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, 1940Published 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.
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.
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.
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 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!
Nazi poster with Churchill in an alley holding the Thomson with the German text, "Sniper."
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.
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
Behind the camera: Claude P. Dettloff Where:Eighth Street and Columbia Avenue intersection, New Westminster, Canada Photo Summary: The British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught’s Own Rifles) marching down the street when Warren “Whitey” Bernard runs out to his father, Pte. Jack Bernard. Picture Taken: October 1, 1940
Canada had been at war for over a year and still, the men of The British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught’s Own Rifles) waited to be called up for service. Finally, in 1940 the order came down and the men marched through New West Minister to a waiting train to take them overseas. As the men marched, one little boy, seeing his father ran out onto the street and was quickly chased by his mother. Photographer Claude P. Dettloff was all ready to take a picture of the hundreds of BC boys going off to war when Warren “Whitey” Bernard ran into his picture. With a click Dettloff took one of the defining Canadian pictures of World War II.
The Oct. 2, 1940, front page of The Province featured Claude P. Dettloff’s famous Wait for Me, Daddy photo.
The Bernard family was at that time living in Vancouver near Queen Elizabeth Park. Five-year-old Warren “Whitey” Bernard was in Grade 1 at nearby General Wolfe Elementary (His mother had lied about his age to get him in). Whitey’s Dad was enlisted in the British Columbia Regiment and was stationed in the city on various sentry points throughout the city. Since the declaration of war in 1939, the men of the BC regiment had been doing various guard duty assignments which were boring and monotonous. One of the most exciting events occurred when a bored sentry at the Jerrico Air Base fired his weapon into the ground and then informed his superiors that he was shot at. Worried about German saboteurs guard duty was doubled, especially after an expert from Ottawa was sent in to investigate; after careful study he declared it to be 9mm German slug. The base would have remained on high alert if a suspicious Lt Neil Pattullo hadn’t coaxed out the “true” story out of the sentry.
Finally after months of waiting the regiment received word that it was to be moving to a secret destination “Overseas.” As the troops marched to a waiting train to take them to their next destination photographer Claude P. Dettloff snapped the photo standing at the Columbia St crossing as the men marched down Eighth Street in New Westminster, Canada.
Whitey doesn’t remember running on to the street or getting his picture taken but he does remember the next day when after the picture was published in the Province Newspaper he became the most famous kid in Vancouver. As other newspapers picked up the photo he soon became the most famous child in Canada. The small Whitey was even enlisted to sell war bonds. In an interview years later he remembered that the war bond drives were quite fun.
Colourized version of the photo by Doug of @colour_history
They were six weeks long, and so I had to be excused from school. They had entertainers and put on shows. I remember meeting Edgar Bergen and ‘talking’ to his dummies, Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd, and there were local entertainers, too: Barney Potts, Thora Anders, Pat Morgan, and I’d come out at the end in front of a big blowup of the picture with a fellow dressed up as my dad. I’d stand there in my dressy blue blazer and short grey pants, they put me in short pants, and give a little speech, and I’d end by asking everyone to buy war bonds to help Bring My Daddy Home. That got everyone all misty-eyed and they’d rush up to buy bonds.
His future wife, Ruby, fondly recalls that she had actually known her husband for years. Whitey’s photo “was hung in every school in B.C. during the war,” she said. “I saw him years and years before we actually met.”
The reunion after the war
As for his Dad, Pte. Jack Bernard, the secret “overseas” location turned out to be the Camp Nanaimo base only a few hours away on Vancouver Island. The regiment spent time on the coast defending against German and then Japanese attack. It wasn’t until August 1942 that the bulk of the Regiment sailed for England. They didn’t see action until July 23, 1944, when they landed at the established D-Day beachhead and participated in Operation Totalize, one of the first attempts to close the Falaise Gap. After the Allies had crushed the German Army groups based in France they with the rest of Allies harassed the retreating Germans all the way to Holland. There the regiment took part in a number of operations in Holland and in Northern Germany. The last battle they took part in was on April 17, 1945, when they crossed the Kusten Canal. A month later Victory in Europe Day (VE-Day) was declared on May 5, 1945. Throughout the war the Regiment had 122 Officers and men killed and 213 wounded.
After the War
Whitey Bernard pointing himself out
Whitey’s dad survived the European theatre and came home in October 1945. One causality of the war was Whitey’s parents’ marriage; as Jack and Bernice Bernard eventually divorced. Whitey grew up and moved to Tofino and met and married his wife Ruby in 1964. He ran a small marina that sold hardware and gas before getting involved in local politics. He was elected an alderman then was major for several years before becoming a Councillor. He’s now retired but his son, Steven Bernard, still runs the family marina.