Did Churchill ever make a three word speech, “Never Give Up,” and then just sit down? —A.S., Riga, Latvia
That story is all over the web, constantly repeated. But it is entirely wrong. I think it springs from the many inaccurate “wit and wisdom” quote books.
“Never give in” (not “up”)
The three words (“in” not “up”) were part of Churchill’s 20-minute speech to the boys at Harrow, his old school, when he visited Harrow for their annual songfest (“Songs”) on 29 October 1941. The full speech is published in Robert Rhodes James, ed., Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches (New York: Bowker, 1974) and in Churchill’s speech volume The Unrelenting Struggle (London: Cassell, Boston: Little Brown, 1942).
The salient portion, from Churchill by Himself pages 23 and 277, is as follows:
This is the lesson: never give in, never give in…in nothing, great or small, large or petty–never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy….Do not let us speak of darker days; let us rather speak of sterner days. These are not dark days: these are great days—the greatest days our country has ever lived; and we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race.
Again and again…
2017: It was incorrectly reported that his three- (or five-) word speech was made at Columbia in 1946, a fortnight after his famous “Iron Curtain” address at Fulton, Missouri. His speech at Columbia was brief but poignant. It began with words we may well repeat today:
In my heart there is no abiding hatred for any great race on the surface of the globe. I earnestly hope that there will be no pariah nations after the guilty are fully punished. We have to look forward to a broader, fairer world….Thus walking forward together, with no aim of subjugation or material profit or sordid interest, marching forward together we may render at this juncture a service to humanity which no countries before have ever had the honour to do.