1914 FIRST BLOOD by John Hughes-Wilson
From the Archive
50 years ago in 1965 the state funeral for Sir Winston Churchill took place and the following item recently came to light:
POPHAM Robert Home Stewart (P/41241):
2nd Lieutenant The Sherwood Foresters, 31/01/1929: Lieutenant 31/01/1932: Seconded for Service with the Sudan Defence Force, 15/01/1937: Captain 01/08/1938: Acting Major, 01/09/1940: Temporary Major 01/12/1940: War Service Major 10/09/1942: Temporary Lieutenant Colonel 03/05/1943: Major 31/01/1946: Lieutenant Colonel 09/09/1951: Commanded 1st Battalion September 1951 to June 1954: Temporary Brigadier 27/02/1956: ADC to District Commander, India 08/11/1933 to 14/01/1937: Special Employed 15/01/1937 to 22/05/1942: Commander Sub Area Middle East 01/03/1943 to 17/04/1943: Deputy Assistant Adjutant General HQ Burma 09/01/1947 to 25/11/1947: Deputy Assistant Adjutant General HQ 2nd Echelon FARELF 30/12/1947 to 09/05/1948: Croup Commander 11/05/1948 to 23/06/1949: General Staff Officer 1 War Office, 26/08/1954: OBE, CBE other Medals not known: Died, 01/08/1993.
The following is from his son M Popham
“One evening early in 1998, I received an excited call from my sister who said: " Mike, turn on the television, there is a picture of father on BBC 1". I did, and sure enough a photograph came up on the screen of my father, a photo I had never seen before .It turned out that Omnibus, the main BBC arts programme of the day, was devoted that week to the work of the legendary French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, the subject of four major exhibitions in London in 1998, the year he celebrated his 90th birthday.
It turned out that my father was one of the subjects in a Cartier Bresson exhibition called "Europeans" at the Hayward Gallery on the South Bank. Then working for the BBC World Service, I was going abroad the next day to make some programmes but, realising I would miss the exhibition if I didn't go at once, I arrived at the Hayward early the next morning, paid my admission fee, dashed up the stairs, found a large photograph of my father on a wall and gazed in admiration, along with some other patrons, at Cartier-Bresson's skill in capturing a lasting image in a split second.
A short while later, I dashed back down the stairs, pausing only to buy the hefty book of photographs in the exhibition and made my way home to pick up my luggage and leave for the airport.
On the train back I studied the photograph. It was a close-up taken of my father on the steps of St Paul's at the final rehearsal on the morning of Sir Winston Churchill's funeral on January 30th 1965 . A retired Brigadier, he was then Swordbearer to the Lord Mayor of London. You can see why Cartier-Bresson is a genius when you look at the photo.
My brother-in-law has more initiative than me. Some years later he wrote to Magnum in Paris explaining that his wife was the daughter of the subject of the photograph, captioned 'Winston Churchill's funeral London England 1965', who had died in 1993, never having known he had been photographed. Cartier-Bresson famously did not sign photographs. One day, however, my sister and brother-in-law returned home find a brown paper packet lying outside their front door. Postmarked Paris, inside was a print of the photo of my father inscribed "For Miss Popham Henri Cartier-Bresson " . A few weeks later, the great man died, just short of his 96th birthday.