The Cambridge historian, Ronald Hyam, told us a great deal about Churchill when he traced the genesis of his most famous wartime speech in praise of the pilots of RAF Fighter Command then the Battle of Britain was at its height.
Take the origins of perhaps Churchill's most famous phrase delivered on 20 August 1940 that "Never again in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few". This has been perfected over several trial runs:
- Never before were there so many people in England, and never before have they had so much to eat (1899, during Oldham by-election)
- I do not think it is very encouraging that we should have spent so much money upon the settlement of so few (April 1906, on land settlement in South Africa)
- Never before in Colonial experience has a Council been granted where the number of settlers is so few (November 1907, on the Legislative Council for Kenya)
- ...nowhere else in the world could so enormous a mass of water be held up by so little masonry (1908, on a dam at Ripon Falls across the Victoria Nile)
- Never before has so little been asked and never before have so many people asked for it (1910, on Irish demands for Home Rule)
The one about the dam is especially cute.