siege of Bastogne: HQ sign for Fox company, 501st parachute infantry regiment.  American, 1944.

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Lot 1222
siege of Bastogne: HQ sign for Fox company, 501st parachute infantry regiment.
American, 1944.

US$ 2,500 - 3,500
£ 2,000 - 2,800
siege of Bastogne: HQ sign for Fox company, 501st parachute infantry regiment.
American, 1944. Part of a thin rough hewn wooden piece of planking, taken from the side of a building or barn, the cut smooth side with stencilled letters in black paint "Fox Co 501st PIR HQ," the plank partly split horizontally, with jagged ends, the painted letters somewhat worn but clearly visible, some old mud stains on the surfaces. 180 x 1250 mm (maximum dimensions).

Sign used in the vicinity of Bastogne for the temporary HQ of Fox Company, 501st PIR, who were dug into defensive positions a mile to the East of Bastogne in the area of the villages of Bizory, Mont and Neffe. In early December 1944, after parachuting into Normandy on D-Day, being involved in Operation Market Garden in November, the 501st PIR as part of the 101st Airborne were being held in reserve on R & R at Mourmelon, France. On the 16th December large German forces broke through the lines, overrunning the US 106th Division, and poured through the Ardennes. At 21.30 on the 17th, the 101st Airborne was ordered north to take up positions around Bastogne to stem the enemy advance. The 501st jumped into trucks and led the column, with LTC Julian Ewell commanding. They arrived on the 18th, and moved east of Bastogne on the 19th, initially pushing up against the enemy and then taking defensive positions on the ridge around the villages of Mont, Bizory and Neffe...there they dug in for a fight. By the 20th, Bastogne was encircled by German units, and US forces held a defensive perimeter line a mile to 2 miles around the cross-roads village. Fighting was hard and consistent, low cloud meant that there was no friendly air support until December 24th, and the Panzer tank units, arrayed around the town pounded US positions. The 3rd Battalion was overrun in Wardin to the east and suffered heavy casualties. Snow lay on the ground and troops used white sheets as camouflage, and team Cherry's tank destroyer force moved up to support the 501st who were holding a 3,000 yard perimeter defense line. On December 26th Patton's relief column broke the enemies grip around Bastogne, and the air relief drops 24-26th resupplied the defensive forces, and the tide was turned. As they pushed north from their positions on the 3rd of January 1945, SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment attacked the 2nd battalion 501st near Longchamps to the north of Bastogne, and captured 40 paratroopers from Fox company.
On February 23rd the 501st were relieved and sent back to Mourmelon, where General Eisenhower visited the 101st Airborne and awarded them the Distinguished Unit Citation for their defense of Bastogne, the first time a complete unit had been so honored in American military history. This sign was acquired by a military collector, from a farmer in the area of Bastogne.
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