Winston Churchill on the “Unconquerable Welsh” and David Lloyd George

Winston Churchill on the “Unconquerable Welsh” and David Lloyd George

An appo­site quo­ta­tion at this moment, with Wales locked down in the face of Covid…

Ques­tion: 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.

Welsh
First Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, OM, PC, 1863-1945. (Wiki­me­dia)

“Unconquerable Welsh”

It did occur in that speech, but Churchill’s word was “uncon­quer­able,” not “unde­feat­able.”

In his Lloyd George trib­ute, Churchill spoke of the Welsh as “that uncon­quer­able race.” 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 Welsh­man was unsup­port­ive in 1915, when he 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. 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

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