An original press photograph of First Lord of the Admiralty Winston S. Churchill leaving 10 Downing Street on 2 October 1939, the day after his first wartime Broadcast to the British People
An original press photograph of First Lord of the Admiralty Winston S. Churchill leaving 10 Downing Street on 2 October 1939, the day after his first wartime Broadcast to the British People

An original press photograph of First Lord of the Admiralty Winston S. Churchill leaving 10 Downing Street on 2 October 1939, the day after his first wartime Broadcast to the British People

London: Copyright Graphic Photo Union, October 1939. Photograph. This original press photograph captures First Lord of the Admiralty Sir Winston S. Churchill leaving 10 Downing Street on 2 October 1939, the day after his first wartime radio broadcast. The gelatin silver print on heavy matte photo paper measures 9.5 x 7.5 in (24.1 x 17 cm). Condition is very good. The paper is clean, crisp, and free of scratches, with damage limited to a small loss to the image’s surface at the lower left corner. The verso bears the copyright stamp of “Graphic Photo Union”, a received stamp of The Daily Telegraph dated 3 OCT 1939, and a half-missing original typed caption. The remaining portion of the title reads “… WAR CABINET” and the caption text reads “… N CHURCHILL, the First Lord of the… who broadcast a striking speech,… is here seen leaving Downing street... ting. 2/10/39.” This is an intriguing full length early wartime image of Churchill, his countenance featuring the grimly capable determination that would carry both him and his nation through the long years of war to come. Churchill had spent most of the 1930s out of power and out of favor, warning against the growing Nazi threat and often at odds with both his Party leadership and prevailing public sentiment. As the Second World War approached, he passed into his sixties with his own future as uncertain as that of his nation. Then, on 3 September 1939, Britain declared war on Germany, formally entering what would become the twentieth century’s defining conflict not just for Britain, but for the world. That same day Churchill was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty, a position that he had held nearly a quarter of a century before during the First World War. Chamberlain, whose appeasement policies Churchill had so vehemently and vigorously opposed, had unwittingly set Churchill up perfectly to replace him as premier. “Before Churchill could become prime minister he had to look like one… Churchill had the freedom now to make uplifting speeches on life-and-death issues, ones that regularly put any other rivals in the shade with their sense of purpose and humour.” (Roberts, Walking With Destiny, p.471) On 1 October Churchill gave his first wartime broadcast on the newly created BBC Home Service. Churchill opened his broadcast with grim candor “We have not yet come at all to the severity of fighting which is to be expected”. He then addressed three prominent events of the first month of the war. First was the event that precipitated Britain’s declaration of war – the subjugation of Poland. “The heroic defence of Warsaw shows that the soul of Poland is indestructible… she will rise again like a rock, which may for a spell be submerged by a tidal wave, but which remains a rock.” Churchill then raised the question of Russia’s role and intentions, which he characterized “a riddle wrapped in mystery inside an enigma” but suggested to the British that Russia’s interests would ultimately not allow her to let Nazi Germany “plant itself upon the shores of the Black Sea… overrun the Balkan States and subjugate the Slavonic peoples of South-Eastern Europe.” Third, of course the First Lord of the Admiralty spoke of “command of the seas” as a national strategic imperative. “Churchill’s words strengthened… millions of Britons when at 9 p.m. the radio news was turned on in pubs and homes and he filled his listeners with a warlike spirit that Chamberlain’s worthy but unheroic phraseology simply could not.” (Roberts, Walking with Destiny, p.472) Writing to his sister on 1 October, even Chamberlain called Churchill’s broadcast “excellent”. Seven months after he was captured in this image visiting 10 Downing Street as one of Chamberlain’s ministers, on 10 May 1940 Churchill replaced Chamberlain as wartime prime minister. Item #005253

Price: $175.00

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