‘It is always an error in diplomacy to press a matter when it is quite clear that no further progress is to be made. It is also a great error if you ever give the impression abroad that you are using language which is more concerned with your domestic politics than with the actual fortunes and merits of the various great countries upon the Continent to whom you offer advice.’
Hugh Gaitskell, Minister of Fuel and Power in the Labour Government during the post Second World War period, was urging energy conservation; his advice proved too much for Churchill, renowned for his love of frequent bathing.
Gaitskell: ‘Personally, I have never had a great many baths myself, and I can assure those who are in the habit of having a great many that it does not make a great difference to their health if they have less.’
Churchill replied on 28 October 1947: ’When Ministers of the Crown speak like this on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, the Prime Minister and his friends have no need to wonder why they are getting increasingly into bad odour. I had even asked myself, when meditating upon these points whether you, Mr. Speaker, would admit the word “lousy” as a Parliamentary expression in referring to the Administration, provided, of course, it was not intended in a contemptuous sense but purely as one of factual narration.’ Read More >
‘The right to guide the course of world history is the noblest prize of victory. We are still toiling up the hill; we have not yet reached the crest-line of it; we cannot survey the landscape or even imagine what its condition will be when that longed-for morning comes. The task which lies before us immediately is at once practical, more simple and more stern. I hope—indeed I pray—that we shall not be found unworthy of our victory if after toil and tribulation it is granted to us. For the rest, we have to gain the victory. That is our task.’
‘Statesmen are not called upon only to settle easy questions. These often settle themselves. It is where the balance quivers, and the proportions are veiled in mist, that the opportunity for world-saving decisions presents itself.’
-Winston S. Churchill, 1948, The Second World War, Vol 1, p.284. Read More >
Winston Churchill records his thoughts on moment the First World War ended.
Churchill and Pershing in London for Victory Parade July 1919 (IWM Q 67721)‘It was a few minutes before the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. I stood at the window of my room looking up Northumberland Avenue towards Trafalgar Square, waiting for Big Ben to tell that the War was over. My mind strayed back across the scarring years to the scene and emotions of the night at the Admiralty when I listened for these same chimes in order to give the signal of war against Germany to our Fleets and squadrons across the world. And now all was over! The unarmed and untrained island nation, who with no defence but its Navy had faced unquestioningly the strongest manifestation of military power in human record, had completed its task. Our country had emerged from the ordeal alive and safe, its vast possessions intact, its war effort still waxing, its institutions unshaken, its people and Empire united as never before. Victory had come after all the hazards and heartbreaks in an absolute and unlimited form. All the Kings and Emperors with whom we had warred were in flight or exile. All their Armies and Fleets were destroyed or subdued. In this Britain had borne a notable part, and done her best from first to last.
‘I wish you could have seen her as she lay at rest—after all the sunshine and storm of life was over. Very beautiful and splendid she looked. Since the morning with its pangs, thirty years had fallen from her brow. She recalled to me the countenance I had admired as a child when she was in her heyday and the old brilliant world of the eighties and nineties seemed to come back.’
– Winston on his beloved mother, Lady Randolph Churchill. 1 July 1921. Read More >
‘In Lady Violet Bonham Carter we have not only a Liberal of unimpeachable loyalty to the Party, but one of the finest speakers in the country. Her speech against Socialism which was so widely read two months ago recalled the style of old and famous days.’
– Winston Churchill, Woodford, Essex, 28 January 1950. Read More >
‘The television has come to take its place in the world; as a rather old-fashioned person I have not been one of its principal champions, but I don’t think it needs any champion. I think it can make its own way and I think it’s a wonderful thing indeed to think that every expression on my face at this moment may be viewed by millions of people throughout the United States. I hope that the raw material is as good as the methods of distribution.’
-Sir Winston Churchill, 1952, Press Conference, New York. Read More >
Winston Churchill, Harry Truman and Joseph Stalin at the Potsdam Conference the month before the Japanese surrender.
According to Sir Martin Gilbert in his epic Churchill biography here’s how the final days played out.
“On August 8, two days after Hiroshima, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan, and Soviet troops, already massed on the Manchurian frontier, drove southward in a series of fierce and bloody battles. On August 9 a second atom bomb was dropped, this time on Nagasaki. Two Japanese cities had been all but obliterated. ‘It may well be that events will bring the Japanese War to an early close,’ Churchill wrote to Attlee on August 10. ‘Indeed I hope this may be so, for it means an immense lightening of the load we expected to carry.’ That day, Radio Tokyo broadcast an appeal to the Allies to accept the Japanese surrender. ‘We have as yet nothing more than the Tokyo broadcast,’ Attlee wrote to Churchill later that day, ‘but are seeking confirmation. I will let you know as soon as I have news.’ The probability was, Attlee believed, that Japan would formally surrender ‘in the next 48 hours’, and he went on: ‘I feel that the probability of the surrender of our last enemy is so great that I must, at once, offer to you, our leader from the darkest hours through so many anxious days, my congratulations on this crowning result of your work.’ On August 14 the Japanese Government accepted the Allied terms. The Second World War was over.” Read More >
“…So far I think the means of communication in New York have struck me the most. The comfort and convenience of elevated railways—tramways—cable cars & ferries, harmoniously fitted into a perfect system accessible alike to the richest and the poorest—is extraordinary. And when one reflects that such benefits have been secured to the people not by confiscation of the property of the rich or by arbitrary taxation but simply by business enterprise—out of which the promoters themselves have made colossal fortunes, one cannot fail to be impressed with the excellence of the active system. But New York is full of contradictions and contrasts. I paid my fare across Brooklyn Bridge with a paper dollar. I should think the most disreputable ‘coin’ the world has ever seen [He was used to golden sovereigns and half-sovereigns]. I wondered how to reconcile the magnificent system of communication with the abominable currency for a considerable time and at length I have found what may be a solution. The communication of New York is due to private enterprise while the state is responsible for the currency: and hence I come to the conclusion that the first class men of America are in the counting house and the less brilliant ones in the government….” Read More >
“So now the Admiralty wireless whispers through the ether to the tall masts of ships, and captains pace their decks absorbed in thought. It is nothing. It is less than nothing. It is too foolish, too fantastic to be thought of in the twentieth century. Or is it fire and murder leaping out of the darkness at our throats, torpedoes ripping the bellies of half-awakened ships, a sunrise on a vanished naval supremacy, and an island well-guarded hitherto, at last defenceless? No, it is nothing. No one would do such things. Civilization has climbed above such perils. The interdependence of nations in trade and traffic, the sense of public law, the Hague Convention, Liberal principles, the Labour Party, high finance, Christian charity, common sense have rendered such nightmares impossible. Are you quite sure? It would be a pity to be wrong. Such a mistake could only be made once—once for all.”
—1923, recalling the possibility of war between France and Germany after the Agadir Crisis of 1911, in The World Crisis,vol. 1, 1911-1914, pp. 48-49.
Q. I am looking for the brief speech that Churchill made to the graduating class of, I believe, Oxford or Cambridge. Memory serves that the speech was simply “Never give up, Never give up, never give up.” Is this correct?
A. This is one of our most frequent quote requests. The speech was made 29 October 1941 to the boys at Harrow School. ” Never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” The full speech is contained in “The Unrelenting Struggle” (London: Cassell and Boston: Little Brown 1942, and is found on pages 274-76 of the English edition). It may also be found in The Complete Speeches of Winston S. Churchill, edited by Robert Rhodes James (NY: Bowker and London: Chelsea House 1974). Read More >
These quotes make for good storytelling but popular myth has falsely attributed them to Winston Churchill
Conservative by the Time You’re 35
‘If you’re not a liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 35, you have no brain.’
There is no record of anyone hearing Churchill say this. Paul Addison of Edinburgh University made this comment: ‘Surely Churchill can’t have used the words attributed to him. He’d been a Conservative at 15 and a Liberal at 35! And would he have talked so disrespectfully of Clemmie, who is generally thought to have been a lifelong Liberal?’
“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”
This quote is very often attributed to Churchill but appears nowhere in the Churchill canon.
Cross of Lorraine
“The hardest cross I have to bear is the Cross of Lorraine.”
This remark about the intractable Charles de Gaulle was actually made by General Spears, Churchill’s envoy to France.
Going Through Hell
“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
We haven’t seen any correct attribution of this quote that appears frequently on the Internet and printed on motivation posters. It’s not a phrase that is contained anywhere in the canon of Winston Churchill’s written or spoken words. Read More >
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