A most remarkable group of letters that have attached to them, the shoulder patches of the various army groups that these men lead or represented in World War II. Written by many of America’s highest ranking officers, with many of the letters dated while the war was still raging in the Pacific. These remarkable keepsakes were all sent in response to a young man writing to them. It’s inconceivable to think they had the time with which to respond, but as most were European theatre active, and the war there largely over, the simple act of normalcy in replying to a child’s request, may have been therapeutic beyond words.
The group is also accompanied by 3 letters with facsimile patches several writers sent, as the fabric patches were unavailable due to war time shortages and mission necessity! We’ve listed in full 15 descriptions below, and the remaining 15 are all similar in style and content. All signers are listed by name at the end of the description. The ability to assemble a grouping like this today is almost, we would think, impossible, and thus this is a once in a life-time collection. Certainly, a remarkable ensemble and worthy of bearing our “Best of the Best” ™.
FAMOUS FOR HIS “NUTS” REPLY TO THE GERMAN DEMAND FOR SURRENDER AT BASTOGNE, ANTHONY MCAULIFFE FORWARDS HIS DIVISION’S “CACTUS” INSIGNIA
MCAULIFFE, ANTHONY C. (1898-1975). United States Army General during World War II. Typed Letter Signed, “A.C. McAuliffe,” on 103 d Infantry Division Office of the Commanding General letterhead bearing the Division’s insignia. One page, quarto. No place. July 27, 1945. Accompanied by typed Headquarters 103d Infantry Division Office of the Commanding General envelope addressed to “Mr. Joseph Sergi 474 Cambridge Street East Cambridge 41, Mass.” With U.S. ARMY and FREE Postal Cancellations. Affixed to letter is the shoulder patch of the 103d (Cactus) Division. McAuliffe writes:
“Dear Mr. Sergi: I am pleased to send you the shoulder insignia of our 103d (Cactus) Infantry Division for your collection. I regret, however, that I have already disposed of all my enemy souvenirs. With best wishes, Sincerely, A.C. Mcauliffe Major General, United States Army Commanding.”
McAuliffe was serving as Commander of Division Artillery of the 101st Airborne Division when he parachuted in Normandy on D-Day. In December of 1944, the absence of General Taylor forced McAuliffe to serve as acting Commander of the 101st Airborne Division and its attached troops during the siege of Bastogne. During this command, McAuliffe and his troops became surround the Germans demanded their surrender. In response, McAuliffe sent back his now-famous reply to the German commander: “NUTS!”. Holding out against the German siege until the 4th Armored Division was able to arrive, McAuliffe was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross by General Patton in December of 1944 and subsequently received the Distinguished Service Medal for his command at Bastogne.
GENERAL COTA, ONE OF THE HIGHEST RANKING OFFICERS AT OMAHA BEACH ON D-DAY, FORWARDS THE INSIGNIA OF HIS “KEYSTONE” DIVISION
COTA, NORMAN. (1893-1971). U.S. General during World War II. Typed Letter Signed, “Norman D. Cota,” on Headquarters 28th Infantry Division letterhead bearing the division’s insignia. One page, octavo. “Camp Shelby, Mississippi.” September 21, 1945. Accompanied by typed envelope addressed to “Mr. Joseph Sergi, 474 Cambridge Street, E. Cambridge 41, Mass.” With CAMP SHELBY MISS. Postal cancellation and partial Free Franking Signature of Cota. Affixed to letter is the red shoulder patch of the “Keystone” division. Cota writes:
“Dear Mr. Sergie: In accordance with your request in your letter August 5, I am pleased to enclose a shoulder patch of the “Keystone” Division to addto your collection. I am sorry to state that I am unable to send you any souvenir obtained from the enemy since, as much as I desire to, I haven’t a one in my possession. No doubt you derive much pleasure from you hobby and I wish you success in it. Sincerely, Norman D. Cota, Major General, USA, Commanding.”
General Cota landed with a portion of the 116th Infantry Regiment of the 29th Division at the Dog White sector during the second wave of the Allied assault on Omaha Beach, the bloodiest landing point of the entire D-Day assault. Losing three soldiers to enemy fire immediately upon disembarkation, Cota, one of the highest ranking officers on the beach that day, personally directed Allied troops against the entrenched German forces, For his heroism and leadership on that beach, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
MAJOR GENERAL LIVESAY FORWARDS THE PATCH OF THE 91ST DIVISION, FAMOUS FOR OUTFLANKING THE AXIS’ POWERFUL GOTHIC LINE
LIVESAY, WILLIAM G. (1895-1979). Major General United States Army. Typed Letter Signed, “W. G. Livesay,” on Headquarters 91st Infantry Division letterhead bearing the Division’s insignia. One page, quarto. No place. July 26, 1945. Accompanied by original War Department envelope addressed to “Mr. Joseph Sergi 474 Cambridge Street East Cambridge 41 , Massachusetts.” With Livesay’s free-franking signature and U.S. Army postal cancellation. Included with letter is the Division’s green, woven green fir tree insignia measuring 2 ½ inches from top to bottom. Livesay writes:
“Dear Joseph: Thank you for your nice letter and good wishes. We are thankful for the successful completion of the campaign in Italy and Europe. I am pleased to inclose one of the 91st Division insignia as you requested. We of the Division are proud of this shoulder patch and the record the Division made in the Italian Campaign, and are looking forward towards new endeavors. Sincerely, Wm. G. Livesay Major General, U.S. Army, Commanding.”
The 91st Infantry Division is best remembered for outflanking the famous Gothic line, German Field Marshall Kesselring’s last major line of defense in the final stages of the war, and capturing the Futa Pass in September 1944. For its part in combat, the division was awarded the North Apennines, Po Valley, and Rome-Arno campaign streamers.
“THE “EAGLE’S TALON” IS QUITE APPROPRIATE FOR AN AIRBORNE DIVISION, SINCE IT REPRESENTS THE SURPRISE AND SWIFTNESS OF ATTACK FROM THE SKIES”
MILEY, WILLIAM MILES. (1897-1997) Major General United States Army. Typed Letter Signed, “W.M. Miley,” on Headquarters 17th Airborne Division Office of the Division Commander letterhead. One page, octavo. No place. August 4, 1945. Accompanied by original Headquarters 17th Airborne Division Office of the Division Commander U.S. Air Mail envelope. With U.S. Army postal cancellation. Included with letter is the insignia of the 17th Airborne Division: a 2.5 inch green bordered, black, circular patch bearing a golden eagle’s talon. Also affixed to letter is a black AIRBORNE shoulder patch. Miley writes:
“Dear Joseph, It is a pleasure to acknowledge your letter of July 17th by sending you one of our divisional shoulder insignias. We feel that the “Eagle’s Talon” is quite appropriate for an airborne division, since it represents the surprise and swiftness of attack from the skies. As you may know, the 17th Airborne Division saw action in the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium, and later, on March 24th it spearheaded the great spring offensive by dropping across the Rhine in the first allied airborne invasion of Germany. Unfortunately, however, we have no enemy souvenirs at the present time. Perhaps the black and gold of the “Talon” will add another dash of color to you jacket. Sincerely, W.M. Miley, Major General, U.S.A., Commanding.”
The sole commander of the 17th Airborne during World War II, Major General Miley was awarded the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, and two Distinguished Service Medals during his Army career. During the course of the war, the 17th’s combat saw action in the Reims area of France, and participated in the Ardennes Campaign as well as in Operation Varsity, the first airborne invasion over the Rhine and into Germany.
THE PATCH OF THE DIVISION THAT SPEARHEADED THE ST. LO BREAKTHROUGH IN THE DAYS FOLLOWING D-DAY
HOBBS, LELAND S. (1892-1966). Major General United States Army. Typed Letter Signed, “Leland S. Hobbs,” on Headquarters Thirtieth Infantry Division letterhead bearing an image of the division’s insignia. One page, quarto. “Ft. Jackson, S.C.” November 1, 1945. Accompanied by Office of the Commanding General Thirtieth Infantry Division envelope addressed to “Buddy Johnson 33 Wescott St. Jamestown, N.Y.” With blue, five-cent stamp and COLUMBIA S.C. postal cancellation. Included with letter is the insignia of the Thirtieth Infantry Division: a blue bordered 2 ½ X 1 ½ oval with red background and two blue vertical bars. In center of the two vertical bars are two horizontal bars enclosing three Xs. Hobbs writes:
“Dear Sir; I am very glad to send you the shoulder patch of my Division. Hoping you have regained your health and are able to carry on your good work in the Scouts. Sincerely yours Leland S. Hobbs Maj. Gen. Commanding 30th Inf. Div.”
The 30th Infantry Division landed at Omaha Beach, Normandy, June 11, 1944, and, beginning on July 25, spearheaded the St. Lo breakthrough. In addition to later action throughout France, Belgium, and Germany, the Division also saw action at the Battle of the Bugle.
THE 29TH DIVISION’S INSIGNIA WAS THE FIRST TO BE REGISTERED WITH THE ADJUTANT GENERAL
GERHARDT, CHARLES H. (1895-1976). Major General United States Army. Typed Letter Signed, “C.H. Gerhardt.” One page, quarto. No place. August 23, 1945. Accompanied by War Department envelope addressed to “Buddy Johnson, 33 Wescott Street, Jamestown, N.Y.” With U.S. Army postal cancellation. Included with letter is the insignia of the 29th infantry division: A disc with a 1/8 inch green border, 2 1/2 inches in diameter overall, bearing a taeguk, the curves being circles of half the radius of the disc, with the heraldic dexter half being blue and the sinister half gray. Gerhardt writes:
“Dear Johnson: I have just received your letter of 7 August 1945 requesting a shoulder patch of the 29th Infantry Division and I am pleased to send you one with this letter. In case you are interested in knowing the history behind this particular insignia, it is the Korean symbol of Eternal Life and was adopted by this Division during World War I. It was the first Division insignia to be formally registered with the Adjutant General in Washington. Since the Division has always been made up of men from both the North and South, the colors are especially appropriate, as is the nickname we hold, the “Blue and Grey” Division. It must have been quite an honor for you to be chosen as “Boy of the Year” of your city and to receive the War Bond and pin. I hope that by now you have completely recovered from your accident. Best regards and good luck to you. Very Sincerely yours, C.H. Gerhardt, Major General, U.S. Army, Commanding.”
Major General Charles H. Gerhardt commanded the U.S. 29th Infantry Division from 1943 until the end of the Second World War. During his command, the division’s most famous combat operations were the Omaha Beach landings on D-Day and the taking of the strategic French crossroads town of Saint-Lo in July 1944.
WITH JAPANESE INVASION CURRENCY
WING, LEONARD F. (1893-1945). Major General, United States Army. Typed Letter Signed, “L. F. Wing,” on Headquarters 43d Infantry Division Office of the Commanding General letterhead. One page, quarto. No place. August 6, 1945. Accompanied by original U.S. Air Mail envelope addressed to “Mr.Joseph Sergi 474 Cambridge Street, E. Cambridge 41, Massachusetts.” With Wing’s free-franking signature, and US ARMY postal cancellation. Affixed to letter are a ten peso Japanese Government note, signed “L. F. Wing,” and a facsimile of the Division’s insignia: a scarlet quatrefoil, edged with green, with a centered black grape leaf. Also accompanying letter are newspaper clipping concerning Wing’s death and burial. Wing writes:
“Dear Joseph: We do not have a supply of cloth shoulder patches on hand in the Division, so I am enclosing a facsimile of our insignia. I have autographed a piece of Japanese invasion money, captured by this Division, for a souvenir. Sincerely, Leonard F. Ewing. Major Gene, U.S. Army Commanding.”
EMIL REINHARDT, THE FIRST U.S. OFFICER TO MEET HIS RUSSIAN COUNTERPART ON THE SHORES OF THE ELBE RIVER, FORWARDS HIS DIVISION’S INSIGNIA AND A SIGNED PICTURE POSTCARD OF THAT HISTORIC MOMENT OF WORLD WAR II
REINHARDT, EMIL F. (1888-1969). U.S. General during World War Two. Typed Letter Signed, “E.F. Reinhardt,” on Headquarters 69th Infantry Division Office of the Commanding General letterhead bearing the division’s insignia, with the shoulder patch of the Fighting 69th affixed. One page, octavo. No place. August 1, 1945. Accompanied by two Headquarters, 69th Infantry Division envelope addressed to “Mr. Joseph Sergi 474 Cambridge Street East Cambridge 41, Mass.” With U.S. ARMY postal cancellation of Reinhardt’s free-franking signature. Accompanying this letter is a picture postcard showing the historic meeting of U.S. and Russian forces at Torgau Inscribed, “E.F. Reinhardt Major General, U.S. Army.” Also included is a copy of Sergi’s letter to General Reinhardt with original Embarkation Army Post Office envelope. Reinhardt writes:
“Dear Mr. Sergi: It is with pleasure that I send you one of our Fighting 69th Division shoulder patches. I regret that since hostilities have been over for so long that the finding of souvenirs of an enemy nature is very rare. Instead, I am sending you a small picture taken the day the Division Commanders of the two Allied Armies, American and Russian, met on the East bank of the Elbe River in the vicinity of Torgau, Germany. As you probably know, it was this division that achieved the honor of being the first American division to meet units of the Russian Army and the meeting of the Division Commanders brought about the climax of this initial contact. With kindest regards and best wishes, I am, Very truly yours, E.F. Reinhardt Major General, USA Commanding.”
The meeting of the forces of the United States and the Soviet Union along the Elbe River on the 25th of April 1945 was a moment of monumental importance in the history of the Second World War, symbolizing the massive and mutual efforts of all the Allied Powers to achieve victory and secure peace. Over the subsequent days, many meetings between senior offices in the two armies occurred, including the April 26th meeting of Major General Reinhardt, Commander of the U.S. 69th Infantry Division, and his Soviet counterpart, Major General Rusakov, Commander of the 58th Guards Division, captured in our signed picture postcard.
THE “HOURGLASS” DIVISION
BOOTH, R.H. Colonel, United States Army. Typed Letter Signed, “R.H. Booth,” on Headquarters Seventh Infantry Division Offices of the Commanding General letterhead. One page, quarto. No place. August 23, 1945. Accompanied by original War Department envelope addressed to “ Joseph Sergi 474 Cambridge Street E. Cambridge 41, Mass. With US ARMY postal cancellation. Included with letter is the Division’s insignia: A red disc 2 1/4 inches in diameter with a black “hour glass” of two pyramids point to point whose bases are I inch in width, all within a 1/8 inch Army Green border. Booth writes:
“Dear Joseph: In the temporary absence of General Arnold, I am taking this opportunity to acknowledge receipt of your letter of August 5th. I am enclosing the Seventh Division Insignia which you requested with the hope that it will be a welcome addition to you collection. You may be interested to know that the outline of the design is a numeral “7” crossed by another “7” inverted, forming two triangles. The similarity of the double triangle to an hour-glass is responsible for our nickname, “The Hour-Glass Division.” Yours very truly, R.H. Booth. Colonel, G.S.C., Chief of Staff.”
After being trained in amphibious warfare, the Seventh Infantry Division played a role in the liberation of the Aleutian Islands of Attu and Kiska. Subsequently, the Seventh assisted in taking control of the Kwajalein Atoll and the Eniwetok Atoll before going the assault on the Philippines. After success in this operation, the Seventh made an assault on Okinawa. Engaging in a savage 51 day battle in the southern hills, the division ultimately accepted the surrender of the Japanese Army in South Korea.
THE INSIGNIA OF THE DIVISION FROM PATTON’S FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF
GAFFEY, HUGH J. (1895-1946). Major General United States Army. Typed Letter Signed, “Hugh J. Gaffey,” on Headquarters XXIII Corps Office of the Commanding Office letterhead. One page, quarto. No place. August 7, 1945. Accompanied by original envelope addressed to “Mr. Joseph Sergi, 474 Cambridge Street, East Cambridge 41, Massachusetts.” Included with letter is the insignia of the XXIII Corps: An oval equally divided horizontally blue and white, blue uppermost, with a 1/8 inch blue border, 3 inches overall height and 2-1/2 inches in width, three crossed arrows heads up counterchanged white on blue and blue on white. Gaffey writes:
“Dear Joseph: I recently received your letter of July 23, 1945. I have enclosed one XXIII Corps shoulder patch which you can add to your collection. Yours truly, Hugh J. Gaffey, Major General, U.S. Army, Commanding.”
Hugh J. Gaffey saw action in both France and Germany during the First World War before returning to the United States in August 1919. After serving in a variety of posts in the inter-war years, Gaffey was assigned to the I Armored Corps in July 1940, serving with them until July of 1942 when he was assigned to the II Armored Division. Appointed Brigadier General in August of 1942, Gaffey was sent to the European Theater in November and was designated Chief of Staff for General Patton’s 3d Army in April 1944. Gaffey would subsequently assume command of the IV Armored Division before being killed in a tragic B-25 Mitchell crash in Kentucky.
DECORATED U.S. GENERAL TRUSCOTT FORWARDS THE FIFTH ARMY’S INSIGNIA
TRUSCOTT, LUCIAN KING. (1895-1965). U.S. Army General during World War II. Typed Letter Signed, “L.K. Truscott, Jr,” on Headquarters Fifth Army Office of the Commanding General letterhead. One page, octavo. No place. August 15, 1945. Accompanied by typed Headquarters Fifth Army Office of the Commanding General envelope addressed to “Mr. Joseph Sergi, 474 Cambridge St., E. Cambridge 41, Mass.” With U.S. ARMY and Free postal cancellations. Affixed to letter is a Fifth Army Shoulder patch. Truscott writes:
“Dear Mr. Sergie: Thank you for your letter of August 5. I am sorry that I do not have any war trophies that I can send to you; however I am glad to be able to inclose a Fifth Army Shoulder patch, and I hope that it finds a prominent place in your collection. Thank you very much too for the good wishes conveyed in your letter. Very sincerely, L.K. Truscott, Jr. Lieutenant General, U.S. Army, Commanding.”
After being promoted to the rank of major general, Lucian Truscott led the Northern Attack Group in Morocco and took park in the invasion of Tunisia as Eisenhower’s field deputy. Subsequently, Truscott led the 3rd Division, widely considered the best-trained and best-led division in the Seventh Army, at Salerno, Cassino, and Anzio, during which time he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. Considered to be an expert o amphibious warfare, Truscott also commanded the planning and training for the Seventh Army’s invasion of France in 1944’s Operation Dragoon. A tough trainer who held his soldiers to incredibly high standards, Truscott’s other decorations include the Army Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, and the Purple Heart.
AN INSIGNIA FROM JOHN CANNON, THE COMMANDING GENERAL OF ALL ALLIED AIR FORCES IN EUROPE DURING WWII
CANNON, JOHN K. (1892-1955). Major General United States Army. Typed Letter Signed, “John K Cannon,” on Headquarters Twelfth Air Force Office of the Commanding General letterhead with blind embossed Great Seal of the United States. One page, quarto. No place. April 11, 1945. Accompanied by original Headquarters Twelfth Air Force envelope addressed to “Mr. Joseph Smith 130 West 83rd Street New York 24 New York. With “Sm. Aliander Capt A.C.” free-franking signature and US Army postal cancellation. Included with letter is the insignia of the Twelfth Air Force: An ultramarine blue equilateral triangle, one point down, a white star with a red disc in the center bearing the numeral “12” in white, below a pair of stylized golden orange wings. Cannon writes:
“Dear Joseph: Thank you for the good wishes and holy card contained in your letter of March 20, 1945. Inclosed is the Twelfth Air Force Insignia you desire. The best of luck to you always. Sincerely, John K. Cannon, Major General U.S. Army.”
Overseas, John Cannon first served as commanding general of the 12th Air Support Command for the Western Task Force during the invasion of French Morocco. Through March and April of 1943, General Cannon organized an air training command for the Mediterranean Theater and in May became deputy commanding general of the Allied Tactical Air Force for the Sicilian campaign and the invasion of Italy. Promoted to major general in June, Cannon soon assumed command of the 12th Air force as well as the Mediterranean Allied Tactical Air Force, giving him control over all air operations for the 1944 invasion of southern Europe. The following March, he was promoted to lieutenant general and named air commander in chief of all Allied Air Forces in the Mediterranean Theater. Just two months later, Cannon became commanding general of U.S. Air Forces in Europe. During his varied wartime service, General Cannon earned four Distinguished Service Medals, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, the Air Medal, and decorations from Great Britain, France, Italy, Poland, Yugoslavia, and Morocco.
THE XV CORPS BADGE
ROBERTSON, WALTER M. (1888-1954). Major General United States Army. commander of the 2nd Infantry Division (“Indianhead”) during the Battle of the Bulge. Typed Letter Signed, “W.M. Robertson,” on Headquarters XV Corps Office of the Commanding General letterhead. One page, octavo. No place. September 22, 1945. Accompanied by original Headquarters XV Corps envelope addressed to “Buddy Johnson 33 Wescott Street Jamestown, New York.” Included with letter is the insignia of the XV Corps: On an olive drab disc 2 1/4 inches in diameter bordered 1/8 inch in blue a chevron reversed in white superimposed by a saltire in blue. Robertson writes:
“Dear Buddy: I enclose a shoulder patch from the XV Corps which you requested, as an addition to your collection. Your hobby of collecting these patches may be of added interest to you if in later years your read the histories of the units concerned. Perhaps you are doing that even now. With best wishes to you, I am Sincerely, W.M. Robertson Major General, US Army Commanding.”
The VX Corps landed in Europe as part of Operation Cobra and went on to liberate the cities of LeMans, Luneville, and Strasbourg over the course of the subsequent six months. After this successful push, the XV Corps saw heavy fighting in both Germany and Austria before ceasing combat operations in early May, 1945.
“OUR TROOPS ARE DOING A GRAND JOB DRIVING THE JAPS OUT OF NORTH BURMA.”
DAVIDSON, HOWARD C. (1890-1984). Major General United States Army. Typed Letter Signed, “Howard C. Davidson,” on Tenth U.S. Air Force letterhead. One page, quarto. No place. March 28, 1945. Accompanied by an envelope addressed to “Joseph Smith, 130 W. 83rd St., New York 24, N.Y.” With Davidson’s free-franking signature and US ARMY postal cancellation. Davidson writes:
“Dear Joseph: I have your letter requesting a 10th Air Force shoulder patch and am sorry that I will be unable to send you one as we are stationed many hundred of miles from any city and our supplies are flown in to us by airplane, and such luxuries as shoulder patches are left behind in order to carry in ammunition, troops, food, etc. Our troops are doing a grand job driving the Japs out of north Burma. Sincerely, Howard G. Davidson, Major General, USA, Commanding.”
Created for air combat operations in India and Burma, the 10th Air Force served in those two nations as well as China during World War II. From its bases in Assam, the 10th also supervised and protected supply flights over The Hump and prepared to support Allied ground efforts with close air support and operations against Japanese communications and supply installations in Burma.
ACCOMPANIED BY A 100 PESO JAPANESE OCCUPATION NOTE
HALL, C.P. (1886-1953). Lieutenant General, United States Army; commander of XI Corps during World War II and the principal commander during the Battle of Bataan to liberate the Philippines from Japanese forces. Typed Letter Signed, “Charles P. Hall,” on Headquarters XI Corps Office of the Commanding General letterhead. One page, quarto. No place. August 11, 1945. Accompanied by War Department Headquarters XI Corps envelope addressed to “Mr. Joseph Sergi 474 Cambridge Street East Cambridge 41, Massachusetts U.S.A.” With Hall’s free-franking signature and US ARMY postal cancellation. Included with the letter are a one hundred peso Japanese Government note and the Division’s insignia: a blue disc 2 1/4 inches in diameter bearing 2 white dice, 1 set upon the other, the upper at a 45 degree angle and marked with 5 red dots, the lower square marked with 6 red dots. Hall writes:
“Dear Mr. Sergi: Thank you for your letter of July 17. I am inclosing an XI Corps shoulder patch to add to the collection on your jacket and I am also ending a 100 peso Japanese note which they used here in the Philippines. Very truly yours, Charles P. Hall, Lieutenant general, USA, Commanding.”
MCAULIFFE, ANTHONY C.
CANNON, JOHN K.
MILEY, W. M.
HOBBS, LELAND S.
GERHARDT, CHARLES H.
WING, LEONARD F.
REINHARDT, EMIL. F.
GAFFEY, HUGH J.
TRUSCOTT, LUCIAN KING.
DAVIDSON, HOWARD C.
THAMES, JOHN E.
EYSTER, JOSEPH A.
ALLEN, LOUIS A.