Churchill and Roosevelt pray together

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

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

David Holloway February 4, 2014 at 8:44 pm

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.

Carole Dineen November 3, 2013 at 7:11 pm

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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