London: Sir Winston Churchill`s famous wartime speeches may have been far less inspirational and influential than previously thought, it has been claimed.
Professor Richard Toye says that Churchill`s speeches actually provoked considerable controversy and criticism, with some Briton`s believing he was drunk during radio broadcasts, the Daily Express reported.
Prof Toye said that Churchill`s first speeches as prime minister in the dark days of 1940 were by no means universally acclaimed.
He said that 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.
According to Prof Toye`s new book `The Roar of the Lion`, when Churchill replaced Neville Chamberlain as prime minister in 1940, his job was not to simply persuade people to fight on but to alert them to how bad the military situation was, as the public had an unwarranted optimism.
Churchill wanted to clarify the situation in Europe and the threat, and not only to offer a rallying war cry.
Prof Toye said that Churchill`s famous "We shall fight them on the beaches" speech of June 1940 was influenced by William Philip Simms, the pro-British foreign editor of the Scripps-Howard chain of American newspapers.
There was concern that the US would not enter the war, so Simms provided suggestions on the language needed to maximise American sympathies for the war.