Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Winston Churchill: "The Valient Years" TV 1960

In 1960 ABC TV in the United States broadcast the 26 episodes of a documentary called "The Valiant Years" about Winston Churchill and his leadership during World War II. Each episode was 30 minutes and as I remember they were broadcast weekly on the West Coast at 10pm on Sunday night. The documentary was black and white and was originally produced by the BBC. The documentary relied on World War II film footage and had Richard Burton as the voice over of Winston Churchill. As a young kid growing up in Coos Bay/ North Bend, Oregon I loved the series and did not miss an episode. Back then my parents were very strict and had I had to go to bed at 9 pm. However, because of my passion for the subject matter I was able to get a special waiver that let me watch the show. I even remember that "Metrical," a diet shake that came in a small can, was the sponsor.

Two summers ago I was able to travel to London and took a tour of the bunker where Churchill and the British Cabinet conducted the war. Those ringing speeches of Churchill, as read by Richard Burton, still rung through my head as I walked the dark passages of that underground bunker.

The following excerpt of a speech was delivered by Winston Churchill to the House of Commons of the British Parliament on the 4 June 1940. The speech was given shortly after he took over as Prime Minister on the 10 May, in the second year of the Second World War and after France had fallen or was falling to the Nazi Germans and England stood alone against the German might:

Even though large parts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the Old

While at the bunker in London I purchased, at the gift shop, a CD of recordings of most of Churchill's famous speeches from World War II. He doesn't have the great voice of Richard Burton but I love those speeches.

(Click on the title for a link to more info on the TV series on the IMDB)