A World War II hero's memories go on sale at Bonhams
Belonging to General Miles Dempsey
In 1944, during a frontline visit across the Channel, King George VI knighted General Miles Dempsey, the first soldier to be knighted on the field of battle (since Agincourt in 1415). The extraordinary accolade perhaps gives some indication of just how deserved it was... And how interesting a selection of Dempsey's personal letters – soon to go on sale at the Knightsbridge auctioneer in London – really are.
Dempsey was personally selected to command the Second Army during World War II – the main British force, which also included Canadians – for the D-Day Landings, which began on the 6 June 1944, recently commemorated for its 70th anniversary – and therefore he also became the commander of the largest British army in history.
Dempsey has, outside of military circles, been something of an unsung hero, in part due to the fact that after the war he never wrote any memoirs. However it is also due to a strong sense of modesty and propriety.
What is abundantly clear, however, from the collection of letters, and related diary and photographs coming up at the 'Books, Atlases, Manuscripts and Photographs' sale at Bonhams in London, on Wednesday June 18, is the extent to which Dempsey's crucial role in one of the most momentous events in human history was appreciated by his superiors... There are letters from the likes of President Eisenhower and other commanders that make truly compelling reading.