An original wartime press photograph of Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill on board the destroyer HMS Kelvin crossing the English Channel for Normandy on 12 June 1944, less than a week after D-Day
An original wartime press photograph of Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill on board the destroyer HMS Kelvin crossing the English Channel for Normandy on 12 June 1944, less than a week after D-Day

An original wartime press photograph of Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill on board the destroyer HMS Kelvin crossing the English Channel for Normandy on 12 June 1944, less than a week after D-Day

London: U.S. Official Photograph issued via the U.S. Office of War Information, 14 June 1944. Photograph. This original press photo captures Winston S. Churchill in sunglasses, cigar in hand, crossing the English Channel aboard the HMS Kelvin on 12 June 1944 for Montgomery’s headquarters in Normandy shortly after the D-Day landings. The gelatin silver print on glossy photo paper measures 8.25 x 6 inches (21 x 15.2 cm). Condition is very good, the paper clean and crisp with some light softening to the corners, edge wear, and light scuffing visible only under raking light. This photograph belonged to the working archives of The Daily Telegraph, whose Art Department applied original crop markings and printing notations made in red crayon, as well as hand-applied retouching to Churchill’s clothing. The original printed caption on the verso designates this as “U.S. Official Photograph.NO.EA.26241.BT. Issued Thru O.W.I.” [Office of War Intelligence] An underlined statement at the top of the caption reads “MUST NOT BE PUBLISHED BEFORE DAILY PAPERS WEDNESDAY, 14th, June 1944.” The caption itself reads “Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Great Britain sits on the bridge of a warship which is carrying him to the headquarters of General Montgomery, somewhere in France. Somewhere off the French Coast. Must not be published before daily papers Wednesday 14th June 1944.” Hand-written notation with an arrow pointing to the “warship” reference clarifies “THIS MUST HAVE BEEN HMS KELVIN A DESTROYER” and is signed “Phil Green.” The verso also bears a received stamp of The Daily Telegraph dated 14 JUN 1944, a used stamp of the Sunday Telegraph dated 18 JUN 1995, and additional handwritten notations. This photograph is housed in a removable, archival mylar sleeve within a rigid, crimson cloth folder. On 6 June 1944, the United States, Britain, and their WWII allies launched the largest amphibious invasion in history, Operation Overlord. The landings on beaches in Normandy came to be known as D-Day. Churchill had desperately wished to be present with the fleet during the landings, but had been checked by his King. By 9 June Churchill was confident enough in the success of the operation that he began to make plans to cross the channel into France. Churchill telegrammed Montgomery, “We do not wish in any way to be a burden to you or on your headquarters… We shall bring some sandwiches with us.” Montgomery replied, “Road not (repeat not) 100 per cent safe owing to enemy snipers.” Not realizing that the telegram came directly from Churchill he added, “Essential PM should go only where I take him and you must get away from here in early evening. Am very satisfied with progress of operations.” (Gilbert, VII, p.802-3) On 12 June Churchill along with Smuts and Brooke embarked on a British destroyer. A “smiling and confident” Montgomery met them at the beach. They drove by jeep to the headquarters where “Troops rushed the car and surrounded it. Some wanted to shake hands, others wanted to give the Prime Minister a pat on the back. Cries were heard from all sides of ‘Good old Winnie.’ One particularly bright tin-hatted Tommy, battledressed and looking tired and exhausted after days of fighting shouted cheerfully ‘Got any whisky for us?’” (Hull Daily Mail, 13 June 1944) Churchill remembered, “We lunched in a tent looking towards the enemy. The General was in the highest spirits. I asked him…‘What is there then to prevent an incursion of German armour breaking up our luncheon?’ He said he did not think they would come.” (WWII, VI, p.11) That evening Smuts, Brooke, and Churchill returned on the HMS Kelvin. When the destroyer was within seven thousand yards of the shore Churchill asked Admiral Vian to “have a plug at them ourselves before we go home?” Vian acquiesced and the ship opened fire on the shore for several minutes. This was the only time Churchill, twice First Lord of the Admiralty, was on board a ship firing in combat. The Allies would celebrate their final victory over Germany less than one year later on V-E Day, 8 May 1945. Item #005205

Price: $400.00

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