London, South Kensington
28 November 2011
CHURCHILL, Winston S. Two typed memoranda signed (in red pencil or ink 'W.S.C.') to the secretary for Munitions and General Ordnance, War Office, 22 and 24 July 1920, 4½ pages, 4to (punch holes), with a related memorandum addressed to Churchill, 23 July 1920 (tear).
'I DO NOT REMEMBER TO HAVE SEEN ANYTHING SO HELPLESS AS THIS FOR A VERY LONG TIME': a furious diatribe on official failings in the face of the Irish rebellion. The first memorandum raises 'a very serious matter', pointing out that in the month since an urgent request was received from the Irish police for 5,000 revolvers, no action has been taken. Given the the critical situation in the Irish War of Independence, such a lapse cannot pass without disciplinary action, and he demands the identity of the head of branch concerned: 'Is it the fact that, having received urgent instructions to proceed with the issue from the M.G.O., he was content to ask Ireland whether belts and holsters were required and let the matter rest ...?'. The second memorandum, in response to an explanation the day before, is incandescent: 'It is hardly possible to conceive a worse or more disastrous case than this of blind official routine', pointing the finger at a lack of 'intelligent interest' on the part of civil servants; however, he is content to allow the official responsible to remain in his post, though not without a bitter reference to the 'most critical state' of the Irish conflict; a memorandum should be sent to Dublin Castle pointing out the failings on both sides. He concludes 'I do not remember to have seen anything so helpless as this for a very long time'.
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Please note that the illustration for this lot is incorrectly numbered 297 in the printed catalogue.
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