London: British Official Photograph, Crown copyright reserved, issued by Photographic News Agencies, Ltd., published by the Evening Standard, 8 June 1943. Photograph. This original press photograph captures Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill and Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden inspecting a German tank in Tunis on 2 June 1943, shortly after the liberation of North Africa. The gelatin silver print on matte photo paper measures 6 x 8 inches (15.3 x 20.3 cm). Condition is very good minus. The paper is free of scuffing with light edge wear and a pin hole both confined to the generous margins and minor soiling most visible in the white margins. Affixed to the verso, an original typed label prominently stipulates “For first publication in Tuesday’s Evenings 8th June.” and identifies this image as “British Official Photograph No. BNA.3279 (XT) War Office Photograph: Crown Copyright Reserved”.
This press photograph once belonged to the working archives of the Evening Standard. The verso also bears a copyright stamp reading “British Official Photograph No._____ issued by Photographic News Agencies, Ltd.”, a received stamp of Evening Standard dated 8 JUN 1943, handwritten printing notations, and a newspaper clipping of the caption as it was published, reading, “Churchill and Eden make a close inspection of a German Mark V.I. tank (the “Tiger”) during their visit to North Africa.”
While in America for his third Washington conference with President Roosevelt, Churchill received a telegraph from Field-Marshal Alexander in the afternoon of 13 May 1943. It read, “Sir: It is my duty to report that the Tunisian campaign is over. All enemy resistance has ceased. We are masters of the North African shores.” (THoF, p.780) Allied victory in North Africa not only removed Nazi Germany from North Africa, but also cleared the way for invasion of Sicily and opened a route to supply Stalin - politically important particularly given the strain placed upon Allied relations by discovery of the Katyn massacre.
On 26 May Churchill departed Washington for North Africa, arriving in Algiers the following day. Churchill spent the next five days planning the invasion of Sicily with Eisenhower and Eden, who flew from Britain at the Prime Minister’s request. On 1 June Churchill flew to Tunis, and from the airfield he was driven to Carthage where he addressed 3,000 Allied Servicemen in the ruins of an ancient Roman amphitheatre. Of the events in North Africa he said, “Remember we had Corporal Hitler all the time to help us. This self-made, self-unmade man has added sauce to the goose that you have caught, killed, and eaten.” (Yorkshire Post, 7 June 1943)
The following day, 2 June 1943, Churchill and Eden were given a tour of the battlegrounds where they encountered a German Mark VI tank. The “Tiger” as it was called was one of the most formidable tanks of the war, justly both feared and respected by the Allies. A quarter of a century before, as First Lord of the Admiralty during the First World War Churchill advocated development and application of the tank as a decisive offensive battlefield weapon. Now, in the Second World War, Churchill had become British Prime Minister and the tank had revolutionized offensive warfare. Churchill took the opportunity to climb up for a close inspection, a moment that is captured by this photograph we offer here.
During the first half of the twentieth century, photojournalism grew as a practice, fundamentally changing the way the public interacted with current events. Newspapers assembled expansive archives, with physical copies of all photographs published or deemed useful for potential future use, their versos typically marked with ink stamps and notes providing provenance and captions. Photo departments would often take brush, paint, pencil, and marker to the surface of photographs themselves to edit them before publication. Today these photographs exist as repositories of historical memory, technological artifacts, and often striking pieces of vernacular art. Item #005258