The Old School


DECEMBER 18, 1940

Winston S. Churchill

THE UNRELENTING STRUGGLE: War Speeches by the Right Hon. Winston S. Churchill, pp. 19-21.

Itis a great pleasure and a refreshing treat to me and those of my Parliamentary Ministerial colleagues who have come to Harrow with me this afternoon to join the School in singing Harrow songs. When I was here as a boy I was thrilled by them. I had a good memory and mastered the words of many of them, and they have often come back to me in after life. I feel that they are one of the greatest treasures of the School, passing as they do from one generation to another and pointing with bright hopes towards the future.

We have sung of "the wonderful giants of old" but can anyone doubt that this generation is as good and as noble as any the nation has ever produced, and that its men and women can stand against all tests? Can any one doubt that this generation is in every way capable of carrying on the traditions of the nation and handing down its love of justice and liberty and its message undiminished and unimpaired?

I like the song "Boy," although when I was at the School I did not advance to that position of authority which entitles one to make that call. The songs and their spirit form a bond between Harrovians all over the world, and they have played a great part in the influence which has been exercised in national affairs by men who have had their education here.

Hitler, in one of his recent discourses, declared that the fight was between those who have been through the Adolf Hitler Schools and those who have been at Eton. Hitler has forgotten Harrow, and he has also overlooked the vast majority of the youth of this country who have never had the advantage of attending such schools, but who have by their skill and prowess won the admiration of the whole world.

When this war is won, as it surely will be, it must be one of our aimsto work to establish a state of society where the advantagesand privileges which hitherto have been enjoyed only by the few shall be far more widely shared by the many, and by the youth of the nation as a whole.

It is a great time in which you are called upon to begin your life. You have already had the honour of being under the fire of the enemy, and no doubt you acquitted yourselves with befitting composure and decorum. You are here at this most important period of your lives, at a moment when our country stands forth almost alone as the champion of right and freedom all over the world. You, the young men, will be the heirs of the victory which we shall surely achieve, and perhaps some of you in this Speech Room will derive from these songs and Harrow associations the impulse to render that victory fruitful and lasting.