The Milkman

Behind the camera: Fred Morley
Where: Streets of London
Photo Summary: A man carries the milk over rubble while firefighters battle the aftermath of the 32nd straight night of bombing
Picture Taken: October 9, 1940
Published October 10, 1940

During the opening years of World War II Britain was all that was left against Hitler’s military Juggernaut. France had already surrendered and continental Europe was under Germany’s control. Hitler, through a massive bombing campaign, hoped to either knock the UK out of the war or destroy its air force in preparation for invasion.  The bombing campaign starting in 1940, until Hitler withdrew his planes in preparation for the invasion of the USSR in 1941, was nicknamed the Blitz by the British and was an almost daily aerial bombardment of the United Kingdom. Many iconic photos emerged from the Blitz and the Battle of Britain.  The most famous was captured during the December 29, 1940, raid when a Daily Mail reporter snapped what at the time was called the “War’s greatest picture.” While this was the most famous, one of the more memorable photos was this Milkman Photo taken by Fred Morley on October 9, 1940, and then published the next day on October 10, 1940.

Staged Image?

Fred Morley on the right takes on Aussie, the boxing kangaroo in London's Trafalgar Square, August 31, 1931

Fred Morley on the right takes on Aussie, the boxing kangaroo in London’s Trafalgar Square

October 9th marked the 32nd day of straight bombing raids against the United Kingdom. The nighttime raid of October 9th raid infamously struck the iconic St Paul’s Cathedral but luckily the bomb did not detonate. Photographers stationed in London were amazed at the total destruction wrought by German bombers yet their pictures were routinely blocked by the censors who were anxious not to cause a panic. Fred Morley wanting to get some sort of record of the devastation out to the world thought of a situation that the censors would approve. He first found a backdrop of firefighters struggling to contain a fire then he borrowed a milkman’s outfit and a craft of bottles.  He then got his assistant to pose among the ruins of a city street while the firefighters fought in the background. The photo pushed forward the idea of the stoic British continuing on with their normal lives.  The censors felt the same way and it was published the very next day.

Fred Morley

Morley first joined Fox Photos company in January 1926 and in 1951 Fox Photos’ directors Dick Fox and Reg Salmon marked his silver jubilee with a special wristwatch for 25 years’ service with the company. Fred Morley in addition to being a celebrated photojournalist, toured the world capturing beautiful day to day life wherever he went.

Copyright Info

Copyright enquiries can be directed to Getty via Delivery After Raid by Fred Morley

More Famous Images

Related Posts:

Loch Ness

Buy on amazon
Behind the camera: Officially Colonel Robert Wilson but later revealed to be Ian Wetherell
Where: Northern shoreline of Loch Ness in Scotland, UK
Photo Summary: The supposed Loch Ness Monster
Picture Taken: April 19, 1934

The story goes that on April 19, 1934, Colonel Robert Wilson, a respectable surgeon, was driving along Loch Ness when something in the water caught his eye. He quickly whipped out his trusty camera and took some pictures. Rumours and sightings of the Loch Ness Monster had created a media sensation in the early 1930s. When Wilson’s picture was published, believers seized it as the irrefutable proof that some kind of large beast lived in the lake. Wilson refused to be drawn into the speculation, never publishing the picture himself and refused to have his name associated with it. Therefore the picture became know as the “The Surgeon’s Photo”

Loch Ness

Loch Ness (Loch means Lake) is 37km (23 miles) long and more or less shaped like a big rectangle with an average width of 1.5km (about a mile). With a surface area of 56 km2, (22 miles2) Loch Ness is the second largest in Scotland terms of surface area. When you take into account how deep the lake is though, deepest part 226 m (740 feet), it is the largest by volume. It’s said that Loch Ness has as much fresh water as all of England and Wales. The city of Inverness is only a few kilometers north of the Loch. The area surrounding the Loch has a high peat content that drains into and makes the lake dark and murky. Even though the lake is cloudy it supports a variety of wildlife including salmon, eels, pike, sticklebacks, sturgeon, trout, seals, otters and supposedly Nessie.

Ancient Monster

Thou shalt go no further, nor touch the man
-St. Columba

The Scottish tribes who lived in the area, the Picts, named after their Painted bodies, have many legends about a monster that lived in Loch Ness. Some of their art recovered from archaeological finds show the carving of a strange water beast. Ancient historians recorded almost 1500 years ago that St. Columba, who converted much of Scotland to Christianity, had an encounter with a monster. While attending a funeral for a man who had been killed while swimming in the lake St. Columba saw that a monster was approaching another man. The ancient historian, Adamnan reports that St Columba said, “ ’Thou shalt go no further, nor touch the man; go back with all speed.’ Then at the voice of the saint, the monster was terrified, and fled more quickly than if it had been pulled back with ropes.”

It wasn’t till the 30’s that the Loch Ness legend spread outside rural Scotland. In the May 2, 1933, edition of the Inverness Courier it was reported that a Mr. and Mrs. John Mackay saw what they described as a huge animal splashing about before diving into the lake. This report sparked huge media interest throughout the country. All the major papers sent reporters to the Scottish backwater in hopes of catching a glimpse of the beast that would become to known by the nickname, “Nessie”. It was this media attention that solidified the belief some sort of monster lived in the depths of Loch Ness.

Sightings soon became commonplace and were helped by the fact that in the ’30s a new highway was built along the northern shoreline, allowing people to drive the length of the lake. One newspaper, The Daily Mail, hoping to catch the scoop hired a famous self-described big-game hunter named Marmaduke Wetherell to investigate. He wasn’t able to bag the beast but he did find some huge tracks leading into the lake that he proudly displayed to the press. When the Natural History Museum tried to confirm the find they quickly discovered that the footprints had been a hoax made by a dried Hippo’s foot. Something that at the time was commonly used for umbrella stands. Wetherell was humiliated by being taken in by the prank and bitterly faded from the limelight but his link with Nessie didn’t stop there. It wasn’t until 1994 that Wetherell’s role in the creation of the Nessie legend became public.

Wetherell’s Revenge

Model of the Nessie Submarine

Alastair Boyd, a self-described true believer, who himself witnessed a huge beast in Loch Ness has spent years researching Nessie. In the early 90’s David Martin, a friend of Alastair came across an old 1975 article detailing a claim that Ian Wetherell, the son of Marmaduke Wetherell, claimed that the surgeon photo was a fake. They decided to investigate further and found the location of Marmaduke Wetherell surviving stepson Christian Spurling, as Ian Wetherell had already died. Christian Spurling when confronted with the story, aged 90 himself and on his deathbed, confessed that yes the surgeon picture was a hoax, and the mastermind behind it was, Marmaduke Wetherell.

Instead of continuing the search after the hippo foot incident, Wetherell decided to get even. Christian Spurling his stepson remembers him saying, “we’ll give them their monster”. Spurling, a professional model-maker, was asked by his stepfather to sculpt something that would fool the public. Starting with a toy submarine Spurling added a long neck and small head. He recounted that the mock-up, “was modelled on the idea of a sea serpent.” The finished product was about 45 cm long, and about 30 cm high with a lead keel for stability on the water. On a quiet day Marmaduke Wetherell his son Ian and stepson Christian Spurling went down to the lake where Ian took some pictures of the “monster”. As a finishing touch, Marmaduke Wetherell convinced Dr. Wilson to develop the photo and sell it to the Daily Mail to add respectability to the hoax. Wetherell knew Wilson through a mutual friend, Maurice Chambers, the same man Dr. Wilson claimed he was visiting when he talked about taking the Surgeon Photo to reporters in 1934.

Still has faith

I would actually stake my life on their existence
-Alastair Boyd

Even though Alastair Boyd uncovered the hoax, he still has faith. That one of the biggest pieces of evidence supporting the existence of Nessie was a lie hasn’t fazed him, “I am so convinced of the reality of these creatures that I would actually stake my life on their existence,” recalling how he himself has seen something in the lake, “I trust my eyesight … I used to make my living teaching people how to observe, and I know that the thing I saw was not a log or an otter or a wave, or anything like that. It was a large animal.”

After the “surgeon photo” emerged in the ’30s, the general consensus was that Nessie was a leftover from the dinosaurs, maybe an ancestor of the plesiosaurs, a huge dinosaur that used fin-like appendages to move through the water. The leftover dinosaur theory is discounted though because the plesiosaurs existed millions of years ago and the loch itself is only about 12,000 years old, created by glacier excavation during the last ice age. So what is Nessie? Before the “surgeon photo” early sighting reported a large gray animal with legs and a long neck. Intrigued by this pre-“surgeon photo” sighting another researcher, Dr. Clark, spent two years investigating the legend.

Nessie an elephant?

After finishing his research, Dr. Clark suggests that Nessie was created in the mind of one Bertram Mills, a circus promoter. Clark thinks that Nessie was a “magnificent piece of marketing” created when Mills saw his circus elephants washing. Circus fairs visiting the city of Inverness would stop on the shore of Loch Ness too, “allow their animals to rest. When their elephants were allowed to swim in the loch, only the trunk and two humps could be seen: the first hump being the top of the head and the second being the back of the animal.” When the Loch Ness Monster story broke Bertram Mills offered a £20,000 reward, £1 million in today’s money, to anyone who could catch the monster. That’s a lot of money to risk but not if you know that the monster is really a couple of elephants already in your circus. Then his £20,000 reward doesn’t become a reward it becomes an advertising tool for the circus, as newspapers around the world report about Bertram Mill circus’s offer.

BBC Investigation

top to bottom … and we saw no signs of any large living animal in the loch
-Ian Florence

In 2003 the BBC tried to answer the question once and for all. Using 600 individual sonar beams and satellite technology the BBC team surveyed the murky depths of Loch Ness. “We went from shoreline to shoreline, top to bottom on this one, we have covered everything in this loch and we saw no signs of any large living animal in the loch,” said Ian Florence, one of the experts brought onto the team. Another specialist, Hugh MacKay noted, “We got some good clear data of the loch, steep sided, flat bottomed – nothing unusual I’m afraid. There was an anticipation that we would come up with a large sonar anomaly that could have been a monster – but it wasn’t to be.”

Having failed to find a large sonar target the BBC team sought to explain the Loch Ness Monster in a different light, that Nessie was a self-perpetuating myth. People wanted to see the monster after hearing about it and they saw what they wanted to see. To prove this theory the BBC team created an experiment where a fence post was submerged underwater and then raised in front of a busload of tourists. When later asked to sketch what they had seen most drew a square fence shaped object but a few drew monster-head shapes.

Using the BBC data and other previous sonar expeditions, researchers were able to conclude that not enough prey stock would exist in Loch Ness to support any large animal. The Loch’s murky waters can’t support enough fish and other wildlife to support a number of large predators needed for a self-sustaining breeding population. Another nail into the legend of Nessie’s coffin is a report by the Italian geologist, Luigi Piccardi. Piccardi came to the conclusion that seismic activity below the lake causes underwater waves, groans, and gaseous explosions that have kept the myth of the Loch Ness Monster alive for years. His report is backed up by studies that show when there is seismic activity in the area Nessie sightings seem to spike. The people who flock to Loch Ness every year don’t seem to care about all the evidence against Nessie, with many Nessie sightings still reported every year. Indeed no matter what the truth behind the Loch Ness legend one thing is for certain, the Loch Ness monster is very good for the Scottish tourist industry.

More Famous Pictures

Related Posts:

  • No Related Posts

Tennis Girl

Behind the camera: Martin Elliot
Where: Birmingham University’s tennis courts in Edgbaston, United Kingdom
Photo Summary: Then 18-year-old Fiona Butler (Married and now Fiona Walker)
Picture Taken: September of 1976

In September of 1976 aspiring photographer, Martin Elliot convinced, his then-girlfriend, Fiona Butler to pose for a series of cheeky pictures in hopes of creating the next big pinup poster. He took a couple of shots and sold this image to publishing giant Athena. The poster went on to sell 2 million copies. In response to famous British film and television critic George Melly calling the poster a “schoolboy joke” Martin Elliot replied, “that’s just what it was.”

Taking the photo

In 2011 Fiona Butler finally agreed to show her face

In 1976 Martin Elliot was dating 18-year-old Fiona Butler. Anxious to help out her photographer boyfriend she agreed to pose for some photos at the Birmingham University’s tennis courts in Edgbaston, central England. Fiona didn’t actually play tennis and had to borrow the tennis racket and Eliot had their tailor friend, Carol Knotts, design and create a sexy tennis dress. In a 2007 interview, Fiona recalled that she:

can remember the day quite clearly … When the picture got so popular I was quite amused that something taken that afternoon could get so big. It became one of those pictures that everyone knows and everyone’s seen. It gave me quite a buzz because I could secretly smile and say ‘no you’re wrong’, every time someone guessed.

I remember going to a party with my husband and people were saying ‘is that the girl in the photograph?’. They looked me up and down and said ‘I don’t think so’ I’ve got no objections to it whatsoever. My children have never been upset about it. It’s really nothing that anyone could be offended by. It’s just a bit of fun. I think it was banned in a couple of countries but really I don’t think there was anything to get upset about.

The poster has become such a cultural icon that when Fiona went on to marry, millionaire Ian Walker, and have kids her son’s headmaster confided in her that he had the poster on his wall while in University.

The poster

Publishing giant Athena bought the rights for the poster and released the first print in a calendar for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977. The calendar was released the same year Virginia Wade won the Wimbledon singles title. Due to the popularity of the calendar, Athena published a poster and these combined factors pushed the poster into mass production and it eventually went on to sell over 2 million copies.

To mark the 30th anniversary of the photo the tennis outfit and racket were sold on Internet auction site eBay on June 16, 2006. Some of the proceeds of the sale went to the Dan Maskell Tennis Trust, a disabled children charity. The remaining went to the dress designer Carol Knotts’ attempt to take part in the Global Challenge round-the-world yacht race in 2008.


For British male comedians, it’s almost like a right of passage to imitate this image with celebs like Alan Carr, Frank Skinner, and Ricky Gervais exposing their backsides. I’ll spare you their pictures but I’ll include this one of singer, and all-around superstar, Kylie Minogue.

The Photographer

Originally from Oldbury, Martin Elliot was in the Birmingham School of Photography program and after graduating had a successful career with a studio in Birmingham’s Jewelry Quarter; living in Stourbridge and Portishead. In later life when doing interviews he would remember that he took the shot during “an afternoon in September at the end of the long hot summer. It was over very quickly. I only took one roll of film, which is pretty feeble for a photographer and I just hoped I’d got the shot.”

In 1999 he retired and lived in Cornwall before losing a 10-year battle to cancer in April 2010.

More Famous Images

Related Posts:

Ear Mouse

Behind the camera:
Where: Vacanti’s Boston Lab
Photo Summary: The Vacanti mouse
Picture Taken: August 1997

In August 1997, Joseph Vacanti (now the Director of the Tissue Engineering and Organ Fabrication Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and a group of scientists published a ground-breaking paper in the journal, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. In the journal, they showed a picture of a mouse with what appeared to be a human ear growing out of its back. This surreal image soon spread like wildfire as people emailed it to everyone they knew.


The picture often emailed without any caption on context didn’t take long to cause protest. Animal rights and right-wing religious groups were soon up in arms as they assumed that somehow someone had genetically altered a mouse’s DNA to grow ears. In October 11, 1999, the anti-genetics group, Turning Point Project, placed a full-page ad in the New York Times showing the photo of the mouse with the human ear, with a misleading caption that read, “This is an actual photo of a genetically engineered mouse with a human ear on its back”. However, this was totally untrue as the ear was merely “grafted” on the mouse with no involvement of genetics at all. In fact, the Pope and Catholic Church who have a strict anti-genetic stance have given its blessing to Vacanti procedure.

British misinformation

In April 1998 the British media was abuzz over a story that Jade Harris, from Middlesbrough, Britain would be the first girl to use the technology developed to grow the ear on the back of the mouse:

Girl may be first to grow artificial ear

A six-year-old girl could become the first person to grow an artificial ear using a controversial technique developed by American scientists…. Full Story

This gave false hope to many patients with similar problems much to the chagrin of the University of Massachusetts who were forced to send an email like this:

Thank you for your email of inquiry about the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. While physicians at the Infirmary are working on a research project that deals with tissue engineering, we are nowhere near the point where we may be able to grow ears for people. We are not even in the human studies stage of this process. Unfortunately, there is quite a bit of misinformation in the British press, especially regarding Jade Harris. If Jade does come to the Infirmary for treatment, it will be for regular surgery that would use some of her rib-bone to reconstruct her. We will not be growing Jade an ear in a test tube because we are not able to do that at this time. Please ask your local physician about treatments available to reconstruct ears. Best regards, Mary Leach, Director of Public Affairs”[BBC News]


The technique that Joseph Vacanti had spent years developing was growing cartilage over biodegradable moulds so that they could custom shape cartilaginous body parts, like ears. They used cartilage from a cows knee (There was no human tissue used at all in the procedure) placed it into a biodegradable mould shaped like a three-year-olds ear. To allow the cow cartilage to grow they needed a host which is the where the mouse came in.

As the immune system of most animals will reject foreign tissue the Vacanti team used a special nude mouse, a special type of mouse that through a rare mutation has a very weak immune system. These types of mice are very useful for tissue research as their bodies will not reject foreign tissues.

The cartilaginous ear was implanted under the skin of the nude mouse. Over time, the mouse grew extra blood vessels that supplied nourishment to the cow cartilage cells, that then grew into the biodegradable ear-shaped mould. The “ear” was never transplanted onto a human because it was grown from cow cells and would have been rejected by a person’s immune system.

In Practice

Sean G. McCormack was born with a rare disease called Poland’s Syndrome which blocked the development of bone on the left-hand side of his chest. This left major organs like his lungs and heart unprotected by the rib cage. Dr. Joseph P. Vacanti and his brother, Dr. Charles A. Vacanti worked together using the same technology as was used with the ear on the mouse to “grow” a cartilage rib cage that within a year had developed into a normal-looking chest that was able to grow along with him.

Charles Vacanti predicts that within 20 to 30 years the same procedure could allow scientists to grow any organ, for example, a kidney or a liver, from a tissue sample.

Other Famous pictures

Related Posts:

  • No Related Posts

SAS assault on the Iranian Embassy

Behind the camera: BBC footage Screen Capture
Where: Iranian Embassy – 16 Princes Gate, South Kensington, London, United Kingdom
Photo Summary: John ‘Mac’ McAleese leading SAS Team 1 into the building
Picture Taken: May 5, 1980

The Siege of the Iranian Embassy, located at 16 Princes Gate London, began at 1130 AM on April 30th, 1980. The Siege lasted six days and was eventually concluded after a daring raid by the British Special Air Service (SAS). Five of the six armed Iranian terrorists were killed, and 19 of the 26 hostages were saved.

Terrorists take the Embassy

At 11:30 a.m. on 30 April 1980, six armed revolutionaries of the Democratic Revolutionary Movement for the Liberation of Arabistan (DRMLA) burst into the Iranian Embassy at No. 16 Princes Gate, London firing weapons and taking twenty-six hostages. The police constable on guard outside the Embassy, Trevor Lock, was on duty was taken captive. In addition to the other 23 hostages, 2 BBC employees, journalist Chris Cramer and sound man Sim Harris were also taken as hostages while they were applying for visas.
The Terrorists came well armed with a small arsenal, including SMG and Browning 9mm pistols (loaded with hollow-point ammunition), a .38 revolver, and Russian-made hand grenades. They were protesting against oppression by Ayatollah Khomeini who had come to power in Iran during the previous year. Their demands were as follows:

One: we demand our human and legitimate rights. Two: we demand freedom, autonomy and recognition of the Arabistan people. Three: we demand the release of ninety-one Arab prisoners in Arabistan. [Then came the threat] If all the demands are not met by noon on Thursday, May 1, the Embassy and all the hostages will be blown up.

In addition to this, they demanded a plane to fly them out of British airspace.
Negotiations continued into the third day and deadlines came and went, Oan, the 27-year-old leader of the terrorists codenamed “Salim” (real name: Awn Ali Mohammed), became increasingly irritated with his lack of progress. Such was his obvious agitation, that authorities decided to agree to his request to the broadcast of his demands on national television. This seemingly promising step backfired, however, when the BBC incorrectly reported portions of his statement. Instead of pacifying him, this mistake further enraged the terrorist leader, and he vowed that the British hostages would now be the last to be released. At this point, the police decided to intervene. They transcribed Oan’s new demands verbatim as they were shouted from a first-floor window. This positive development prompted Oan to release two hostages, in return for a promise from authorities that the statement would be read promptly on the BBC TV News.
Any hope for a peaceful resolution to the siege ended at 1:45 p.m. on 05 May when Oan shot and killed Abbas Lavasani, the Iranian press attache and dropped his body out of a door to the Embassy. Upon hearing this news, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher gave permission for the SAS to take the building.

Storming the Embassy: Operation NIMROD

Unbeknownst to the terrorists at any time, PC Trevor Lock had managed, during his capture, to activate an alert device concealed on his jacket lapel. The signal was forwarded to the Metropolitan Police’s C13 Anti-terrorist Squad who dispatched to the area around the Embassy and were joined shortly thereafter by members of C7, Scotland Yard’s electronic eavesdropping and surveillance branch. Sniper and counter-sniper positions were also manned by police sharpshooters.
While these events took place, at the headquarters of the 22 Special Air Service Regiment located at Hereford, a call was received by a former member of the unit’s “D Squadron” who at the time was working as a dog handler for the Metropolitan police. Receiving the call and a brief assessment of the situation through the grassroots intelligence network comprised of such former SAS operators gave the units Special Projects (SP) team of the SAS counter-revolutionary warfare ring a valuable “heads up” and they were able to immediately scramble the necessary personnel.

The members of B squadrons “Pagoda Troop”, the alert team always kept on standby within the SAS specifically for these types of situations, were going through standard Close Quarter Battle (CQB) drills within the Hereford “Kill House” when all their pagers went off simultaneously with the “999” code signalling that this was a real-life event, not a training exercise. They mobilized and were set up at a barracks in Regents Park London and had two-man teams conducting clandestine surveillance of the embassy, even going on to the roof, that very same night.
To mask efforts at surveillance and the storming of the building, all aircraft landing and taking off from Heathrow airport in London were ordered to fly considerably lower over the Embassy. In addition to this, jackhammers were used outside the embassy to mask the sound of drilling on walls for C7 specialists to plant various listening devices and fibre optic probes necessary for the SAS to ascertain exactly what rooms the terrorists were in.
After briefly questioning a janitor that worked in the embassy, it became clear that the initial tools for going through windows into a structure ie. a sledgehammer would not work due to the heavy, bulletproof glass used in the construction of the embassy. It was determined that specially shaped explosive charges should be employed.

The equipment used by the SAS operators for this assault contained Bristol body armour, Heckler & Koch MP5s, Browning High Power Pistols, lightweight Northern Ireland boots (good for running and kicking in doors), S6 respirators (so they could breathe through the CS gas) and an NBC suit, to be worn under the body armour. The clothing was designed to provoke a psychological response within the terrorists when confronted by this totally black, barely human figure the fraction of a second gained could be the difference between life and death.
The SAS had debriefed two hostages that had been released and had been told that the Terrorists had grenades, even some had them in their pockets. This resulted in a decision being made to “go in hard and hot” and eliminate anyone identified as a terrorist with extreme prejudice.
The assault started at 19:23 hours on 5 May 1980 23 minutes after the dead hostage had been thrown from the building. An explosive charge went off at the rear of the building shattering the skylight, raining glass and debris down and effectively stunning anyone in the second-floor stairwell. All power to the building was also cut at this time and the teams moved forward with the assault. A second explosive charge went off almost instantly, shattering the rear doors of the embassy. Five teams then took part in the assault.

Team 1- Using explosive charges on the windows this team entered on the first floor via the balcony. This is the image captured by ITN Cameras.
Team 2- Entered the first floor and clear the basement.
Team 3- Entered the first floor and clear the first floor also acted as a hostage collection point.
Team 4- Abseiled through the shattered skylight onto the second floor.
Team 5- Abseiled from the roof to the rear Balcony and entered there to aid in the clearing of the second floor.

Within 11 minutes 5 of the 6 terrorists were dead and 19 hostages were rescued.

The Picture


The lead man in the iconic image is John “Mac” McAleese, now 61 years old, is the SAS operator placing the charge on the window just before breaching and leading Team 1 through the windows onto the first floor. In the photo, the SAS can be seen carrying their HKMP5’s and wearing the dull black Bristol body armour and other kit. The image is part of a video seen by millions of people and was broadcast live during the Siege.
Aftermath and Controversy

Not for the last time, the tactics of the SAS were considered by many to be excessive, in particular, the deaths of two terrorists Shai and Makki. These men were, according to the hostages, shot as they lay unarmed and surrendering still within the Embassy. Denis Thatcher, the husband of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was quoted as saying “You let one of the bastards live.” However, the raid has been considered an incredible success and is often referred to as a textbook case of both counterterrorism and the employment of the special forces.

Recent Activity

Since 2009 the image has seen a resurgence in the media. Paul McAleese, son of siege hero and the lead man in the siege image John McAleese, was killed in Afghanistan on August 20th, 2009. His father John has spoken out regarding the insufficient levels of troop strength on the ground in Afghanistan.

Other Famous pictures

Related Posts:

Churchill and the Tommy Gun

Buy on amazon
Churchill decides to fight on
Behind the camera:
Where: Tour of the coastal defence positions near Hartlepool, UK
Photo Summary: Winston Churchill with a Tommy Gun Imperial War Museum, photo no. H2646A
Picture Taken: July 31, 1940

With France and its other European Allies out of the war, the UK and its Empire stood by itself against a triumphant Hitler. A defiant Churchill instead of bowing down to Germany famously promised during his June 4, 1940 speech to the house of commons, “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender!” Trying to pass on his never-give-up attitude he sought to back up British morale with some public tours of the UK’s coastal defences. During one of these tours on July 31, 1940, he was photographed trying out an American 1928 Tommy Gun or Thompson SMG (Submachine Gun) at defence fortifications near Hartlepool in Northern England.

Nazi Propaganda

Nazi propaganda minister Goebbels saw the image as a god send and used it extensively domestically, with the other Axis countries, the few remaining neutral countries and even in air drops over the UK during the Battle of Britain with the text in English “WANTED,” and at the bottom, “for incitement to MURDER.” The reverse of the leaflet is all text:

This gangster, who you see in his element in the picture, incites you by his example to participate in a form of warfare in which women, children and ordinary citizens shall take the leading parts. This absolutely criminal form of warfare which is forbidden by the Hague Convention will be punished according to military law. Save at least your own families from the horrors of war!

Churchill propaganda Murder poster

Nazi poster with Churchill in an alley holding the Thomson with the German text, "Sniper."

Churchill propaganda Murder poster

Nazi Leaflet

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill

As noted in what has been called the most famous portrait in history the Canadian, Churchill Portrait, Churchill was born on 30 November 1874 into a famous English aristocratic family, the Spencer-Churchills. He spent much of his childhood at boarding schools where he had little if any contact with his parents. He went onto the Royal Military College in Sandhurst and graduated eighth out of a class of 150 in December 1894.

Churchill and the Tommy Gun 1940

Colourized by Jecinci

As an officer in the British Army, he fought in a number of colonial wars where he showed courage on the front lines. In 1900 he started his political career and spent much of the rest of his life in British politics. In the run-up to the second world war, he fiercely opposed the British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler. When Chamberlain was forced out of office Churchill, then the First Lord of the Admiralty was chosen as a successor on May 10, 1940. During the difficult war years, Churchill is credited with having to give the United Kingdom the strength to fight on against the Axis onslaught. This defiance is captured perfectly in the Tommy Gun picture.
Although not the same gun as in the picture, in the World War II London Underground Headquarters, now a museum, there is a display of a similar Tommy Gun that Churchill planned to use if the Nazis came to London. If they had successfully invaded he is quoted as planning to:

to light a good cigar, take a sip or two of his favorite brandy, and go out in the streets and take as many German troops with as he could, perhaps fighting alongside the Queen and the royal family when the end came.

This determination made it possible for the UK to win the war but the country didn’t see him as a man of peace and after the war he lost the 1945 election but was returned to the Prime Minister’s office in 1951 before then retiring in ’55. When he died in 1965, his state funeral was attended by the one of the largest gatherings of world leaders in history.

Other people in the picture

Churchill's body guard to his left

The men in the image have not been identified but the man wearing the grey pin-striped suit behind Churchill might be his bodyguard, Detective Inspector Walter Henry Thompson, as he is wearing the same suit in the picture to the right of Churchill firing a Sten gun in 1941.
From between 1921 to 1945 Thompson was Churchill’s on and off again bodyguard. Churchill hadn’t needed Thompson for a long time until in 1939 when he was about to vacation in France. Churchill, even though he was not part of the government at that time, was worried about a possible Nazi assassination plot and called up Thompson for protection duty with a telegram from on August 22, 1939, simply reading “Meet me Croydon Airport 4.30pm Wednesday.” While there were no incidents that trip Thompson claims to have saved Churchill’s life countless times, often because the Prime Minister recklessly putting his life in danger.
After the war, the bodyguard tried to publish a book about his experiences travelling the world protecting the Prime Minister’s life but was blocked by the police department. It wasn’t until 2005 that the full version was published as Churchill’s Bodyguard: The Authorised Biography of Walter H. Thompson

More Famous Images

Related Posts:

The Churchill Portrait

Buy on amazon

Behind the camera: Yousuf Karsh (1908-2002) He signed his photos ‘Karsh of Ottawa’
Where: Speaker’s chamber in the Canadian House of Commons
Photo Summary: A glowering Winston Churchill then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
Picture Taken: December 30, 1941 after a speech given to the Canadian House of Commons

Most reproduced portrait in history
-The Economist – July 18th 2002

Yousuf Karsh was arguably the most famous Canadian photographer in history. He captured this photo of Winston Churchill just after he finished giving a rousing speech at the Canadian House of Commons. The scowling Churchill portrait perfectly captured the defiant 1941 Churchill and is the most reproduced portrait in history. This image symbolized Churchill and the British Empire fighting alone against the Fascist Nazi threat.

Capturing Churchill

1941 saw Churchill leading the UK, the only European country still resisting the Nazis. While touring the Dominion to rally for Commonwealth support, Churchill gave what many remember as a rousing speech to the Canadian House of Commons in Ottawa:

When I warned [the French] that Britain would fight on alone, whatever they did, their Generals told their Prime Minister and his divided cabinet: ‘In three weeks, England will have her neck wrung like a chicken.
Some chicken…Some neck!

After the speech, Canadian Prime Minister King had arranged for a portrait session to commemorate the event and told Karsh the day before, “When Churchill finishes his speech, I will bring him directly to you.” King ushered Churchill into the room but he refused to enter demanding, “What’s going on?” Unamused and caught by surprise Churchill lit up a cigar and growled, “Why was I not told of this?” The photographer Yousuf Karsh wrote what happened next:

He was in no mood for portraiture and two minutes were all that he would allow me … Two … minutes in which I must try to put on film a man who had already written or inspired a library of books baffled all his biographers, filled all the world with his fame, and me, on this occasion, with dread. [Churchill marched into the room] regarding my camera as he might regard the German enemy.
… chewing vigorously on his cigar … He reluctantly followed me to where my lights and camera were set up. I offered him an ash tray for his cigar but he pointedly ignored it, his eyes boring into mine. At the camera, I made sure everything was in focus, closed the lens and stood up, my hand ready to squeeze the shutter release, when something made me hesitate. Then suddenly, with a strange boldness, almost as if it were an unconscious act, I stepped forward and said, “Forgive me, sir.” Without premeditation, I reached up and removed the cigar from his mouth.

… At this the Churchillian scowl deepened, the head was thrust forward belligerently, and the hand placed on the hip in an attitude of anger … I clicked the shutter. Then he relaxed. “All right,” he grunted as he assumed a more benign attitude, “you may take another one.”

After developing the image the young Armenian immigrant knew he had a winner but didn’t know how to go about publicizing it. Eventually, he was able to get in contact with Life magazine who used it in their magazine and then on May 21, 1945, cover. For the image that would make what Karsh called, “the turning point in my career” Life paid him the grand total of $100.

Yousuf Karsh


Yousuf Karsh - Self Portrait 1938

Yousuf Karsh – Self Portrait 1938

Yousuf Karsh was an ethnic Armenian born in Mardin Turkey on December 23, 1908. He grew up under intense Armenian-persecution where he wrote, “I saw relatives massacred; my sister died of starvation as we were driven from village to village.”
To escape persecution when he was 16, his family sent him to a photographer uncle named George Nakash who lived in Canada. When he first arrived in Eastern Quebec, young Yousuf wanted to be a doctor and worked in his uncle’s studio to raise money for medical school.
Showing promise as a photographer, Nakash sent him to study under a family friend, John Garo, a renowned photographer who lived in Boston, USA. For three years Yousuf learned the tricks of the trade often accompanying Garo to high society functions across the Eastern seaboard. During this time he became engrossed in photography and any thoughts of being a doctor were forgotten.
He returned to Ottawa and set up a studio because, “I chose Canada because it gave me my first opportunity and I chose Ottawa because, as the capital, it was a crossroads that offered access to a wide range of subjects,” As word of his talents spread he set up studios in other cities like New York and London for the convenience of his clients but it was in Canada that he captured his famous Churchill portrait.
The Churchill shot cemented his fame and throughout his career, he went on to shoot many famous portraits and many famous people. On July 13, 2002, Karsh died at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital after complications following surgery. He was 93 years old.

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill

Churchill was born on 30 November 1874 into a famous English aristocratic family, the Spencer-Churchills. He spent much of his childhood at boarding schools where he had little if any contact with his parents. He went on to the Royal Military College in Sandhurst and graduated eighth out of a class of 150 in December 1894.
As an officer in the British Army, he fought in a number of colonial wars where he showed courage on the front lines. In 1900 he started his political career and spent much of the rest of his life in British politics. In the run-up to the second world war, he fiercely opposed the British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler. When Chamberlain was forced out of office Churchill, then the First Lord of the Admiralty was chosen as successor. During the difficult war years, Churchill is credited with having the strength to never surrender to the Axis onslaught. This defiance is captured perfectly in Karsh’s picture.

We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air. We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing-grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender!

After the war, he lost the 1945 election but was returned to the Prime Minister’s office in 1951 before then retiring in ’55. When he died in 1965, his state funeral was attended by one of the largest assemblies of world leaders in history.


Yousuf Karsh lived in a high end Ottawa hotel, Château Laurier for years with his first wife and he had his studio there until 1992. The hotel had come into possession of 15 of Karsh’s works, including the Churchill portrait. They hung with pride in its Reading Lounge. In a brazen art theft in August of 2022, it was reported that the Churchill portrait had been replaced with a copy. The print might have a high value to Churchill collectors as Michel Prévost, president of La Société d’histoire de l’Outaouais, confirms that “no prints of Karsh’s work have been allowed since his negatives were given to Library and Archives Canada in the 1990s.”

More Famous Images

Related Posts:

St Paul Cathedral Survives

Buy on amazon
St Paul's Cathedral during the German bombing campaign called the Blitz
Behind the camera: Herbert Mason
Where: St Paul’s Cathedral in London
Photo Summary: St Paul’s Cathedral during the German bombing campaign called the Blitz
Picture Taken: December 29, 1940 published on December 31, 1940

During the opening years of World War II Britain was all that was left against Hitler’s military Juggernaut. France had already surrendered and continental Europe was under Germany’s control. Hitler, through a massive bombing campaign, hoped to either knock the UK out of the war or destroy its air force in preparation for invasion. Starting in 1940, until Hitler withdrew his planes in preparation of the invasion of the USSR in 1941, the bombing campaign, nicknamed the Blitz by the British, was a regular aerial bombardment of British Urban areas. One of the greatest raids took place on December 29, 1940, when a Daily Mail reporter snapped what at the time was called the “War’s greatest picture.”

St Paul’s Cathedral

One of the most iconic buildings in London St Paul’s Cathedral was seen as vital to the morale of the British public and the government had sent out a call for volunteers to form a quick response fire crew. Drawing on members of the Royal Institute of British Architects the group was a who’s who of intellectuals, well-known architects, famous artists and the most distinguished historians of the day. They slept on site in shifts in the Cathedral’s crypt and would keep watch on the rooftop during bombing runs searching for incendiary bomb strikes. Armed with only tin hats, and basic fire-fighting equipment they laid in wait for any bombs that might strike the mighty structure.
Before the December 29th raid there were a number of close calls including a bomb strike on October 10, 1940, and another the next year on April 17, 1941. The closest the cathedral came to complete destruction was on September 12, 1940, when a one-ton land mine landed next to St Paul’s. It burrowed down about twenty-seven feet and had to be painstakingly dug out by a team led by Robert Davies of the Canadian Army Engineers. After three days they were able to carefully lift the bomb out of its hole and detonate in safely in the countryside. The bomb left a 100ft wide crater and if it had detonated where it landed the bomb would have completely destroyed the cathedral.

German magazine showing St Paul's Cathedral during the German bombing campaign called the Blitz

The Germans had a different take on the picture with the January 23, 1941 edition of the Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung showing the picture along with a story about how London was burning and the end of the war was in sight.

All bomb hits to the building were covered up by the government. After the war, a Blitz survivor who was six at the time remembers being carried into the damaged Cathedral on her fire-warden father’s shoulders. “Take a look and remember”, he told her. “You will never, ever hear about this again.”

Taking the picture

The Germans had a different take on the picture with the January 23, 1941 edition of the Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung showing the picture along with a story about how London was burning and the end of the war was in sight.
The night raid of December 29th was London’s 114th night of the Blitz and the first bombs started falling at 18:15 GMT. Bombs seemed to concentrate near the famed St Paul’s Cathedral. Churchill became so alarmed by the threat of damage to the building that he ordered “all fire-fighting resources be directed at St Paul’s. The cathedral must be saved, he said damage to the fabric would sap the morale of the country.” That night there was actually a close call when an incendiary bomb struck the lead shell of the dome and then fell out into the Stone Gallery but the quick response crew was able to extinguish its flames before they were able to ignite the dome timbers.
On that same night a Daily Mail photographer, Herbert Mason, perched on the roof of the Daily mail on Tudor Street was able to take the famous picture as the cathedral was illuminated by searchlights. The image was published two days later, on December 31. The paper then took the unusual step of publishing the photographer’s account of how he took the image:

I focused at intervals as the great dome loomed up through the smoke. Glares of many fires and sweeping clouds of smoke kept hiding the shape. Then a wind sprang up. Suddenly, the shining cross, dome and towers stood out like a symbol in the inferno. The scene was unbelievable. In that moment or two I released my shutter.

More Famous Images

Related Posts: