London: U.S. Official Photograph published by The Daily Telegraph, 14 June 1944. Photograph. This original press photo captures Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill with Field Marshal Sir Alan Brooke, Field Marshal and South African Prime Minister Jan Smuts, and General Montgomery at Montgomery’s Headquarters in Normandy on 12 June 1944, less than a week after the D-Day landings. This photograph belonged to the working archives of The Daily Telegraph. The gelatin silver print on matte photo paper measures 6 x 8 inches (15.2 x 20.3 cm). The tattered original paper caption, anchored to the verso, extends an additional inch from the lower edge. Condition is good plus. Most of this photograph’s flaws, including the four pin holes and loss to the upper right corner, are confined to the generous margins. Additionally, there is some creasing to the corners and light cockling along the upper and lower edges.
The verso bears a partially obscured copyright stamp reading “U.S. Official Photograph”, a published stamp of The Daily Telegraph dated 14 JUN 1944, handwritten printing notations, and a clipping (the right side of which is lost) of the caption as it was published reading, “Mr. Churchill visits Gen. Montgom… at his temporary H.Q. in France, accompanied.. Field-Marshal Sir Alan Brooke, Chief of the Imperi… General Staff (left), and Gen. Smuts (right).” The remaining portion of the original, typed caption reads “Mr. Churchill visits Gen. Montgomery at his temporary… Q. in France, accompanied by Field Marshal Sir Alan… Chief of the Imperial General Staff (left) and…” 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 how far away was the actual front. He said about three miles. I asked him if he had a continuous line. He said, ‘No.’ ‘What is there then to prevent an incursion of German armour breaking up our luncheon?’ He said he did not think they would come.” (Churchill, 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 #005579