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'We shall fight on the beaches'

The first weeks of Churchill's Prime Ministership were clouded by the fall of France and the surrender of the Belgian Army, with repercussions for the Western alliance. To delay the German advance towards Britain, Churchill ordered expeditionary forces to retreat towards the port of Dunkirk to allow an Allied evacuation that lasted for nine days. In this dispatch to Parliament, Churchill's descriptions of events were more akin to a war reporter than a political statesman as he explained in great detail to his fellow members the bravery and ingenuity of the British forces in the face of the German war machine. Despite the success of the operation there was still a loss of over 30,000 men and vast amounts of artillery. Yet in the face of such adversity and sacrifice Churchill still used this platform to make a rallying cry to not just his fellow countrymen but also the beleaguered French when he stated, 'We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, We shall never surrender'.


'We shall fight on the beaches'


4th June 1940

Catalogue number

Hansard, 5th Series, Volume 361, cc 787