23 August, 2006

My Heroes: (10) Sir Winston Churchill

"Commeth the Hour, Commeth the Man"

Churchill was surrounded by many myths during and since his long career. He did make all of his speeches himself (not, as the myth has it, via the voice of an actor). He produced possibly the greatest piece of oratory of all time, when, in only his fourth speech to the House of Commons, at a time when Great Britain stood alone against the German axis. The Members of Parliament were sceptical about Churchill. He had been seen as a bit of a political maverick up until that time and he needed their support. I do not usually produce long posts, believing that shorter ones are more effective but on this occasion I am reproducing a chunk of that superb speech. It will be a hard man or woman who is not moved by it. The speech opened with a factual account of the French collapse and the evacuation from Dunkirk and he gave details of the home defense:
"...I, myself, have confidence that, if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves, once again, able to defend our Island home, to ride out the storm of war and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone "
At this point the House became hushed. He had their attention. He continued:
"Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous states have fallen, or may fall, into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. 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, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the new world, with all it's power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old."
He had stunned his audience, who then gave him a spectacular ovation.
The USA, of course, did enter the war but not until after Pearl Harbour, 18 months later.


Blogger Deepak Gopi said...

Hallo Sir,
How are you.Thanks for the visit and for the comments.I read the book last week.I feel that there is some sort of magic in the book and it could transform the life of those who read it.I thought that I should share some knowledge I got from the book with other blogger friends.
I really enjoyed your post too.

Thursday, August 24, 2006  
Blogger Rob said...

I believe he used to drink in an Oxford pub that I go to sometimes.
I wonder to what extent his strength of character came from fighting a long battle against depression.
Might Britain have been defeated without him?
I remember the wave of grief when he died. I was very young at the time and was fed up of hearing people go on about the War. The local music shop filled its window display with recordings of Churchill's speeches (where previously there had been Beatles' records!) Now I understand better.

Thursday, August 24, 2006  
Blogger Raj said...

Hello, Mr Bazza, All your posts are very well narrated and informative. I'll be linking your Blog to mine. Keep the good work going. Regards.

Friday, August 25, 2006  
Blogger dumbdodi said...

Hi Bazza

I knew Chruchill was a hero here, but how big a hero I realised after coming to the UK.
The Windsor palace has his bust placed with various war heroes from history, I think he is the only modern hero who is remembered there. Then in Imperial War museum too, there is lot of mention of him and recognition as one of the biggest war heroes, I could go on about the other places....

War politics apart...I think he had lot of other great attributes..like you have pointed here...his oratory skills...

BTW My first language is English
:-) (Ref: previous post)

Friday, August 25, 2006  
Blogger Bazza said...

Deepak: I hereby recommend your charming blog to all my visitors.

Rob:I've been to Blenheim Palace, where Churchill once lived. I seem to remember that it's outside the lovely Oxfordshire village of Woodstock.
I think Britain would certainly have had far less chance of winning the war without Churchill at the helm. He was a truly remarkable man.

Raj: Well, thank you very much sir. I also recommend your blog!

Dumbdodi: Your English, like so many people of Indian origin, is excellent. I never doubted that it was your first language!

Friday, August 25, 2006  
Blogger jim said...

Hello Bazza, timely post, this. Chruchill has been in my mind much lately, he was a great man, for a great time, in place and waiting, very fine indeed.

I also know him as an artist, some very fine paintings, he was quite accomplished and enjoyed the experience of painting very much.

Politics in the USA has been in the air around me the past month, especially the past week, regarding these issues, America waiting so long to get involved in the major problem that Europe and Britian faced. We had a Democratic President, I am told that the country populace kept him from getting involved, I am not so sure it was not his party.

Now, we have a Republican President who will if he can find a way, get involved, of course there is the populace that is not yet for him in this present regard, but may very well turn around, (as I have, I was against the Iraq thing initially), and support more involvement. But there are issues like a draft, and so on, that this Republican would like to avoid. I personally think we need right now, a far larger force in Iraq, Kuwait, Afganastan, and the other countries, and that NATO involvement for us should be beefed up. But perhaps I am a bit ahead of the need or time for this change to occur, I do expect it.

One of the problems that Israel had is a weak leadership (compared to their past leaders) in government and in the military itself. I am hoping and expecting that to be changed rapidly now, I was aware of it 3 months ago, that it was a problem that they were ignoring.

Now seems to be coming to a time in which we can draw on the actions and words of leaders like Churchill to deal more timely with this similar-seeming problem. I hope there will be men in place for this situation who can follow in Churchill's footsteps, men of his caliber in all free countries, and lead, both in England and in the USA, to a solution without an actual war. I hope there will be cooperation found thruout Europe and the world, even more than before. I believe it will be so.

The words of the speech, which you have put here, give me comfort, thanks.

Saturday, August 26, 2006  
Blogger Bazza said...

Hi Jim: It's so unsusual that Irael ever has a weak government because however divided they are among themselves they are so single-munded and focussed when it comes to their own defence.
I think so much of Churchill's speech-making was stirring and it definetly helped to galvanise the war effort. At other times it might of seemed jingoistic but in wartime it did the trick!

Monday, August 28, 2006  
Blogger jim said...

Yes he did have a 'twist' that was sort of 'put-on', but it was in the right place for the right time to serve, and did. I admire him for taking on and carrying the load.

Monday, August 28, 2006  

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