WILLOUGHBY, Ohio – On Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017, Milestone Auctions of Willoughby (suburban Cleveland) Ohio will offer an iconic and historically important survivor of World War II: the 48-star American battle flag from LCT 595, one of the first US Navy vessels to land on Utah Beach (Normandy, France) on D-Day, June 6, 1944.
The centerpiece of Milestone’s Premier Guns & Military Auction, the flag entered as Lot 350 was recovered by Boatswain George Edward Rudisill after the devastating Battle of Normandy, which claimed the lives of more than 225,000 Allied servicemen. “The commanding officer ordered Boatswain Rudisill to remove the tattered flag from the landing craft and replace it with a new one,” said Milestone Auctions co-owner Miles King. “At that point, Boatswain Rudisill asked if he could keep the flag and was granted permission. He kept it, together with the only known photograph of LCT 595, in a shoebox until his passing in 2013. Since then, the flag and related mementos have remained in the Rudisill family.”
Of the few known American Flags from amphibious vessels that landed at Normandy, the Rudisill family’s flag is quite likely the best example. It is offered with an archive of provenance that includes Rudisill’s service records documenting his participation in the D-Day assault on the Normandy coast, his US Navy muster rolls registration card, photos of Rudisill in uniform, and the rare photo of LCT 595 on Utah Beach. It is also accompanied by a sworn affidavit from Rudisill’s son, Thomas, in which he reiterates his father’s account of the D-Day Invasion. The flag retains a few German machine gun bullet holes and has tattered edges from being blown about as the craft encountered turbulent waters. The auction estimate is $40,000-$80,000.
An extensive selection of WWII Nazi memorabilia runs the gamut from helmets (Luftwaffe, police and Luftschutz), tunics and other apparel to flags, belts and medals. American groupings include such WWII themes as USS Evans Bronze Star, 11th Airborne, and 65th Medical Regiment. An earlier grouping consists of uniforms, documents, photos, dog tags and other paraphernalia from World War I Farriers of the 7th Field Battalion Signal Corps.
An exceptional array of Civil War relics and memorabilia is led by Lot 115, a tintype of a soldier identified as F.R. Miller of Company D, 2nd Arkansas Volunteer Infantry. The image is presented in a leatherette case together with the soldier’s C.S.A. reunion badge stamped with his name, a Confederate Flag and other military details. It is estimated at $1,000-$2,000. Lot 119, a Civil War full-plate ambrotype of a Federal naval officer in a dress jacket with epaulets and braid, is impressively sized 8½ by 6½ inches. Estimate: $2,000-$3,000
Another photographic treasure is Lot 131A, a Matthew Brady carte de visite of Major General George Armstrong Custer posed with his wife Libby and his brother Lt. Thomas Ward Custer. The image was taken in Washington, D.C., in 1865, the same year Gen. Custer was awarded two Medals of Honor. Both brothers were killed at the Battle of Little Big Horn. Estimate: $2,000-$3,000
Other Civil War items of note include a Schenkel inert artillery shell, a field surgical set, artillery and cavalry swords, an M1851 NCO belt and buckle, US belt plate, bull’s-eye canteen, a Confederate or militia drum canteen and many other relics.
The firearms section of the sale contains over 35 Winchester rifles and shotguns, many of them boxed; five Parker shotguns, more than 75 handguns (Colt, Smith & Wesson, Baretta, Ruger, etc.), many boxed; and a fine selection of rifles, World War II Japan Arisakas and German Mausers, and more.
Lot 294H, a Parker D-Grade 12 gauge double-barrel shotgun is an excellent example with a nice finish, strong action, checkered deluxe grain stocks, and an engraved receiver and hardware. This desirable gun is expected to make $2,000-$4,000 at auction.
A pre-1898 Maynard Target 40-60 lever action rifle boasts a 26-inch barrel with an excellent bore, good action, nice checkered stock, and a checkered pistol grip on the lever. Entered as Lot 361, this is a higher-grade example of a well-preserved antique rifle. Its pre-auction estimate is $2,000-$3,000.
Lot 332 is a firearm oddity patented in 1857 by F. Reuthe. A rare double-barrel version of an animal trap gun, it is constructed with barbs that the user would set with bait. When tugged on by an animal, the barbs would cause the gun to fire from both barrels. “Its fluted hand grip is an enigma, however, since guns of this type were not meant to be sidearms,” Miles King observed. The gun is estimated at $1,000-$2,000.
Edged weapons include nine Japanese Katana swords, 14 Japanese pole arms (including Yari and Mojiri), and more than 30 bayonets, including WWII German, Japanese and US productions. Additionally, there are 10+ World War II German and Japanese daggers and several military knives. As with any Milestone auction, the Saturday, Jan. 28 sale has its share of other exciting discoveries waiting to be made.
The auction will start at 10 a.m. Eastern Time, with all forms of bidding available, including live online. Address: 3860 Ben Hur Ave., Unit 8, Willoughby, OH 44094. For additional information call 440-527-8060 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Online: www.milestoneauctions.com.