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Lot 648

FIELD MARSHAL HUGO SPERRLE''S WALTHER P-38 9MM CUSTOM ENGRAVED PERSONALIZED PISTOL

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FIELD MARSHAL HUGO SPERRLE''S WALTHER P-38 9MM CUSTOM ENGRAVED PERSONALIZED PISTOL


Description:
An item of incredible rarity, the custom engraved Walther P-38 9mm semi-automatic pistol owned and used by German Field Marshal Hugo Sperrle. This firearm is very impressive, with the top of the barrel, receiver, front of the grip and the underside of the trigger guard all bearing a deep filigree design with dappled background. It bears matching serial numbers throughout, "5694", and Sperrle's initials "H S" appear just forward of the Nazi "waffenamt" marked "359" on the forward left side of the trigger guard. The pistol operates faultlessly, with the slide, action, and safety all fully and smoothly functioning. The grip is completely intact and free of cracks or any other damage other than some dulling of the original surface sheen. The pistol, probably presented to Sperrle by a friend or government official, is housed in a 11.75 x 10.5 x 2,75 case covered with pebbled black leather. A gold Luftwaffe eagle insignia is attached to the top of the case. The fitted case is heavily customized within, with a purple satin base and purple satin folds on the underside of the lid, all offset with rose trim. Even the hinge of the case is concealed by purple satin, and the included Walther cleaning kit is set into a felt-trimmed receptacle as well. Sperrle's brown leather holster with cross-body strap also is present in the case. and it is embossed with his "H S" initials, as he was wont to do with so many of his possessions. A second strap is tucked into the holster. Finally, the small partition between the pistol and the holster has a small cat aluminum airplane with swastika on its wings affixed to its surface - the plane appears to be taxiing in preparation for takeoff. How fitting a gift for a Luftwaffe filed marshal. The leather strap securing the top lid is torn but present, otherwise this incredibly rare and historic pistol and its accouterments are in fine condition. This great relic was recovered by Sgt. Rollo G. Rice, Co. E, 506th P.I.R., 101st Airborne, a late 1944 replacement and apparently attached to a headquarters company. Co. E is one of the most notable groups of soldiers of World War II, made famous in the book "A Band of Brothers" and the television series of the same name. Rice was with the 506th at Berchtesgaden. He may have obtained his Sperrle relics at Sperrle's residence near Munich while en route to Berchtesgaden, or perhaps at the office of Gen. KARL BODENSCHATZ, who served as Adjutant to Field Marshal Hermann Goring. Rice's very early post-war map of the area about the Berghof (copy and photos included) shows Bodenschatz's office circled. As Sperrle had to flee Paris only hours before the arrival of the French and American liberators, and in light of the fact that his own home was in the path of American invaders, he may have elected to hide his possessions with his close fellow officer in the mountains of Bavaria. Our consignor purchased the Sperrle lots nearly a decade ago from Rice's widow, who confirmed their provenance. Our consignor's letter of provenance is included. See similar lots in this sale for additional provenance. HUGO SPERRLE (1885-1953) German Field Marshal in the Luftwaffe during World War II. Sperrle joined the Imperial German Army in 1903. He served in the artillery upon the outbreak of World War I and then joined the Luftstreitkrafte. He was given command of the Condor Legion in November 1936 and his force became known for their ruthless bombing of towns and cities. Sperrle was used during the Anschluss and Czech crisis by the Nazis to threaten other governments with bombardment. With the invasion of Poland, Sperrle played a crucial role in the Battle of France and Battle of Britain, and in 1941 he directed operations during The Blitz. Through 1941-43 he became more involved in air defense, until his forces were depleted. His meager squadrons were totally ineffective in Normandy, and he was dismissed.

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