We shall fight them on the beaches ...

Winston Churchill's speech 'We shall fight them on the beaches' is one of the defining speeches during the Second World War. It uses the technique of repetition to very good effect. Below we provide an extract of the key lines.

Exercise

  1. How does Churchill describe the enemy and their behaviour? Refer to what he says in the speech.
  2. These were very dire times in Great Britain. Things looked bleak. Churchill therefore purposefully uses many positive words in the speech to raise the spirits and trust of the British people. Find the positive words and note their effect.
  3. To depict how hard the British will fight to defend their homeland Churchill refers to many aspects of the physical environment. What are they? What is the overall effect of this listing of physical elements?
  4. Look at his use of repetition – often, but not always, in units of three. Refer to the repetition in the text and discuss the effect of this.
  5. Choose what you think is the most powerful line of the speech. Explain your choice.

Source

"We Shall Fight them on the beaches"

by Sir Winston Churchill, 4 June 1940

"I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our Island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone. 

At any rate, that is what we are going to try to do. That is the resolve of His Majesty's Government-every man of them. That is the will of Parliament and the nation.

The British Empire and the French Republic, linked together in their cause and in their need, will defend to the death their native soil, aiding each other like good comrades to the utmost of their strength.

Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail.

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."

Cappelen Damm

Sist oppdatert: 14.07.2008

© Cappelen Damm AS