Re: Do your Best
Ed Darrell (EDarr1776@AOL.COM)
Wed, 9 Oct 1996 11:19:13 -0400
In a message dated 96-10-05 21:54:57 EDT, Pete wrote:
>In the grand old tradition of the "Scoutmaster's Minute" I have
>started a "Cubmaster's minute" I want to do one on "Do Your Best".
This story may be apocryphal, at least to the RAF briefing Churchill before
the Battle of Britain. I've never been able to confirm it, and if anyone out
there CAN confirm it, I'd like to have a citation. The British won the
battle, and Churchill said what I quote him as saying in tribute to the RAF.
But here goes:
In the darkest days for Britain during World War II, it became apparent to
the British that Hitler would send his Luftwaffe against the island. For
centuries the English Channel had protected the island from attack from the
continent. Hitler's air force was the best in the world, and it looked as
though superior air power would make the Channel moot.
The top commanders of the Royal Air Force drew the unenviable task of
briefing the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, of the situation. Their
briefing was relatively short. They told Churchill that the Germans had more
airplanes, better airplanes, better-trained pilots and greater armaments.
The Royal Air Force, by contrast, was short on ammunition, short on
airplanes, short on spare parts, not so well trained as they should be, and
short on experience. The RAF commanders closed off, telling Churchill that
they were sure that in the grand tradition of Nelson at Trafalgar, every Brit
would do his duty. "We will do our best."
"Your best is not good enough," Churchill replied. "You must do what is
Some accounts say the RAF officers retreated, discouraged, but that clearly
is not the case. Despite having every possible advantage on the other side,
the RAF proceeded to fight and win the Battle of Britain with a flair that
inspired the Allied forces on to victory. This was one of the great turning
points of Western Civilization, indeed of all world history. Had this battle
gone the other way, democracy would not be so widespread as it is, if indeed
the concept of government by the consent of the people to be governed could
have survived at all.
On August 20, 1940, Churchill gave tribute to the heroes of the Royal Air
Force in the House of Commons. You will immediately recognize the words he
spoke: "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to
Never underestimate the power of human will. When faced with impossible
odds, the resolve to "do your best" can turn the odds on their ear, do what
is necessary, change the course of history. In 1940 it was necessary that
each person in the RAF do his absolute best. To a man, they did. Had they
not done so, Scouts could meet nowhere in this world, safely, as we do
It is a proud tradition that we continue, to uphold the idea that to "Do your
best" -- to do OUR best -- will be enough to keep us wise, strong and free.
Ed Darrell, Duncanville, Texas
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City