London: Sport & General Press Agency, Limited, 30 June 1962. Photograph. This original press photo shows former British Prime Minister Sir Winston S. Churchill raising his hand to give his famous V sign as he is carried by stretcher to an ambulance. This image measures 12 x 15 in (30.5 x 38.1 cm) on matte photo paper. Condition is good. The paper is crisp with some light bruising to the corners, original crop marks, finger prints inherent in the photo’s development, and light scuffing visible only under raking light. This photograph was stored folded, thus there is a strong vertical crease through the center of the image. The verso bears the copyright stamp of “Sport & General Press Agency, Limited”, a purple published stamp of The Daily Telegraph from 30 June 1962, a clipping of the caption as it was printed in the newspaper, and handwritten printing notations.
On the morning of 28 June 1962 while on holiday in Monte Carlo Winston Churchill slipped off the edge of his bed. After being x-rayed by the hotel staff, he was taken to the hospital where he was fitted with a plaster cast reaching from his lower chest to his entire left leg. Churchill’s private secretary Montague Browne later recalled, “he sent everyone out of the room and said to me, ‘I want to die in England.’ I relayed this to No. 10. Harold Macmillan sent an RAF Comet to pick him up in Nice. The Monte Carlo doctors were furious and said that I was killing him.” (Gilbert Vol. VIII, p. 1335)
When he arrived in London Churchill was carried from the plane, giving the V sign while flat on a stretcher. Churchill’s hip was successfully pinned, and he remained in the hospital for his recovery. Each evening his doctor joined him for cigars and brandy, and his visitors included Eisenhower and Harold Macmillan. He left the hospital on 21 August, returning to his house on Hyde Park Gate which had been newly renovated with a lift.
This press photo once belonged to The Daily Telegraph’s working archive. 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, including 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.
This original press photograph was taken in the twilight of Churchill’s remarkable life and career. Winston S. Churchill was 80 years old when he resigned his second and final premiership on 5 April 1955. During the final decade of his long life, Churchill passed "into a living national memorial" of the time he had lived and the Nation, Empire, and free world he had served. The day after Churchill died, on 25 January 1965, the Queen sent a message to Parliament announcing: "Confident in the support of Parliament for the due acknowledgement of our debt of gratitude and in thanksgiving for the life and example of a national hero" and concluded "I have directed that Sir Winston's body shall lie in State in Westminster Hall and that thereafter the funeral service shall be held in the Cathedral Church of St. Paul.” Churchill's state funeral was attended by the Queen herself, other members of the royal family, the Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, and representatives of 112 countries. It was the first time in a century that a British monarch attended a commoner’s funeral. Item #005335