On this day in 1940, the Prime Minister of Great Britain gave one of the most important speeches of his parliamentary career to the House of Commons, commonly known today as ‘We Shall Fight on the Beaches.’ It was the second of three speeches given by him at this time, surrounding the events of the Battle of France which saw a mass evacuation of more than 300,000 Allied troops from Dunkirk.
The speech was a monumental task for Churchill, as he was required to warn of the impending dangers of Nazi invasion without creating fear and hysteria over doubts in Allied abilities to win the war. He had been Prime Minister of Great Britain for less than a month, and all eyes were on him as the whole country waited to hear of the latest news regarding the war.
Arguably the most famous part of his speech was in the lines ‘We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender’. It has even been reported that immediately after giving the speech, Churchill whispered to a colleague ‘And we’ll fight them with the butt ends of broken beer bottles because that’s bloody well all we’ve got!’
The speech was incredibly successful and was heralded throughout the House of Commons and nationwide. Several Labour members are said to have cried with emotion. If you want to hear the short yet powerful speech for yourself, then just click here.