London: Issued by The National Savings Committee, Crown Copyright Reserved, and printed for His Majesty’s Stationery Office by Chromoworks, Ltd., 1944. This is a striking original Second World War propaganda poster in support of the 1944 “Salute the Soldier” fundraising campaign. The poster, arrestingly printed in red, black, and blue, measures 19.25 x 14.75 inches (48.9 x 37.5 cm). At the upper right it features a prominent black and white image of British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill’s face, wearing his iconic wartime countenance of stern resolution. To his left, prominently billed as “FROM THE | PRIME MINISTER” is a letter on Churchill’s “10 Downing St. | Whitehall" stationery reading as follows: “I wish the “Salute the Soldier” campaign every success. It provides an opportunity for the whole nation to demonstrate the pride and affection we all feel for the men in the British Armies. During this year they will be engaged in nearly every theatre of war throughout the world in what we hope may prove to be the decisive stages in this great conflict. I have no doubt that through this Campaign we shall proclaim once more the whole-hearted devotion of the people of Great Britain united in support of those ideals for which our men go out to fight.” The letter terminates with Churchill’s facsimile signature “Winston S. Churchill”. Below Churchill’s letter is a “SALUTE | THE SOLDIER” banner beside a drawing of soldiers marching beside tanks.
Per print in the bottom margin, the poster was issued by The National Savings Committee, Crown Copyright Reserved, and printed for His Majesty’s Stationery Office by Chromoworks, Ltd., London. The poster was possibly created by artist Harold Pym, who produced many such posters for the Ministry of Information during the Second World War, including specifically for the “Salute the Soldier” campaign.
Despite the inherently ephemeral nature of the publication and the thin wartime stock on which it was printed, condition is very good indeed, the hues still bright despite mild overall age-toning, the poster complete despite minor wear to extremities. The poster is professionally mounted on a linen backing measuring 21.25 x 16.75 inches (54 x 52.5 cm). This not only helps ensure preservation, but will facilitate both shipment and framing.
The “Salute the Soldier” campaign of 1944 was aimed at raising money to fund equipment for the armed forces. While the campaign was national in scope, it was distinctly local in application, with differing, often specific targets for individual cities, towns, and villages. This week-long campaign was just one among a great many comprising the continuous effort of The National Savings Committee to induce the civilian population to continue investing their funds in the war effort.
The National Savings Committee was originally formed in 1916 during the First World War. During the Second World War, the National Savings Movement grew from volunteers who were organized into local Savings Committees, which in turn were supported by national committees and civil servants. Savings products were sold directly to the public and the funds were sent to the government. War savings were not only limited to the purchase of certificates and bonds, but also used local collections to raise money for planes, tanks, and any items urgently needed for the war effort.
Part of this overall effort was a “Salute the Soldier” week in 1944. This national campaign took myriad, local-specific incarnations. As one example among many, a child participant (Mrs. Betty Goble) later recalled: “At Winterbourne Junior Girls’ School in Thornton Heath, Surrey we took part in ‘Salute the Soldier Week’. For every £2 donated each class was awarded a ‘paratrooper’ to stick on that class’s panel. The target for the week was £500, but we raised £756 — and 6d. Another year there was a collection outside the town hall. Local people were asked to donate a 2s 6d National Savings stamp and to stick it onto the outer case of a large bomb shell. I remember it as being very rusty.”
Sources: National Archives, Imperial War Museum, British Broadcasting Corporation. Item #007022