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Winston Churchill: The speeches that inspired a nation

Prime Minister Winston Churchill addresses an audience of more than 20,000 at Walthamstow Stadium, London in 1945. Credit: PA/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Along with his bowler hat, fat cigar and V for victory sign, Winston Churchill knew how to build an image. This was no less apparent in the speeches and quotes he used to inspire the country in the midst of war.

Fifty years after his death, we try and capture some of the strongest and best-loved moments of Churchill's war speeches.

After 10 weeks of war, Churchill gave a speech to reassure the nation, telling them: "We are far stronger than we were ten weeks ago. We are far better prepared to endure the worst malice of Hitler and his Huns."

Watch Churchill delivering the speech:

In May 1940, Winston Churchill became Prime Minister and spoke to fellow MPs about the war in his first speech to the House of Commons.

The now famous, "blood, sweat and tears" speech:

In this crisis I hope I may be pardoned if I do not address the House at any length today. I hope that any of my friends and colleagues, or former colleagues, who are affected by the political reconstruction, will make allowance, all allowance, for any lack of ceremony with which it has been necessary to act.

I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this Government: "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.

We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy.

You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, 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.

– Sir Winston Churchill, 1940

Churchill's best known war speech is probably the second one he delivered to the House of Commons in June 1940, in which he promised: "We shall fight on the beaches."

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, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.

– Winston Churchill, 1940

In 1941, Churchill goaded the Nazis to "do your worst" as he said it would only inspire Britain to "do our best."

Watch the speech here:

We will have no truce or parley with you, or the grisly gang who work your wicked will.

You do your worst and we will do our best.

– Sir Winston Churchill, 1941

In October 1941, Churchill visited his old school Harrow, where he gave his famous "Never give in" speech, urging the nation to keep its resolve in fighting the Nazis.

You cannot tell from appearances how things will go.

Sometimes imagination makes things out far worse than they are; yet without imagination not much can be done.

Those people who are imaginative see many more dangers than perhaps exist; certainly many more than will happen; but then they must also pray to be given that extra courage to carry this far-reaching imagination.

But for everyone, surely, what we have gone through in this period - I am addressing myself to the school - surely from this period of 10 months this is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.

Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.

– Sir Winston Churchill, 1941

Speaking in Edinburgh in October 1942, Churchill accused Hitler and the other Nazi leaders of losing heart and said that their fear could be heard in their recent speeches.

"There is one note which rings through all these speeches it can be clearly heard above their customary boasting and threats. The dull low whining note of fear."

After the German surrender, Sir Winston made a speech to the nation that began as a calm statement confirming that the war was over, but ended on a more familiar Churchill-note: "Long live the cause of freedom. God save the King."

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