Churchill Museum revisits Churchill's "The Few" speech for Battle of Britain anniversary

By Culture24 Staff | 08 April 2010
a poster featuring RAF pilots and the words "Never was so much owed by so many to so few"

Courtesy Imperial War Museum

The Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms is to commemorate Winston Churchill's famous "never has so much..." wartime speech by reading it aloud in Whitehall on Friday August 20.

Part of the Imperial War Museum's commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, the reading will be delivered from the plaza outside the famous War Rooms exactly 70 years after Churchill delivered it to the House of Commons.

In the speech he tried, successfully, to stir the hearts and minds of the nation and to convince the public that, despite a string of defeats, Britain was standing firm against the Nazi War machine.

It is said to have been inspired by a visit to the operations Room at RAF Uxbridge on August 16, after which he turned to one of his aides and said: "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."

The speech that grew from this utterance also established the phrase "the few", used to describe the outnumbered Battle of Britain RAF pilots who fought off the onslaught of the Luftwaffe.

Now part of the general folklore of the Battle, the speech is today considered a defining moment of the conflict and one of Churchill's most emotive and stirring pronouncements.

A fly-past over Whitehall of a Spitfire and Hurricane will follow the delivery of the speech, and members of the public will be encouraged to explore the historic rooms and museum.

A team of re-enactors will also stage an interactive display designed to show how an RAF operations room plotting table would have worked during the Battle of Britain.

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