The Achievements of the Empire



Christmas Broadcast to the British Empire, London, December 25, 1942

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. IX, pp. 198-199.

IT is at Christmas more than at any other time that we are conscious of the dark shadow of war. Our Christmas festival today must lack many of the happy, familiar features that it has had from our earliest childhood. We miss the actual presence of some of those nearest and dearest without whom our family gatherings cannot be complete.

But, though its outward observances may be limited, the message of Christmas remains eternal and unchanged.

It is a message of thankfulness and of hope, of thankfulness to the Almighty for His great mercies, of hope for the return to this earth of peace and good-will.

In this spirit, I wish all of you a happy Christmas. This year it adds to our happiness that we are sharing it with so many of our comrades in arms from the United States of America.

We welcome them in our homes and their sojourn here will not only be a happy memory for us but also, I hope, the basis of enduring understanding between our two peoples.

Recent victories won by the United Nations enable me, this Christmas, to speak with firm confidence about the future.

On the southern shores of the Mediterranean, the First and Eighth Armies, our fleets and air forces, are advancing toward each other, heartened and greatly fortified by the timely and massive expeditionary armies of the United States.

Tremendous blows have been struck by the armies of the Soviet Union, the effects of which cannot yet be measured on the minds and bodies of the German people.

In the Pacific, we watch with thrilled attention the counterstrokes of our Australian and American comrades.

India, which is still threatened with Japanese invasion, has found in her loyal fighting men more than a million strong champions to stand at the side of the British Army in the defense of Indian soil.

We still have tasks ahead of us, perhaps harder even than those which we have already accomplished. We face these with confidence, for today we stand together, no longer alone, no longer ill-armed, but just as resolute as in the darkest hours to do our duty, whatever comes.

Many of you to whom I am speaking are far away overseas. You realize at first hand the importance and meaning of those outposts of empire which the wisdom of our forefathers selected and which your faithfulness will defend.

For there was danger that we should lose such and this has opened our eyes to the value of what we might have lost.

You may be serving for the first time in Gibraltar, on Malta, in Cyprus, Ceylon or India.

Perhaps you are listening to me from Aden, or Syria, or Persia, or Madagascar, or the West Indies. Or you may be in the land of your birth, in Canada, Australia, New Zealand or South Africa.

Wherever you are serving in our wide, free Commonwealth of Nations you will always feel at home though severed by long sea miles of distance. You are still in the family circle, whose ties, precious in peaceful years, have been knit even closer by danger.

The Queen and I feel most deeply for all of you who have lost or are parted from your dear ones and our hearts go out to you with sorrow and with comfort but also with pride.

We send a special message of remembrance to the wounded and sick in hospitals wherever they may be and to prisoners of war who are enduring their long exile with dignity and fortitude.

The suffering and hardship shared together have given us a new understanding of each others' problems.

The lessons learned during the forty tremendous months behind us have taught us how to work together for victory and we must see to it that we keep together after the war to build a worthier future.

On our visits to war industries in every part of the country, the Queen and I have watched with admiration the steady growth of that vital war production, the fruits of which now are being used by every branch of our forces in all theatres of war.

We are thankful for the splendid addition to our food supplies made by those who work on the land and who have made it fertile and prolific as it never has been before.

Those of you who are carrying out this variety of duties, so willingly undertaken in the service of your country, will, I am sure, find new associations, new friendships, new memories long to be cherished in times of peace.

So let us brace and prepare ourselves for the days which lie ahead. Victory will bring us even greater world responsibilities and we must not be found unequal to a task in the discharge of which we shall draw on the storehouse of our experience and tradition.

Our European Allies, their sovereigns, heads and governments, whom we are glad to welcome here in their distress, count on our aid to help them return to .their native lands and to rebuild the structure of a free and glorious Europe.

On sea, on land, in the air and in civil life at home, a pattern of effort and mutual service is being traced which may guide those who design the picture of our future society.

A former President of United States of America used to tell of a boy who was carrying an even smaller child up a hill.

Asked whether the heavy burden was not too much for him, the boy answered, "It's not a burden, it's my brother."

So, let us welcome the future in a spirit of brotherhood and thus make a world in which, please God, all may dwell together in justice and in peace."