Churchill and Roosevelt pray together

This service was felt by us all to be a deeply moving expression of the unity of faith of our two peoples, and none who took part in it will forget the spectacle presented that sunlit morning on the crowded quarterdeck – the symbolism of the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes draped side by side on the pulpit

Conference leaders during Church services on the after deck of HMS Prince of Wales, in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland, during the Atlantic Charter Conference. President Franklin D. Roosevelt (left) and Prime Minister Winston Churchill are seated in the foreground. Standing directly behind them are Admiral Ernest J. King, USN; General George C. Marshall, U.S. Army; General Sir John Dill, British Army; Admiral Harold R. Stark, USN; and Admiral Sir Dudley Pound, RN. At far left is Harry Hopkins, talking with W. Averell Harriman.

Winston Churchill attached great symbolic significance to his first wartime meeting with the United States President. From the very beginning of the war he had been in correspondence with Roosevelt, keeping him abreast of developments and seeking his support. After the war he was to describe the historic meeting with characteristic emotion:

On Sunday morning, August 10, Mr. Roosevelt came aboard H.M.S. Prince of Wales and, with his Staff officers 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 us all to be a deeply moving expression of the unity of faith of our two peoples, and none who took part in it will forget the spectacle presented that sunlit morning on the crowded quarterdeck – the symbolism of the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes draped side by side on the pulpit; the American and British chaplains sharing in the reading of the prayers; the highest naval, military, and air officers of Britain and the United States grouped in one body behind the President and me; the close-packed ranks of British and American sailors, completely intermingled, sharing the same books and joining fervently together in the prayers and hymns familiar to both.

I chose the hymns myself – “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.

Every word seemed to stir the heart. It was a great hour to live. Nearly half those who sang were soon to die.

See Winston Churchill – The Second World War, Volume 3: The Grand Alliance

9 thoughts on “Churchill and Roosevelt pray together”

  1. I’m searching for the name of an old movie or documentary about Churchill and Roosevelt on board the H.M.S. Prince of Wales, during the Atlantic Charter Conference. The above picture of Churchill and Roosevelt was in the movie and the band played the mentioned hymns. What a poignant movie.

  2. Sadly four months to the day after the service the PRINCE OF WALES and her companion HMS REPULSE were sunk off the east coast of Malaya by Japanese torpedo and level bombers, an entirely unnecessary defeat brought about by poor strategic decisions and poor tactical choices.

  3. Hi Carole,

    Could you please forward me a copy of the photos as well. We are holding out 75th Anniversary Celebrations from August 11-14, 2016 and would love to display some of your collection.

    Sincerely,

    Nicole Walsh
    Chairperson
    Atlantic Charter Foundation Inc.
    shipharboursite@gmail.com

  4. Hi Carole,

    Could you please forward me a copy of the photos as well. We are holding out 75th Anniversary Celebrations from August 11-14, 2015 and would love to display some of your collection.

    Sincerely,

    Nicole Walsh
    Chairperson
    Atlantic Charter Foundation Inc.
    shipharboursite@gmail.com

  5. To answer David Holloway’s question from February 2014, I bought the ‘missing’ Atlantic Charter medal about 20 years ago. It is silver, 3 inches in diameter, 3/8″ thick and weighs 8 ounces. The edge has the Hallmarks for 1941 and the initials T & S (the makers were
    Turner and Simpson). One medal was presented to Mrs Roosevelt and is now at Longleat
    in England. One the obverse are the portraits of the King and Queen, and the reverse shows Churchill and Roosevelt with the date 1941. A gold medal was struck from the original die in 1966.

  6. Hello ,I read your comment and would like toknow do u have the photo as we are setting up a museum on the atlantic charter,would appreciate if you would show them to me as i would lkie to know are they different from the ones I have from history books and online,thanks ,looking forward to hearing from you.

  7. A silver medal was struck during the 1940s to commemorate the meeting of the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Great Britain in mid Atlantic on 9th August 1941. I know this to be fact. It is my understanding that only a small number were produced, probably just 4. President Roosevelt was given one, as was Mr Churchill, I have been told that “One medal went to a museum or the Bank of England Vaults” and one “Disappeared” Is there still anyone out there who knows the full history of these medals and what happened to them?
    The Atlantic Charter was a pivotal event of WW2 and received wide publicity at the time. Any info would be appreciated.

  8. I have original photos of this occasion. My father was in the Navy and was aboard the US and British ships during this time. As I have been told, my father became friends with the photographer and was given about 10 pictures…all 8×10. I don’t know if all the sailors were given some or not. Do these have any value? My father drown when he was 32 and the pictures were passed down to me when my mother passed away about 30 years ago.

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