I have made has a reference to proceedings which are taking place in France against certain individuals." In the statement Churchill relates how the British government had sought assurances in 1940 from the Vichy government that Vichy would not surrender the French Fleet to the Germans, not allow Germany to obtain control of French overseas territory, and not attack French colonies that had rallied to de Gaulle. Some British accommodations had been offered in exchange for these assurances in the form of partial blockage relief. However, Churchill states the assurances sought were never achieved since "Vichy was too much under German duress".
This may be the first printed edition of this speech; we know of no earlier printings. Collectors please note that this item is not found in either Cohen's or Woods' Bibliography. Though other issues of British Speeches of the Day are noted by Cohen, including No. 6 of this series (Cohen E138a), this particular issue was unknown to Cohen. This speech pamphlet is bound in wire-stitched paper wraps of the same cheap newsprint-quality paper on which the contents are printed. The pamphlet measures 9 x 6 inches, and is 19 pages in length.
Condition is near-fine. The fragile paper wraps remain firmly attached with clean binding staples and show no losses and virtually no wear. There is just light soiling along the bottom edge and mild age-toning. The contents are clean with no spotting and no inscriptions - just age-toning of the cheap wartime paper.
From 1943 to June 1947, British Speeches of the Day was a British Government publication by British Information Services in New York printing "those statements by British Statesmen which present, or throw light upon, the foreign and domestic policies of the British Government, whether delivered inside or outside of Parliament." A testament to the common Transatlantic democratic cause that binds the U.S. and Britain to this day, British Speeches of the Day also printed "important speeches presenting the point of view of critics of Government policy". Since Churchill was either Prime Minister or Leader of the Opposition for the entire four year printing period, his speeches figure prominently in many issues.
Due to the topical and ephemeral nature of the publication, the survival rate is low - particularly for issues preceding early 1946, which were bound in paper wraps rather than the yellow card wraps of later issues. Consequently these contemporary publications of Churchill's speeches are unknown to many collectors, as they were to the first Churchill bibliographer, Frederick Woods. The Churchill speech printed herein was subsequently printed in Victory at pp. 153-53 under the title "Negotiations with Vichy" and later still in Winston S. Churchill His Complete Speeches, Volume VII, pp. 7180-81 under the same title. The pamphlet is protected in a removable, archival mylar sleeve. Item #000911