History Group Talk August 2015

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Brian Portch of Chudleigh gave us another interesting talk entitled
Winston Churchill - His Finest Hour.

This talk was a look into the life of Winston Churchill when he was Prime Minister of Britain during the years of WW2.
It was in 1940 that he really came into his own with some very notable speeches. He set out to be an inspiration to the whole nation and tried desperately to mobilize the whole of the English speaking world to unite to stop the Nazi imperialism led by Hitler.      Churchill was born of an American Mother and a British Father on 30th November 1874.   He was 65 years old when on 10th May 1940 he became Prime Minister.  Churchill was the right man at the right place at the right time and was reported as saying:-
“I felt as if I was walking with destiny..........................I was sure I would not fail “.
The big question was 'should Britain fight or negotiate a deal with Hitler'?
Details of the cabinet discussions are to be found in the book :-
"5 days in London: May 1940" by John Lukacs.
There were many in the cabinet that felt that we should try to negotiate a settlement with Hitler. Churchill was sure that with Hitler rampaging all over most of Europe we had no option but to fight. His skill as an orator carried him through.
He made some very important speeches to parliament stressing that he did not favour negotiation with Hitler. He felt fervently that Hitler had to be beaten and destroyed.   Churchill talked to the people and soon after the disaster at Dunkirk he was faced with opposition and his speeches of 1940 had a great influence on the public. He informed the public of how the war was going and how he felt that it would be a long and hard task to overcome what he called the ‘evil’ across the channel.   Churchill wrote all his own speeches, had them typed up, made amendments and when he was satisfied with the ’final version’ he delivered them in his inspired form.  He sometimes used humour to counter some of the hostilities he had from the opposition but one thing he felt was of ultimate importance was that St Paul’s Cathedral which he thought was the ‘Icon’ of the nation had to be protected at all costs.  Amongst his most famous speeches were:
13th May 1940: “Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat.............”
4th June 1940: “We shall fight on the beaches...........”
This was a direct appeal to USA to get involved.
18th June 1940: “This was their finest hour............”
This was just a couple of weeks after the Dunkirk disaster.
20th August 1940: “Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few........”
This was possibly when Britain was in the most dangerous phase of the entire war.
We were shown a photograph of the memorial stone at RAF Uxbridge of the Wartime Bunker from where command of the nation was driven. Well maintained now as a tribute to those years.
His finest hour was possibly when he was invited to appear with the Queen on the
balcony of Buckingham Palace on V E Day 8th May 1945.
24th January 1965 he died a frail old man of 90 years.
There are in the opinion of Brian a few dates that should be recorded as Tributes to Churchill :
1953 He won the Nobel Prize for Literature
1963 He was made an Honourable Citizen of the USA
1965 His State Funeral.
1966 A Statue of Churchill erected in Washington D C.
1973 A Statue of Churchill erected in Parliament Square, London.
1995 A U S Warship was named after him - The Winston S Churchill
2002 Churchill was declared the ‘Greatest Britain’ in a BBC 2 programme.
2015 The 50th anniversary of his state funeral.


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