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Titel: An Autograph Note Signed by Churchill Taken ...
DESCRIPTION OF ITEM: A handwritten note initialled ‘WSC’ and dated ‘25 ix’ written during a critical period of World War II in red ink and taken from the base of a letter dated 22nd September 1941 from JG Dill C.I.G.S. ostensibly concerning Iraq. Churchill’s note reads ‘Prof L, to keep and analyse, WSC’. HISTORICAL CONTEXT: During the War, Churchill set up a department to provide him with intelligence and statistical analysis called ‘S Branch’. The department was headed up by Professor Lindemann (who would later become Lord Cherwell - 1886-1957) who had been Churchill’s friend since the mid 1930’s and whom he would call ‘Prof L’ (Ref: 'The Official Life of Professor F. A. Lindemann' by The Earl of Birkenhead 1962). It is to Lindemann that this note is addressed. The letter to which this note was originally added was written by Sir John Dill (1881-1944). Although appointed to be Chief of the Imperial General Staff in May 1940, Dill and Churchill failed to get on owing to their conflicting styles of working. Dill preferred to address issues through careful consideration of judicious, cogent written exposition whereas Churchill preferred the cut and thrust of vigorous spoken debate with a focus on action. This led to Churchill referring to Dill somewhat unkindly as ‘Dilly Dally.’ At the time this letter was written, matters were reaching a head between the two over the response that should be taken to an insurrection in Iraq from groups sympathetic to Nazi Germany (ostensibly the subject of Dill's letter from which this note is taken). Churchill feared that if Iraq fell, Egypt would follow with devastating effects on oil supplies and the transport of troops and resources through the Suez Canal. Consequently he made it a top priority and shipped tanks and troops to quell the insurrection. However, the consequence of doing this was to significantly compromise the resources that would be available to defend Britain in the event of an invasion. Churchill would later describe it as one of the most stressful decisions he had to make during the entire war. By contrast, Dill felt that Iraq was not as important as Churchill believed and that the danger of German invasion was sufficiently high to make shipping tanks to Iraq an unacceptable risk. Churchill admired Dill’s strategic knowledge but felt him to be too pessimistic and concluded that he could no longer work with him, replacing him with General Sir Alan Brooke [Ref: Churchill's Generals - John Keegan 2004]. Dill was promoted to Field Marshal in November 1941 as a consolation prize and was to be made Governor of Bombay. However, at that point America was also entering the war and Churchill felt compelled to keep Dill on to help brief Roosevelt and his Chiefs of Staff. Consequently Dill was despatched to Washington to act as the Prime Minister’s personal representative. Ironically, Dill’s cautious, considered, consensus building approach was ideally suited to the development of a unity of purpose amongst the Combined Chiefs of Staff and the coordination of effort between their joint forces. He became very good friends with the US’s highest ranking soldier General George Marshal and together they exerted a tremendous influence on Roosevelt. Consequently, the very characteristics that had so irritated Churchill enabled Dill to play a pivotal role in developing the special relationship between Great Britain and the US that would prove so critical to victory in the War. Roosevelt would later say that Dill was ‘the most important figure in the remarkable accord which has been developed in the combined operations of our two countries’. On his death, Dill received a burial in Arlington National Cemetery with the route of the funeral cortege lined by 1000’s of troops. Posthumously awarded the America Distinguished Service Medal in 1944, the US Congress also passed a joint resolution appreciating his service. Although only a small piece of paper, this note thus provides a direct link to some. Buchnummer des Verkäufers 000020
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