WILLIAMS, Edward Alban [CHURCHILL, Winston; HENDERSON, David, MACHADO, Bernardino]. The Paris and Etaples Army and Navy Leave Club Visitor’s Book. [1917-18].
Landscape 8vo., recently rebound in maroon linson boards lettered and ruled in gilt to upper board, with matching label pasted to spine; green marbled end papers; all edges gilt; pp [164 approx]; some pages excised, some blank, others pasted in; containing numerous ephemeral items, among which include manuscript notes and music, photographs, newspaper clippings, letters, pen-and-ink drawings, railway tickets, maps, business cards, menus, programmes, and much more besides; various materials frayed, browned and nicking in places.
An original and historically important First World War Visitor's book, compiled by Edward Alban Williams, the Lieutenant Commandant of the club from 1917-1918. Presented here are hundreds of signatures of the men (and women) who passed through its doors, alongside which can be found quotes, ditties, verses or jokes alongside their names, ranks and regiments. Signatories include a large number of young officers, including many from the colonies of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, as well as a plethora of important dignitaries including the then munitions minister Winston Churchill, David Henderson and the President of Portugal, Bernardino Machado, also feature. Some highlights include:
p.  [Winston] Churchill. Surname signed and underlined in black ink. [c.August 1918.]. A Pencil note alongside (possibly by Williams) states that Churchill inspected the club's St Cloud canteen before going on for lunch at Versailles. On the same page is the signature of Lieutenant General David Henderson who, at the outbreak of the war, was the senior leader in charge of the Royal Flying Corp and is widely regarded as being the father of the RAF.
p. Bernardino Machado [President of Portugal] and Afonso Costa [Prime Minister of Portugal], dated 16/10/17. Machado received Germany's declaration of war in March 1916, and visited the Portuguese forces in France. In 1917 the government was deposed by a military coup headed by Sidónio Pais, and Machado went into exile.
Lieutenant Colonel Oswyn. St Leger Davies 1/8th Battalion. Killed in action while leading a counter attack on the village of Bucquoy on 5 April 1918, aged 44. He is buried at Bienvillers Military Cemetery, France.
G. A. Studdert Kennedy. 'Woodbine Willie' dated August 18th 1918, and accompanied by an original and moving short poem, which is seemingly unpublished: "O broken roofless village, O disembowelled Hun. Six barkless silver tree trunks, In a sudden burst of sun". He was awarded the military cross at Messines Ridge, for running into no mans land to assist the wounded.
Madame Rejane, a famous French actress, who was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour.
Other ephemeral items include:
A Menu for meal on 3rd May 1918 for a meal at Fouquet's Restaurant, Paris, signed by attendees, including renowned French surgeon Jean Pozzi and numerous journalists, including famous American writer Morton Fullerton, plus art historian Eric Maclagan (then
of the Ministry of information), French writer Rene Moulin, and others.
[Revd] Arthur Stanley Vaughan Blunt[father of Anthony Frederick Blunt (26 September 1907-26 March 1983)], known as Sir Anthony Blunt, KCVO, from 1956 to 1979, a leading British art historian who, in 1964, after being offered immunity from prosecution, confessed to having been a Soviet spy.
Two small photographs showing the aftermath of the defence of Kratz Wood on 18/2/17.
An original ‘Daily Mail’ Pocket Guide Book to Paris map with location of club indicated, with inscription in pencil on reverse 'Big Bertha's firing range across Paris'
Inscribed calling cards of French ministers Louis Suquet and Albert Bluzet, tipped in alongside their signatures.
An allied propaganda leaflet 'A German Naval Victory' condemning the sinking of the Lusitania.
An original paper pouch for temporary German ID card 'Vorlaufiger Ausweis' issued 'auf allerhöchsten befehl' (on the highest command) Seiner Majeftat des Kaifers und Konigs (his Majesty, the Emperor and King), dated 8 September 1917, presumably taken as a battlefield souvenir.
The Army and Navy Leave Club, which had canteens in Paris and Étaples, was a haven of rest and relaxation for serving soldiers and sailors, mostly of lieutenant or equivalent rank, who would visit between ardous postings in the trenches. For a short period of time at least, the horrors of war could be forgotten, and one press cutting in the album, undated but circa 1918, quotes Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig as saying of the club: "I have heard from all sides what a boon it is for soldiers on leave to be able to take advantage of
the comforts and amusements which your committee have provided for them."
A unique item.