Historic Nazi flag captured by General George Patton at the Battle of the Bulge and given to General Hoyt Vandenberg. The flag measures 48 x 80 and is constructed of red fabric with circular white-and-black swastika emblems sewn on both sides. In very good condition, with expected soiling and tears from battlefield use; some of the tears have been re-stitched. Accompanied by a letter of provenance from Vandenberg’s son (himself a retired Air Force General), in part: “The 48″ by 80″ German flag was given to my father by General Patton after the so called Battle of the Bulge. Patton was giving my father a jeep tour of important landmarks in and near Bastogne and ordered his driver to retrieve the flag from a German Command Post. I received this flag from my father after the war and it has been in the possession of my family ever since that time.”
As commander of the Ninth Air Force, it was Vandenberg’s responsibility to provide air support for Patton’s Third Army as they attempted to punch through the German encirclement that had trapped American forces in Bastogne. For the first days of the siege heavy cloud cover prevented the Allies from exercising their superior air power, but when the skies cleared on December 23 Vandenberg was ready to act. He first sent a bomber division to destroy the infrastructure behind German lines with tactical strikes on roads, bridges, and railroads to dry up reinforcements. Vandenberg then targeted the German armored columns besieging Bastogne with his fighter groups. From December 23 to 27, the Ninth flew 5,291 sorties. General A. C. McAuliffe later thanked Vandenberg for the ‘tremendous support’ that was a ‘vital contribution’ to his division’s successful defense. Reveling in the victory, Vandenberg said, ‘We have bottlenecked the enemy’s supplies and throttled his offensive power. The results underscore the fact that tactical air power has come of age.’ Meanwhile, Patton’s command was able to open up a corridor to resupply the besieged forces and ultimately repel the German offensive in one of the most important battles of the war. As a flag captured by Patton following the battle and given to a commander critical in the Allied victory, this is an absolutely extraordinary historical piece. Photos of the entire 48x80 flag are available upon request.
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