The 70th Anniversary of Winston Churchill’s ‘Some Chicken! Some Neck!’ Speech

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 1st, 2012

Week in Review

Winston Churchill was a great war time leader.  He led his people through the Battle of Britain.  When the Germans bombed the snot out of them.  But he never wavered.  And neither did the British people (see Winston Churchill 70 years ago: ‘Some chicken! Some neck!’ by Chris Cobb, Postmedia News, posted 12/30/2011 on the Ottawa Citizen).

“When I warned them that Britain would fight on alone whatever they did, their generals told their Prime Minister and his divided Cabinet, ‘In three weeks England will have her neck wrung like a chicken.’ Some chicken! Some neck!”

“Some chicken, some neck” was a reference to the sneering comment by French Marshal Philippe Petain, future leader of the collaborationist Vichy French government, who was convinced that Germany would successfully invade Britain as it had done France. He told Churchill that in three weeks Britain would “have its neck wrung like a chicken.”

“There is something about the phrase ‘some chicken, some neck’ that is utterly charming,” says Ottawa Churchill scholar Ronald Cohen. “Churchill was a superb orator and his oratory played such a major role in keeping spirits alive and keeping the British confident in the fact that they could withstand whatever it was they had to meet.

This speech was given after the Battle of Britain.  Where the British handed the Germans their first defeat in the war.  Which was a big defeat.  Because the Germans failed to knock out British airpower and their air defenses there would be no invasion of the British Isles.  For any German invasion force attempting to cross the English Channel would get the snot bombed out of them by the Royal Air Force.

In all fairness to France, the French did not have the chance to learn the folly of fixed fortifications in the age of mobile warfare until after the Germans went around the Maginot Line and conquered them.  They did learn the folly of fixed fortifications rather quickly after that.  And the humiliation of sitting across the table from their Nazi conquerors as they signed the documents of surrender.

The English Channel let the British avoid that fate.  Well, that, and Winston Churchill.  Who refused to give up in their darkest hours.  They held on.  Until the Americans joined the war.  Who helped the Allies turn back the Nazi onslaught.

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