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The Lord Mayor's Luncheon, Mansion House

"The End of the Beginning"

November 10, 1942

 

After a series of defeats from Dunkirk to Singapore, Churchill could finally tell the House of Commons that "we have a new experience. We have victory - a remarkable and definite victory."

Alexander and Montgomery turned back Rommel's forces at El Alamein, thus winning what Churchill called "The Battle of Egypt." I have never promised anything but blood, tears, toil, and sweat. Now, however,

The bright gleam has caught the helmets of our soldiers, and warmed and cheered all our hearts.

The late M. Venizelos observed that in all her wars England -- he should have said Britain, of course -- always wins one battle -- the last. It would seem to have begun rather earlier this time. General Alexander, with his brilliant comrade and lieutenant, General Montgomery, has gained a glorious and decisive victory in what I think should be called the battle of Egypt. Rommel's army has been defeated. It has been routed. It has been very largely destroyed as a fighting force.

This battle was not fought for the sake of gaining positions or so many square miles of desert territory. General Alexander and General Montgomery fought it with one single idea. they meant to destroy the armed force of the enemy and to destroy it at the place where the disaster would be most far-reaching and irrecoverable....

Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. Henceforth Hitler's Nazis will meet equally well armed, and perhaps better armed troops. Hence forth they will have to face in many theatres of war that superiority in the air which they have so often used without mercy against other, of which they boasted all round the world, and which they intended to use as an instrument for convincing all other peoples that all resistance to them was hopeless....

We mean to hold our own. I have not become the King's First Minister in order to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire. For that task, if ever it were prescribed, someone else would have to be found, and, under democracy, I suppose the nation would have to be consulted. I am proud to be a member of that vast commonwealth and society of nations and communities gathered in and around the ancient British monarchy, without which the good cause might well have perished from the face of the earth. Here we are, and here we stand, a veritable rock of salvation in this drifting world....

The British and American affairs continue to prosper in the Mediterranean, and the whole event will be a new bond between the English-speaking peoples and a new hope for the whole world.

I recall to you some lines of Byron, which seem to me to fit the event, the hour, and the theme:

Millions of tongues record thee, and anew

Their children's lips shall echo them, and say --

"Here, where the sword united nations drew,

Our countrymen were warring on that day!"

And this is much, and all which will not pass away.

 

 

 

...................Ladybird.

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