DescriptionGeneral Omar Bradley's D-Day Map for Operations Overlord and Neptune. 22.5" x 20" headquarters "situation map", printed in blue and black, used by then Lt. General Omar Nelson Bradley (1893-1981) during the Allied invasion of occupied France, dated June 6, 1944 (D-Day), the date of the invasion. It is titled "Situation - 2400 Hrs 6 June 1944 Hq. Fusag [First United States Army Group] Secret". Apparently prepared as the invasion was about to get underway or in progress. Some enemy positions are marked "Not Confirmed" or "Unconfirmed" or assigned a question mark. As the assault continued over a period of time, additional forces were brought to bear on both sides, in line with the enormous stakes of the endeavor. These battle maps were General Bradley's guide for formulating a daily plan of action and you will find many references to the importance of his "situation maps" in the historical record. We are also selling the June 7th and June 8th maps as separate lots, all obtained from the same source and offered for the first time at public auction. We believe most, if not all, of these maps were printed on the command ship in the English Channel. This map is in great condition, having recently undergone cleaning by a conservator formerly affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution.
Each morning General Bradley would review these maps with his HQ staff to assess the battle front, assets, risks, and enemy strength. In fact, these maps were on the U.S.S. Augusta on the English Channel (Bradley's makeshift headquarters) during the D-Day landings. On June 7th when General Bradley landed on Omaha beach, these maps accompanied him on shore and traveled with him until the end of WWII.
While General Dwight Eisenhower had overall command of Allied forces (SHEAF) and Field Marshal Montgomery "Operation Neptune" (D-Day Landing), Bradley was chosen to command the 1st Army and later the 12th Army Group, the largest fighting force in United States history (43 divisions, 1.3 million troops). In the lead-up to the invasion, Bradley served as deputy to Eisenhower in North Africa, as well as George Patton and the 2nd Corps. During Operation Neptune, he commanded three corps directed against Utah and Omaha beaches. After directing the invasion, he debarked on June 10, 1944 to establish on shore headquarters. He planned Operation Cobra, the breakout from the Normandy beachhead. He was placed above Patton in the chain of command by Eisenhower. Patton and the 3rd Army did not become fully operational until August 1st, nearly two months after the landing.
Through General Bradley's leadership the 12th Army Group became the most decorated Army Group in U.S. history receiving 153 Medals of Honor (half of all Army MOHs awarded during WWII). General Bradley also commanded over some of the most decorated generals in history including: Patton (3rd Army), Hodges (1st Army), Simpson (9th Army), Van Fleet (90th ID), Abrams (4th AD), Gavin (82nd Airborne), Ridgway (XVII Airborne Corps), Taylor (101st Airborne) and McAuliffe (101st Airborne).
The maps belonged to one of Bradley's senior G-3 staff officers responsible for their production and safekeeping. In November 1944, he sent one set of maps to the National Archives where they remain today. After the war when the security status was down-graded, he was given permission to take one set back to the U.S. In 2011 the officer's estate was liquidated and the maps obtained by a military historian. The historian retained them until 2015 when our current consignor acquired them.
The maps were recently examined by the curator of the U.S. Army Quartermaster Museum in Ft. Lee, Virginia. In his letter dated April 7, 2017 (a copy of which accompanies the lot), Luther D. Hansen writes: "From my examination of these Omar Bradley WWII Headquarters FUSAG/12th AG battle maps, I conclude that they are original to WWII and one of only four original sets ever produced.... The Library of Congress has built a website showcasing their map set... the only website dedicated to battle maps within the U.S. government... I believe that this Omar Bradley map set is the only set in private hands. The maps show wear and use as well as aging, and yet they are of the highest quality and clearly show the most famous battles of WWII unfolding for us today as they did for General Omar Bradley in 1944. To view Bradley's maps 70 years later with the benefit of historical reassessment, we can see the omissions and intelligence failures that impacted his decisions and battle outcomes. Especially interesting is the map heading 'HQ FUSAG' on D-Day which represents the fictitious 'First U. S. Army Group' decoy Army Group from Operation Quicksilver. Omar Bradley's map headings changed to 'HQ Twelfth Army Group' after the enemy figured out the deception... in terms of rarity and historical significance, these maps are a perfect 10."
The General Bradley maps were also examined, certified and registered by the Historical Registry. The Historical Registry is a new company that will certify high-end artifacts, mark and register them in a permanent database. The certification report which will accompany the lot has all of the provenance, footnoted references as well as details about the recently concluded conservation of the June 6th map. Photographs of Omar Bradley reviewing his "situation maps" are part of the report.
After WWII, Omar Bradley became only the fifth officer to attain the rank of 5-star general ("General of the Army") and was named the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
To read an excellent article about these maps from the Daily Mail, please click here.
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