Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1364: Grouping of Scarce Special Forces/Airborne Patches

Auction Date: May 14, 2022

Scarce Grouping of World War II Special Forces/Airborne Patches, Including Examples from the Chinese Commandos and the Special Reconnaissance Battalion of the OSS

Estimated Price: $15,000 - $22,500

Scarce Grouping of World War II Special Forces/Airborne Patches, Including Examples from the Chinese Commandos and the Special Reconnaissance Battalion of the OSS

Manufacturer: None
Model: None
Type: Other
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Item Views: 371
Item Interest: Average
Catalog Page: 259
Class: Other
Description:

At the center of the grouping are three patches for the 3rd Contingent Operational Group of the Special Reconnaissance Battalion of the Office of Strategic Services; the forefather of the Army Special Forces "A Team" concept, the Operational Groups were intended to be dropped into hostile territory to organize and train local resistance. While many OSS activities took place in a "plain clothes" context, the OGs were uniformed soldiers first and foremost. The 3rd is particularly associated with action in the Dalmatian Islands during World War II, where (along with a number of Tito's Yugoslavian partisans and a detachment of British Commandos) they used the island of Vis as a base of operations through the then-German occupied Dalmatian Islands and coast and would later relocate to the China-Burma-India Theater. The 3rd OG group consists of two rocker-style patches bullion embroidered "SPECIAL RECON. BN." and "3rd Contingent OG", with a round gold bullion patch bearing the "eagle, Thompson and anchor" Combined Operations emblem, 2 3/4 inches in diameter. Known examples are generally custom made, some attributed as being made in India following the unit's departure from Europe, and the use of the Combined Ops emblem inspired by their British comrades. At top are two Airborne themed shield-style patches, one for the First Allied Airborne Army (parent organization for all Allied airborne formations on the Western Front) and the other for U.S. Airborne Command (parent unit for American Airborne formation, known to have been used by the 506th and 501st PIR in lieu of an individual insignia prior to their attachment to the 101st Airborne Division). At the bottom are a pair of patches from Allied operations in China, with a silver bullion China-Burma-India shield and a bullion on blue cloth "Chinese Commando" patch. The Chinese Commando units were an experiment in using veteran Operational Group members from the OSS to train and fight alongside Chinese paratroopers, and while they were conceived and created late in the war they still managed to make contact with the enemy. While no information on the original wearer of the patches was supplied, they may have been from the same trooper; an Operational Group member could have been in Europe late enough to be added to the First Allied Airborne Army (organized in 1944) and then moved to the CBI Theater for the formation of the Commandos in 1945, and surviving Commando uniforms have been seen with both the Commando and U.S Airborne Command patches. Provenance: The Putnam Green/Sycamore Collection

Rating Definition:

Very good overall, with some minor stains and wear.



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