"When displayed with the palm inward towards the signer, the V sign has long been an offensive gesture in some Commonwealth nations. In the 1940s, during the Second World War, a campaign by the Western Allies to use the sign with the back of the hand towards the signer as a 'V for Victory' sign proved quite effective. During the Vietnam War, in the 1960s, the 'V sign' was widely adopted by the counterculture as a symbol of peace. Shortly thereafter, it also became adopted as a gesture used in photographs, especially in Japan.
"Victor de Laveleye, director of the Belgian French-speaking broadcasts on the BBC (1940–44), suggested in a broadcast that Belgians use a V for victoire and vrijheid as a rallying emblem during the Second World War. de Laveleye said that 'the occupier, by seeing this sign, always the same, infinitely repeated, [would] understand that he is surrounded, encircled by an immense crowd of citizens eagerly awaiting his first moment of weakness, watching for his first failure.'"