Dimensions: 56cm x 46cm
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This is a pencil sketch by artist Giles Read of New Zealand Flying Officer Edgar ‘Cobber’ Kain.
The sketch is a head and shoulders portrait. Cobber is turned towards the viewer; he looks to be holding back a huge grin, his mouth is closed but his cheeks are tense to contain his smile. His eyes are smiling and he is squinting slightly, perhaps due to the light. He has neatly combed dark curly hair and is wearing his RAF jacket over a light coloured polo necked jumper. On his left jacket are his fabric RAF badge and his striped Distinguished Flying Cross ribbon.
Cobber Kain was an incredibly successful RAF pilot during the Battle of France in 1940, where he flew Hurricanes with 73 Squadron and became the first RAF Ace of the Second World War. Cobber was an extremely popular and well-liked member of the RAF. His nickname ‘Cobber’ was New Zealand slang for pal. He was engaged to British actress, Joyce Phillips, who joined the WAAF and was supposedly based at RAF Bentley Priory.
Before returning to England, Kain tragically crashed whilst performing some low level aerobatics and died on 7 June 1940.
By the end of June 1940, France had fallen to Nazi Germany and the Battle of France was over. As Churchill stated, ‘What General Weygand called the battle of France is over. I expect the battle of Britain is about to begin’.