Sir John Greer Dill’s copy of Stratchey’s Elizabeth and Essex

STRACHEY, Lytton. Elizabeth and Essex: A tragic history. London: Chatto and Windus, 1928.
FIRST EDITION WITH OWNERSHIP SIGNATURE of SIR JOHN GREER DILL. 8vo, pp. [viii], [288] + frontis portrait of Elizabeth I, plus 5 other b/w plates. Coarse fawn cloth, gilt lettering to spine. Brown stain to top edge, bottom edge rough trimmed. POI in pen in Dill’s hand to front pastedown: ‘J. g. Dill/ Dec 1928/ From Philip Joubert de la Ferté,’ bookseller label to bottom edge. Foxing to fore-edge. Contents shaken, spine starting at title, some foxing. A good copy that speaks to a singular trans-Forces relationship between two distinguished military men during the cradle of their careers.
Dismissed by Churchill from his brief, inglorious stint as Chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS) in 1941, during which he was unflatteringly referred to as Dilly-Dally, Field Marshal Sir John Greer Dill (1886–1944) went on to rise, phoenix-like, to head of the British joint staff mission in Washington and senior British member of the combined chiefs of staff: he was ‘an ideal guarantor and mediator, fixer and broker, in the Anglo-American market place’ (Danchev). Dill’s first military métier, however, was training, and it was during an early posting that he overlapped with Air Marshal Sir Philip Bennet Joubert de la Ferté (1887–1965). From 1926-1928 both men were based at the nascent Imperial Defence College (IDC, now Royal College of Defence Studies, RCDS)), Dill as the first Army Instructor and de la Ferté as the first RAF instructor. According to Dill’s biographer Alex Danchev during ‘the early twenties he was said to have been bitten by a mad soldier, so energetically did he work [and] at every level he garnered unstinting praise’; indeed, in the 1928 New Year Honours he was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB). Similarly, the interwar posting at IDC was transformative for de la Ferté, who left as air commadore, and went on to serve as air adviser to Combined Operations and then as Assistant Chief of Air Staff responsible for the practical application of radar in the RAF. He would become inspector-general of the RAF. De la Ferté’s choice of gift is intriguing, hinting at an interest in the psychoanalysis of leaders and those with power. One can only speculate what role – subconscious, or not – this book may have played in the rise of two distinguished military men.
[ref: 1236 ] £150