Churchill Archive

Notes for Churchill’s Speech to the Royal College of Physicians Featured Document from the Churchill Archives

Speech notes for WSC’s speech (2 March, Royal College of Physicians, London) on advances in medicine and science and the importance of a National Health Service.

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5 July 1948, 70 years ago this month, saw the beginning of the implementation of the National Health Service (NHS). The health minister, Aneurin “Nye” Bevan, marked the occasion by visiting what is now known as Trafford General Hospital in Manchester, the first official NHS hospital. The guiding principle of the NHS was that it was to be free at point of need.

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Featured Document: Telegram from Eden to Churchill

Telegram from Anthony Eden to Winston Churchill informing him of the results of a discussion with President Roosevelt regarding post war Europe

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This telegram sent by Antony Eden, the British Foreign Secretary, to Churchill in March 1943 recounts Eden’s discussion with President Roosevelt during a visit to Washington, D.C. Days later, Churchill made a key broadcast speech in which he laid out his ‘Four Years’ Plan’ for Britain and Europe after the war. Although the war was ongoing, Churchill began to look forward to victory and proposed his ideas for how to restore ‘the true greatness of Europe’. One such idea was to establish a Council of Europe – an international organisation to uphold human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe – which was eventually founded in 1949.

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Featured Document: The Dambusters Raid

The Dambusters Raid

CHAR 20/138B/225

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75 years ago on the night of 16 May, a dangerous task was undertaken by the Royal Air Force 617 squadron to destroy the Möhne, Eder and Sorpe dams in the Ruhr Valley. These dams were thought to be a significant resource in German war production efforts and were also understood to be highly fortified and invulnerable structures. The mission, codenamed ‘Operation Chastise’, became widely known as the Dambusters raid. The extraordinary feat was featured on front page news around the world, making the ‘Dambusters’ instant celebrities.

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Featured Document: Letter from Princess Elizabeth to WSC

Letter from Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II) to WSC to thank him for the birthday gift of his “Life of Marlborough”, commenting that she had spent a very busy [18th] birthday “amongst relatives and a great many Grenadiers, which made it a very happy day…”

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On 24th April 1944, Princess Elizabeth wrote a warm letter of thanks to Winston Churchill, who had given her his Marlborough: His Life and Times as a birthday present. Churchill had known Elizabeth from an early age – at two years of age, he described her as “a character [with] an air of authority and reflectiveness astonishing in an infant” – and they remained close from Churchill’s return to Downing Street in 1951 to his death in 1965. When Elizabeth became Queen in 1952, the 77-year-old statesman was her first prime minister – and, reputedly, her favourite. They enjoyed their weekly meetings, laughed a lot, and bonded over their shared interest in horses and racing. Indeed, the meetings grew from 30 minutes to two hours. Churchill had great respect for the monarchy, and he was very fond of Elizabeth. When he had a stroke soon after her coronation, Elizabeth invited the Churchills to join her to watch the St Leger and go by royal train to Balmoral, where Churchill enjoyed himself enormously and progressively recovered. When he died, Elizabeth broke royal protocol to arrive before the coffin and before the Churchill family and leave after both of them as a touching sign of respect.

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Fight Them on the Beaches 4 June 1940

Churchill’s ‘We shall fight on the beaches’ speech on 4 June 1940 is a eulogy to the British war effort that has been immortalised in popular memory of the Second World War. As a newly appointed Prime Minister, Churchill’s first month in office was defined by the Dunkirk evacuation. Over 300,000 Allied soldiers were evacuated in a sensational rescue mission. The success was down to a combination of German errors and the brilliant execution of the evacuation plan. However, the fact remained that, with France now fallen, Britain had become an attractive target for German invasion.

In this speech, Churchill’s aim was to counter the jubilant public reaction provoked by the evacuation from Dunkirk, and bring the discussion back to reality. As Churchill famously warns in the speech, “We must be very careful not to assign to this deliverance the attributes of a victory. Wars are not won by evacuations.”

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Votes for Women! Women finally granted the right to vote in the UK

The Representation of the People Act

February 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act, which granted the right to vote for women of property over the age of 30. Despite women’s suffrage being debated in the public sphere as early as the mid-nineteenth century, the formalised suffragette movement did not begin in earnest until 1903 when the Women’s Social and Political Union came into being.

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The International Churchill Society (ICS), founded in 1968 shortly after Churchill's death, is the world’s preeminent member organisation dedicated to preserving the historic legacy of Sir Winston Churchill.

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