London: British Official Photograph, Crown Copyright Reserved, supplied by BIPPA, 10 June 1942. Photograph. This original wartime press photograph captures Prime Minister Winston Churchill in May 1943 giving his “V” sign to cheering sailors as he disembarks the Queen Mary in New York after crossing the Atlantic for his third Washington conference with President Roosevelt. The gelatin silver print on heavy matte photo paper measures 6 x 8 inches (15.2 x 20.3 cm). This press photo was once a part of the working archives of The Daily Telegraph. Condition is very good. The paper is crisp, clean, and free of scratches with only minor bumping to the corners and original crop markings. The photo quality is exceptional, crisp and clear with high contrast. It is an original copy of a frequently reproduced image, used most recently in Andrew Roberts’s Churchill: Walking with Destiny.
The verso bears a stamp indicating that this is a “British Official Photograph | Crown Copyright Reserved | Supplied by | BIPPA”, a received stamp of The Daily Telegraph dated 10 JUN 1943, handwritten notations, and the remnants of a typed caption. It is worth noting that Churchill’s official biography records Queen Mary reached the United States at noon on 11 May (Gilbert, Vol.VII, p.402), a disparity with The Daily Telegraph received stamp on this photograph. This photograph is housed in a removable, archival mylar sleeve within a rigid, crimson cloth folder.
On 4 May 1943 Churchill boarded the Queen Mary and set sail across the Atlantic for the third Washington D.C. Conference of the war with President Roosevelt, codenamed Trident. In a world almost unrecognizable to that of wartime Britain, in May 1936, Churchill had written an essay for The Strand Magazine on the ship’s maiden voyage. Now, Queen Mary, built for the height of luxurious travel, had been stripped of its fine appointments for wartime uses, such as the transportation of troops, supplies, and, of course, Britain’s Prime Minister. General Ismay recalled the onboard accommodations: “The Queen Mary was a most convenient and comfortable workshop. We were all under one roof, and each had our own offices. There were ample conference rooms, and the reproduction and circulation of papers went forward with the same methodical precision as in London. We received the usual stream of telegrams, and the Prime Minister’s Map Room, in charge of the indefatigable [Capt. Richard] Pim, was kept as up to date as its counterpart in Great George Street.” (Churchill Goes to War: Winston’s Wartime Journeys)
The journey across the Atlantic was still perilous. Two days into the voyage Churchill was informed that a German submarine was to cross the ship’s course in 15 miles. Churchill reassured Averell Harriman, with whom he was playing cards, “we are just as likely to ram the submarine as it is to see us first.” He added that he arranged for a machine gun to be fixed to his lifeboat in case he was forced to abandon ship and invited Harriman to “Come with me in the boat and see the fun.” (Gilbert, Vol. VII, p.397) The following day the ship received news that thirteen ships had been sunk in a convoy.
While in Washington, on 19 May 1943 Churchill addressed the U.S. Congress. Seventeen long months of war had passed since his first address to Congress, just after Pearl Harbor. Churchill took considerable time to prepare his remarks and his carefully chosen words spoke to the task of the conference - to continue to reinforce common cause, unified strategy, and mutual resolve. "I do not intend to be responsible for any suggestion that the war is won or will soon be over." Churchill cautioned, invoking, for his American audience, the grim memory of the prolonged outcome of the U.S. Civil War. "No one after Gettysburg doubted which way the dread balance of war would incline. Yet far more blood was shed after the Union victory at Gettysburg than in all the fighting which went before." Churchill concluded: "By singleness of purpose, by steadfastness of conduct, by tenacity and endurance, such as we have so far displayed, by these, and only by these, can we discharge our duty to the future of the world and to the destiny of man." Item #005568