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Wallis, Duchess of Windsor Signed Photograph, 1945

A Second World War autograph signed black and white photograph taken during a visit to the R.A.F’s No.111 Operational Training Unit, Nassau, Bahamas. Signed in the duchess’s hand ‘Wallis Windsor’ (1896-1986). Framed and glazed.

The Duke of Windsor was closely involved bringing 11 OTU to Nassau. Besides its function as a training unit, the OTU also served as a Conversion Unit for qualified aircrew moving from B25 Mitchells to B24 Liberators. On the Operational side it carried out anti-submarine patrols over the Western Atlantic.. The location also enabled Canadian Air Force members to crew up with their RAF counterparts, before ferrying badly needed aircraft across the Atlantic ready for active service in the European and Far Eastern theatres.

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor reached the Bahamas by commercial liner in August 1940 whence the Duke was installed as Governor. Wallis performed her role as the Bahamas' first lady competently for five years; she worked actively for the Red Cross and in the improvement of infant welfare. However, she hated Nassau, calling it ‘our St Helena’ in reference to Napoleon’s place of exile. She was heavily criticised in the British press for her extravagant shopping in the United States. In 1941, Churchill strenuously objected when she and her husband planned to tour the Caribbean aboard a yacht belonging to a Swedish magnate and suspected pro-Nazi, Axel Wenner-Gren. According to the Duke’s Private Secretary the British establishment distrusted the Duchess, suspecting that her supposed anti-British activities were motivated by a desire for revenge against a country that rejected her as its queen.

© The Armoury of St James's 17 Piccadilly Arcade London SW1Y 6NH