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The Words that Brought the Country to a Standstill

by St Alban's Catholic High School, Ipswich

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Contributed by 
St Alban's Catholic High School, Ipswich
People in story: 
Monica Ogden (nee Rumfitt)
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Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
18 June 2005

This story was submitted to the People's War website by Andrew; a pupil from St. Albans Catholic High School in Ipswich on behalf of his Grandmother Monica Ogden; and has been added to the site with her permission.
Monica Ogden fully understands the sites terms and conditions.

At 11 o'clock on 3rd September 1939, my family and I gathered around the wireless in the dining room. The Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain began to speak. We all knew that Germany had been given an ultimatum and everyone was anxious to hear what had happened. The Prime Minister then gave the solemn announcment that everyone remembered:

"I am speaking to you from the Cabinet Room at 10, Downing Street.

This morning the British Ambassador in Berlin handed the German Government a final Note stating that unless we heard from them by 11 0'clock that they were prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland a state of war would exist between us.

I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received, and that consequently this country is at war with Germany."

Immediately it felt like the everyone in the country had just stopped. It felt as if everyone was sharing the same empty feeling.
It was eerie. Then gradually everything seemed to start up again. But from that moment onwards, everyone's life completely changed.

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Message 1 - The Words that Brought the Country to a Standstill

Posted on: 18 June 2005 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

I cannot agree with you. Far from being infamous, those were the most noble words spoken by any Prime Minister.

Neville Chamberlain was a honourable peace-loving man, it was with great personal sorrow that he made that announcement.

Peter Ghiringhelli


Message 2 - The Words that Brought the Country to a Standstill

Posted on: 18 June 2005 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

I can only agree with Peter inasmuch as Mr Chamberlain was a truly honourable man who's own life changed from that moment. He declared that the appeasement which was dominating all political action was brought to an end at that famous speech and we went forward in a noble cause to rid the world of a tyrant whose infamy was brought into daylight as we progressed throughout the war, particularly with the finding of the concentration camps.
His successor was correct in stating that this was Britain's finest hour as we have seen since the end of that conflict which left Britain bankrupt,
and with the moral decline which has yet to be curtailed as all political parties agree to, and taxpayers finance, Abortion, Euthanasia, Homosex et al. Britain is no longer alone in the rejection of God and His replacement by the veneration of Man.
best regards


Message 3 - The Words that Brought the Country to a Standstill

Posted on: 21 June 2005 by St Alban's Catholic High School, Ipswich

I apologise with the wording that was used when describing the speech. I have now changed it. Thank you for your correction


Message 4 - The Words that Brought the Country to a Standstill

Posted on: 21 June 2005 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Dear Andrew -
thank you very much for your correction - after all - we are dealing in history as you are no doubt well aware with your school's activities in recalling the war and the subsequent peace.
Sorry I missed your veterans tea party of the 10th June but I am sure that many veterans would have taken the opportunity to attend and bore everyone rigid with their memories.
Trust you will be able to go on the tour of the Landings in Normandy and
and - one day DV - hopefully visit the Monastery at Montecassino and learn something of what we did in 8th Army at that time.
I had a strange experience there one evening as the guns which were incessent - fell silent and the pure songs of the Nightingale birds were clearly heard for a few mintutes before the cacophany returned.
There are many stories of this Battle on the BBc series - you should read some of them and give thanks for peace!
best regards
tom canning


Message 5 - The Words that Brought the Country to a Standstill

Posted on: 22 June 2005 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Thank you for the amendment, although I would have said "solemn announcement", rather than "noble speech". I meant his sentiments were noble, meaning that he was acting with honour. I have no doubt that these events hastened his death.

Kind regards,


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