New York: British Library of Information, 1941. First edition, only printing. Pamphlet. This is the first edition, only printing of Prime Minister Winston Churchill's speech to Parliament of December 2, 1941, calling on Britain to extend the obligation for National Service to all unmarried women and all childless widows between the ages of 20 and 30, as well as men up to the age of 60, and lowering the age of compulsory male military service to 18 ½. A precipitating cause was apparently insufficient men volunteering for police and civilian defence work, or women for the auxiliary units of the armed forces, as well as the projection of bringing in a younger “additional 70,000 recruits to the armed forces during the year 1942”.
The eight-page, wire-stitched pamphlet measures 6 x 9 inches (15.2 x 22.9 cm). Condition is very good, crisp and complete with only trivial soiling and perimeter toning. Both binding staples are firmly intact with minimal corrosion. What leads us to grade this pamphlet as “very good” rather than near-fine may be intriguing – numerical notation and calculation on the blank lower rear cover dated “2/11. 43”. The calculation seems plausibly population calculations by a wartime reader based on the numerous figures given by Churchill in the speech, but this is only speculation. The pamphlet is protected in a clear, removable, archival mylar sleeve.
Churchill’s speech was made just five days before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the U.S. formally into the Second World War. The speech and timing eloquently dramatize the plight of beleaguered Britain, still without the full U.S. military alliance and fighting support. Churchill opens his speech thus: “We have to call upon the nation for a further degree of sacrifice and exertion.” He strikes a delicate balance, reassuring the country of positive developments and hopeful horizons, but also stressing the ongoing perils and interim deficiencies that compel the necessity.
There is a sharp reminder of purpose: “We have been hitherto at a disadvantage… in the future the Hun will feel… all the sharpness of the weapons with which he has subjugated an unprepared, disorganized Europe…” There is Churchillian recognition and ennobling of sacrifice: “A heavy burden will fall upon us in 1942… These demands will intimately affect the lives of many men and women… There will also be a further very definite curtailment of the amenities we have hitherto been able to preserve. These demands will not affect… that contentment of spirit that comes from serving great causes….”
There is also Churchillian attention to detail. Churchill specifically explicitly states his task is “…seeing the picture as a whole”. Nonetheless, Churchill then speaks in statistical and narrative detail about the changes in social and operational roles expected for men, women, and youth. The role of women is of particular note, both for the social implications and as an indicator of Britain’s exigencies. Churchill states that “Over 170,000 women are needed for the A.T.S. and of these over 100,000 are required for the Air Defence forces.”
This pamphlet is one in a series of Churchill's speeches printed by the British Library of Information in New York. The British Library of Information published thirty-four editions of statements, speeches, and broadcast addresses by Prime Minister Winston Churchill (that number including some variant publications of the same speeches), beginning with his first speech as Prime Minister of 13 May 1940 and ending with the broadcast address of 29 November 1942. These editions were often issued within two or three days of delivery and "reveal the political determination of the British government to bring the inspiration and steadfastness of the Prime Minister and the British nation to an American nation not yet engaged in the war. Indeed, twenty-two of the BLOI speech pamphlets were published before Pearl Harbor." This particular pamphlet is the last BLOI publication before Pearl Harbor. (Cohen, Volume I, p.513, A120)
Reference: Cohen A160, Woods A81. Item #005153