|REMARKABLE FRENCH FLAG WITH AMERICAN SALUTATIONS, WAVED AND SIGNED BY MEMBERS OF THE HENRY FAMILY IN THANKFUL CELEBRATION OF THEIR LIBERATION FROM THE NAZIS DURING WWII, 1944-45
|Frame Size (H x L):||Approx. 29" x 42.5"|
|Flag Size (H x L):||17" x 30.5"|
|When Allied Forces stormed the beaches at Normandy in 1944, led by Americans and British troops, liberation from Germany began. During this period, homemade American and British flags appeared and were waved to welcome the Americans and Brits as their tanks and men rolled down the streets following Nazi retreat. These have been termed “Liberation flags.” Sometimes French flags were purchased, homemade, or brought out of storage and waved as well in accompaniment.
This flag was employed in that function, then signed by members of the Henry family and presented to an American soldier with their gratitude, who took it home. The terrific, hand-inscribed messages, scratched with a dip pen in black ink, include “Vive Lamerique,” “Hurrah for America,” and “Henry.” This is the original text, written in the WWII period.
Returning to France years later, around 1960, the soldier reunited with family and friends. He brought along the flag and it was signed again in violet crayon or marking pencil by more family members, adding the names of “Yvette,” “Hanan,” “Edwin,” “Robin,” “Denise Henry,” and “Michael Henry,” followed by what appears to be the time of “2 am.” At 2:41 am on the 7th of May, 1945 in Reims, France, General Alfred Jodl, Chief-of-Staff of the German Armed Forces High Command, signed an unconditional surrender documents for all German forces to the Allies. This may explain the time reference, or it may simply be when the flag was signed in this instance.
One of the signers added the salutation “Vive America.” Also included are the words "Petit Francais" (little French), which could be a nickname given by the soldier to a child, plus the phrase “Ge’Fang” followed by the series of numbers “22. 055”. Ge'Fang is a German term for a prisoner of war. What follows is a POW identification number, evidently belonging to one of the individuals present.
Also included on the flag is a stamped name and address and that appears to pinpoint a location at which the flag was used or acquired. This reads “Pericaud; 18 Rue de la Cristalloria, 18; Pantin (Seine); R.C. Seine N 33G878 [or perhaps 870 or 876].” Unfortunately my brief research of the specific business or entity at this location came up empty-handed. Whatever the case may be, it is clear that more research is needed, but the presence “Vive America” and “Success” are clear enough.
The flag is made of cotton panels that have been joined with machine stitching. The seams and piecework are quite crude, but whether this means that the flag was homemade, or simply that it was made in a cottage industry setting and possibly during wartime, is difficult to tell. I have encountered various liberation flags that are both machine-sewn and crude.
French flags with hand inscriptions such as this, related to the end of WWII and celebrating American involvement, are especially rare. This is the only example that I have had the privilege to own and the verbiage is nothing short of terrific.
Mounting: The flag was mounted and framed in our own conservation department, which is led by masters degree trained staff. We take great care in the mounting and preservation of flags and have framed thousands of examples. Feel free to contact us for more details.
The black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed molding is Italian. The glazing is U.V. protective acrylic (Plexiglas).
Condition: There is a scattering of tiny tears in the red bar. There is extremely minor foxing in the red and blue bars and moderate foxing in the white bar. The hoist end of the flag was whip-stitched to create an open sleeve, through which a wooden staff could be passed. This is partially un-stitched. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use.
|Collector Level:||Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything|
|Flag Type:||Sewn flag|
|Earliest Date of Origin:||1944|
|Latest Date of Origin:||1945|
|War Association:||WW 2|
|Price:||Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281|