A handmade Bairstow Manor (Staffordshire, U.K.) glazed character Toby Jug modeled as Winston Churchill in the blue-grey uniform of a Royal Air Force (RAF) Air Commodore during the Battle of Britain of World War II.
The Battle of Britain began in the summer of 1940, just months after Churchill became Prime Minister. The Battle was fought entirely by air, with the RAF successfully defending Britain’s skies against the German Luftwaffe.
On June 16, 1940, Churchill delivered his immortal “Finest Hour” speech, after Britain’s ally, France, had sought an armistice with their mutual enemy, Germany. Standing before the House of Commons, Churchill proclaimed, “Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour’.”
Depicted in the uniform of the RAF, Churchill holds his signature cigar in his mouth while his hands clasp a model of the RAF Spitfire, which was instrumental against the German Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain, fought July 10 to October 31, 1940. The Spitfire served in several roles, including interceptor, photo-reconnaissance, fighter-bomber and trainer, and continued in service until the 1950s. The character jug’s handle depicts the wooden, two-blade, fixed-pitch propeller of the Spitfire Mark Mk I.
Churchill is depicted wearing an RAF uniform, like the one he wore at the 1943 Tehran Conference, the first time the Big Three, Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt and Josef Stalin, met together. Historians suggest that by wearing an RAF uniform, Churchill was reminding Stalin that the British RAF defeated the Germans in the Battle of Britain at a time when the Soviet Union and Germany were allies. Churchill was also reminding Stalin that the RAF could be employed against the Soviets.
Churchill sits on the back of a large, white English Bulldog, draped in the British Union Jack flag. The English Bulldog breed has longstanding cultural associations with the U.K. and is a symbol of Churchill’s defiance against Nazi Germany, as indicated in his famous quote, “The nose of the bulldog has been slanted backwards so that he can breathe without letting go.”
Britain’s Union Jack, or Union Flag, dates from the union of Great Britain and Ireland in 1801. The flag combines aspects of three older national flags: the red cross of St George for the Kingdom of England, the white saltire of St Andrew for Scotland, and the red saltire of St Patrick to represent Ireland.
Impressed motto, “THIS WAS THEIR FINEST HOUR CHURCHILL 1940” around square base.