Who's Who - Reginald McKenna

Reginald McKenna Reginald McKenna (1863-1943) served as Herbert Asquith's Home Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer during the latter's wartime administration.

Following an education at Cambridge from which he emerged with a mathematics degree in 1885, McKenna carved out a dual career in finance (as a banker) and politics.

A member of the Liberal Party McKenna was returned to Parliament as member for North Monmouthshire in 1895 and began an extended period in government in 1905 as Henry Campbell-Bannerman's Secretary of the Treasury, a rare case of vocational training deployed to effective political use.

From 1907-08 he further served as President of the Board of Education and as First Lord of the Admiralty from 1908-11 (as predecessor to Winston Churchill).  In this capacity McKenna undertook much of the work in preparing the naval estimates which Churchill presented to parliament in 1912 (which resulted in a marked increase in the rate of battleship production).

In 1911 McKenna was handed the prize role of Home Secretary.  It was in this capacity that McKenna found himself when war broke out in Europe in August 1914.  The year after war broke out, in 1915, Prime Minister Asquith moved McKenna sideways as Chancellor of the Exchequer, in which role he imposed additional income taxes and import duties to fund the ever-increasing cost of the war.

The introduction of conscription via the Military Service Act of 1916, resolutely opposed by McKenna, led to the latter's resignation from the cabinet when Asquith was displaced from office by David Lloyd George, whom McKenna opposed.

Remaining loyal to Asquith's dwindling band of Liberals at the khaki election of 1918 McKenna lost his seat as Lloyd George's coalition government was swept back to power.  Returning to his private business interests (as chairman of Midland Bank in 1919) McKenna played no further role in political life.

He died in 1943.

A "creeping barrage" is an artillery bombardment in which a 'curtain' of artillery fire moves toward the enemy ahead of the advancing troops and at the same speed as the troops.

- Did you know?

Who's Who