Lot 237

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Finely-annotated World War II map, 30 1/2" x 37 1/2", a 1:250,000-scale depiction of the coast of France between the Cotentin Peninsula and the port of Le Havre, encompassing the beaches targeted by the Operation Neptune amphibious landings on D-Day, June 6, 1944. This map, the fourth edition of an "Army/Air" chart published by the British War Office in 1943, bears extensive and numerous notations indicating that its owner was intimately involved with the planning and execution of the British Army''s deployment on the easternmost landing beach, code-named SWORD, and the Royal Navy''s artillery support thereof. The map is marked across the top with three stamped red "X''s", each capped with the disclaimer "BIGOT - TOP SECRET", denoting the highest level of military secrecy. The top edge bears numerous additional notations, including three of the four sectors of the beach ("Peter", "Queen" and "Roger"), a count of "hedgehog" obstacles, , and the reminder "Check with Beachmaster". The right-hand margin bears the title "Assault Landings ''H'' hour (Sword) R/Aadm Talbot c/o", referencing Royal Navy Rear Admiral George Arthur Talbot, overall commander of the naval forces which undertook the landings at Sword. This margin lists all four sectors of the beach, adding "Oboe", as well as the designation of the invasion force: "Force ''S'' 3 British Div.", a list of enemy artillery positions identified by code name (including the group of four 15.5cm Howitzers code-named "Daimler" and the four 105mm guns code-named "Morris"), and several German units known to be defending the area. The most interesting notations appear on the map itself: at a position in the Channel labeled "Patrol Area X Ray" appears the title "Naval Bombardment of Beaches 05.30-08.00 6-6-44", with a list of ten vessels providing such support, including HMS LARGS, the Sword Beach headquarters ship and Talbot''s flagship, the battleships RAMILLIES and WARSPITE, the cruisers FROBISHER, ARETHUSA, DRAGON, DANAE, SCYLLA, and MAURITIUS, and the monitor HMS ROBERTS. The position of this group is further denoted with a stamped blue bar and a series of red dots. To the south of this position, the approaches to the beach are denoted with a red ink grid, labeled "SWORD", with stamped blue bars again indicating the positions of groups of assault vessels. The positions are variously labeled: "Lowering Position for LCA [Landing Craft Assault]"; "Fleets Engaging Targets on Flank LCT(R) [Landing Craft Tank (Rocket)]"; "LCGL [Landing Craft Gun (Large)] Engaging Beach Defenses"; and most interestingly, "DD Tanks Deploy in Line" a reference to the British-designed Duplex Drive amphibious variant of the M4 Sherman medium tank. Although deployed at every Overlord landing site, Sword Beach would see the most successful and effective use of the DD tanks. The beach itself is again marked with stamped red dots and smaller blue bars. It is most likely that this map was annotated by a British commander with a hand in directing the invasion from one of the command ships in advance of the assault itself, possibly with some information added during and after the invasion. The map is housed in a British 1937-Pattern webbing map case, stamped "W&G Ltd S 1944", and with the owner''s name "B. Beisley." inside the flap in black ink. The map shows extensive folds, with some slight toning and chips to the edges, else very good. A most informative relic of this momentous military event.

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December 19, 2017 10:00 AM EST
Chesapeake City, MD, US

Alexander Historical Auctions LLC

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