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Published on Sep 14, 2010
The Battle of Britain is about to Begin...if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say.... This was their finest hour
The 'This was their finest hour speech' was delivered by Winston Churchill to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom on 18 June 1940. It was given just over a month after he took over as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom at the head of an all-party Coalition government.
It was the third of three speeches which he gave during (roughly) the period of the Battle of France.
The speech was delivered to the Commons at 3:49 pm, and lasted 36 minutes. Churchill - as was his habit - made revisions to his 23 page typescript right up to and during the speech. The final passage of his typescript was laid out in blank verse format, which Churchill scholars consider reflective of the influence of Old Testament psalms on his oratory style
What General Weygand has called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be freed and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands.
But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new dark age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. 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.