April 3, 2022

The World of Churchill Collectables: Easter Greeting Card

By BRIAN KRAPF

April seems the appropriate month to present a unique Churchill Easter card. The card was made for Easter 1942, and it is no surprise that it was printed in Canada. Churchill delivered his historic “some chicken, some neck” speech in Ottawa on 30 December 1941. The speech lasted thirty-seven minutes and would have been shorter, but the Great Man was continually interrupted by applause from the audience.

“Some chicken, some neck” was a reference to a snide comment made by French general Phillippe Petain, who was convinced that Germany would successfully invade Britain as it had France; he told Churchill that once Germany invaded, Britain would “have its neck wrung like a chicken” in three weeks. Petain horribly underestimated Churchill’s resolve and the strength and determination of the British people. Of course, Petain is better known for leading the Vichy French government, which collaborated with the Nazis after France surrendered.

Besides his historic speech, the 1941 visit by Churchill to Ottawa is remembered for another special event. Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King had arranged for Churchill’s photograph to be taken after the speech by a relatively unknown Ottawa photographer named Yousef Karsh. Churchill reluctantly agreed, and his scowl in the resulting image reflects that he was inconvenienced. The photograph, however, became an iconic wartime image since Churchill’s scowl also revealed his inner resolve and determination, and was soon widely reproduced in wartime propaganda. Yousef Karsh became a renowned portrait photographer whose works command significant prices in salerooms throughout the world.   

Brian Krapf’s forthcoming book We Want Winston!—A Treasury of Memorabilia will be published in 2022.

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