I’m currently analysing a few of Churchill’s speeces for an academic paper. After listening to the audio files and reading along I found a lot of paragraphs which were left out in the radio speeches. It’s especially evident in “Their Finest Hour” from June 18th, 1940 where only a fifth of the text made it to the radio. At one point it sounds like the audio file has been edited. Were the audio files full radio speeches or just excerpts? —N.K., Copenhagen
What you are listening to is likely a postwar recording of speeches Churchill made for HMV/Decca, which were edited and truncated in later versions. However, the June 18th speech was rebroadcast in full by Churchill that evening over the BBC.
Levenger’s book, The Making of the Finest Hour, includes a CD containing the full broadcast. But many Churchill Speech CDs, and LPs before them, contained only excerpts. Some of these were taken from the BBC broadcasts, but most were recorded by Churchill years later.
No recordings were permitted in the House of Commons at that time, leaving us with two inferior possibilities: Churchill’s broadcast speeches over the BBC, or in some cases postwar recordings, both of which—said those who heard them in the Commons—lack the fire of the originals.
See Sir Robert Rhodes James, “Leading Churchill Myths: ‘An Actor Read
His Speeches over the Wireless,'” Finest Hour 92, posted on the Churchill Centre website.
Sir Robert noted: ‘Problems then arise from the records, Harold Nicolson lamenting that it was necessary to bully Churchill into broadcasting, and, referring to a June 18th broadcast, “he just sulked and read his House of Commons speech over again.” Nicolson was Information Minister at the time. Churchill never liked broadcasting, but there is no evidence whatever that he was replaced by anyone, and speech researchers have confirmed this.’