24 december 1941 - Christmas message


London, 24 December 1941

How nice to be talking to you, children, on Christmas Eve ! Of course I know life is not very gay for you these days ; still, I want to tell you a tale you can be proud of, a tale of our country's glory and the great future that will be hers...

Once upon a time, there was a country called France. Nations, you know, are like great ladies. They vary in beauty, goodness, and bravery. Well, children, of all these lady-nations, none was more beautiful, better, or braver than our Lady France. But she had a cruel neighbour, crafty and jealous, called Germany. Now one day Germany, crazy with vanity and wickedness, decided to turn all her neighbours into slaves. In August 1914 she started to attack them. But France managed to stop her, first on the Marne and then at Verdun, so that other great nations like England and America had time to come to the rescue. Then Germany, whose territory had not been invaded at all, suddenly collapsed. She surrendered to Marshal Foch ; she begged to be forgiven, and sobbed that she would never do it again. She still had great armies intact, but there was not a single German ? not one ? to fire a shot once his country had surrendered.
After that, the nations who won the war separated, each going about her own business. That was just what Germany was waiting for. Taking advantage of their simplicity, she prepared to invade anew. Soon she hurled herself once more against France, and this time she won the battle...

The enemy and his friends say that France deserved to be beaten. But the French nation is made up of your Daddies and Mummies, your brothers and sisters, and you, children, know very well they were not to blame. If our army was beaten, it was certainly not because our soldiers were lacking in courage or discipline. It was just because we had too few tanks and aeroplanes, for nowadays everything is done by machinery and the only way to win victories is with tanks and aeroplanes and ships, for they are the machines of war. Yet, in spite of this defeat, there are still French troops, warships, merchant vessels, and air squadrons in the fight. Indeed, I can tell you there are more and more of them, and people are talking all over the world about what these French forces are doing for the glory of France.
Think of them, and remember them in your prayers, for, believe me, they are very fine, brave soldiers, sailors, and airmen, who will have wonderful tales to tell you when they come home again. And they are sure to return in triumph, since, apart from the growing strength of our American Allies, the British and the Russians now have mighty armies which the Germans cannot hope to destroy, because huge reinforcements of tanks, aeroplanes, and ships are being built in England, in Russia, and in America. One day, you will see these war machines crushing the despairing Germans and, as the invader retreats on our soil, you will see a great French army rising again.
Dear children of France, you go hungry because the enemy is eating our bread and our meat ; you are cold because the enemy is stealing our coal and our logs ; you are unhappy because the enemy tells you, and gets other people to tell you, that you are the sons and daughters of conquered men. Now 1 am going to make you a solemn promise this Christmas. You will have a visit soon, dear children of France, a visit from a lady called Victory . . . and then you will see how beautiful she is !