The Royal Mint has marked 75 years since the Battle of Britain with the release of a range of 50p coins struck in precious metals – the only official United Kingdom coins to commemorate what was undoubtedly one of the turning points of the war.
In the summer of 1940 Britain faced the threat of invasion. It would fall to brave young pilots and their crews to defend the country – and so the Battle of Britain began. It was their finest hour; who can imagine the world today if they had failed in their task?
The 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain 2015 UK 50p features a design by Gary Breeze, who has so cleverly captured a sense of courage coupled with foreboding with his scrambling airmen, a threatening swarm of aircraft overhead not daunting their efforts.
It is available in limited edition mintages as a Silver Proof Coin, Silver Proof Piedfort Coin or as a Gold Proof Coin, with each bearing the new definitive portrait of Her Majesty The Queen on the obverse. The Brilliant Uncirculated edition of the coin released earlier this year carried the Ian Rank-Broadley portrait.
The new range of precious metals coins follow the launch of the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain 2015 UK 50p struck to a Brilliant Uncirculated standard, which features the fourth definitive portrait of Her Majesty The Queen by Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS.
Gary Breeze is a sculptor working in stone and wood with major commissions found throughout the United Kingdom, including the Bali Bombing Memorial at Horse Guards Road, London and the Christ Church Cloister fountain in Oxford. This is his first coin for The Royal Mint.
“In some ways the Battle of Britain appeals to our innate joy at winning against tremendous odds. I wanted to celebrate that in one sense. But I think that remembering the cost of war is more relevant today. I spent a good deal of time concentrating on the machines at first, but the aircraft didn’t say enough about the sacrifice of life or the meaning of the Battle today. My workshop consists of a small design team, which includes my brother Lee Breeze – he thought of the idea of focusing on the people rather than the machines of war. Coming towards the men is a swarm of aircraft. I’ve always recalled my Grandfather talking of the skies being dark because there were so many bombers. I believe he was in fact talking about our own planes flying out, but I wanted to illustrate that threat and sense of danger. I would like people to be reminded of the selfless sacrifice of the Few. The airmen run away from us. They don’t walk slowly to their fate, and we may never see them again.”
Shane Bissett, The Royal Mint’s Director of Commemorative Coin and Medals, said:
“For over 1,000 years The Royal Mint has been producing British coins that have recorded the passing of history, documenting changes in monarchs, customs and national themes. We have a long tradition of producing coins and medals that honour those who serve in our armed forces, or remember their contributions to our nation’s history, including medals to acknowledge the bravery of those who served in both world wars. This year marks the anniversary of one of the most important victories of the Second World War and we wanted to mark this momentous occasion and the valiant efforts of those who fought in the conflict.”