CHURCHILL OUT OF HIBERNATION, WEEK 30
How did Winston Churchill handle the very darkest moments of World War II? The best answer we may have resides in the speeches he delivered in secret wartime sessions of Parliament, when Churchill unfolded terrible truths unflinchingly. We reveal SECRET SESSION SPEECHES next in our exploration of Churchill’s book-length works.
“The Fall of France.” “Parliament in the Air Raids.” “The Battle of the Atlantic.” “The Fall of Singapore.” “Admiral Darlan and the North Africa Landings.” Five times Winston Churchill, as Prime Minister, addressed Parliament in closed “Secret Session;” the first time on June 20, 1940, after France’s surrender to Hitler; the last time on December 10, 1942, with the tide of the war finally about to turn in North Africa.
It was Herbert Morrison, as Leader of the House of Commons under the new Labour Government, who, on December 19, 1945, proposed lifting the ban on sharing these proceedings. Six months later, Churchill published his contributions to Parliament’s five wartime Secret Session debates as the seventh and final volume of his war speeches.
The book is a classic study in damage control and taking charge under duress. Churchill was Prime Minister barely more than a month when he had to confront the loss of France face-to face with his Peers. Fascinatingly, he seems to have improvised, to some extent, most of what he had to say to them that day. No official transcript of his remarks exists. Instead, Secret Sessions Speeches reproduces the actual nine-page typescript of notes and handwritten annotations that Churchill held in his hand as he spoke. The sense of immediacy is profound. There are no eloquent phrases, no “blood, toil, tears and sweat,” no “We shall fight on the beaches,” or “This was their finest hour,” as in the public addresses Churchill had delivered over the previous month. His notes here are just that, reminders of what Churchill is determined to remember to say. One, indelibly, leaps out:
If get through next 3 months
get through next 3 years.
We wish you continued health and safety over the next 3 months, and so through the next 3 years.