In a radio broadcast on the evening of Monday 23rd September 1940 King George VI spoke to Britain, the British Empire and America from his underground shelter at Buckingham Palace during an air-raid warning. In the broadcast he told his people that, with the aid of “our friends in the Americas”, Great Britain will emerge victorious from the war as a symbol and citadel of freedom.
He warned of grim times to come and said that, with British cities now in the front lines of battle, production of weapons for the fighting forces must be kept up, “regardless of danger.” War is at the “very doors” of Britain, he declared, and the home forces must keep front fighters well supplied with weapons. “There is much to encourage us,” he added. “Our friends in the Americas have shown this in many ways.” He condemned the “wickedness, against which we fight,” which he said was well illustrated by the torpedoing of the evacuee ship on which British children were lost last week.
The King announced establishment of a new award of valor — the George Cross — to be awarded to civilians performing deeds of heroism which, if performed in military life, would entitle the citizen to the Victoria Cross, highest British award. The King also announced a second new award – the George Medal. That would be for “wider distribution” than the George Cross.
“The winter lies before us, cold and dark,” the King said. “But let us be of good cheer. After the winter comes the spring and after our present trials will assuredly come victory and relief from these evil things. The walls of London may be battered, but the spirit of the Londoner stands resolute and undismayed. As in London so throughout Great Britain buildings rich in beauty and historic interest may be wantonly attacked and humble homes no less dear and familiar may be destroyed.
“But ‘there’ll always be an England’ to stand before the world as a symbol and a citadel of freedom.”