Q: “Undefeatable Race”
I have unsuccessfully searched the web for a speech Winston Churchill gave to Parliament referring to the Welsh as “the undefeatable race.” Do you know the speech? I believe it was in Churchill’s address following the death of David Lloyd George in March 1945. —S.D.
A: “Unconquerable Welsh”
It did occur in that speech, but Churchill’s word was “unconquerable,” not “undefeatable.” Churchill used it in a tribute. I have emailed you the full text of “The Death of Earl Lloyd George,” in 1945. It is in Winston S. Churchill, Victory. 1946, and in Robert Rhodes James, editor, Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches 1897-1963 (1974).
Churchill’s last paragraph tends to refute the notion, which we hear occasionally, that he cared little for others. He had many ups and downs with Lloyd George over the years. The Welsh Wizard was unsupportive in 1915, when WSC fell from grace over the Dardanelles and Gallipoli. He refused to join the Churchill coalition government in 1940. (Some historians consider that this was more out of intense dislike for Neville Chamberlain, who stayed on as Lord President of the Council.) Nonetheless, Churchill’s final words on his Welsh colleague are worth considering. They exemplify his skill at oratory, and his abundant magnanimity.
House of Commons, 28 March 1945:
Thus the statesman and guide whose gentle passing in the fullness of his years we mourn today served our country, our Island and our age, both faithfully and well in peace and in war. His long life was, from almost the beginning to almost the end, spent in political strife and controversy. He aroused intense and sometimes needless antagonisms. He had fierce and bitter quarrels at various times with all the parties. [And] he faced undismayed the storms of criticism and hostility.
In spite of all obstacles, including those he raised himself, he achieved his main purposes. As a man of action, resource and creative energy he stood, when at his zenith, without a rival. His name is a household word throughout our Commonwealth of Nations.
He was the greatest Welshman which that unconquerable race has produced since the age of the Tudors. Much of his work abides, some of it will grow greatly in the future, and those who come after us will find the pillars of his life’s toil upstanding, massive and indestructible; and we ourselves, gathered here today, may indeed be thankful that he voyaged with us through storm and tumult with so much help and guidance to bestow. —WSC