Sir Winston Churchill (1874 – 1965) is remembered as one of the greatest wartime leaders in modern history. As Prime Minister he lead the United Kingdom to victory over the Axis powers. In 1953 Churchill was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for his historical and biographical works.
Here is a list of 20 memorable quotes attributed to the iconic leader.
From a BBC broadcast from London, Churchill is referring to the reaction of Russia to Hitler’s eastern ambitions.
From the first of three speeches given during the battle of France, ‘blood, toil, tears and sweat’ entered the national vocabulary.
Here Churchill is quoting an (edited) verse from scripture in order to inspire and ready the country for war.
The second major speech given during the Battle of France. It warns of a possible Nazi invasion of British shores.
From the third great speech during the Battle of France, justifying support for France as being in the UK’s national interest.
Here Churchill is highlighting the moral and ideological implications of the war and that it was not about leaders, but a war of the people.
Underlining the importance of the Battle, which prevented a German invasion and was a turning point in the war.
In honest fashion, Churchill is warning of difficult times ahead for the Allies.
Churchill is requesting the US for arms for the war effort, which led to the President proposing a military aid bill to Congress.
Here Churchill is referring to his full intention of brining the United States into the war against the Axis powers.
Spoken at the school Churchill attended in his youth, his words were delivered to inspire the country’s youth in difficult times.
A prediction of joint victory for the US and UK over the Axis powers.
Churchill is pointing out Britain’s continued survival and successes despite the warnings of the French generals.
From ‘The Bright Gleam of Victory’ speech, Churchill sees a light at the end of a long dark tunnel.
In reference to the coming invasion of Italy, where public support for the war was weakening.
A defence of Britain engaging in the Mediterranean as opposed to concentrating on Northern Europe.
Churchill states that future wars will be ideological, rather than soley based on territory or resources.
As a true conservative, Churchill did not wish to see the House of Commons redesigned. He rather preferred its sometimes urgent, over-crowded character.
In reference to the forced removal of Germans from Poland’s newly drawn borders after the war.
This signals a turning point in Britain and America’s view of the Soviet Union from military ally to ideological adversary.
Full text version:
1. I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle wrapped inside a mystery inside an enigma. Radio broadcast, 1 October 1939
2. I would say to the House… ‘I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat’… Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival. Churchill’s first speech as Prime Minister, House of Commons, 13 May 1940
3. Centuries ago words were written to be a call and a spur to the faithful servants of Truth and Justice: ‘Arm yourselves, and be ye men of valour, and be in readiness for the conflict; for it is better for us to perish in battle than to look upon the outrage of our nation and our altar. As the will of God is in Heaven, even so let it be. Churchill’s first radio broadcast as Prime Minister, 19 May 1940
4. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight on the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender. House of Commons, 4 June 1940
5. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour’. House of Commons, 18 June 1940
6. This is no war of chieftains or of princes, of dynasties or national ambition; it is a war of peoples and of causes. There are vast numbers, not only in this island but in every land, who will render faithful service in this war but whose names will never be known, whose deeds will never be recorded. This is a war of the Unknown Warriors; but let all strive without failing in faith or in duty, and the dark curse of Hitler will be lifted from our age. Radio broadcast, 14 July 1940
7. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few. On the Battle of Britain, House of Commons, 20 August 1940
8. Far be it from me to paint a rosy picture of the future. Indeed, I do not think we should be justified in using any but the most sombre tones and colours while our people, our Empire and indeed the whole English-speaking world are passing through a dark and deadly valley. But I should be failing in my duty if, on the other wise, I were not to convey the true impression, that a great nation is getting into its war stride. House of Commons, 22 January 1941
9. Give us the tools and we will finish the job. Radio broadcast addressing President Roosevelt, 9 February 1941
10. The mood of Britain is wisely and rightly averse from every form of shallow or premature exultation. This is no time for boasts or glowing prophecies, but there is this – a year ago our position looked forlorn, and well nigh desperate, to all eyes but our own. Today we may say aloud before an awe-struck world, ‘We are still masters of our fate. We still are captain of our souls. House of Commons, 9 September 1941
11. Do not let us speak of darker days; let us rather speak of sterner days. These are not dark days, these are great days – the greatest days that our country has ever lived; and we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race. Harrow School, 29 October 1941
12. In the days to come the British and American peoples will for their own safety and for the good of all walk together side by side in majesty, injustice and in peace. Addressing a joint session of the US Congress, 26 December 1941
13. When I warned [the French Government] that Britain would fight on alone whatever they did, their Generals told their Prime Minister and his divided Cabinet: ‘In three weeks England will have her neck rung like a chicken.’ Some chicken! Some neck! To the Canadian Parliament, 30 December 1941
14. This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. On the Battle of Egypt, in the Mansion House, 10 November 1942
15. The soft under-belly of the Axis. Report on the War Situation, House of Commons, 11 November 1942
16. Not a seat but a springboard. On North Africa, Radio Broadcast, 29 November 1942
17. The empires of the future are the empires of the mind. Harvard, 6 September 1943
18. On the night of May 10, 1941, with one of the last bombs of the last serious raid, our House of Commons was destroyed by the violence of the enemy, and we have now to consider whether we should build it up again, and how, and when.
We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us. Having dwelt and served for more than forty years in the late Chamber, and having derived very great pleasure and advantage therefrom, I, naturally, should like to see it restored in all essentials to its old form, convenience and dignity. House of Commons (having met in the House of Lords), 28 October 1943
19. There are few virtues that the Poles do not possess – and there are few mistakes they have ever avoided. 16 August 1945
20. From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Speech at Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri, 5 March 1946