London: Punch, 1940. This original printed appearance of a Punch cartoon featuring Winston S. Churchill comes from the personal collection of Gary L. Stiles, author of Churchill in Punch (Unicorn Publishing Group, 2022). His book is the first ever effort to definitively catalog, describe, and contextualize all of the many Punch cartoons featuring Churchill.
This cartoon titled "SAILORS DO CARE." appeared thus on p.271 of the 11 September 1940 issue of Punch. The artist is Bernard Partridge. The cartoon is captioned "The more we get together the merrier we shall be."
Churchill had spent nearly the entirety of the 1930s in the political wilderness, out of power, out of favor, and frequently at odds with both his own Conservative Party and prevailing public sentiment. Then came the terrible vindication of the outbreak of the Second World War. On 3 September 1939 Churchill was restored to the Cabinet, appointed First Lord of the Admiralty, reprising the role he had played during the First World War. Eight months later, Churchill became Prime Minister of a beleaguered Britain facing the dire, existential threat of Nazi Germany.
By the time Churchill returned to the Admiralty, Franklin D. Roosevelt had already been president of the United States for six and a half years. On 11 September, 1939, FDR initiated what would become a world-defining relationship. FDR wrote, “My dear Churchill, It is because you and I occupied similar positions in the [First] World War that I want you to know how glad I am that you are back again in the Admiralty… I shall at all times welcome it if you will keep me in touch personally with anything you want me to know about.” (ed. Kimball, Complete Correspondence Vol.I, p.24) Churchill responded with the amusingly transparent code name “Naval Person” which he changed to “Former Naval Person” when he became prime minister in May 1940. Churchill would secure significant American material aid (including the 50 destroyers referenced in this cartoon) and forge a vital bond with President Roosevelt, but America would not formally enter the war until after the 7 December 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Punch or The London Charivari began featuring Churchill cartoons in 1900, when his political career was just beginning. That political career would last two thirds of a century, see him occupy Cabinet office during each of the first six decades of the twentieth century, carry him twice to the premiership and, further still, into the annals of history as a preeminent statesman. And throughout that time, Punch satirized Churchill in cartoons – more than 600 of them, the work of more than 50 different artists.
It was a near-perfect relationship between satirists and subject. That Churchill was distinctive in both persona and physical appearance helped make him easy to caricature. To his persona and appearance he added myriad additional satirical temptations, not just props, like his cigars, siren suits, V-sign, and hats, but also a variety of ancillary avocations and vocations, like polo, painting, brick-laying, and writing. All these were skewered as well.
Some Punch cartoons were laudatory, some critical, and many humorous, like the man himself. Nearly always, Churchill was distinctly recognizable, a larger-than-life character whose presence caricature served only to magnify. Item #007163