Phil Richardson: ‘Darkest Hour’

By Phil Richardson

It’s a film set in England, in the spring of 1940, about the days following the British valiant rescue of her tattered forces off the beaches of France, as portrayed in “Dunkirk,” an excellent film that opened some weeks ago. Winston Churchill had become Prime Minister and many among all British classes were somewhat apprehensive of the doggedly adventurous reporter and politician.

As British First Lord of the Admiralty during World War I, Churchill had led a disastrous attempt to seize Constantinople and force Turkey to surrender by invading the Dardanelles, a major waterway in Asia Minor. The Turks had sided with Germany. Troops from Australia and New Zealand suffered a major defeat in 1915 by attempting to wrest the high ground from well-equipped Turkish forces at Gallipoli.

For 22 years, Churchill was often relegated to the back-benches of parliament, but by 1939, he was back in the limelight, due in great part to his stance against the rise of Adolph Hitler. When Germany invaded Poland in September of that year, betraying the hope of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain for “Peace in our Time,” Great Britain was finally anxious for the pugnacious son of a British blueblood and an American mother to lead them.

They responded to his rallying call during Britain’s darkest hour. He was magnificent. I have revisited some of his speeches—some of the greatest ever made in the tongue of our Mother Country. His voice and delivery was unique and deeply memorable.

Following Dunkirk: “We shall not flag or fail. 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. Let us therefore, brace ourselves to our duties, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men shall say ‘This was their finest hour.'”

During the Blitz when England was being pounded by the Luftwaffe: “The gratitude of every home goes out to the airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the war by their prowess and devotion. Never in the field of human conflict have so many owed so much to so few.”

Many historians believe that without his bull-dogged leadership, the Nazis could have prevailed.

With many others, I shall never understand why, after all he did, and WWII barely ended, the English people turned him out of office—even as Churchill was the first major World Leader to identify Stalin’s Communist “Iron Curtain,” then beginning to close over the entire middle of Europe.

I am looking forward to seeing “Darkest Hour,” An Amazon.com film, directed by Joe Wright and starring Gary Oldman as Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, coming soon to a theater near us.

 

Phil Richardson, Observer of the human condition and storyteller, is a retired broadcast executive residing in Tucson, Arizona. He is the author of three books – “Water Dream,” “The Prosperity Coal Company” and “Miguel: Narcotraficante.” All are available at Amazon.com.

“He goes doddering on into his old age, making a public nuisance of himself.” – Joseph L. Menchen

 

 

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