A Message of Good Cheer


By WINSTON CHURCHILL, Prime Minister of Great Britain

Broadcast from London, England, September 11, 1940

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. VI, pp. 750-751

WHEN I said in the House of Commons the other day that I thought it improbable that the enemy's air attack in September could be more than three times as great as it was in August, I was not, of course, referring to barbarous attacks upon the civil population, but to the great air battle which is being fought out between our fighters and the German Air Force.

You will understand that whenever the weather is favorable, waves of German bombers, protected by fighters often 300 to 400 at a time, surge over this island, especially the promontory of Kent, in the hope of attacking military and other objectives by daylight. However, they are met by our fighter squadrons and nearly always broken up, and their losses average three to one in machines and six to one in pilots.

Daylight Effort a Failure

This effort of the Germans to secure daylight mastery of the air over England is, of course, the crux of the whole war. So far it has failed conspicuously. It has cost them very dear and we have felt stronger, and are actually and relatively a good deal stronger than when the hard fighting began in July.

There is no doubt that Herr Hitler is using up his fighter force at a very high rate, and that if he goes on for manymore weeks he will wear down and ruin this vital part of his air force. That will give us a very great advantage.

On the other hand, for him to try to invade this country without having secured mastery in the air would be a very hazardous undertaking.

Nevertheless, all his preparations for invasion on a great scale are steadily going forward. Several hundreds of self-propelled barges are moving down the coasts of Europe from the German and Dutch harbors to the ports of Northern France, from Dunkerque to Brest, and beyond Brest to the French harbors in the Bay of Biscay.

Besides this, convoys of merchant ships in tens and dozens are being moved through the Straits of Dover into the Channel, darting along from port to port under the protection of the new batteries which the Germans have built on the French shore.

There are now considerable gatherings of shipping in the German, Dutch, Belgian and French harbors all the way from Hamburg to Brest. Finally, there are some preparations made of ships to carry an invading force from the Norwegian harbors.

Behind these clusters of ships or barges there stand very large numbers of German troops awaiting the order to go on board and set out on their very dangerous and uncertain voyage across the seas.

Full-Sized Invasion Prepared We cannot tell when they will try to come. We cannot be sure that in fact they will try at all. But no one should blind himself to the fact that a heavy full-scale invasion of this island is being prepared with all the usual German thoroughness and method and that it may be launched at any time now upon England, upon Scotland, or upon Ireland, or upon all three.

If this invasion is going to be tried at all, it does not seem that it can be long delayed. The weather may break at any time. Besides this, it is difficult for the enemy to keep these gatherings of ships waiting about indefinitely while they are bombed every night by our bombers and very often shelled by our warships which are waiting for them outside.

Therefore, we must regard the next week or so as a very important week for us in our history. It ranks with the days when the Spanish Armada was approaching the Channel and Drake was finishing his game of bowls, or when Nelson stood between us and Napoleon's Grand Army at Boulogne.

We have read about all this in the history books, but what is happening now is on a far greater scale and of far more consequence to the life and future of the world and its civilization than those brave old days of the past.

Every man and woman will therefore prepare himself and herself to do his duty whatever it may be, with special pride and care.

All Forces Ready for Foe

Our fliers and flotillas are very powerful and numerous. Our Air Force is at the highest strength it has ever reached and it is conscious of its proved superiority, not, indeed, in numbers but in men and machines. Our shores are well fortified and strongly manned and behind them ready to attack the invaders we have a far larger and better equipped mobile army than we have ever had before.

Besides this we have more than 1,500,000 men of the Home Guard who are just as much soldiers of the regular army in status as the Grenadier Guards, and who are determined to fight for every inch of the ground in every village and in every street.

It is with devout but sure confidence that I say let God defend the right.

These cruel, wanton, indiscriminate bombings of London are, of course, a part of Hitler's invasion plans. He hopes by killing large numbers of civilians and women and children that he will terrorize and cow the people of thismighty imperial city, and make them a burden and anxiety to the government and thus distract our attention unduly from the ferocious onslaught he is preparing.

Little does he know the spirit of the British nation or the tough fiber of the Londoners, whose forebears played a leading part in the establishment of parliamentary institutions and who have been bred to value freedom far above their lives.

Monstrous Product of Wrongs This wicked man, the repository and embodiment of many forms of soul-destroying hatreds, this monstrous product of former wrongs and shames has now resolved to try to break our famous island race by a process of indiscriminate slaughter and destruction.

What he has done is to kindle a fire in British hearts here and all over the world which will glow long after all traces of the conflagrations he has caused in London have been removed.

He has lighted a fire which will burn with a steady and consuming flame until the last vestiges of Nazi tyranny have been burned out of Europe and until the Old World and the New can join hands to rebuild the temples of man's freedom and man's honor upon foundations which will not soon or easily be overthrown.

This is a time for every one to stand together and hold firm as they are doing. I express my admiration for the exemplary manner in which all the air raid precaution services of London are being discharged, especially the fire brigades whose work has been so heavy and also dangerous.

All the world that is still free marvels at the composure and fortitude with which the citizens of London are facing and surmounting the great ordeal to which they are subjected, the end of which or the severity of which cannot yet be foreseen.

Message to the Forces

It is a message of good cheer to our fighting forces on the seas, in the air and in our waiting armies in all their posts and positions that we send them from this capital city.

They know that they have behind them a people that will not flinch or weary of the struggle, hard and protracted although it will be, but that we shall rather draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival, and of a victory—one not only for ourselves but for all; a victory won not only for our own time but for the long and better days that are to come.