London: His Majesty's Stationary Office (H.M.S.O.), 1913. First edition, only printing. This is the first edition, only printing of Churchill's 8 March 1913 statement to Parliament as First Lord of the Admiralty explaining the navy estimates of 1913-1914.
The 28-page, string-bound pamphlet is bound in paper wraps and measures 13.25 x 8.25 inches (33.66 x 20.96 cm). Condition approaches very good, particularly given the inherent age and fragility and the fact that the original string binding is intact, this copy not having been either rebound or disbound. The covers are complete and intact, though with overall soiling, minor edge wear, and dog-eared corners to lower fore edges through page 7. The contents are clean with no previous ownership marks. Spotting appears confined to the page edges. Churchill’s explanatory statement fills page 3, terminating in his printed signature “WINSTON S. CHURCHILL” and “Admiralty, 8th March 1913.”
This statement was submitted by Churchill sixteen months before the outbreak of the First World War and reflects the naval arms race and efforts under Churchill’s Admiralty leadership to strengthen and prepare Britain’s navy for conflict. A requested budget increase is attributed by Churchill primarily for personnel, “due mainly to the requirements of new ships now being placed in commission and under construction.” The pressure of the naval arms race is manifest in the statement; Churchill explicitly mentions “extraordinary pressure of work in the shipyards and the scarcity of labour” and references “beginning work on ships of the new programme” including “5 battleships, 8 light cruisers, 16 destroyers, together with a number of submarines and subsidiary craft.” The balance Statement provides additional numerical and narrative detail for the 1913-1914 Navy Estimates.
Churchill would play a critical, controversial, and varied role in the impending First World War. First Lord of the Admiralty from 1911 until 1915, after the Dardanelles disaster, Churchill was scapegoated and forced to resign – twenty-six eventful months after he submitted this Navy Estimates statement to Parliament. Eloquent testimony to Churchill’s efficacy as First Lord came from his last ministerial visitor, Secretary for War Lord Kitchener. There was no love lost between the two men. Churchill had been variously at odds with Kitchener ever since 1898 when Churchill, then an upstart junior officer and war correspondent, harshly criticized Kitchener in his second published book, The River War. On 25 May 1915, Churchill was “waiting at the Admiralty to be formally relieved of his office” when Kitchener paid Churchill the unexpected honor of a visit to the Admiralty, inquiring about Churchill’s political fate and plans. Churchill himself later recounted: “As he got up to go he turned and said, in the impressive and almost majestic manner which was natural to him, ‘Well, there is one thing at any rate they cannot take from you. The Fleet was ready.’” (The World Crisis: 1915, p.374-5)
Churchill spent political exile as a lieutenant colonel of a battalion in the trenches. Before war's end, Churchill was exonerated and rejoined the Government, foreshadowing the political isolation and restoration he would experience nearly two decades later leading up to the Second World War. Just as the Admiralty saw the near-destruction of Churchill’s career and reputation in the First World War, it would eventually see his redemption in the Second World War; after his “wilderness years” of the 1930s, it was to the Admiralty that Churchill first returned to the Government after Germany invaded Poland in September 1939. He ascended to his wartime premiership from the Admiralty eight months later.
Reference: Cohen A38. Item #006068