At The Days End by Robert Taylor

At The Days End by Robert Taylor

September 1940; and the fate of the free world hung in the balance. A year had passed since Hitler had ordered his armies to crush Poland, which they did in a matter of weeks. And, for a while, Europe had held its breath, waiting for the next move.

It came on 9 April 1940 when German forces trampled through Denmark and seized Norway. Four weeks later, they turned their attentions south. On Friday 10 May, Hitler's panzers rolled across the Dutch border heading for France. Overwhelmed by the onslaught Luxembourg and the Netherlands surrendered, followed by Belgium whilst an out-gunned and out- manoeuvred British Expeditionary Force retreated to the beaches of Dunkirk and a humiliating evacuation. On 25 June France, too, capitulated.

Britain stood alone, ripe for invasion.

But before the Führer could sweep through Admiralty Arch on his way to Buckingham Palace, his army must cross 22 miles of water - the English Channel. It sounded little enough, men had swum it, but to cross it the Germans must take control of the sky - hardly a problem for the Luftwaffe, Goering told Hitler; after all, his air force was the most powerful on earth. Or so he thought.

For what Goering had overlooked was the tenacity of a few thousand brave young men to thwart his plans - the pilots of RAF Fighter Command. Mostly British, they also included volunteers from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and countries across the British Empire. They were joined by pilots who had escaped from the newly-occupied countries in Europe, and a handful of Americans brave enough to defy the laws of their country to fight for an ally.

The battle that followed was long and bitter, as important as any fought in a thousand years of British history, but after three months of fighting the once- mighty Luftwaffe had been held at bay and defeated - because now there could be no invasion. The Battle of Britain wasn't 'the end of the beginning', as Churchill would later describe victory at El Alamein, but it did mark the beginning of hope. And with hope came resilience and a steadfast resolve that would, in the end, lead to victory.

Working with a combination of graphite and coloured paints on 'buff' coloured paper to create a unique sepia effect, Robert Taylor's outstanding Masterwork brings to life a moment during September 1940 at the height of the Battle of Britain. With an intuition unsurpassed by his peers, the world's foremost aviation artist depicts a group of battle-weary Spitfire pilots from 92 Squadron after a long day's fighting. Exhausted, they wait whilst ground crews hastily re-fuel and re-arm their aircraft at Biggin Hill ready for the next combat. No one knows when the alarm will sound but, when it does, they will, as always, be ready.

Overall print size: 31 ½" wide x 12 ½" high

Many of the veterans who fought during this crucial period have sadly passed away since creating this edition, so The Military Gallery is proud that several of 'The Few' had previously signed the prints. It is of great historical importance that during the centenary year of the RAF such famous veterans have authenticated what is likely to be remembered as a classic by the world's leading aviation artist.

THE LIMITED EDITION
Joining artist Robert Taylor, every print has been personally autographed by two highly regarded RAF veterans who flew in combat during the Battle of Britain:

Wing Commander JOHN 'TIM' ELKINGTON
Hurricane Pilot with 1 Sqn / 1 victory

Flight Lieutenant WILLIAM 'BOB' HUGHES DFC AFC
WOp/AG on Blenheims with 23 Sqn


THE ANNIVERSARY EDITION & ARTIST PROOFS
To help commemorate the centenary of the RAF, each print in these memorable FIVE signature editions is additionally signed by three prominent veterans who served during the Battle of Britain:

Flight Lieutenant ARCHIE McINNES
Hurricane Pilot with 610 Sqn

Leading Aircraftman JOHN LOOSEMORE
Aircraft Technician on Spitfires with 74 'Tiger' Sqn

Section Officer JOAN FANSHAW
Plotter in the Ops Room at RAF Uxbridge


THE MATTED COLLECTOR'S EDITION
Each print in these TEN signature editions is also personally signed by two iconic Battle of Britain fighter Aces and conservation matted to include an original piece of WWII Hurricane and the original autographs of three further Battle of Britain Aircrew:

Wing Commander TOM NEIL DFC* AFC
Hurricane Pilot with 249 Sqn / 14 victories

Wing Commander PAUL FARNES DFM
Hurricane Pilot with 501 Sqn / 8 victories

The matted signatures:

Group Captain ARTHUR MONTAGU-SMITH
Defiant Pilot with 264 Sqn

Group Captain BILLY DRAKE DSO DFC*
Hurricane Pilot with 1 Sqn / 24½ victories

Flight Lieutenant ERIC PARKIN
Hurricane Pilot with 501 Sqn

HURRICANE LF363 - Set within the matting is an original piece of Mk IIc Hurricane LF363. The fighter flew operationally during WWII with 309 Polish, 26 and 69 Squadrons and is believed to be the last Hurricane to enter service with the RAF. After the war the aircraft appeared in several movies including Reach for the Sky (1955) and The Battle of Britain (1968) before joining the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. The fighter crashed in 1991 and it was during the restoration that these pieces of the original airframe were officially acquired; the aircraft re-joined the Memorial Flight in 1998, where it still flies today.

Matted size: Approx 34¾" x 18¼"

THE MATTED REMARQUE EDITIONS
For those collectors who want something more, these two very exclusive editions will include an original pencil drawing by Robert Taylor hand-crafted to order in the lower margin of the print. Limited to fifteen copies worldwide plus just ten DOUBLE remarques - with a larger and even more elaborate drawing - collectors have the opportunity to acquire a highly sought after original work by the world's most collected aviation artist. Each remarqued copy is then individually conservation matted with all components of the Collector's Edition.
THE LIMITED EDITION
Edition Size - 50
THE ANNIVERSARY EDITION
Edition Size - 100
THE ARTIST PROOFS
Edition Size - 15
THE COLLECTORS EDITION
Edition Size - 35