American and foreign medals awarded to General Clarence R. Huebner, Commanding Officer of the US 1st Infantry Division, aka ‘The Big Red One’, when they landed in the first wave at Omaha Beach on D-Day in June 1944.
Whilst I am not a medal collector, this auction on the 20th of November 2019 caught my eye. It is one of several items including helmets, firearms and other pieces from the estate of General Clarence R. Huebner, commander of the 1st Infantry Division, aka “The Big Red One” when it landed in the first wave at Omaha Beach on D-Day, 6th of June 1944. The auction description reads as follows,
“FROM THE ESTATE OF GEN. CLARENCE R. HUEBNER, COMMANDER OF THE 1ST INFANTRY DIVISION IN THE FIRST WAVE AT OMAHA BEACH
Outstanding, career-spanning grouping of 42 badges and medals awarded to U.S. Army Lieutenant General for his exemplary service in both World War I and World War II.
World War I Distinguished Service Cross with oak leaf cluster, engraved with Huebner’s name on the reverse and the number “141” on the edge;
World War II Army Distinguished Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, engraved with Huebner’s name and numbered “6605” on the edge;
World War I Army Distinguished Service Medal, numbered “1294” on the edge; World War I Silver Star, engraved with Huebner’s name on the verso and the number “5168” on the edge;
World War II Legion of Merit medal; World War II Bronze Star; U.S. Army Commendation Medal, engraved with Huebner’s name;
World War I Purple Heart with oak leaf cluster, engraved with Huebner’s name on the verso and the number “9269” on the edge;
Mexican Border Service Medal, numbered “15065” on the edge;
World War I Victory Medal with Montdidier-Noyon, Aisne-Marne, St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne, and Defensive Sector battle clasps, engraved with Huebner’s name on the edge;
American Defense Service Medal; American Campaign Medal; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal;
World War II Victory Medal; World War II Army of Occupation Medal; British Companion of the Order of the Bath medal;
French Knight of the Legion of Honor medal, showing slight chips to the enamel;
Officer of the Legion of Honor medal, showing a small chip to the enamel;
Two Commander of the Legion of Honor medals, one each awarded for service in World War I and World War II;
Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor badge; French 1914-1918 Croix de Guerre, with palm;
1939 Croix de Guerre, with palm; Belgian Officer of the Order of Leopold Medal, with palm;
Commander of the Order of Leopold badge;
Belgian 1940-1945 Croix de Guerre with palm; Belgian Liberation of Liege medal;
Luxembourg Grand Officer of the Order of the Oak Crown medal and badge;
World War I Italian War Merit Cross, engraved with Huebner’s name on the edge;
Czechoslovak Order of the White Lion, Second Class medal and badge;
Czechoslovak War Cross medal; Polish Virtuti Militari medal, fifth class;
Soviet Order of Suvorov medal, second class, numbered “1667” on the reverse;
Soviet Guards Badge; Vatican Cross of Magistral Knight of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta;
Vatican Commander of the Order of St. Sylvester badge and medal;
Panamanian Ephemeral Society Order of Eloy Alfaro medal;
World War I Society of Military and Naval Officers of New York medal; and the
Polish Labor Service Honor Badge.
The above decorations are mounted together in a 19 3/4″ square display case lined with brown velvet, with the exception of the World War II Commander of the Legion of Honor medal, which is housed in its original presentation case. Almost all of the above awards are accompanied by their original cases, certificates, and other documents; a complete list of these is available upon request, as are additional photos of each individual medal.
Also present are several additional decorations, including; a medal bar featuring miniatures of eight of Huebner’s medals, namely the Distinguished Service Cross with oak leaf cluster, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star, the Purple Heart with oak leaf cluster, the World War I Victory Medal, the Legion of Merit medal, the 1914-1918 Croix de Guerre with palm, and the Italian War Merit Cross; two sets of his Lieutenant-General’s uniform stars; ten groups of medal ribbons on various backings, 97 ribbons in all; and a black faux-leather velvet-lined presentation case bearing Huebner’s name in gold on the lid, with spaces for six of his World War I decorations. Altogether, easily the finest grouping of American and European military medals we have ever offered.
CLARENCE R. HUEBNER (1888-1972) was the American general who took command the 1st Infantry Division, popularly known as the “Big Red One”, in early August of 1943. He commanded the division during the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944, where it was the first force to face the Germans on Omaha Beach, and he joined his men on the beach the same day. The division was instrumental in the breakthrough following the battle for St. Lo and in foiling the German counteroffensive at Mortain. After the Allied breakout in Normandy, the division advanced rapidly, arriving at the German border in early October of 1944, where it was committed to battle at Aachen, which it captured after two weeks of heavy fighting. After experiencing heavy fighting once again in the Huertgen Forest, the division briefly rested but soon returned to counter the German offensive at the Battle of the Bulge in December, 1944.
In January, 1945, Huebner was named commander of the V Corps, which he commanded in its advance to the Elbe river, where elements of the corps made the first contact with the Soviet Red Army. By war’s end, the division had advanced into Czechoslovakia. Following the German surrender, Huebner served as the Chief of Staff for all American forces in Europe, and in 1949 was named the final military governor of the American occupation zone in Germany.
These medals originate directly from General Huebner’s estate and is accompanied by a letter of provenance signed by a direct linear descendant.”
Estimated hammer price is US$30,000 – $40,000.
The auction is by Alexander Historical Auctions LLC and it has more of Huebner’s estate along with other militaria up for sale.