On June 6, 1944, 160,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy in northern France to begin their campaign against Nazi Germany. After a full day of fighting on the coastline, and approximately 9,000 casualties, the Allied forces had captured the beach, making it their first major foothold on the march against the Nazis. This major turning point during WWII is known as D-Day, and this year marks the event's 70th anniversary. In order to commemorate the important moment in military history, hundreds of WWII artifacts were auctioned off in New York City. The majority of the pieces come from the collection of Rodney Hilton Brown, a published historian who is known for the amount of war memorabilia he has been able to amass over the years.
Some of the most impressive pieces being auctioned are directly related to the landing at Normandy. An American flag that flew aboard the US-built LST-493, one of thousands of ships to aid in the transportation of troops and supplies, hit the block along with first drafts of the Mulberry harbor structures. These huge mobile structures were carried across the English Channel to create a temporary harbor for Allied ships. Hand-drawn pencil sketches of the technological marvels by engineer Hugh Iorys Hughes represent some of the rarest lots that were available. In addition, collectors had the chance to get rare Dow Jones printouts of hourly reports outlining the attacks as they happened. These news bulletins represent some of the first words that Americans back home received on the progress of the attack.
Over half of the lots at this auction were donated by Brown, who operates the War Museum in New York. Despite having many items connected to almost every single military conflict the US has been engaged in, the War Museum does not operate an exhibition space. Instead, Brown lends his items to other museums across the country that do have displays. As such, he is the current owner of some of the most rare military objects in existence, including a 12.5 foot replica statue of the flag raising at Iwo Jima. During his 30-year career donating to museums and collecting war memorabilia, he has become one of the most prolific and knowledgeable professionals in the field.
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