Great Speeches: “We will fight on the beaches”

Given to the House of Commons  on 4 June 1940,   this was Churchill’s second of three speeches given during the time of the Battle of France.  In this speech, Churchill warned the people of an attempt at invasion by Nazi Germany, while reassuring the public that a victory would occur in the future. He encouraged them to “fight on the beaches,” and anywhere necessary – to “never surrender.”

When Napoleon lay at Boulogne for a year with his flat-bottomed boats and his Grand Army, he was told by someone there are bitter weeds in England. There certainly are a great many more since the British expeditionary force returned. Sir, I have myself full confidence that if all do their duty and if nothing is neglected and if the best arrangements are made, and they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once more able to defend our island home, ride out the storm of war and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary, for years, if necessary, alone.  At any rate, that is what we are going to try to do. That is the resolve of His Majesty’s Government, every man of them. That is the will of Parliament and the nation. The British Empire and the French Republic, linked together in their cause and in their need, will defend to the death their native soil, aiding each other like good comrades to the utmost of their strength.

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 beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender and if, which I do not for the moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, will carry on the struggle until in God’s good time the New World with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and liberation of the Old.  – Winston Churchill

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