Just 2,936 fighter pilots and aircrew flew against the mighty Luftwaffe during the Battle of
Britain and were entitled to wear the rare ‘Battle of Britain Clasp’ to their war medal. To earn
that right and become one of ‘The Few’, they had to fly at least ‘one authorised operational sortie
with an eligible unit of the RAF or Fleet Air Arm during the period from 00.01 hours on 10 July
to 23.59 hours on 31 October 1940’. Understandably it remains one of the rarest ‘clasps’ of them
With Britain ripe for invasion, Luftwaffe supremo Hermann Goering overlooked the tenacity,
bravery and courage of RAF Fighter Command as, during these testing times, Britain did not
stand alone. Although the majority of aircrew were British, nearly 600 men came from other
countries. Some such as Poland had been over-run by the Nazis, whilst other large contingents
came from Canada, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. There were even a few Americans.
By the end of the battle they had all learnt to heed Churchill’s defiant words – ‘we shall never
surrender’ – and their spirit lives on. However, the vital role played by the supporting cast cannot
be overlooked; the hard working ground crews whose endless checks and running repairs ensured
the aircraft were ready as soon as they were called upon.
Keith Burns’ latest piece serves as a tribute to all those who took part in the Battle of Britain
during that long summer of 1940.
Keith, who joined the Military Gallery in 2020, is currently illustrating the Ladybird Expert
History series of the Second World War written by leading historian James Holland. His graphic
portrayal, Testing Times, depicts Sergeant Don Kingaby carrying out last minute checks on his
Mk.I Spitfire at the height of the Battle of Britain.
Overall size: 19½" x 17½"
Available in the following editions
Image size: 15" x 14½"
Signed by the artist
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