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May 1918 Letter on Ministry of Munitions - Winston S. Churchill - 1918. 
London, 1918. This unique First World War item is the original M.B.E. medal, with accompanying ribbon and presentation case, awarded to Miss Etheldreda Morris in 1918 for contributions to munitions manufacturing efforts, along with a typed letter to Morris from Winston Churchill dated May 1918 informing her that she would receive the honor as a result of his recommendation. It is noteworthy that this award to a British woman for her wartime work dates from the year that British women first gained the right to vote, partly on the political strength of their First World War contributions. The letter is typed on embossed Ministry of Munitions stationery, dated ?May, 1918? and reads: "I have had much pleasure in recommending to the Prime Minister that you should be appointed a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, and I am glad to learn that the King has approved the recommendation. Pray accept my hearty congratulations on this recognition of the valuable services rendered by you to the State." The typed valediction is ?Yours very faithfully? followed by Churchill?s signature in black ink. The letter bears a single vertical and single horizontal fold, consonant with original mailing, as well as mild spotting, wrinkling, and a .25 inch closed tear from having spent life stored atop the MBE medal within the presentation case. The original, leather-covered Garrard & Co. leather presentation case is scuffed but fully intact. Within is the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire M.B.E. medal, with purple bow ribbon. The printed personal calling card of Miss Etheldreda Morris is also laid in the case, along with the letter from Churchill. Etheldreda Morris was born in the Welsh town of Penbryn, the daughter of Welsh poet Lewis Morris. During World War I she was Chief Lady Welfare Superintendent at NEF (National Explosives Factory) Pembrey, also in Wales. Pembrey had been the site of a Nobel dynamite factory since the 1880s, but during the war it was upgraded to manufacture the more powerful TNT. Situated near sand dunes, the factory was ideally placed to minimize the damage that would have been caused during an explosion. Churchill was Minister for Munitions from 1917 to 1919, and was thus the head of the department for which Morris worked in 1918. The M.B.E. she received was part of King George V's 1918 Birthday Honours, published in the London Gazette in early June 1918. Churchill took a tortuous path to his position as Minister of Munitions, where he served from July 1917 to January 1919. He began the First World War as the powerful First Lord of the Admiralty, but was scapegoated for the Dardanelles disaster and forced out in May 1915. By November 1915, Churchill was serving at the Front, spending part of his political exile as a lieutenant colonel leading a battalion in the trenches. His May 1916 return to London saw "no upsurge in his political fortunes" and left him criticizing the war effort from an unaccustomed "position of political weakness and personal isolation" much as he would two decades later on the eve of the Second World War. (Gilbert, Vol. III) By May 1917 there was growing parliamentary opposition to the Government. "Lloyd George knew that Churchill's aim was to return to a position of authority, but that if no place were found for him, he would continue to attack the Government's war policy." (Gilbert, Vol. IV, p.15) Whether for Churchill's talents, desire to silence him, or both, Lloyd George invited Churchill to return to the Cabinet as Minister of Munitions. True to form, Churchill proved "eager to involve himself in as wide a range of discussions as possible" (Gilbert, Vol. IV, p.32) and implemented major reorganization of his Ministry, optimizing production and asserting exactly the sort of influence his detractors resented. Churchill would prevail in his difficult return to power, assuming control of the War Office as Secretary of State for War and Air by January 1919.
[Bookseller: Churchill Book Collector]
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