Beating the Invader. WINSTON CHURCHILL.
Beating the Invader

Beating the Invader

"If invasion comes, everyone – young or old, men and women – will be eager to play their part worthily...”

“When the attack begins, it will be too late to go; and, unless you receive definite instructions to move, your duty then will be to stay where you are. You will have to get into the safest place you can find, and stay there until the battle is over. For all of you then the order and the duty will be: ‘STAND FIRM’.”


CHURCHILL WARNS THE ENGLISH PEOPLE TO “STAND FIRM” IN THE FACE OF A GERMAN INVASION.

In early 1941, when a German invasion of England seemed a very real possibility, Duff Cooper, then Minister of Information, helped draft a document to distribute to the people with information on what to do in the event the Germans landed on English soil.

“While the document [Beating the Invader] was prepared as a how-to or what-to-do document by Duff Cooper’s Ministry of Information, it opens with Churchill’s powerful and inspirational introduction, in which he begins with the bravery-invoking assumption, ‘If invasion comes, everyone—young or old, men and women—will be eager to play their part worthily.’ Noting that the greater part of the country will be unaffected by any invading force, he assures his readers that the British forces will do their part, inflicting ‘very heavy British counter-attacks’ on the enemy as they land by means of bomber attacks on their lodgments.

“He goes on: ‘The fewer civilians or non-combatants in these areas, the better—apart from essential workers who must remain. So if you are advised by the authorities to leave the place where you live, it is your duty to go elsewhere when you are told to leave. When the attack begins, it will be too late to go; and unless you receive definite instructions to move, your duty then will be to stay where you are. You will then have to get into the safest place you can find, and stay there until the battle is over. For all of you then the order and the duty will be: “STAND FIRM.”

“Even where there is not substantial fighting, presumably away from the coasts, Churchill advises that everyone must be bound by the second great order and duty, namely, ‘CARRY ON... It may easily be some weeks before the invader has been totally destroyed, that is to say, killed or captured to the last man who has landed on our shores. Meanwhile, all work must be continued to the utmost, and no time lost.’

“Encouraging all to assume their part in the defence of their island home, he concludes his introduction by writing: ‘The following notes have been prepared to tell everyone in rather more detail what to do, and they should be carefully studied. Each man and woman should think out a clear plan of personal action in accordance with the general scheme.’ And the document is influentially signed in facsimile: “Winston S. Churchill.”’

Following Churchill’s introduction is a “list of ‘tips’ cover[ing] a range of potential actions and reactions of the brave Britons, then essentially alone in their resistance to the Axis (with the obvious exception of Britain’s Commonwealth partners). The two-sided leaflet is characterized by all-caps subject headings such as ‘STAND FIRM’ and ‘CARRY ON’ and a series of fourteen questions and answers drafted by the Ministry of Information and issued under the combined authority of the War Office and the Ministry of Home Security.

“The huge print run might leave one with the impression that the leaflet would be commonly found today. It is not. Its relative scarcity is understandable; it was, after all, only a leaflet anticipating an event, which never came to pass. In the result, although it was very widely distributed, relatively few copies have survived.” (Ronald I. Cohen, Churchill Bibliographer, “Preparing for an Invasion of Britain... In Writing”, Finest Hour 181, Summer 2018).

First printing. London: Ministry of Information, 1941. One sheet (8.5x11 inches), printed on both sides. An exceedingly well-preserved copy of a notoriously fragile item, with only very mild folds and minuscule wear to bottom right corner. Housed and protected in custom cloth presentation folder. As fine a copy as one could hope to find.

Price: $950 .

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