(OMAHA BEACH) 'TOP SECRET' D-DAY MAPS AND ORDERS FOR THE 1ST ENGINEER COMBAT BATTALION
A most important D-Day pre-invasion set of maps and orders issued to Lt. Col. William B. Gara, commander of the crucial 1st Engineer Combat Battalion and among the first to land on Omaha Beach. The title page of the orders reads: 'TOP SECRET BIGOT' 'NEPTUNE' 'FIELD ORDER #4 13 MAY 1944 COPY NO. 8', and is further marked as 'Downgraded' to 'Restricted' by Gara, who signs twice, once adding his rank. The textual orders are 59pp. 4to., almost all dated May 13, 1944, and broken down into multiple sections. Various topics include: a nine page overview of the entire invasion, with special emphasis on the highly-detailed objectives sets for the 1st Engineers and associated engineer battalions; a 'Troop List' list of various detachments making up four forces associated with the 1st Engineers; an 'Intelligence Annex' offering an outline as to how the troops will be briefed, reporting of intelligence, distribution of intelligence, security, counter-intelligence, enemy agent infiltration, etc.; a 'Tactical Study of Terrain' setting forth general information on the road systems, river and stream outlets, water supplies, the terrain at Omaha Beach, beach exits, obstacles, and the importance of clearing the high ground above the beach; all break down vessel-by-vessel of the various battalion companies and equipment to be carried ashore by Higgins boats, other landing craft, LSTs, etc.; lengthy instructions on rations and water to be carried and supplied later, gasoline to be transported with vehicles, evacuation of wounded, burial, life belts and other equipment to be carried by the troops; 'Special Supplies Carried Ashore' which includes 200 pounds of TNT, 18 cases of C-2, Bangalore torpedoes, time fuse, detonating cord, mine detectors and signs, etc.; the signal and radio net; LST and LCT assignments (May 20); a 'Landing Table' for the second wave of the battalion, including headquarters, and elements of the 20th Engineers, landing on Omaha at Easy Red and Fox Green, plans which of course were delayed for perhaps a day or more; and an errata sheet (May 21, 1944). SOLD WITH: three important 'TOP SECRET - BIGOT' maps, each enhanced in ink by Garo and used in planning, each 29 x 22 in., dated May 13, 1944, and showing (at least) Easy Red and Fox Green landing areas at Omaha Beach. One map shows the anticipated deployment of the 1st Infantry Division by the end of the day, June 6, 1944. This map bears chips and some tears, some repaired. A second map shows anticipated initial beach dump areas and vehicle transit areas, the third map showing assembly areas, vehicle transit areas, and roads to be constructed. This map also bears a few repaired tears. SOLD WITH: two 20 x 19 in. printed tables, one each for the 1st Engineer Combat Battalion and the 20th Engineer Combat Battalion, listing trucks, jeeps, bulldozers, trailers, and much more heavy equipment to be landed at Omaha and being held in reserve. SOLD WITH: an original 8 x 10 in. photo of the brave Col. Gara meeting Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery. Overall very good condition. A most important grouping, quite complete. See other Gara lots in this sale. WILLIAM B. GARA (1917-2001) was an American Army Lieutenant Colonel, commander of the 1st Engineer Combat Battalion, 1st Infantry Division. Gara was a genuine war hero by any definition. He led his 700 men from North Africa to Sicily, he landed among the very first soldiers on Omaha Beach, was heavily engaged at the Battle of the Bulge, and fought into Germany until the end of the war. His most valiant service was at Omaha Beach where the 1st Engineers were tasked with landing minutes after the infantry, clearing obstacles to allow more landing craft to safely arrive, and continuing to clear barbed wire, mines, anti-tank obstacles and ravines, etc. from the beaches to a point a few miles inland to clear the path for infantry, tanks, and then truck transports. Under intense enemy small arms and anti-tank fire, Gara's engineers, along with elements of the 37th Engineers Battalion, opened the first and most important exit from Omaha Beach, E-1, allowing American GIs to flank the German defenses and begin their drive inland. By war's end, Gara had received two Silver Stars and two Bronze Stars.