View Full Version : Who were the few owed so much by so many?

02-12-2009, 10:06 AM
I've only seen it gotten wrong here so far.

02-12-2009, 10:10 AM
You mean Copernicus, Newton, Tesla etc.... those kind of gals/guys?
Yeah, we owe them.

02-12-2009, 10:46 AM

These guys.


02-12-2009, 10:55 AM
An excerpt from Churchill's speech:

"The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the World War by their prowess and by their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few. All hearts go out to the fighter pilots, whose brilliant actions we see with our own eyes day after day…"

02-12-2009, 11:06 AM
Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.

Sure is...yeah.

02-12-2009, 11:11 AM
Shouldnt everybody here know this?

02-12-2009, 11:11 AM
Originally posted by M_Gunz:
I've only seen it gotten wrong here so far.

Your mother??

02-12-2009, 11:45 AM
because there were, compared to the huge numbers involved in land battles, naval battles or in any campaign previously, relatively small numbers of british fighter pilots. like less than a thousand or so. but then you know this and are either fishing or asking a rhetorical question.

something that is often overlooked is the part bomber command played in the battle of britain, attacking airfields or invasion barges in the face of the horrendously heavy and accurate light AA in france. usually in either blenheims or the truly obscelecent battle. nigh on suicidal, and htey kept going back. fighter pilots at least, if they weren't the weaver on their very first sortie, had a chance.

02-12-2009, 12:05 PM
It was a result of the RAF pilots Bar bills during the 1940 period, that so much was owed by so many to so few.

02-12-2009, 12:21 PM
The lads in my sig pic.

02-12-2009, 12:38 PM
And these..


02-12-2009, 03:28 PM
Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many (the free world (or maybe the UK) at the time)to so few (the young pilots of the RAF (he meant fighter command (my take) and not bomber command (and maybe coastal but not too sure) also played a significant part.

02-12-2009, 10:17 PM
He made the speech just after visiting the command and control bunker.
There are those who feel he was talking about those very few even more.
Looking at the whole speech again, I don't think so -- you guys do have the right of it.
It's just another case of someone trying to put a twist on things.

02-12-2009, 10:19 PM
Originally posted by Tachyon1000:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by M_Gunz:
I've only seen it gotten wrong here so far.

Your mother?? </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

I worship how cool you are. It's why I get up in the morning and continue living. You are like more genius than Raaaid.
Imagine how great you will be when you hit 15! OMG the new age is coming and we will all live forever!

02-12-2009, 10:52 PM
You have seen/heard folks in here that didn't know this? Well, perhaps we are getting an influx of new people who haven't spent their entire lives reading and studying this kind of thing...which is where this forum comes in, and gets them caught up to speed.

02-13-2009, 12:45 AM
No, I had forgotten the whole speech and took a wrong point from a couple of interviewed historians.
To them "the few" were down in the C&C bunker.
The full speech makes it clear that the fighter pilots were "the few".

02-13-2009, 05:44 AM
Churchill would not have been unaware of the literary and historical resonance of the word 'few.' By using it he evokes the spirit of Henry V's men at Agincourt and enhances his own words, and the import of his meaning, by binding them to Shakespeare's St. Crispin's day speech one of English literature's most inspirational passages.

"We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;"

02-13-2009, 11:15 AM
I think it is worthwhile posting the whole of Churchill's speech. Churchill was a master of the English language and wrote every word of every one of his speeches himself. Putting modern politicians to shame.

Some background info the speech:

On 13 August Hitler unleashed upon Britain Adler Tag (Eagle Day), the greatest air assault the world had yet seen.The aim was to annihilate the Royal Air Force. Destroying Britain's air protection might prove enough to force its politicians to negotiate peace. But if stubbornness persisted, the Luftwaffe's attainment of air superiority would give Germany the edge if Hitler gave the go-ahead for Operation Seelowe (Operation Sea Lion) - the invasion of Britain. Despite the Fuhrer's nervousness about so great an undertaking, on 16 July he had ordered those tasked with planning the invasion to be ready to put it into action in mid-August.
The Luftwaffe high command predicted victory within a fortnight. It was hardly an arrogant assumption given that they outnumbered the RAF by three to one. In the dogfights that had taken place largely over the English Channel during June and July, the RAF had lost pilots at a rate of attrition that would extinguish Britain's trained personnel before it exhausted Germany's supply of airmen.But playing over their home turf, the British had several key advantages. In particular, they benefited from the early warning provided by radar, the speed
and manoeuvrability of the Spitfire and Hurricane fighter planes, the ability to return shot-down but unscathed pilots to their bases ready to face the next wave of attack and the selfless bravery of pilots - many of them scarcely in their twenties - determined to defend their homeland.The pilots were supplemented by equally resolute airmen from the British Commonwealth and those skilled French, Czech and Polish pilots who had managed to make it across the Channel.The Luftwaffe's first targets were the radar transmitters, but the German planes failed to put them out of long-term action.They were also determined to destroy the airfields from which the RAF could operate. On 15 August, the Luftwaffe launched a great assault on the RAF's bases. Every available fighter was sent up into the air to engage the onslaught. A desperate struggle ensued on one of the most important days of the conflict. By dusk, 75 enemy aircraft had been shot down for the RAF's loss of 34.Yet, more importantly, while several of Fighter Command's bases sustained heavy damage, none was put out of action for long. Another massive attack was seen off three days later, the tally going in Britain's favour by 71 to 27.
This was not the end. Wave after wave, day after day, the Luftwaffe kept coming. But despite their vast superiority in numbers, they were still denied the opportunity to deliver the knock-out punch.The summer skies over southern England and the Channel were criss-crossed with trailer smoke from the dogfights.
In a war of mechanization and mass slaughter, here was a duelling contest in which pilot took on pilot. Churchill went up to Fighter Command's operations rooms to observe the course of battle unfold on the giant maps, plotting tables and early warning technology installed there. Deeply stirred, it was as he was coming away from one of these early visits, that the words came to him,'Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.' Redolent of Shakespeare's King Henry V assuring his troops -'We few, we happy few' - before the Battle of Agincourt, it hit a chord with the nation when on 20 August he repeated the phrase in what became one of his most famous speeches.

Other events on the 20th of August 1940:

Over 100 RAF bombers attacked targets in France and the Low Countries, while Italian planes bombed the strategically essential British outpost of Gibraltar. Mussolini also began blockading British Mediterranean ports, as part of the Anglo-Italian struggle for naval control in the region.

An assassin armed with an ice-pick fatally wounded the exiled Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky at his home in Mexico City. He had been a vehement critic of Stalin.

Large and coordinated attacks by Chinese communists in northern China severely damaged the communications of the occupying Japanese forces.

The speech. I don't have it all but here is most of it:

Almost a year has passed since the war began, and it is natural for us, I think, to pause on our journey at this milestone and survey the dark, wide field. It is also useful to compare the first year of this second war against German aggression with its forerunner a quarter of a century ago. Although this war is in fact only a continuation of the last, very great differences in its character are apparent. In the last war millions of men fought by hurling enormous masses of steel at one another. 'Men and shells' was the cry, and prodigious slaughter was the consequence. In this war nothing of this kind has yet appeared. It is a conflict of strategy, of organization, of technical apparatus, of science, mechanics and morale. The British casualties in the first twelve months of the Great War amounted to 365,000. In this war, I am thankful to say, British killed, wounded, prisoners and missing, including civilians, do not exceed 92,000, and of these a large proportion are alive as prisoners of war. Looking more widely around, one may say that throughout all Europe for one man killed or wounded in the first year perhaps five were killed or wounded in 1914-15.
The slaughter is only a small fraction, but the consequences to the belligerents have been even more deadly. We have seen great countries with powerful armies dashed out of coherent existence in a few weeks. We have seen the French Republic and the renowned French Army beaten into complete and total submission with less than the casualties which they suffered in any one of half a dozen of the battles of 1914-18. The entire body - it might almost seem at times the soul - of France has succumbed to physical effects incomparably less terrible than those which were sustained with fortitude and undaunted will-power 25 years ago. Although up to the present the loss of life has been mercifully diminished, the decisions reached in the course of the struggle are even more profound upon the fate of nations than anything that has ever happened since barbaric times. Moves are made upon the scientific and strategic boards, advantages are gained by mechanical means, as a result of which scores of millions of men become incapable of further resistance, or judge themselves incapable of further resistance, and a fearful game of chess proceeds from check to mate by which the unhappy players seem to be inexorably bound.
There is another more obvious difference from 1914. The whole of the warring nations are engaged, not only soldiers, but the entire population, men, women and children. The fronts are everywhere. The trenches are dug in the towns and streets. Every village is fortified. Every road is barred. The front line runs through the factories. The workmen are soldiers with different weapons but the same courage. These are great and distinctive changes from what many of us saw in the struggle of a quarter of a century ago. There seems to be every reason to believe that this new kind of war is well suited to the genius and the resources of the British nation and the British Empire and that, once we get properly equipped and properly started, a war of this kind will be more favourable to us than the sombre mass slaughters of the Somme and Passchendaele. If it is a case of the whole nation fighting and suffering together, that ought to suit us, because we are the most united of all the nations, because we entered the war upon the national will and with our eyes open, and because we have been nurtured in freedom and individual responsibility and are the products, not of totalitarian uniformity but of tolerance and variety. If all these qualities are turned, as they are being turned, to the arts of war, we may be able to show the enemy quite a lot of things that they have not thought of yet. Since the Germans drove the Jews out and lowered their technical standards, our science is definitely ahead of theirs. Our geographical position, the command of the sea, and the friendship of the United States enable us to draw resources from the whole world and to manufacture weapons of war of every kind, but especially of the superfine kinds, on a scale hitherto practised only by Nazi Germany.
Hitler is now sprawled over Europe. Our offensive springs are being slowly compressed, and we must resolutely and methodically prepare ourselves for the campaigns of 1941 and 1942. Two or three years are not a long time, even in our short, precarious lives. They are nothing in the history of the nation, and when we are doing the finest thing in the world, and have the honour to be the sole champion of the liberties of all Europe, we must not grudge these years or weary as we toil and struggle through them. It does not follow that our energies in future years will be exclusively confined to defending ourselves and our possessions. Many opportunities may lie open to amphibious power, and we must be ready to take advantage of them. One of the ways to bring this war to a speedy end is to convince the enemy, not by words, but by deeds, that we have both the will and the means, not only to go on indefinitely but to strike heavy and unexpected blows. The road to victory may not be so long as we expect. But we have no right to count upon this. Be it long or short, rough or smooth, we mean to reach our journey's end ...
Rather more than a quarter of a year has passed since the new government came into power
in this country. What a cataract of disaster has poured out upon us since then. The trustful Dutch overwhelmed; their beloved and respected sovereign driven into exile; the peaceful city of Rotterdam the scene of a massacre as hideous and brutal as anything in the Thirty Years War. Belgium invaded and beaten down; our own fine Expeditionary Force, which King Leopold called to his rescue, cut off and almost captured, escaping as it seemed only by a miracle and with the loss of all its equipment; our ally, France, out; Italy in against us; all France in the power of the enemy, all its arsenals and vast masses of military material converted or convertible to the enemy's use; a puppet government set up at Vichy which may at any moment be forced to become our foe; the whole western seaboard of Europe from the North Cape to the Spanish frontier in German hands; all the ports, all the airfields on this immense front, employed against us as potential springboards of invasion. Moreover, the German air-power, numerically so far outstripping ours, has been brought so close to our island that what we used to dread greatly has come to pass and the hostile bombers not only reach our shores in a few minutes and from many directions, but can be escorted by their fighting aircraft. Why, sir, if we had been confronted at the beginning of May with such a prospect, it would have seemed incredible that at the end of a period of horror and disaster, or at this point in a period of horror and, we should stand erect, sure of ourselves, masters of our fate and with the conviction of final victory burning unquenchable in our hearts. Few would have believed we could survive; none would have believed that we should today not only feel stronger but should actually be stronger than we have ever been before.
Let us see what has happened on the other side of the scales. The British nation and the British Empire finding themselves alone, stood undismayed against disaster. No one flinched or wavered; nay, some who formerly thought of peace, now think only of war. Our people are united and resolved, as they have never been before. Death and ruin have become small things compared with the shame of defeat or failure in duty. We cannot tell what lies ahead. It may be that even greater ordeals lie before us. We shall face whatever is coming to us. We are sure of ourselves and of our cause and that is the supreme fact which has emerged in these months of trial.
Meanwhile, we have not only fortified our hearts but our island. We have rearmed and rebuilt our armies in a degree which would have been deemed impossible a few months ago. We have ferried across the Atlantic, in the month of July, thanks to our friends over there, an immense mass of munitions of all kinds, cannon, rifles, machine-guns, cartridges and shell, all safely landed without the loss of a gun or a round. The output of our own factories, working as they have never worked before, has poured forth to the troops. The whole British Army is at home. More than 2,000,000 determined men have rifles and bayonets in their hands tonight and three-quarters of them are in regular military formations. We have never had armies like this in our island in time of war. The whole island bristles against invaders, from the sea or from the air. As I explained to the House in the middle of June, the stronger our Army at home, the larger must the invading expedition be, and the larger the invading expedition, the
less difficult will be the task of the Navy in detecting its assembly and in intercepting and destroying it on passage; and the greater also would be the difficulty of feeding and supplying the invaders if ever they landed, in the teeth of continuous naval and air attack on their communications. All this is classical and venerable doctrine. As in Nelson's day, the maxim holds, 'Our first line of defence is the enemy's ports.' Now air reconnaissance and photography have brought to an old principle a new and potent aid.
Our Navy is far stronger than it was at the beginning of the war. The great flow of new construction set on foot at the outbreak is now beginning to come in. We hope our friends across the ocean will send us a timely reinforcement to bridge the gap between the peace flotillas of 1939 and the war flotillas of 1941. There is no difficulty in sending such aid. The seas and oceans are open. The U-boats are contained. The magnetic mine is, up to the present time, effectively mastered. The merchant tonnage under the British flag, after a year of unlimited U-boat war, after eight months of intensive mining attack, is larger than when we began. We have in addition, under our control, at least 4,000,000 tons of shipping from the captive countries which has taken refuge here or in the harbours of the Empire. Our stocks of food of all kinds are far more abundant than in the days of peace and a large and growing programme of food production is on foot.
Why do I say all this? Not assuredly to boast; not assuredly to give the slightest countenance to complacency. The dangers we face are still enormous, but so are our advantages and resources. I recount them because the people have a right to know that there are solid grounds for the confidence which we feel, and that we have good reason to believe ourselves capable, as I said in a very dark hour two months ago, of continuing the war 'if necessary alone, if necessary for years'. I say it also because the fact that the British Empire stands invincible, and that Nazidom is still being resisted, will kindle again the spark of hope in the breasts of hundreds of millions of downtrodden or despairing men and women throughout Europe, and far beyond its bounds, and that from these sparks there will presently come cleansing and devouring flame.
The great air battle which has been in progress over this island for the last few weeks has recently attained a high intensity. It is too soon to attempt to assign limits either to its scale or to its duration. We must certainly expect that greater efforts will be made by the enemy than any he has so far put forth. Hostile airfields are still being developed in France and the Low Countries, and the movement of squadrons and material for attacking us is still proceeding. It is quite plain that Herr Hitler could not admit defeat in his air attack on Great Britain without sustaining most serious injury. If, after all his boastings and blood-curdling threats and lurid accounts trumpeted around the world of the damage he has inflicted, of the vast numbers of our Air Force he has shot down, so he says, with so little loss to himself; if after tales of the panic-stricken British crushed in their holes cursing the plutocratic Parliament
which has led them to such a plight; if after all this his whole air onslaught were forced after a while tamely to peter out, the Fuhrer's reputation for veracity of statement might be seriously impugned. We may be sure, therefore, that he will continue as long as he has the strength to do so, and as long as any preoccupations he may have in respect of the Russian Air Force allow him to do so.
On the other hand, the conditions and course of the fighting have so far been favourable to us. I told the House two months ago that whereas in France our fighter aircraft were wont to inflict a loss of two or three to one upon the Germans, and in the fighting at Dunkirk, which was a kind of no-man's-land, a loss of about three or four to one, we expected that in an attack on this island we should achieve a larger ratio. This has certainly come true. It must also be remembered that all the enemy machines and pilots which are shot down over our island, or over the seas which surround it, are either destroyed or captured; whereas a considerable proportion of our machines, and also of our pilots, are saved, and soon again in many cases come into action.
A vast and admirable system of salvage, directed by the Ministry of Aircraft Production, ensures the speediest return to the fighting line of damaged machines, and the most provident and speedy use of all the spare parts and material. At the same time the splendid, nay, astounding increase in the output and repair of British aircraft and engines which Lord Beaverbrook has achieved by a genius of organization and drive, which looks like magic, has given us overflowing reserves of every type of aircraft, and an ever-mounting stream of production both in quantity and quality. The enemy is, of course, far more numerous than we are. But our new production already, as I am advised, largely exceeds his, and the American production is only just beginning to flow in. It is a fact, as I see from my daily returns, that our bomber and fighter strength now, after all this fighting, are larger than they have ever been. We believe that we shall be able to continue the air struggle indefinitely and as long as the enemy pleases, and the longer it continues the more rapid will be our approach, first towards that parity, and then into that superiority in the air, upon which in a large measure the decision of the war depends.
The gratitude of every home in our island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the world war by their prowess and by their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few. All hearts go out to the fighter pilots, whose brilliant actions we see with our own eyes day after day; but we must never forget that all the time, night after night, month after month, our bomber squadrons travel far into Germany, find their targets in the darkness by the highest navigational skill, aim their attacks, often under the heaviest fire, often with serious loss, with deliberate careful discrimination, and inflict shattering blows upon the whole of the technical and war-making structure of the Nazi power. On no part of the Royal Air Force does the weight of the war fall more heavily than on the daylight bombers who will play an invaluable part in the case of invasion and whose unflinching zeal it has been necessary in the meanwhile on numerous occasions to restrain.
We are able to verify the results of bombing military targets in Germany, not only by reports which reach us through many sources, but also, of course, by photography. I have no hesitation in saying that this process of bombing the military industries and communications of Germany and the air bases and storage depots from which we are attacked, which process will continue upon an ever-increasing scale until the end of the war, and may in another year attain dimensions hitherto undreamed of, affords one at least of the most certain, if not the shortest of all the roads to victory. Even if the Nazi legions stood triumphant on the Black Sea, or indeed upon the Caspian, even if Hitler were at the gates of India, it would profit him nothing if at the same time the entire economic and scientific apparatus of German war-power lay shattered and pulverized at home . . .

Churchill then turned to the strategic implications of France's exit from the war. In contrast to the 'men of Vichy', General de Gaulle stood ready to keep Anglo-French comradeship together. 'These Free Frenchmen have been condemned to death by Vichy, but the day will come, as surely as the sun will rise tomorrow, when their names will be held in honour, and their names will be graven in stone in the streets and villages of a France restored in a liberated Europe to its full freedom and its ancient name.' Finally, Churchill explained the deal he had done with President Roosevelt to lease to the United States a number of British bases ...

Presently we learned that anxiety was also felt in the United States about the air and naval defence of their Atlantic seaboard, and President Roosevelt has recently made it clear that he would like to discuss with us, and with the Dominion of Canada and with Newfoundland, the development of American naval and air facilities in Newfoundland and in the West Indies. There is, of course, no question of any transference of sovereignty - that has never been suggested - or of any action being taken, without the consent or against the wishes of the various colonies concerned, but for our part, His Majesty's government are entirely willing to accord defence facilities to the United States on a 99 years' leasehold basis, and we feel sure that our interests no less than theirs, and the interests of the colonies themselves and of Canada and Newfoundland will be served thereby. These are important steps. Undoubtedly this process means that these two great organizations of the English-speaking democracies, the British Empire and the United States, will have to be somewhat mixed up together in some of their affairs for mutual and general advantage. For my own part, looking out upon the future, I do not view the process with any misgivings. I could not stop it if I wished; no one can stop it. Like the Mississippi, it just keeps rolling along. Let it roll. Let it roll on full flood, inexorable, irresistible, benignant, to broader lands and better days.


02-14-2009, 03:14 PM
wow great post

02-14-2009, 04:47 PM
Never in the field of hiperlobby were so many pwned so much by so few.

Ah yes

02-14-2009, 06:01 PM
Originally posted by DuxCorvan:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Never in the field of hiperlobby were so many pwned so much by so few.

Ah yes </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

It's funny because it's true. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/59.gif

02-15-2009, 11:29 AM
Maybe he was predicting the current economic climate?