New York: The British Library of Information, 1940. British Library of Information edition, only printing. Leaflet. This is the first edition, only printing of Churchill's October 21, 1940 broadcast speech to the French people. This speech was made from the Cabinet War Rooms very close to the end of the Battle of Britain.
This four-page folded paper leaflet measures 9.25 inches tall x 6 inches wide. Condition approaches very good plus, particularly given the inherent fragility. The leaflet is clean and complete, with no appreciable soiling or previous ownership marks. We note modest toning and minor wear to extremities, the wear noticeable along the top edge. The leaflet is protected within a clear, removable, archival mylar sleeve.
In October 1940 Britain’s war was still not so much a struggle for victory as a struggle to survive. Churchill had become prime minister on 10 May 1940, and his first months in office saw, among other near-calamities, the Battle of the Atlantic, the fall of France, evacuation at Dunkirk, and the Battle of Britain. France had capitulated to Nazi Germany in late June 1940 and by the second week of July Hitler’s Lufwaffe had begun a massive, sustained aerial assault across the English Channel, the preparatory effort to gain air superiority before a planned invasion of England.
About this speech, Churchill wrote after the war: "I took great pains to prepare this short address, as it had to be given in French. I was not satisfied with the literal translation at first provided, which did not give the spirit of what I could say in English and could feel in French, but Mr. Dejean, one of the Free French Staff in London, made a far better rendering, which I rehearsed several times and delivered from the basement of the Annexe, amid the crashes of an air raid." (Churchill, Their Finest Hour, p.509) Appealing to French pride and reassuring the French of British intentions and resolve, Churchill asked: "Frenchmen - re-arm your spirits before it is too late... Now what is it we British ask of you in this present hard and bitter time? What we ask at this moment in our struggle to win the victory which we will share with you, is that if you cannot help us, at least you will not hinder us... Good night, then. Sleep to gather strength for the morning. For the morning will come." (Churchill, Their Finest Hour, pp. 511-512)
This leaflet is one in a series of Churchill's speeches printed by the British Library of Information in New York. The British Library of Information published thirty-four editions of statements, speeches, and broadcast addresses by Prime Minister Winston Churchill (that number including some variant publications of the same speeches), beginning with his first speech as Prime Minister of 13 May 1940 and ending with the broadcast address of 29 November 1942. These editions were often issued within two or three days of delivery and "reveal the political determination of the British government to bring the inspiration and steadfastness of the Prime Minister and the British nation to an American nation not yet engaged in the war. Indeed, twenty-two of the BLOI speech pamphlets were published before Pearl Harbor." (Cohen, Volume I, p.513, A120)
Reference: Cohen A132.1, Woods A61. Item #005144