London: Herman Darewski Music Publishing Co., 1920. First edition. Sheet_music. This intriguing item is sheet music for a comic song mocking then-Secretary of State for War and Air Winston S. Churchill. Though Churchill is not named in the song, the lyrics mock a spendthrift public figure and the cover of the sheet music features a caricature of Churchill holding a bag labeled "MILLIONS for the ARMY" above the caption "Reproduced by kind permission of the "Bystander" | Rt. Hon. Harry Winston Churchill Weldon." The music is “Written and Composed by Jack Foley” but top billing goes to “Sung by Harry Weldon”.
This comedic song was apparently part of the repertoire of Harry Weldon (1881-1930) a British comedian known for his sporting characters such as “Stiffy the Goalkeeper”, a skit recorded in 1912 with Charlie Chaplin. We find no record of Weldon performing as a Churchill character, however, the song lyrics, coupled with captioned caricature of “Harry Winston Churchill Weldon” indicate that this song satirized the future Prime Minister.
The sheet music, printed on both sides of a single sheet of paper and folded to create four 14 x 10 inch (35.5 x 25.5cm) pages, is in good plus condition. The music is complete, clean, and free of spotting with only light toning. Markings are limited to a small pencil notation at the top of the front cover. There is some light wear along the edges, most significantly a one inch tear that affects the front and rear of the folded sheet.
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". 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). Item #004775