London: Copyright P.A. Reuter Photos Ltd., published by The Daily Telegraph, 17 August 1950. Photograph. This original press photograph captures Winston S. Churchill and Anthony Eden arriving at 10 Downing Street on 16 August 1950 to press Prime Minister Clement Attlee to recall Parliament to address formation and dispatch of a British Expeditionary Force to participate in the Korean War. The gelatin silver print on matte photo paper measures 10 x 8 inches (25.4 x 20.3 cm). Condition is very good minus. The paper is clean, crisp and free of scratches with some wear to the edges, a shallow loss to the lower margin, creased corners, and a closed tear to the upper edge.
This photograph belonged to the working archive of The Daily Telegraph and features their Art Department’s original, hand-applied retouching to the figures’ clothes. The verso bears a copyright stamp reading “P.A. Reuter Photos Ltd.”, a published stamp of The Daily Telegraph dated “17 AUG 1950”, a typed caption reading, “GRAVE FACES IN DOWNING STREET”, and a clipping of the caption as it was published reading, “Crowds in Downing Street yesterday afternoon rushing across to cheer the arrival for the meeting at No. 10 of Mr. Churchill (right, below), accompanied by Mr. Eden.” Having done so much to win the Second World War, Churchill lost his wartime premiership on 26 July 1945 to a Labor landslide General Election victory over the Conservatives. Churchill spent more than six years as Leader of the Opposition with his former Deputy Prime Minister, Labour leader Clement Attlee, at 10 Downing Street. The General Election of 23 February 1950 saw a major shift in favor of Churchill's Conservatives, who gained 90 seats, leaving the Labour Government on borrowed time with a tiny majority of only 5 seats. Attlee changed his own constituency while Churchill experienced a decisive victory in his re-election at Woodford; his vote tally was double that of his challenger.
In the midst of this teetering power struggle, on 25 June 1950 communist-backed North Korea invaded South Korea, precipitating the Korean War. On 16 August 1950, Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden met at 10 Downing Street with Prime Minister Clement Attlee and Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin “for two hours” to argue that Parliament should reconvene promptly to send a British Expeditionary Force to Korea in response to the United Nations authorization for formation and dispatch of forces. This image captures Churchill and Eden arriving at 10 Downing Street for the meeting. Attlee refused the request; after the meeting, “The Prime Minister, after considering the reasons advanced, finds himself unable to accept them, as in his view the date already fixed, September 12, is more suitable.” (Birmingham Daily Gazette, 17 August 1950) In a Party political broadcast on 26 August, Churchill stated “It took the Socialist Government a month to make up their minds whether or not to send an expeditionary force to comply with this request of the United Nations Organization.” (Gilbert, Vol. VIII, pp.552-3) A little more than a year later, after another General Election, the Conservatives returned to majority and Churchill to 10 Downing Street on 26 October 1951 for his second and final premiership.
It is tempting to read into Eden and Churchill’s respective expressions in this photograph – Churchill looking away, Eden looking both downwards and somber - a metaphor for Eden’s difficulties and disappointments in their long and close association. Eden would ultimately wait in the wings to succeed Churchill – both while the Conservatives were in opposition (1945-1951) and during Churchill’s second and final premiership (1951-1955) – for nearly a decade after the end of the Second World War. And Eden’s long-awaited premiership (1955-1957) proved fraught and arguably diminished, rather than crowned, his stature and reputation. By January 1957, he had resigned the premiership he had so long sought, undone by both ill health and yet another postwar conflict - the Suez crisis. Item #005596