Did Churchill's 'bulldog' speeches really inspire a nation to go to war?
His speeches are woven into national legend, with rhetoric credited for helping Britain to win the Second World War.
But in spite of widespread belief that they inspired the nation, Winston Churchill's wartime speeches may have divided popular opinion and provoked heavy criticism.
A new book by University of Exeter historian Professor Richard Toye has re-examined the national myth to consider them as calculated political interventions which had diplomatic repercussions far beyond the effect on the morale of listeners in Britain.
The Roar of the Lion shows how Churchill's famous speeches, including "We shall fight on the beaches" and "Their finest hour", provoked both excitement and anger at home and around the world.
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"Churchill's first speeches as Prime Minster in the dark days of 1940 were by no means universally acclaimed – many people thought that he was drunk during his famous 'finest hour' broadcast – and there is little evidence that they made a decisive difference to the British people's will to fight on," Professor Toye said.
Observations by members of the public during the war – the historic equivalent of a modern day Tweet – showed the addresses were much more contentious than people were led to believe.
In one of the more vivid accounts, George a 24-year-old French polisher from South London, accused Churchill of "pulling the wool over [people's] eyes!" during his speech on the fall of Singapore in February 1942.
The Ministry of Information produced regular "Home Intelligence" reports to assess, for example, how the people were feeling following the Blitz in order to help the Government manage their response to the public.
Professor Toye said: "There was a complexity to people's reactions to Churchill's speeches at the time, as the evidence shows that they may have liked one bit of a speech and not another section, or liked some speeches but not others.
"People sometimes changed their minds following discussions with friends or after reading newspaper commentaries; there was not a blanket acceptance and positive reaction."
Professor Toye points out when Churchill came to power as Prime Minister, his job was not simply to persuade people to fight on, but to alert them to the severity of the military situation in response to an unwarranted optimism.
The book also plays down the view that Churchill was bull-headed. Even though the leader wrote his own speeches, the research found he would often take advice from Government departments which sometimes led him to tone down or adjust his words.
The famous June 1940 speech "We shall fight them on the beaches, we shall fight on the landings grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender," was influenced by William Philip Simms, the pro-British foreign editor of the influential Scripps-Howard chain of American newspapers.
Mr Simms provided suggestions that were passed on to Churchill, to advise on the language needed to maximise American sympathy with the war, so they would support and get behind the British cause.
He argued Churchill should say something similar to the following: "We intend to fight this thing through to a finish and to victory however long it may take...
"Come what may, Britain will not flinch... We, over here know full well that difficult times are ahead... We have taken the measure of our foe... Knowing all that, we are in it and, in it to stay... For her part, Britain intends to fight until Germany's power for evil has been broken.
The book also reveals that the speech was delivered in the House of Commons but never broadcast live – even though people claim to remember having heard this famous speech firsthand.