January 1, 2024

The World of Churchill Collectables


Let’s start 2024 with an item that has a direct connection to the Great Man—one which he may have used! The “Action This Day” label has become an iconic representation of Winston Churchill’s wartime energy, passion, and demanding nature. Very few of the surviving labels are in private hands. Those that are were passed down through the estates of his former secretaries, as is the case here. The majority were affixed by Churchill to memos and other internal documents, which are housed in government and academic archives.

Churchill was a man of decisive action and expected those around him, especially his cabinet ministers and military commanders, to be so as well. He created these red labels to attach to memoranda which required immediate attention. They were exclusively used by the Prime Minister during the war and originated from Churchill’s receipt of a memorandum in October 1941 from the Bletchley Park code breakers, including Alan Turing. This elite group requested additional materials for their invaluable work. In response, Churchill wrote, “Action this day! Make sure they have all they want on extreme priority and report to me that this has been done”.

Shortly thereafter, the labels were created to alleviate Churchill’s need to write the same instructions repetitively. It was understood by all that if an “Action This Day” label was affixed to a memo, the Prime Minister assigned priority to a task and expected it to be completed within twenty-four hours. The label has often been reproduced as souvenirs offered by museum stores, including at the Cabinet War Rooms. Owning an original, however, is a rare opportunity. This item was at the top of my want list for years before I finally found one, proving that as Churchillians, we never give in!

2024 International Churchill Conference

Join us for the 41st International Churchill Conference. London | October 2024

Brian Krapf’s forthcoming book A Churchill Treasury: Sir Winston’s Public Service through Memorabilia will be published on March 30.

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