Draft of a speech made by the then Prince of Wales at a dinner in honour of Marshal Foch
WORLD WAR ONE: EDWARD VIII
Category: First World War
[London] No Publisher. 1919.
An autograph manuscript, unsigned, four pages, 4to and slightly smaller. The boldly penned holograph manuscript, with a number of corrections, is the draft of a speech made by the Prince of Wales at a dinner in honour of Marshal Foch at the end of World War One and states, in part, 'This is an occasion of such unique & historical interest that I find it very difficult to address such a so distinguished an assembly. It is indeed a great honour for me to be presiding here this evening & that it should fall to my lot to propose such a wonderful toast; it is almost impossible for me to find adequate words……to welcome so many famous allied commanders…..At this dinner are gathered together, comrades in arms drawn from many nations…..who have been engaged in a long & desperate (sic) struggle against the most powerful military combination that the World has ever known & who have emerged from the struggle completely victorious……France & Paris have already celebrated peace & our overwhelming victory; the other allied nations & their capitals will doubtless do the same. But just now we are celebrating it all in the British & London way & I feel that yesterdays triumphal pageant was a brilliant success. We feel that it represented the great war, that it represented victory in every sense of the word & that no one who was present could fail to carry away but the proudest & most inspiring memories which will last a life time……To me as one of the younger generation these memories will be particularly vivid as during my periods of active service in several theatres of war I often had the priviledge (sic) & good fortune of being closely associated with many of our allied armies army corps divisions & even regiments…….It is obvious that this last greatest of world struggles has broken all records from every point of view but I would venture to point out that never before has so large a number of allies been fighting & working together…..Now that the great war is over & the powerful enemies that have so long disturbed the peace of the World & menaced our freedom are finally overthrown & subdued we all rejoice to welcome here those who have shared with us the perils & sufferings of the trying & strenuous campaign & who now share with us the joy of our victory. Representative of every allied power are present this evening but there is one power whose representative has occupied a unique position. In Marshall (sic) Foch we salute the great captain…..His position as a Supreme C. in C. has no comparison in history either from the point of view of power or responsibility. In this position he has revealed a genious (sic) for war equal to the greatness of his task & the magnitude of his difficulties'. Together with a further selection of holograph notes, unsigned, four pages, oblong 4to and 8vo, n.p. (London), n.d. (July 1919), being the Prince's briefer manuscript notes prepared in composing his speech, with various corrections and the different sections each marked with an ink and blue indelible pencil line, the notes concluding with a passage in French, 'C'est pour moi un tres grand honneur et tres grande joie de vous acceuillir ici au nom du Roi et de boire a la sante des grandes nations allies dont vous etes les representants distingues Je n'ai qu'une pensée ce soir ''vive nos braves allies''' and his Toast to Foch, 'The Commanders & representatives of the armies forces of our allies coupled with the name of Marshall (sic) Foch'. Ferdinand Foch (1851-1929) French Marshal, a General and military theorist who served as the Supreme Allied Commander from March 1918. The 'triumphal pageant' which the Prince of Wales describes as having taken place the day before in the present manuscript was undoubtedly the Victory Parade Peace Day held in London on 19th July 1919. Although fighting on the Western Front had ceased in November 1918, peace negotiations would continue for many months and the Treaty of Versailles was not signed until June 1919. When negotiations were reaching their conclusion and a 'proper peace' was within sight, a peace committee was founded to decide how Great Britain would publicly mark the end of World War One and acknowledge the widespread feelings of jubilation within the country. With a Bank Holiday having been agreed upon, on the morning of the 19th July thousands of people gathered in London to participate in a spectacle, the likes of which had not been witnessed before. Almost 15,000 troops participated in the victory parade which was led by the Allied commanders Douglas Haig (British Commander-in-Chief), John Pershing (Head of the United States Expeditionary Force) and Ferdinand Foch (Allied Supreme Commander). The latter received the honour of being created a Field Marshal in the British Army on the same day and, on 20th July 1919, was the guest of honour at a dinner for the British and Allied Commanders and their staffs at the Carlton Hotel. It was at this dinner, attended by around 400 people, that the Prince delivered his speech. It was published in The Times on 21st July 1919. A rare manuscript, a few slight stains and minor age wear to the preparatory notes, the manuscript speech.