THIS SCEPTRED ISLE
by Robert Taylor
THE WORLDS LEADING AVIATION ARTIST COMMEMORATES THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN 1940
This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle...this happy breed of men, this little world, this precious stone set in the silver sea, which serves it in the office of a wall or as a moat defensive to a house, against the envy of less happier lands…this blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.
William Shakespeare 'King Richard II’
For nearly a thousand years the white cliffs of southern England had taunted many a foreign army. These fortress walls of chalk, however, were defended by the moat-like waters of the Channel and together they had shielded the British from her enemies. Alongside Drake they had defied the armies of Spain and her great Armada and, in 1805, had halted the march of Napoleon’s Grande Armée. No enemy force since that of William the Conqueror in 1066 had successfully managed to cross the Channel in anger but, in May 1940, one of the most powerful armies the world had ever seen arrived at Calais. An invasion by Hitler’s all-conquering Wehrmacht was imminent – or so it seemed.
To cross the Channel and breach the English defences, the Luftwaffe simply had to gain control of the skies, and with massively superior numbers the outcome seemed inevitable. The fate of Britain lay in the hands of less than 3,000 young airmen from Fighter Command – Churchill’s ‘Few’.
By July the most famous air battle in history was underway and, over the next three months, under tranquil summer skies, the ‘Few’ battled to defend their Sceptred Isle. Impossibly outnumbered and flying daily to the point of exhaustion, by October these courageous young men had snatched victory and from the jaws of defeat, emerging defiantly victorious. The threat of invasion might be over but a terrible price had been paid – during that long battle for the survival of Britain 544 had been killed and 422 wounded; and of those who survived a further 814 would be killed before the end of the war.
It is to the valiant ‘Few’ that Robert Taylor once again pays tribute in this masterful painting portraying a fleeting moment of calm for the pilots of 74 (Tiger) Squadron during the height of the Battle of Britain. With his commanding officer Sailor Malan (ZP-A) to his right, Acting Flight Lieutenant John Freeborn (ZP-C) takes time to reflect on another day of intense combat while passing over the white cliffs and the familiar lighthouse at Beachy Head, as the squadron cross the English coast to head for home.
Overall print size: 24 ¾”wide x 18 ½” high
We are extremely honoured that this edition carries the signatures of veterans that fought during the Battle of Britain, including John Freeborn who is featured in the piece. It is a poignant reminder that a number of these iconic men have sadly passed away since signing, giving enthusiasts the opportunity to add a piece of great historic significance to their collections.
THE LIMITED EDITION
Wg Cdr TIM ELKINGTON
Flt Lt TERRY CLARK DFM AE
Flt Lt ARCHIE McINNES
Flt Lt WILLIAM ‘BOB’ HUGHES DFC AFC
C.A.F. JOE RODDIS
Gp Capt TOM DALTON-MORGAN DSO DFC* OBE
Wg Cdr JOHN FREEBORN DFC*
Sqn Ldr KEN ‘HAWKEYE’ LEE DFC
Wg Cdr WILFRED ‘WILF’ SIZER DFC*
Sqn Ldr MICHAEL WAINWRIGHT AFC
WITH AN ORIGINAL PENCIL DRAWING AND FIFTEEN SIGNATURES
With all the signatories of the Veterans Edition, each print is issued with an exquisite pencil drawing specially created for the occasion by the world’s greatest aviation artist Robert Taylor. Individually signed by three Battle of Britain fighter pilots, each drawing is conservation matted to include the signatures of two legendary RAF Aces:
Plt Off NORMAN BROWN
Wg Cdr CHRISTOPHER CURRANT DSO DFC CdeG
Wg Cdr TOM NEIL DFC* AFC
THE MATTED SIGNATURES
Wg Cdr GEOFFREY PAGE DSO DFC OBE
Gp Capt PETER TOWNSEND CVO DSO DFC
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