Chicago: Copyright Associated Press, published by The Chicago Tribune, 1943. Photograph. This original press photograph captures Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill, appropriately kitted with pith helmet and sunglasses and with a cigar clenched between his teeth, holding a shell while 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 7.375 x 8.625 inches (18.7 x 21.9 cm). Condition is very good. The paper is clean and only faintly creased at extremities with minor overall rippling. Affixed to the verso is an original newspaper clipping captioned “Prime Minister Churchill of Great Britain as he stood atop a captured German Mark VI. Tank in North Africa, holding one of the huge vehicle’s shells.” The caption attributes the photo to “Associated Press Wirephoto.” The newspaper clipping is date-stamped “JUN 16 1943”. An additional “NOTICE” ink stamp directly on the verso stipulates that “This picture is the property of the Associated Press…” An accompanying document testifies that this print is an original archive photograph of the Chicago Tribune.
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. Today these photographs exist as repositories of historical memory, technological artifacts, and often striking pieces of vernacular art. Item #006007