CHURCHILL (WINSTON) and FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT. Photograph of Churchill welcoming President Roosevelt and his son Elliott on board the British battleship HMS Prince of Wales, moored at Placentia Bay, off Argentia, Newfoundland, on the morning of 10 August 1941, signed by Roosevelt and Churchill ("Winston S. Churchill")
Lot 159
Sold for £ 10,000 (US$ 13,287) inc. premium

Lot Details
CHURCHILL (WINSTON) and FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT. Photograph of Churchill welcoming President Roosevelt and his son Elliott on board the British battleship HMS Prince of Wales, moored at Placentia Bay, off Argentia, Newfoundland, on the morning of 10 August 1941, signed by Roosevelt and Churchill ("Winston S. Churchill")
Photograph of Churchill welcoming President Roosevelt, aided by his son Elliott, on board the British battleship HMS Prince of Wales, moored at Placentia Bay, off Argentia, Newfoundland, on the morning of 10 August 1941, signed by Roosevelt ("Franklin D. Roosevelt") and Churchill ("Winston S. Churchill") below the image for the photographer, Captain William G. Horton, the War Office's official photographer, vintage gelatin silver print, on the original mount, some sunning to mount where formerly framed, photograph 157 x 157mm., overall 250 x 200mm., taken on board the Prince of Wales on 10 August, and signed between 10 and 12 August 1941


  • THE CELEBRATED PHOTOGRAPH OF CHURCHILL WELCOMING ROOSEVELT ON BOARD THE PRINCE OF WALES, AT THEIR SECRET MEETING HELD AT ARGENTIA, NEWFOUNDLAND, IN 1941, FOUR MONTHS BEFORE AMERICA JOINED THE WAR, signed by President and Prime Minister for the man who took the photograph, Captain William G. Horton, the War Office official photographer. This particular print can, therefore, be identified as having been developed by Horton himself in his darkroom on board the Prince of Wales, prior to the conference's ending two days later. As a memento of this historic meeting we believe it has few, if any, equals.
    [cont. overleaf]

    It is sold with Horton's copy of the menu for the dinner that had been held by the President in honour of the Prime Minister and his party the previous evening on board the Augusta. After the war they were given by Horton to his grandson, the present owner. (For further photographs by Horton, who was responsible for taking many of the most famous, and striking, images of Churchill during the war, not least during the Atlantic Conference, see the Imperial War Museum's website).

    The Atlantic Conference was the first – and arguably most extraordinary – of Churchill and Roosevelt's wartime meetings. It may yet be seen as standing as the most far-reaching, in that it saw the promulgation of the Atlantic Charter which forms the basis of the United Nations.

    When it was held, Britain had been at war for two years, for much of that time facing Germany alone. Hitler had recently launched his invasion of Russia, carrying all before him. America however was at peace. And the majority of public opinion wanted it to remain that way. But a powerful alliance had sprung up between Churchill and Roosevelt. Their correspondence had begun soon after the outbreak of war with a congratulatory letter by Roosevelt to Churchill on his reappointment as First Lord of the Admiralty: 'After Churchill became Prime Minister in May, 1940, the correspondence became an indispensable channel between the two leaders and their governments. Both men found personal diplomacy congenial. It avoided the misunderstandings and obfuscations they believed plagued traditional diplomacy. Many decisions, some of the most critical nature, derived from communications between Roosevelt and the "Former Naval Person," the title Churchill adopted after he became Prime Minister... Several times in 1940 each man privately expressed desire for a meeting, moved largely by growing fascination and curiosity. Roosevelt undertook the first important step at the dawn of the New Year, 1941. He had been shocked and disturbed by a letter from Churchill, dated December 8, 1940, which candidly described Great Britain's position as the second year of war proceeded. Churchill's note revealed the desperate British plight as could no report from resident American missions' (Theodore A. Wilson, The First Summit: Roosevelt and Churchill at Placentia Bay 1941, 1969, p. 8).

    FDR's indispensable aide, Harry Hopkins, was as a consequence sent to Britain to make arrangements for the meeting. Once these were in place, it was announced to the US press corps that Roosevelt was going to escape the heat of a Washington August by taking a cruise off New England in his yacht, the Potomac. This indeed took place. But at the end, instead of going off on the promised fishing trip, the Potomac made for Vineyard Sound, where she was met by a flotilla of American warships and the principal officers of the United States Armed Forces: 'Had a fortunate reporter not entirely lost his wits from the shock, he might have deduced that the impossible was taking place: the President of Untied States and his principal military advisers were undertaking one of the best-kept, most startling secret adventures in modern history. F.D.R. was preparing to begin a journey thought dangerous seas to an epic conference with the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Winston Churchill... If English preparations were not as dramatic or as conspiratorial, mystery did cloak the Prime Minister's movements in the week before departure. Churchill would be vulnerable to German attack for over two weeks... In contrast with F.D.R.'s well publicized fishing trip the British followed a policy of no comment, no explanation ' (Wilson, op. cit., pp. 7 and 54). The travel writer, H.V. Morton, who was invited onto the trip, without of course being told what it was, later compared it to 'the opening of a good Buchan spy novel' (Wilson, p. 56). When Morton learned what was involved, he feared that Churchill, like Kitchener before him, would perish at sea: 'H.V. Morton knew nothing of the great stakes to be gained or lost at Argentia. He thought only of Churchill's gamble in making the journey... Several among Churchill's entourage had similar thoughts. The Prime Minister had ignored their protests, had merely laughed aloud when they said, "Hitler would give fifty divisions to capture the British Prime Minister – or kill him"' (pp. 60-1).

    The Prince of Wales, with Churchill and his party, including Horton, on board finally put into Placentia Bay off Argentia, Newfoundland, on the morning of 9 August 1941. Churchill went on board Roosevelt's flagship, the Augusta that morning. The following day it was Roosevelt's turn to visit Churchill: 'Sunday morning beheld the emotional summit of the meeting. The president and his staff were Churchill's guests at a combined church service on Prince of Wales... The leading destroyer, U.S.S. McDougal, its bow level with Augusta's main deck and Prince of Wales's stern carried Roosevelt to the great British warship. The President was hatless and wore a blue double-breasted suit. Holding his cane in his right hand and aided by [his son] Elliott on his left, he crossed the narrow gangway from Augusta to the destroyer, there to receive the salute of a Marine honor guard and band. McDougal then made a "Chinese landing" (bow to stern) on Prince of Wales. F.D.R. walked slowly along a starboard gangway to the deck, where he as received with full military honors. Fifteen hundred or more men, including approximately two hundred and fifty United States sailors and marine, stood at rigid attention for the two national anthems' (pp. 108-9).

    Churchill has of course left us his account of that meeting: 'On Sunday morning, August 10, Mr Roosevelt came on board H.M.S. Prince of Wales and, with his staff and several hundred representatives of all ranks of the United States Navy and Marines, attended divine service on the quarterdeck. This service was felt by all of us to be a deeply moving expression of the unity of our two peoples, and none who took part in it will forget the spectacle presented that sunlit morning... I chose the hymns – "For those in Peril on the Sea" and "Onward, Christian Soldiers". We ended with "O God, Our Help in Ages Past", which Macaulay reminds us the Ironsides had chanted as they bore John Hampden's body to the grave. It was a great hour to live. Nearly half those who sang were soon to die' (The Second World War, iii, 1950, p. 384).
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  1. Luke Batterham
    Specialist - Books, Maps, Manuscripts and Historical Photographs
    Montpelier Street
    London, United Kingdom SW7 1HH
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