Churchill’s “V-Sign” and the Peace Symbol

Churchill’s “V-Sign” and the Peace Symbol

I was want­i­ng to find out about the two-fin­ger ges­ture in the pic­ture. It appears to be either the ear­li­est peace sym­bol, and/or rab­bit ears?
The “crow foot” peace sym­bol pre­dates Churchill’s V-sign by four or five cen­turies. Its cur­rent form was pop­u­lar­ized by Picas­so in the World Peace Con­fer­ences of the 1950s, when it was alleged to rep­re­sent the Chris­t­ian cross upside down and bro­ken, the sym­bol of a Com­mu­nist peace. Wikipedia has an inter­est­ing dis­cus­sion.

I’m not sure where Churchill picked up his two-fin­ger V-sign (palm fac­ing out), but he cer­tain­ly pop­u­lar­ized it dur­ing World War II. 

The V-sign when made the oth­er way (palm fac­ing in) is equiv­a­lent in Britain to the “one-fin­ger salute” in Amer­i­ca. I am told it had its ori­gins at the Bat­tle of Agin­court in 1415, when the French promised to cut off the index and mid­dle fin­ger of the Eng­lish archers. They lost, and the Eng­lish flashed their intact mid­dle fin­gers at the van­quished French as a ges­ture of dis­dain. It has been so in Eng­land ever since.

I don’t think Churchill was con­scious of the insult­ing mean­ing of the palm-in V-sign, when on occa­sion he used it instead of the palm-out.

2 thoughts on “Churchill’s “V-Sign” and the Peace Symbol

  1. Accord­ing to my infor­ma­tion (and Wikipedia’s, too), what is now called the ‘peace’ sym­bol orig­i­nat­ed as the badge of the CND, designed by Ger­ald Holtom in 1958. It rep­re­sent­ed:

    a) The World divid­ed.
    b) A stylised rock­et.
    c) The let­ters ND in sem­a­phore.

    At least, this is what we were told in 1960.

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