10 Downing Street, London 2014
© Leslie Hossack
Eight months after Britain and France declared war on Germany, Hitler invaded France, Belgium and Holland on May 10th 1040. That same day, Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill was summoned to Buckingham Palace by King George VI who asked him to form the new government. Churchill was now Prime Minister of Great Britain. Of that day, Churchill would later write: “I was conscious of a profound sense of relief. At last I had the authority to give directions over the whole scene. I felt as if I were walking with Destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial.”
On May 13th 1940, when Churchill made his first speech as Prime Minister in the House of Commons, he famously said: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” He would later look back on the war years and remark: “A million Britons died in the First World War. But nothing surpasses 1940.”
To learn more about events of 1940, please visit the BBC World War II Timeline. This BBC summary, prepared by Bruce Robinson, was last updated in 2011.
Prime Minister Churchill moved into his official residence at 10 Downing Street in the summer of 1940. As can be seen in the above photograph, Downing Street is now closed off; however, for most of its history, the street was open to the public. One of the exceptions occurred during World War II, when it was blocked off at Whitehall. In 1941, Stuart Milner-Barry encountered a wooden barrier across the road, staffed by a police officer, when he delivered a letter to Winston Churchill at 10 Downing Street. The letter was signed by Alan Turing, Gordon Welchman, Hugh Alexander and Stuart Milner-Barry, all of whom were working on breaking the German Enigma codes at top-secret Bletchley Park. Their story has recently been dramatized in the movie The Imitation Game.
The image featured above is part of the limited edition collector’s portfolio created by Leslie Hossack to mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Sir Winston Churchill. She presents locations that chart Churchill’s personal and political life, from his birth at Blenheim Palace in 1874 until his death in London in 1965. THE CHURCHILL PHOTOGRAPHS are part of Hossack’s larger body of work that explores Nazi architecture in Berlin, Stalinist structures in Moscow, contested sites in Jerusalem, a Cold War bunker in Ottawa, NATO’s Headquarter Camp in Kosovo, and buildings linked to the Japanese Canadian internment during World War II.
To view more photographs, please visit Leslie’s website. lesliehossack.com