Washington, DC: ACME NEWSPICTURES, Washington Bureau, 24 May 1943. Photograph. This original Second World War press photograph captures British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill and U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt on the White House lawn in Washington D.C. on 24 May 1943, flanked by their combined military chiefs of staff.
The gelatin silver print on matte photo paper measures 9 x 7.125 inches (22.86 x 18.1 cm). Condition approaches very good, the image clear and sharp, the paper showing light creasing visible under raking light and minor wear to the edges, primarily confined to the blank, white margins. The verso of the image features an ink stamp dated “MAY 28 1943” – likely a received date – and an extensive printed caption, hand annotated, by the “WASHINGTON BUREAU – ACME NEWSPICTURES”. The caption is titled “COMBINED CHIEFS OF STAFF POSE ON WHITE HOUSE LAWN WASHINGTON, D.C.” and reads: “On May 24th President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill held a conference with their full staffs. Here is the group before the meeting went into session. LEFT TO RIGHT: Field Marshal Sir John Dill, head of the British joint staff mission; Lieut. Gen. Sir Hastings L. Ismay, Chief Staff Officer to Minister of Defense; Air Marshal Sir Charles F. A. Portal, Chief of Air Staff; Gen. Sir Alan Brooke; Admiral Sir Dudley Pound, 1st Sea Lord; Admiral William D. Leahy, USN, Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy; Gen. George C. Marshall, U.S.A., Chief of Staff; Admiral Ernest J. King, Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet, and Chief of Naval Operations; Lieut. Gen. G. T. McNarney, Deputy Chief of Staff. Seated, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Franklin D. Roosevelt.” The caption is dated “5/24/43”, credited to “(ACME)”.
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 wrote a piece for The Strand Magazine on the ship’s maiden voyage. Now, Queen Mary, built for the height of luxurious travel, was stripped for wartime uses, such as the transportation of troops, supplies, and, of course, Britain’s Prime Minister.
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."
On 24 May – the day this image was captured, “the staff conversations came to an end, their draft conclusions being submitted to Churchill and Roosevelt… The Combined Chiefs of Staff” – pictured in this remarkable Who’s Who photo – “produced their Final Report...” Among their recommendations was a ‘target date’ of 1 May 1944 set for cross-Channel landings – what would become D-Day. Churchill’s official biographer, Martin Gilbert, records that “With their Final Report completed, the British and American Chiefs of Staff prepared to present them to Roosevelt and Churchill. Brooke noted in his diary: ‘At 4:45 p.m. we went to the White House, first to be photographed and then to attend the Conference with President and P.M.” (Gilbert, Vol, VII, pp.412-13). Item #006561