War correspondents

War correspondents

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Title: War correspondents

Author : ANONYMOUS (-)

Creation date : 1944

Date shown: June 6, 1944

Dimensions: Height 17.7 cm - Width 12.7 cm

Technique and other indications: silver print

Storage place: Memorial of Caen, City of History for Peace (Caen) website

Contact copyright: © The Caen Memorial

Picture reference: MEMO_PHOT_01365

© The Caen Memorial

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

The information factory

After a short period of existence (1918-1919) at the end of the First World War, the United Kingdom's Ministry of Information was recreated on September 4, 1939. In charge of information and From propaganda, the administration performs several functions, among which is the control and censorship of the press (written, radio, animated news), or even “advertising” within borders and abroad. Placed under the direction of Brendan Bracken from July 20, 1941 to May 25, 1945, the ministry organized numerous campaigns (posters, films, radio broadcasts, writing, etc.) aimed at defending the point of view and action of the British state during the conflict.

Within this structure, many "journalists" are employed in the production and dissemination of information controlled, organized and decided by the state. Among them, several hundred war correspondents are hired by the government, with the mission of "reporting the facts relating to the military conflict on all fronts". While some, and especially the most famous of them, are "in the field" (photographers, editors), the vast majority work in the Department of Information building in London. These make it the basis of more or less controlled journalistic work, in any case helping to relay information.

It is this shadow work devoted to fabricating information from the back, not the front, that the reportage photograph represents War correspondents, dated June 6, 1944, the day of the famous D Day. If it is obviously not among the most famous images of the Normandy landings, War correspondents Nevertheless tells us about another facet of this day.

Image Analysis

In the heat of the moment

This photograph was taken on June 6, 1944 in a room of the Ministry of Information in London. In a large room, several dozen war correspondents are gathered, busy following events in Normandy, collecting the latest information and writing topical dispatches.

The photo shows two long parallel tables taken three-quarters and whose end cannot be seen. Sitting at these tables on simple folding wooden and canvas chairs, occupying a relatively small space for each workstation, war correspondents are busy typing. Apart from a woman visible in the background, the correspondents are men. The majority of them are in military uniform, but a few are also dressed in civilian clothes.

An impression of activity and intensity emanates from the image of these people in the heat of the news, enhanced by the fact that some of them stand up to proofread or circulate typed texts. . The white of the sheets of paper contrasts with the rather dark light that dominates the whole.

This image therefore shows us a beehive in full effervescence, whose limbs are diligent, focused and fully devoted to their task.


Another side of the war

War correspondents is an anonymous snapshot, but we guess it was taken by one of the ministry employees. It is part of a series of photographs and images filmed for reportage purposes at the heart of this historic moment. It is therefore a question of bearing witness to the active role of these correspondents on the day of the D-Day landings. Far from the fighting, they nevertheless participate in the battle, delivering in their own way another facet of the war.

Beyond the presence of many uniforms which can be explained by the fact that many of these correspondents are soldiers, the photograph seems to show that this room is also a kind of front on which the so important war of information is being played out. . Intensity of the action, multiple activity, relative promiscuity (and therefore proximity of the actors, shoulder to shoulder like brothers in arms in combat), lack of comfort or luxury, number of troops (we imagine other tables and occupants outside the framework), importance of the task, application and seriousness: all these similarities suggest that these “information soldiers” participate fully in this historical moment, playing jointly and fully the capital role entrusted to them.

War correspondents therefore deliberately puts forward and in honor of these men and women who also know how to serve their country in their own way, without being present on the beaches of Normandy, gun in hand. By presenting these images of a heroism accessible to all, and in which contemporaries can perhaps be more easily recognized than in that of the soldiers on the front lines, War correspondents suggests that a whole country is mobilizing and finally sees victory. By showing an example to be inspired by for the rest of the conflict, the cliché also encourages everyone to continue the war effort requested of them, no matter how small and far removed from the "real" fighting.

  • Liberation (war)
  • Normandy landing
  • War of 39-45
  • army
  • propaganda
  • hurry
  • radio
  • reportage
  • photography
  • London


AZÉMA Jean-Pierre, New history of contemporary France. XIV: From Munich to the Liberation (1938-1944), Paris, Le Seuil, coll. “Points: histoire” (no 114), 1979.DELPORTE Christian, MARÉCHAL Denis (dir.), Media and Liberation in Europe (1945-2005), conference proceedings (Versailles, 2005), Paris, L’Harmattan / Ina, coll. “The Media in Action”, 2006.SERGEANT Jean-Claude, “Telling the War: Traditions and Figures of War Reporting (1855-1975)”, in HALIMI Suzy (dir.), Political institutions in the United Kingdom: tribute to Monica Charlot, Paris, Presses Sorbonne Nouvelle, 2006, p. 77-96.WIEVORKA Olivier, History of the Normandy landings: from the origins to the liberation of Paris (1941-1944), Paris, Le Seuil, coll. "The Historical Universe", 2007.

To cite this article

Alexandre SUMPF, "The war correspondents"

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