House Of Commons, June 4, 1940
'We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds' - Winston Churchill made this classic speech following the Dunkirk evacuation just weeks before becoming prime minister in 1940
An absolute classic of a speech that Churchill made following the Dunkirk evacuation just weeks after becoming prime minister.
To quote the most famous lines:
'We shall fight on the seas and oceans... 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 was, in effect, an exultation to the nation to pick itself up and start the struggle all over again, despite the set back at Dunkirk - and the impending defeat of France.
The great man would strut around the room smoking a cigar, composing his oratorial tours de force - and this speech steeled the nation's resolve at a vital time in our history, when some members of the Cabinet wanted to open negotiations with the Axis powers.
Any such deal would have been disastrous for Europe and would have meant the annihilation of the remaining Jews on the Continent. It's also a speech that speaks to all of us who have had bitter disappointments in life - and while we don't use such eloquent language, this is what we have to tell ourselves.
An inspirational speech, although one is left wondering if we have a statesman of Churchill's calibre who could make it today.