Epic Excerpts: Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill at Downing Street giving his famous V sign in June 1943
Sir Winston Churchill (1874 – 1965) was a British politician known chiefly for his leadership of the United Kingdom during World War II, saving the world from Nazi domination in the dark days of 1940. Throughout his life he cared for his family and sustained his lifestyle through use of the pen. His books and speeches were numerous and have led to a plethora of quotations and witticisms. Having spent my first 28 years of life in England, these five quotations are familiar.

Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat

I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this Government, I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many long months of toil and struggle.

You ask what is our policy. I will say, it is to wage war with all our might, with all the strength that God can give us, to wage war against a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime.

You ask what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory. Victory at all costs. Victory in spite of all terror. Victory however long and hard the road may be. For without victory there is no survival.
(First statement as Prime Minister, House of Commons, 13 May 1940)

Be Ye Men of Valour

Today is Trinity Sunday. Centuries ago words were written to be a call and a spur to the faithful servants of Truth and Justice: “Arm yourselves, and be ye men of valour, and be in readiness for the conflict; for it is better for us to perish in battle than to look upon the outrage of our nation and our altar. As the will of God is in Heaven, even so let it be.”
(First broadcast as Prime Minister, 19 May 1940. The quotation is from 1 Maccabees 3:58-60)

Their Finest Hour

What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilisation. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may more forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their Finest Hour.”
(House of Commons, 18 June 1940, following the collapse of France)

The Few

The gratitude of every home in our island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the world war by their prowess and by their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.
(A tribute to the Royal Air Force, House of Commons, 20 August 1940. Because of German bombing raids, Churchill said, Britain was “a whole nation fighting and suffering together.”)

Never Give In

This is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.
(Given at his first visit to his old school, Harrow, 29 October 1941)

Further Reading

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  1. It is easy to get good quotations of Winston Churchill. My next person will be Francis Drake, not so easy to find quotes by him.

  2. There have been many great leaders in what we would call the latter-days. I believe that when someone of his caliber speaks, we look to it and understand it, because it is truth. Truth is identifiable within us, and though we can’t explain it, we understand it. Those are some great quotations.

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