Tag: blood toil tears and sweat

May 13, 1940: The Day the English Language Was Mobilized and Sent Into Battle


Seventy-nine years ago, on Monday, May 13, 1940, a man who had been the Prime Minister of England for just three days, and who’d only ascended to the position as the candidate of last resort after internecine squabbling within his own party, and only with the reluctant support of his King, made his maiden speech to Parliament (excerpt follows, entire speech here):

Sir, to form an Administration of this scale and complexity is a serious undertaking in itself, but it must be remembered that we are in the preliminary stage of one of the greatest battles in history, that we are in action at many points in Norway and in Holland, that we have to be prepared in the Mediterranean, that the air battle is continuous and that many preparations have to be made here at home. In this crisis I hope I may be pardoned if I do not address the House at any length today. I hope that any of my friends and colleagues, or former colleagues, who are affected by the political reconstruction, will make all allowances for any lack of ceremony with which it has been necessary to act. I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined the government: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.”