The Editions

Battle of Britain by Paul Nash (1941)

They Were There – Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat is the culmination of a remarkable project, now spanning forty years, including over 80,000 miles of travel to visit more than 300 signatories. These incredible people were personally present at almost every major event in the Allies’ pathway to victory in World War Two.

Each individually hand-signed original, of Robert Taylor’s famous painting Battle of Britain VC, has been autographed by hundreds of extraordinary men and women. This mosaic of signatures captures, on single sheets of paper, the stories and actual presence of people who were there at some of the most vivid and historic events at the heart of the twentieth century: a rarity that is now impossible to reproduce.

The bulk of these originals have already been assigned by Alan Pollock as personal gifts and donations or allocated to nation-specific charitable auctions. Do please sign up to the Newsletter – at the bottom of this page – for further details of forthcoming editions as they are made available.

And to reiterate, our principle concern here is to maximise the funds we raise for military charities.

The Battle of Britain 80 Edition

Battle of Britain VC by Robert Taylor

Battle of Britain VC by Robert Taylor

To mark the inauguration of this project, there will be an initial release consisting of just twelve fully autographed originals of Battle of Britain VC – The Battle of Britain 80 Edition.

Six are being made available at a special price of £3060, of which half the proceeds (£1530) of each sale will go directly to military-related charities of the purchaser’s choice.

The originals in this Edition are as follows – click on each to learn their amazing stories.

Expressions of interest are welcomed: please feel free to get in touch.


The George “Tommy” Atkins (#3)

The Harold Bird-Wilson (#32)

The Harry Broadhurst (#22)

The John “Cat’s Eyes” Cunningham (#50)

The Lettice Curtis (#77) [SOLD]

Miss Lettice Curtis boarding a Spitfire in a colourised photograph released to mark the 100th Anniversary of the Royal Air Force.

Sold to buyers who live in Lincoln and have extensive links to the county, and who were inspired by the fact that Lettice Curtis was the first woman pilot to deliver a Lancaster. Their charitable donations will go to Lincolnshire’s Lancaster Association, the Lincolnshire Military, Veterans Families Wellbeing Network (Every One), and Combat Stress.

The JFD “Tim” Elkington (#16)

The WJ “Sticks” Gregory (#95)

The Avis Hearn (#75)

The Thomas F “Ginger” Neil (#102)

The David Roberts (#207)

The Sir Fred Rosier (#17)

The Sir Archibald “Archie” Winskill (#208)

Facsimile Edition

We are currently exploring the possibility of a more accessibly-priced but very high quality Facsimile Edition, again with at least half of all proceeds going to service-related charities, but this may not be available for a couple of months: if interested, please sign up to the Newsletter (at the bottom of this page), where we’ll report progress. (The image below is not a very high quality Facsimile Edition: it’s a recent photocopy of a shrunken snap from the corner shop that probably cost 10 pence.)

Signatories’ numbers & autographs. NB: Each original obviously varies as to the precise location of individual signatures.

Further Editions

Other small Editions – with a focus on the Army, Navy, Civilians & War Production, as well as nation-specific Editions (e.g. American, French, Dutch, etc.), again with at least half of all proceeds going to service charities, are also planned. Once again, please sign up to the Newsletter or get in touch if you would like to hear further details as they become available.


Back Them Up! © IWM Art.IWM PST 14799