London: The Liberal Publication Department, 1915. First edition, only printing. Pamphlet. This item is the original pamphlet publication of Churchill's February 15, 1915 speech in the House of Commons - his final time introducing the annual Navy Budget as First Lord of the Admiralty.
This pamphlet is 20 pages, bound in wire-stitched paper wraps, and measures 8 x 5.25 inches (20.3 x 13.3 cm). Most surviving original Churchill speech pamphlets of this era were once bound in annual compilations by the Liberal Publication Department, or remain thus, per Cohen (p.195). This is such a copy, trimmed from the original 8.5 x 5.5 inch size and featuring the number "8" hand stamped on the upper right corner, indicating that it was disbound from the collected "Pamphlets and Leaflets for 1915-1918”. This copy is nonetheless otherwise complete, bright and clean with no spotting, soiling, or previous ownership marks. The original "PRICE ONE PENNY" remains intact at the bottom edge of the front cover. The pamphlet is protected within a clear, removable sleeve.
Churchill’s first Navy Estimates speech of 1912 occurred on the eve of World War I and laid out detailed policies for countering Germany in the growing naval arms race. That speech was well received and resulted in aggressive efforts under Churchill's Admiralty leadership to put Britain's Navy on a war footing. This 1915 Navy Estimates presentation occurred in the midst of war. Churchill reports: "On the declaration of war we were able to count upon a Fleet of sufficient superiority for all our needs, with a good margin for safety in vital matters, fully mobilised, placed in its war stations, supplied and equipped with every requirement."
Only three months after this speech, after being blamed for Gallipoli and the disastrous Dardanelles campaign, Churchill resigned from the Cabinet. Churchill spent political exile as a lieutenant colonel of a battalion in the trenches.
The Dardanelles aside, eloquent testimony to Churchill’s efficacy as First Lord during the First World War 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 1899 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)
Before the end of the First World War, 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 A45, Woods A24. Item #006445