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1940s / Winston Churchill Machine Gun Photo
On July 31, 1940, British prime minister Winston Churchill visited the coastal defenses near Hartlepool, England during the bleakest period of the Battle of Britain. During his inspection of the troops, he was photographed holding a machine gun (or tommy gun as the Brits call it). The British press thought the photo was unflattering and it got little attention. However, the Germans obtained a copy and thought it had potential as anti-Churchill propaganda. They equated the photo with lawless American gangsters and used it to create a leaflet. Thousands of copies of this photo, bearing the caption 'Wanted for Incitement to Murder,' were dropped over London in an attempt to portray Churchill in a negative light. It didn't work. Far from being offended, the Londoners loved the image of their gun-toting PM. Thus the German propaganda leaflet had the opposite effect from what had been intended. It became a prized possession for Londoners.