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Churchill calls Britons to their duty against likely invasion

Prime Minister Winston Churchill wears a helmet during an air raid warning in the Battle of Britain in 1940. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress
Prime Minister Winston Churchill wears a helmet during an air raid warning in the Battle of Britain in 1940. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress

LONDON, Sept. 11, 1940 (UP) Asserting that the next week will be of vital importance to the British Empire citing Germany's active preparations to invade the British Isles, Winston Churchill today called on every Englishman "to do his duty."

While thus repeating the words of the famous battle order of Lord Nelson, the prime minister asserted that Britain's land, air and sea forces are fully prepared for battle.

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He promised Britain victory. In a fighting speech directed to the British people during a momentary lull in mass Nazi air attacks, the prime minister said that their bravery and courage had aroused world-wide admiration and that British war strength was greater now than it was in July.

German airplanes are being shot down at a ration of three to one and pilots at a ratio of six to one, which if the conflict continues at the present pace will "ruin" a vital part of Adolf Hitler's great air armada, he said.

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But, the prime minister, warned, the Germans are making huge preparations for invasion and the people must expect a thrust from France, from the Low Countries from Norway, or by way of Ireland -- or by all ways at once -- at any time.

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Churchill called Nazi bombardment of London and other cities an "indiscriminate slaughter," but said it had and would fail to break the British spirit of resistance.

"The next week we must regard as a very important week for us -- the most important in our history," the prime minister said. "If this invasion is going to be tried at all it does not seem that it can be long delayed."

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That he said, is the reason for the German mass air attacks directed largely at the R.A.F. bases, in an effort to win mastery of the skies before launching an attempted invasion.

"We are much stronger than when the hard fighting began in July," Churchill said. If the air war goes on at the present rate, he said, it will "wear down and ruin" a vital part of the German air force.

It would be very hazardous" for the Germans to attempt to invade Britain without first knocking out the British air force, he said. Churchill cited German preparations for invasion of England.

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German barges are moving along the coasts of the Low Countries and France, he said. Some of these, he pointed out, move under the protection of German batteries on the French shore.

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There are many concentrations of troops from Hamburg to Brest and also in Norway.

Large numbers of German troops are ready to set out when ordered "on their very uncertain voyage," he said.

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"We cannot tell when they will come or if they will come," he said.

But he warned that the invasion "may be launched at any time on England, Scotland or Ireland -- or on all three."

The weather may break at any time, he pointed out, and thus it must be expected that some blow may be made soon.

The next week, he continued, must be regarded as of vast importance in British history.

Churchill recalled the destruction of the Spanish Armada and other great battles of the past and said the operations today were on a much greater scale.

Everyone, he said, must be prepared to do his duty

He expressed full confidence in the ability of Britain to withstand any attack, due to a far greater and better and equipped mobile army and excellent coastal defenses.

He said there were 1,500,000 in the home guard "prepared to fight for every inch of ground in every village and in every street."

"Let God defend the right," he exclaimed.

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Churchill charged that Adolf Hitler, by "killing" thousand of women and children, is trying to terrorize London and other cities and prepare for the invasion.

"Little did he know the spirit of the British nation," he added.

He charged the Germans -- specifically Hitler -- with "indiscriminate slaughter" but said that long after "the traces of conflagration in London have been removed" the fire of opposition to Nazism would burn on until the last traces of Hitlerism have been wiped out in Europe.

Churchill said that the flame would burn until "the old world and the new" united to build a better future.

"All the world that is still free marvels at the fortitude with which the citizens of London are surmounting the great ordeal to which they have been subjected," he said.

The prime minister said that it was encouraging to British armed forces throughout the world that word could be sent to them of London's courage.

He said that Britons must draw upon their own courage and endurance for survival and victory and "for better days that are to come"

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