CHURCHILL, Winston S. Autograph letter signed ('W.'), to the Hon. Mrs Edwin Montagu (Venetia Stanley), 'In the field', 6th Royal Scots Fusiliers, 7 April 1916, 2 pages, 4to.
A VIVID WORD-PICTURE OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR TRENCHES. Venetia has sent him a package of delicacies, for which Churchill offers thanks ('The sweets will be sweeter from the affection, & the relishes the more piquant from the sprightliness of the giver ...'), before describing the scene from his trench: 'There is a cannonade to the northward to-night and the dark sky over the wood ... flickers & flashes continually with the wicked lights of war'; there is also a bombardment to the south of his position, which remains 'an island in between these stormy seas', only suffering a 'moderate daily toll' from the depredations of occasional shells, stray bullets and bursts of machine gun fire. After 5 months in the front line, however, Churchill's initial feelings of release have worn off, and the urge to return to England and political life is making itself felt: it was hard to quit the 'excitements' of England after his last leave for the 'seclusion' of the front line, though time drifts by quickly enough. Although claiming ignorance of the precise political situation, Churchill expresses his unhappiness at the course and management of the war, though the existence of the new coalition government in London under Asquith is a 'bright spot'.
As Venetia Stanley, the recipient had been for several years before her engagement in May 1915 the intimate correspondent of the prime minister, H.H. Asquith, who would write to her several times a day, even from Cabinet meetings. Her husband, Edwin Montagu, held a number of ministerial posts during the war.