Milestone’s June 29 Premier Military Auction led by D-Day-flown American Flag from ‘first wave’ to land at Omaha Beach

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Featured: German SS general’s uniform, WWII Japanese general’s uniform and USMC Korean War flamethrower from Virginia military museum; engraved WWII Luftwaffe dagger, MacArthur dog tag

Complete named grouping of Imperial Japanese Army Lt. General Tatsuji Ogura, who commanded 127 Division in Manchuria in the final desperate months of World War II. Archive includes complete dress uniform with frock coat with cased shoulder boards, aguillette and cased officer’s sash; trousers and a visor hat with plume. Housed in period Japanese-made lidded suitcase. Provenance: American Armored Foundation Inc Tank and Ordnance Memorial Museum; private collection of William Gasser. Estimate: $8,000-$10,000

WILLOUGHBY, Ohio – American military history, from the Civil War through Vietnam, will be revisited and honored on June 29 at Milestone’s Premier Military Auction, with all forms of remote bidding available in addition to in-person bidding at the gallery. Arguably the Ohio company’s finest offering of militaria to date, the 700-lot selection is led by a US Navy D-Day archive whose centerpiece is a 48-star Ensign #10 American Battle Flag that was flown on LCI-538 during the “first wave” to land at Omaha Beach during the Invasion of Normandy, on June 6, 1944. 

A near-sacred symbol of the coordinated effort in which the Allied Armies’ land, air and sea forces united to achieve the largest military invasion in history, the iconic flag was retrieved as a souvenir by Motor Machinist’s Mate First Class Frank R Maratea, who was aboard LCI-538 during its landing. Maratea’s archive also includes a WWII US Navy Commission streamer flag, his own Honorable Discharge and military papers; original photographs taken on Omaha Beach and on the deck of LCI-538, ephemera from D-Day Landings 50th Anniversary Reunion (including a photo with then-President Bill Clinton), and more. This unique grouping of highly important, impeccably-documented mementos will cross the auction block with a pre-sale estimate of $40,000-$60,000. 

The Omaha Beach West assault phase of “Operation Overlord” – the code name for the Battle of Normandy – was known as “Operation Neptune.” Among the auction highlights is a map of the area in and around the community of Vierville-sur-Mer, with landing plans and associated airborne plans for the D-Day invasion. The map is marked “TOP SECRET BIGOT” – BIGOT being an acronym for British Invasion of German Occupied Territory. Carefully preserved for 80 years, the map is in mint condition and carries a $4,000-$5,000 estimate.

Milestone Auctions is especially honored to offer several significant items from the now-closed American Armored Foundation Inc Tank and Ordnance Memorial Museum of Danville, Virginia. With a mission to display and preserve as many tank and cavalry artifacts as possible, the 333,000-square-foot museum’s core holding was the private collection donated by high-tech entrepreneur and military history expert William Gasser. Auction highlights with museum provenance include several remarkable uniforms. 

A complete “named” grouping pertains to Imperial Japanese Army Lt. General Tatsuji Ogura, who commanded the 127 Division in Manchuria during the final desperate months of World War II. The archive includes the general’s complete dress uniform consisting of a frock coat with cased shoulder boards, aguillette and cased officer’s sash; trousers and a visor hat with plume. The ensemble is housed in a period Japanese-made lidded suitcase and is estimated at $8,000-$10,000.

Another top lot from the museum collection is a US Marine Corps M2-A1 flamethrower that is a variant of, and successor to, the model used extensively in the Pacific Theater during WWII. It is fitted with an M2-2-style hourglass-shape backpack frame, with improved valves, regulators and capacity. While at the museum, it was tested and demonstrated in videos, proving time and again to be in top form. Estimate: $20,000-$30,000. Also from the museum, a 1940s 20mm Orlikon MK II “cutaway” cannon with a 55-inch barrel is of a type that was used for instruction by both sides during World II. Mounted on a 4-legged stand, the teaching device became a staple on US Navy warships. The auction example ship/anchor proofs throughout and is marked GM for its manufacturer, General Motors. It is estimated at $10,000-$15,000.

An auction entry with tremendous name recognition is the US Army dog tag of the gallant then-future General of the US Army Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964). The tag was issued to young MacArthur when he was not yet a field-grade officer. It is imprinted with his name, the rank “1ST. LT.” and “CORPS OF ENGIN. U.S.A.” MacArthur was a first lieutenant from 1904-1906, when he served in the Philippines with his father, Arthur MacArthur Jr, who was commander of the Army’s Pacific Division. Douglas MacArthur would later command the Southwest Pacific Theatre in World War II, administer postwar Japan during the Allied occupation that followed, and lead United Nations forces during the first nine months of the Korean War. Estimate: $5,000-$10,000

A very fine example of the last model of the German Garde du Corps helmet to be manufactured prior to World War I is complete with an intact and undamaged Garde du Corps eagle and matching enlisted rank’s crown. Fitted with its correct wide Cuirassier-style domed chin scales with correct large-size state and national cockades, it is estimated at $7,000-$10,000.

From the prior century, an especially-complete Civil War/Indian Wars uniform grouping identified to Cavalry Lt Colonel Franklin Haven was also part of the aforementioned Virginia museum’s collection. It consists of a double-breasted navy-blue felt frock coat, sky-blue officer’s trousers with piping, Civil War officer’s crimson silk sword sash, knee-high leather officer’s boots with hobnails, and a post-Civil War campaign hat made by the famed San Francisco firm Pasquale Co. Additionally, the grouping includes a wartime carte de visite with a photograph of Lt Colonel Haven in uniform. Estimate: $5,000-$8,000

The auction’s comprehensive range of military antiques includes edged weapons (swords, knives, daggers, katanas, WWI Model 1918 “knuckle-duster” trench knife with scabbard), headgear including a WWI Imperial German Garde du Corps Prussian helmet; a WWII 82nd Airborne uniform grouping with insignia; a WWII combat medic’s uniform grouping with helmet; medals and insignia, photos, flags and much more. 

Milestone’s June 29, 2024 Premier Military Auction will be held at Milestone’s gallery located at 38198 Willoughby Parkway, Willoughby (suburban Cleveland), OH 44094. Start time: 10 a.m. ET on both days. All forms of bidding will be available, including live via the Internet through Milestone’s own bidding platform, LiveAuctioneers, or Invaluable. For additional information on any item in the auction, call 440-527-8060 or email [email protected]. Online:

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