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Quotes

Winston Churchill records his thoughts on moment the First World War ended. 

Churchill and Pershing in London for Victory Parade July 1919 IWM Q 67721Churchill and Pershing in London for Victory Parade July 1919 (IWM Q 67721)‘It was a few minutes before the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. I stood at the window of my room looking up Northumberland Avenue towards Trafalgar Square, waiting for Big Ben to tell that the War was over. My mind strayed back across the scarring years to the scene and emotions of the night at the Admiralty when I listened for these same chimes in order to give the signal of war against Germany to our Fleets and squadrons across the world. And now all was over! The unarmed and untrained island nation, who with no defence but its Navy had faced unquestioningly the strongest manifestation of military power in human record, had completed its task. Our country had emerged from the ordeal alive and safe, its vast possessions intact, its war effort still waxing, its institutions unshaken, its people and Empire united as never before. Victory had come after all the hazards and heartbreaks in an absolute and unlimited form. All the Kings and Emperors with whom we had warred were in flight or exile. All their Armies and Fleets were destroyed or subdued. In this Britain had borne a notable part, and done her best from first to last.

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'Statesmen are not called upon only to settle easy questions. These often settle themselves. It is where the balance quivers, and the proportions are veiled in mist, that the opportunity for world-saving decisions presents itself.' 

-Winston S. Churchill, 1948, The Second World War, Vol 1, p.284.

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‘The right to guide the course of world history is the noblest prize of victory. We are still toiling up the hill; we have not yet reached the crest-line of it; we cannot survey the landscape or even imagine what its condition will be when that longed-for morning comes. The task which lies before us immediately is at once practical, more simple and more stern. I hope—indeed I pray—that we shall not be found unworthy of our victory if after toil and tribulation it is granted to us. For the rest, we have to gain the victory. That is our task.’

-Winston S. Churchill, 20 August 1940.

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Hugh Gaitskell, Minister of Fuel and Power in the Labour Government during the post Second World War period, was urging energy conservation; his advice proved too much for Churchill, renowned for his love of frequent bathing.

Gaitskell: ‘Personally, I have never had a great many baths myself, and I can assure those who are in the habit of having a great many that it does not make a great difference to their health if they have less.’

Churchill replied on 28 October 1947: ’When Ministers of the Crown speak like this on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, the Prime Minister and his friends have no need to wonder why they are getting increasingly into bad odour. I had even asked myself, when meditating upon these points whether you, Mr. Speaker, would admit the word “lousy” as a Parliamentary expression in referring to the Administration, provided, of course, it was not intended in a contemptuous sense but purely as one of factual narration.’

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'It is always an error in diplomacy to press a matter when it is quite clear that no further progress is to be made. It is also a great error if you ever give the impression abroad that you are using language which is more concerned with your domestic politics than with the actual fortunes and merits of the various great countries upon the Continent to whom you offer advice.'

-Winston S Churchill, 14 March 1934.

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‘The Socialists have spared no expense in producing a policy for the next election. There is a great deal in it that is sound sense, as well as a lot more that is all sound and all nonsense.'

-Winston S Churchill, Woodford, Essex, 20 March 1959.

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'Blood, toil, tears and sweat (addendum) I stand by my original programme, blood, toil, tears and sweat…to which I added five months later, “many shortcomings, mistakes and disappointments.'

-Winston S Churchill, 27 January 1942.

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'The word “disinflation” has been coined in order to avoid the unpopular term “deflation”.…I suppose that presently when “disinflation” also wins its bad name, the Chancellor [Sir Stafford Cripps] will call it “non-undisinflation” and will start again.'

-Winston S Churchill, 27 October 1949.

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‘How can I accept the Order of the Garter, when the people of England have just given me the Order of the Boot?’

-Winston S Churchill, September 1945.

Following the July 1945 election, when Churchill and his government were put out of office, King George VI offered him the Order of the Garter, which he declined.

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The greatest tie of all is language.…Words are the only things that last for ever. The most tremendous monuments or prodigies of engineering crumble under the hand of Time. The Pyramids moulder, the bridges rust, the canals fill up, grass covers the railway track; but words spoken two or three thousand years ago remain with us now, not as mere relics of the past, but with all their pristine vital force.

-Winston S Churchill, 15 May 1938, News of the World.

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