London: Ministry of Information, 1940. First edition, only printing. Pamphlet. This scarce wartime pamphlet comes from the personal collection of Churchill’s bibliographer, Ronald I. Cohen. "I come before the house, on behalf of the Navy, to ask for a few men, some ships, and a little money, to enable them to carry on their work, which has become important to us all at the present time." Thus began Churchill's 27 February 1940 speech to the House of Commons during the Second World War. Churchill had served as First Lord of the Admiralty from 1911-1915 until he was scapegoated and forced from the Cabinet over the Dardanelles. After his "Wilderness Years" of the 1930s, which Churchill spent out of power and out of favor, warning of the dangers of Nazi Germany, Churchill was called back to the Admiralty in September 1939, following the German invasion of Poland. There he began work again "in the same room, and at the same desk, where he had worked as first Lord" during the First World War. (Gilbert, Volume VI, p.4) By May 1940 Churchill would become Prime Minister.
On February 27, 1940, Churchill presented his Estimates for Naval expenditure to the House of Commons. No precise figures were revealed about expenditures and planned strength of the Navy – after all, “there is no need to tell the enemy more than is good for him about what we are doing." In his speech of more than an hour and a half, Churchill covered numerous topics – losses of merchant ships, German outrages upon fishing fleets and small unarmed merchant vessels, and British successes in capturing cargo ships destined for Germany. Churchill concluded his speech by saying “I will not make any prophecies about the future which is doubly veiled by the obscurities and uncertainties of war. But personally I shall not be content, nor do I think the House should be content, if we do not reach and maintain a control of the seas equal to the highest standards of the last war and enable the Navy once again to play a decisive part in the general victory of the Allies."
This pamphlet publication of Churchill's speech in self-wraps is printed on quite thin, cheap wartime paper, staple-bound, in self-wraps with a dropped-head title and no title page. It measures 9.75 x 6.375 inches and is 8 pages in length. Though 15,250 copies were printed, the extreme fragility of the wartime paper means that copies seldom appear. This copy is in near fine condition. The pamphlet remains crisp, clean, and complete, apart from the tiniest of chips to the upper left corner. Age-toning of the paper is minimal. We note no spotting and only minor wrinkling to the top edge. Both binding staples remain firmly intact, with some corrosion staining the adjacent paper. The pamphlet is protected within a removable, archival mylar sleeve.
Reference: Cohen A117, Woods A51. Item #003409