CHURCHILL, Winston L.S., Sir -- An album and medal presented by the people of Stalingrad in thanks to Thomas Beasley for his leading role in creating the Sword of Honour, and commemorating the Battle of Stalingrad. [Stalingrad: c.1944].
Oblong 2° (350 x 254mm). 78 monochrome photographs, including 6 panoramas, mounted on card, except one mounted on the inside of the case lid, manuscript captions, one in white ink on the print, most of these photo-reproductions. (Light soiling, occasional light wear to edges.) Original red silk, gatefold upper covers with brass ornaments, original walnut case, hinged lid carved with floral pattern, brass plaque engraved with Beasley's name mounted in a reserved central field (silk lightly soiled, small chip to lid and lower edge of front panel). Provenance: Thomas Beasley.
Thomas Beasley, chief swordsmith at Wilkinson Sword, was responsible for crafting the Sword of Honour, commissioned by George VI to commemorate the Russian resolve during the pivotal Battle of Stalingrad. George VI presented the sword to 'the steel hearted citizens of Stalingrad' at the Teheran Conference in November 1943, where Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin met together for the first time and where the strategy that would win the war was agreed. The opening photograph in this album shows Churchill at the presentation of the sword to Stalin. Hitler's defeat at Stalingrad threw his offensive into disarray and proved a major turning point in the war in Europe, and in the history of central and eastern Europe. It was a Pyrrhic victory with an enormous human cost for Russia. The population of Stalingrad, now Volgograd, fell from 850,000 to 1,500 by the end of the war. This album, documenting the city's destruction, its heros, its survivors and its first steps towards reconstruction, echoes the indomitable spirit of the Russian people which the Battle of Stalingrad has come to symbolize. For a number of years the album was on loan to the Wilkinson Sword Museum, where it was displayed alongside a replica of the Sword of Honour.