Excerpt from the book “Their Finest Hour” by Winston Churchill

See the online text here. Excerpt copied from Book 2, “Alone”, Chapter XVII “The Blitz”:

One day after luncheon the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Kingsley Wood, came to see me on business at No. 10, and we heard a very heavy explosion take place across the river in South London. I took him to see what had happened. The bomb had fallen in Peckham. It was a very big one — probably a land-mine. It had completely destroyed or gutted twenty or thirty small three-storey houses and cleared a considerable open space in this very poor district. Already little pathetic Union Jacks had been stuck up amid the ruins. When my car was recognised the people came running from all quarters, and a crowd of more than a thousand was soon gathered. All these folks were in a high state of enthusiasm. They crowded round us, cheering and manifesting every sign of lively affection, wanting to touch and stroke my clothes. One would have thought I had brought them some fine substantial benefit which would improve their lot in life. I was completely undermined, and wept. Ismay, who was with me, records that he heard an old woman say: “You see, he really cares. He’s crying.” They were tears not of sorrow but of wonder and admiration. “But see, look here,” they said, and drew me to the centre of the ruins. There was an enormous crater, perhaps forty yards across and twenty feet deep. Cocked up at an angle on the very edge was an Anderson shelter, and we were greeted at its twisted doorway by a youngish man, his wife, and three children, quite unharmed but obviously shell-jarred. They had been there at the moment of the explosion. They could give no account of their experiences. But there they were, and proud of it. Their neighbors regarded them as enviable curiosities. When we got back into the car a harsher mood swept over this haggard crowd. “Give it ’em back,” they cried, and “Let them have it too.” I undertook forthwith to see that their wishes were carried out; and this promise was certainly kept. The debt was repaid tenfold, twentyfold, in the frightful routine bombardment of German cities, which grew in intensity as our air-power developed, as the bombs became far heavier and the explosives more powerful. Certainly, the enemy got it all back in good measure, pressed down and running over. Alas for poor humanity!


British Prime Minister Winston Churchill circa 1940


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