10 of the most important D-Day artefacts ever auctioned



2015-06-26 13:44:27

10 of the most important D-Day artefacts ever auctioned

On the 70th anniversary of the operation, we look at the fascinating market for D-Day artefacts

Paul Fraser Collectibles,Tuesday3June 2014

On June 6 and 7 1944, 150,000 Allied troops from across the globe stormed the beaches of Normandy - sustaining around 12,000 casualties.

To commemorate the events, let'slook at 10 of the most important D-Day artefacts that havecome to auction.

  1. Admiral Ramsay's order of the day - $1,500

Admiral Alan Ramsey's "special order of the day" was typed and signed in 1944, shortly before the D-Day invasion.

It informs the Allied Naval Expeditionary Force: "It is to be our privilege to take part in the greatest amphibious operation in history - a necessary preliminary to the opening of the Western Front in Europe which in conjunction with the great Russian advance, will crush the fighting power of Germany."

The typed, autographed lot made $1,500 in California in 2004.

  1. Secret D-Day archive - $2,000

Only a handful of US naval officers were granted the clearance necessary to view details of the plans relating to Operation Overlord.

This 88-page booklet was issued by Rear-Admiral Alan G Kirk and features a wealth of material pertaining to D-Day, including data on tides, weather and currents. Additional details include maps of German sea defences and the coastline around northern France.

It made $2,000 at Heritage Auctions in June 2013.

  1. Churchill's inspection of the fleet - $3,914

Churchill signatures The signatures date to Churchill's inspection of the D-Day fleet, three days before the attack - Image: Christie's

Churchill's autograph appears alongside those of Ernest Bevin (the British minister for labour) and Hastings Ismay (the prime minister's chief military assistant) in this book taken from the H.M.S. Largs.

It's dated June 3, 1944 - the day that Churchill inspected the invasion force at Southampton - and sold for 2,585 ($3,914) at Christie's London in 2002.

  1. "Rupert" dummy - $5,715

In order to distract Nazi troops from the invasion, the Allies devised a distraction, codenamed "Titanic".

Rupert dummy The dummies were nicknamed "Rupert" by the Allies - Image: Hermann Historica

The mission involved dropping large numbers of dummy paratroopers along the French Atlantic coastline, well away from the real landing sites.

Despite the simplicity of the plan it proved surprisingly effective and was key to the overall success of the mission.

This example, discovered in a disused British airfield in 1980, appeared at Hermann Historica in Munich, Germany in 2006 - where it made $5,715.

  1. Montgomery's cigarette letter - $5,735

Field Marshall Montgomery (aka Monty) led the Allied assault on Normandy, which began with D-Day on June 6 1944.

Shortly after the action, he wrote two letters, one to the soldiers who had taken part in the attack and the other to the population of the occupied portion of Germany.

The first letter was sent from Cruelly in Normandy and reads: "I send you herewith 2 cases of cigarettes, each containing 30,000 cigarettes.

"Total: 60,000 cigarettes ... They are a present from myself to officers and men. Your chaps have done splendidly in the battle; I send them all my best congratulations"

The second tells the Germans not to expect British soldiers to smile or greet them, as "they have seen terrible things in many countries where your rulers took the war".

The letters sold as a single lot at Christie's London in 2003, achieving 3,107 ($5,735).

  1. Medical officer's ensemble - $8,125

Heritage medical Dr Sapper was among the US forces on Omaha beach - Image: Heritage Auctions

This archive of items belonged to Dr Slattery, a US medical officer who landed on Omaha beach, and includes a Colt 1911A1 pistol, a magazine pouch and a helmet featuring the characteristic red cross.

Other items include a clipboard with a running total of the dead and wounded, which features details of injuries and the treatment provided.

The lot made $8,125 at Heritage Auctions in Dallas in 2013.

  1. Robert Capa Omaha Beach prints - $9,588

Robert Capa Only 11 of Robert Capa's photographs from the D-Day landings survived a processing accident - Image: Christie's

Robert Capa, the famous photojournalist, was in the second wave of US troops that landed on Omaha beach. During the frenzied attack, he managed to take around 100 photographs - all but 11 of which were destroyed while they were being processed.

The surviving images were published in LIFE magazine on June 19, 1944 and are among the most iconic from the entire conflict.

This set of two gelatine silver prints, showing one of the most famous photographs in the series, sold for 6,250 ($9,588) at Christie's London in 2008.

  1. Roosevelt's D-Day prayer - $13,500

As Allied troops stormedthe beaches of Normandy, President Roosevelt took to the airwaves to lead the American people in prayer.

The text reads in part: "Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith

"Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom."

This special edition of the text was printed for Christmas 1944 and is one of only 100 in existence.

It features FDR's signature on the title page and is inscribed to his granddaughter: ''For Listy on her 18th Birthday With love from her Grandpa'Papa' Franklin D. Roosevelt.'''

  1. Eisenhower's D-Daybroadside - $19,200

Eisenhower broadside Eisenhower issued the broadsideto rouse the Allied forces on the eve of the invasion - Image: Christie's

Eisenhower, supreme commander of the Allied forces in Europe during the second world war and later president of the United States, delivered this broadside to his troops on the eve of the attack.

It reads in part: "You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months.

"The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you

"Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely...I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle.

"We will accept nothing less than full Victory! Good Luck!"

This rare signed example made $19,200 at Christie's New York in 2007.

  1. Complete Operation Overlord plans - $62,500

Operation Overlord plans The plans contain detailed information on the entirety of Operation Overlord - Image: Sotheby's

This detailed set of plans features a wealth of information on all stages of Operation Overlord, including detailed research on the most suitable landing points and timelines for the recapture of the various cities of occupied Europe.

The lot is particularly fascinating with the benefit of hindsight, as the actual mission diverged significantly from the planning.

It was formerly owned by Bernard Pettingill, assistant to US general Omar Bradley, and made $62,500 at Sotheby's New York in December 2013.

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