Winston Churchill

What did Winston Churchill mean when he said 'Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few'?


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Churchill made this comment on 20 August 1940 in a speech during the Battle of Britain - that is, the battle in the air over southern Britain in July-October, 1940. It was a very difficult time for Britain: in June 1940 France had collapsed and installed a pro-Nazi government.

In the summer (and autumn) of 1940 the outcome of World War 2 in Europe depended on whether or not the Nazis would succeed in destroying the Royal Air Force (RAF). Many people had noted that the number of actual combattants involved in this particular battle was very small, and there were remarks to the effect that the fighting in the skies was rather like some ancient battle between champions. It was quite different from land battles between huge armies. However, the outcome was of the utmost importance. This is what the famous quote is about.


the simple answer : he meant that the whole population (so many) owed so much to so few (the pilots) who saved England from Hitler.

Anthony Eden paraphrased this in North Africa when the British were defeating the Italians before Rommels arrival : Never in the field of human conflict was so much surrendered by so many to so few....