VALIANT RESPONSE (THE HARDEST DAYS)
by Robert Taylor
Overall Print Size: 33" x 25"
Edition Size: 350
This is the third in Robert Taylor's Battle of Britain HARDEST DAYS Trilogy issued to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain, and like the other two prints in the trilogy will focus on these 'hardest days' of the battle to provide a unique snapshot in time. This is the TWELVE signature ANNIVERSARY EDITION.
On 12 August 1940 the Luftwaffe turned their full attention to the RAF's forward fighter bases and radar stations, with the intention of obliterating them once and for all. The outcome of the Battle of Britain was in the balance.
It was late in the afternoon of Sunday 18 August 1940. The previous week had seen the hardest days fighting in the Battle of Britain as the young pilots of RAF Fighter Command had engaged in their deadly duels with the Luftwaffe. Bystanders had gazed cautiously upwards at the weaving contrails and billowing parachutes in the clear blue skies over southern England waiting for the outcome. But just for a moment all was at peace as a gentle breeze floated across the airfield at RAF Hornchurch, the exhausted young pilots of 54 Squadron having a few brief minutes to reflect on their previous two encounters with the enemy that day. The Luftwaffe had thrown everything at them in the past few days, but today had been the toughest of them all. And then the calm was shattered by the shrill tones of the alarm ... it was yet another urgent Hornchurch Scramble.
The Luftwaffe had launched another huge raid of over 300 aircraft across the Channel, and it looked like Hornchurch was the target. Within minutes the squadron will be airborne and in the thick of the fighting again. Following this engagement the squadron claimed eight enemy aircraft destroyed and three damaged. That evening a signal from the Chief of Air Staff congratulated them on their performance stating, "Well done 54 Squadron in all your hard fighting. This is the spirit for dealing with the enemy."
Robert Taylor's masterful new painting “HORNCHURCH SCRAMBLE” portrays the moment as 54 Squadron's commanding officer, Squadron Leader James Leathart, taxis out at Hornchurch to prepare for take-off. Quickly following, the aircraft of New Zealander Colin Gray is guided out from dispersal by his ground crew. Gray claimed three Messerschmitt Bf110s in the encounter and would go on to be the top-scoring New Zealand Ace of the war.
In addition to the artist this print is individually signed in pencil by TWELVE distinguished pilots who flew in the Battle of Britain:
TEN from the RAF:
Flight Lieutenant RICHARD C. JONES
Squadron Leader DOUG NICHOLLS DFC
Flying Officer KEN WILKINSON
Flight Lieutenant BENJAMIN BENT DFC
Group Captain BYRON DUCKENFIELD AFC
Flight Lieutenant WILLIAM J. CORBIN DFC
Wing Commander JOHN ‘TIM’ ELKINGTON
Flight Lieutenant TREVOR GRAY
Squadron Leader KEITH LAWRENCE DFC
Flight Lieutenant ROBIN LUCAS
TWO from the Luftwaffe:
Oberleutnant GÜNTHER SEEGER
General JOHANNES STEINHOFF:
Comes with a Certificate of Authenticity.