In part two of ‘Could Britain Have Fallen?’ Peter Caddick-Adams unfolds the way in which Churchill’s oratory and defence preparations helped avoid a Nazi invasion
“We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender”
It was on Tuesday June 4 – immediately after Dunkirk and having seen off the threat from the appeasement faction – that Churchill again addressed the Commons.
He would have been aware that the social monitoring organisation, Mass-Observation, had reported that civilian morale in some areas was extremely low – the nation fully expecting the Germans to follow up their runaway victory in France with an immediate assault on Britain.
This was when the Prime Minister unleashed the full force of his oratory on the Commons: “We shall not flag or fail. 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 in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender…” The effect was electric, both to seasoned MPs used to great oratory in the House, and to listeners at home who heard extracts read later by a BBC newscaster.