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British Ambassador Sir Peter Ricketts pays tribute to John Morris


It was a memorable evening when some 80 friends, colleagues, AAPA members and their guests paid tribute to the Association’s 97-year-old doyen member, John G. Morris, at a reception on Sept. 11.

Held in the stylish salons of the Hotel Scribe, near the Opera Garnier, it was an occasion for John to relive his time spent there as a correspondent in the summer of 1944.


The hotel was the nerve center for the international press corps following the liberation of Paris. John was the London-based picture editor for Life magazine at that point during the war, but somehow managed to send himself on a photo reportage into Normandy following the D-Day landings.

“It was a story that was too good to miss,” he recalled.

At the Hotel Scribe in 1944, he rubbed shoulders with renowned journalists, broadcasters and photographers such as Ernest Hemingway, William Shirer and Robert Capa, whose celebrated photos of the D-Day landings he helped edit.

For the AAPA, it was an opportunity to recognize John for his unstinting support of the Association over the years and his hospitality in allowing us to hold innumerable AGMs and other events in his home in the Marais.

For the tribute, The Scribe allowed us to illustrate John’s work with blow-ups of photos taken by him in 1944, as well as a reproduction of a painting of the press corps in the bar of the Scribe.

AAPA members Tom Haley and David Pearson organized the exhibit, and thanks for the organization also go to Barbara Casassus and Axel Krause for their contributions.

After a welcoming address by AAPA President John Keating, our Honorary Co-President and British Ambassador Sir Peter Ricketts stepped up to the podium. Turning to John Morris, he applauded him not only for his coverage of the war, but more than that for his work that has inspired and encouraged generations of journalists. Referring to the many conflict zones around the globe, Sir Peter commented: “When journalists get killed doing their job or, even worse, killed for doing their job, then we realize how important it is to have journalists; you are all symbols of our freedom.”

John gives the thumbs-up with Robert Pledge, master of ceremonies

Sir Peter then read out a message from American Chargé d’Affaires Uzra Zeya, who noted that “Every picture that has made the history of the last half-century has run through John Morris.”

The manager of the Hotel Scribe, Beatrice Schopflin, recalled the history of the hotel, which saw the first public moving picture projection by the Frères Lumière, and she said the presence again of the Anglo-American press fits in with the hotel’s interesting history.

AAPA vice-president David Pearson said he was awed by John’s seemingly boundless energy as he travels around Europe and the U.S. promoting “Quelque Part En France,” his latest book with his photos from Normandy in 1944 that also contains a poignant collection of his letters home from the war zone.

John’s long-standing friend and colleague Robert Pledge then took over, marshalling individual tributes and anecdotes from those present and those who could not attend but who wanted to mark the event by sending John personal messages.

The Hotel Scribe event was only one of the many tributes to John Morris over this busy summer, which marked the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

Not least among these tributes was one that was held in the Brittany town of Rennes, where John witnessed its liberation in early August 1944.

On September 18, on the main square in Rennes, the city unveiled an exhibit of 30 of John’s pictures, some of them taken in Rennes 70 years ago.
Amid large public interest and the presence of the U.S. Consul in Rennes and other public officials, John was received by the Mayor of the City and hosted at a reception in City Hall, as well as attending other ceremonies, including a book signing.

-David Pearson (with John Keating)

-Pictures by Tom Haley