Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

On this day in 1941, V for Victory sent a clear message to the Nazis

Sir Winston Churchill (PA Archive)
Sir Winston Churchill (PA Archive)

IT was the day that shaped the history of hand gestures.

And the famous hand was that of Prime Minister, Winston Churchill.

Index and middle finger extended, palm outward, he revealed the “V for Victory” sign to the nation.

The use of “V” as a symbolic message of defiant resistance to tyranny was first proposed by Victor de Laveleye, a member of the Belgian Parliament who went into exile in England after the Nazis invaded Belgium in 1940.

De Laveleye worked for the BBC during the war, broadcasting regular shortwave radio announcements to his countrymen in Belgium.

In his broadcast on January 14, 1941, de Laveleye proposed what became the “V campaign”.

And seven months later, Churchill followed.

In a speech, Churchill announced an effort to actively promote the V campaign throughout Europe.

“The V sign is the symbol of the unconquerable will of the occupied territories and a portent of the fate awaiting Nazi tyranny,” he said.

“So long as the people continue to refuse all collaboration with the invader, it is sure his cause will perish and that Europe will be liberated.”

The V campaign was heavily publicised by the BBC and was popular throughout Europe.

And it soon became a symbol for all Western European resistance during the conflict, with Vs painted on walls and over Nazi posters.

It was an unlikely stroke of genius that united and inspired.

But as the hand gesture and “V” graffiti spread in German-occupied countries, it annoyed the Nazis enough for them to try to undercut its symbolic value.

Nazi propaganda started claiming that V stood for the German word “viktoria” and that the use of Vs by civilians was a sign of their support for victory by Germany.

Churchill, of course, is probably the historical figure most closely identified with the “V for Victory” sign, but Beatle Ringo Starr later threw out the symbol, as a peace sign.

Legend has it that when Churchill – the son of a British Lord and an American mother from a family of enormous wealth – first began using the V sign in public, he frequently held his hand with the knuckles facing outward, perhaps because he was so often clutching a cigar.

His staff had to inform him that gesturing in that manner was the British working-class equivalent of “flipping the bird”.

For the rest of his life, Churchill made sure that there could be no possible doubt about the message he meant to send with those two famous fingers.