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Winston Churchill: ‘One million men needed to win war’
Winston Churchill hopes to have 500,000 men in the field early in the new year with one million by the summer 1915 Photo: © National Portrait Gallery, London

Winston Churchill: ‘One million men needed to win war’

War will be ‘long and sombre’

Published: 12 September 1914

The British Empire will need to put an army of one million men onto the continent of Europe if it is to win the war with Germany.

The claim was made by Winston Churchill, the First Lord of the Admiralty, at a huge recruitment meeting at the London Opera House.

Mr. Churchill told the meeting that the battles of the last fortnight had seen the British and French armies check the advance of the Germans across Europe and, indeed, successfully push them back in certain places.

He said: ‘The war will be long and sombre, but the country must overcome obstacles of all kinds, and we must continue to the end of the furrow, whatever the toll and the suffering may be.’

‘The sure way - the only sure way - to bring this war to an end is for the British Empire to put on the Continent, and keep on the Continent, an army of at least one million men.’

Mr. Churchill referred to the fact that British Expeditionary Force was currently heavily outnumbered by the German army, but it was still performing with the courage and brilliance that would eventually see it triumph.

He said that the government hoped to have 250,000 soldiers in Europe soon and to have 500,000 in the field early in the new year.

It was also hoped that fully one million men would be in the field by the early summer of 1915.

‘An army so formed will in quality, in character, in energy, and in comprehension of the cause for which it was fighting exceed in merit any army in the world.’

Mr. Churchill concluded: ‘It has only to have a chance of even numbers, or anything approaching even numbers, to demonstrate the superiority of free-thinking, active citizens over the docile sheep who served the ferocious ambitions of despotic kings.’


Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.