Winston Churchill

Quotations

We shall not fail or falter; we shall not weaken or tire. Neither the sudden shock of battle, nor the long-drawn trials of vigilance and exertion will wear us down. Give us the tools and we will finish the job.

BBC radio broadcast, February 9, 1941

Everything tends towards catastrophe and collapse. I am interested, geared up and happy. Is it not horrible to be made like this?

In a letter to his wife Clemmie, during the build up to World War I.

When I was younger I made it a rule never to take strong drink before lunch. It is now my rule never to do so before breakfast.

Reply to King George VI, on a cold morning at the airport. As cited in Man of the Century (2002)

By noon it was clear that the Socialists would have a majority. At luncheon my wife said to me, ‘It may well be a blessing in disguise.’ I replied, ‘At the moment it seems quite effectively disguised.’

The Second World War, Volume VI : Triumph and Tragedy (1953)

The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the World War by their prowess and by their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few. All hearts go out to the fighter pilots, whose brilliant actions we see with our own eyes day after day; but we must never forget that all the time, night after night, month after month, our bomber squadrons travel far into Germany, find their targets in the darkness by the highest navigational skill, aim their attacks, often under the heaviest fire, often with serious loss, with deliberate careful discrimination, and inflict shattering blows upon the whole of the technical and war-making structure of the Nazi power.

Speech in the House of Commons (1940)

If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.

The Grand Alliance, vol. 3, ch. 20

Many forms of government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.

House of Commons, 11 Nov. 1947

Of this I am quite sure, that if we open a quarrel between the past and the present, we shall find that we have lost the future.

Speech in the House of Commons, June 18, 1940 "War Situation"

A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.

Attributed; unverified.

Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilisation. 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 now. 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 free 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.’

Speech in the House of Commons, June 18, 1940 "War Situation"

Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse.

From a speech given at the Royal Academy of Art in 1953;

My wife and I tried two or three times in the last 40 years to have breakfast together, but it was so disagreeable we had to stop.

Letter to an American friend (attributed; unverified)

I am not sure I should have dared to start; but I am sure that I should not have dared to stop.

attributed; unverified

The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes.

attributed; unverified

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.

speech at Harrow School, Harrow, England, October 29, 1941

Here is the answer which I will give to President Roosevelt…Give us the tools and we will finish the job.

radio broadcast, 9 Feb 1941

I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key.

radio broadcast, 1st October 1939