An exceptional archive of D-Day landing maps, operational orders, and intelligence briefings, compiled by a decorated LST commander

O.N.1. Appendix VII Annexe A Series Maps: Utah Area, Omaha Area, Gold Area, and Juno Area [with:] The Neptune Monograph [with:] Operation “Neptune” Force “L” Operation Orders… 20th May 1944 [with:] Amphibious Operations Invasion of Northern France Western Task Force June 1944 [with:] Personnel files for Commander Royal Lovell, USN.
See below for physical description of the individual items. Housed in four custom, quarter-morocco clamshell boxes and one cloth case.

An exceptional archive of D-Day planning materials entrusted to Landing Group 50 Commander Royal Lovell, whose six LSTs landed reinforcements of men and armor at Juno Beach.

Highlights of the archive include a complete Neptune Monograph, the definitive, top-secret (“BIGOT”) briefing book for allied officers involved in the landings. Also present are a set of “Top Secret” maps of Utah, Omaha, Gold, and Juno Beaches, depicting German defenses in great detail. The archive also includes the only known example of the Operation “Neptune” – Force “L” Operation Orders. Dated May 20-June 2, 1944—just days before the landings—these were the definitive orders for the second wave of vessels traveling to Normandy’s Eastern Sector on D-Day. The archive is further supplemented by Amphibious Operations – Invasion of Northern France, a very rare after-action report of the landings published in October 1944, as additional landings were being planned in the Pacific and the Low Countries. To our knowledge, this is the only example of this report to have appeared on the antiquarian market.

Rounding out the archive and lending it texture are Commander Royal Lovell’s personnel files from the period 1942-1947. At the time still Lieutenant Commander Royall Lovell, on D-Day he headed Landing Group 50, a group of six Landing Ships, Tank (LSTs) that delivered much-needed armored reinforcements to the Mike and Nan sectors of Juno Beach on the evening of D-Day.

Juno Beach was the central beach entrusted to the Eastern Task Force, comprised of British and Canadian units. Juno extended roughly from the village of la Riviere in the west to Bernieres sur-mer in the east, and was flanked on the west by Gold Beach and on the east by Sword. Juno was assigned primarily to the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, which was opposed by units of the 716th Infantry Division, with the 21st Panzer Division in reserve around Caen. The D-Day objectives of the 3rd Canadian were to capture the Carpiquet Airfield, cut the Bayeux-Caen road, and link the bridgeheads to be established by the British forces landing at Gold and Sword. Though the 3rd Canadian did not achieve these objectives on June 6th, its units did establish a solid beachhead and achieve the farthest inland advance of any of the Allied forces.

Lovell himself appears to have performed superbly and shortly thereafter was promoted to full commander. For his service during the landings and in subsequent operations he later received the American Legion of Merit and the French Croix de Guerre. The citation for the former reads in part:

“Commander Lovell brought his force, assigned to the Eastern Assault Force (British) into the Bay of the Seine on the evening of the assault day in excellent order despite the baffling cross currents and the narrowness and uncertainty of swept channels. They arrived in the Juno Assault Area under darkness without delay or confusion to previously assigned positions. The initial landings were completed in peril of enemy gunfire, bombing and mines. He reconnoitered the beach in a small boat and personally supervised the beaching and unloading of his ships with skill and precision in utter disregard of his own safety.”

A career officer, Lovell is also remembered today for having composed the third stanza of the Naval Academy’s fight song Anchors Aweigh.

Contents of the archive
The Lovell archive contains the following components, which will be addressed individually below.

  1. O.N.1. Appendix VII Annexe A Series Maps: Utah Area, Omaha Area, Gold Area, and Juno Area
  2. The Neptune Monograph
  3. Operation “Neptune” Force “L” Operation Orders… 20th May 1944
  4. Amphibious Operations Invasion of Northern France Western Task Force June 1944
  5. Commander Royal Lovell personnel files

O.N.1 Appendix VII Annexe A Series Maps
Four separately-issued maps with purple overprinting dated “information up to 6th April 1944”, sizes from 23 ¼”h x 28 ½”w to 37 ½”h x 23 ½”w. Flattened with expert removal of cello and expert mending of tears. Minor areas of reinstatement of paper in maps, with one area of significant facsimile in the upper right of the “Juno Area” map, including expert and nearly invisible facsimile to “SECRET” inscription and a slight reinstatement to blue coloring. Some minor areas of facsimile throughout “Omaha Area” map, with one larger ½” x 1 ½” area near Chau de Vaumicel.

“Top Secret” maps of Utah, Omaha, Gold and Juno Beaches, produced under supervision of Vice Admiral John Augustine Edgell, Hydrographer of the Royal Navy from 1932 to 1945 (The Sword Beach map is not present.) The maps do not bear a date of publication, but all bear the note “information up to 6th April 1944” and must have been issued very soon thereafter.

Each map depicts one of the landing beaches, with coverage extending perhaps two or three thousand yards inland. On each the base map shows contours at 10-metre intervals; roads, paths, and built-up areas in black; and wooded areas in green. Dashed black lines superimposed on the map indicate the main landing sectors into which each beach was subdivided: Juno, for example, into Love, Mike and Nan. Superimposed in purple on the base maps are a great variety of symbols, 39 in all, indicating for example German artillery and machine-gun positions; different types of shelters, gun emplacements and strongpoints; barbed wire, anti-tank ditches, and road blocks; and even “dumm[ies]”.

The maps offer no indication of how this mass of intelligence was assembled, but these and similar maps were the generally the results of complex, multi-layered information-gathering efforts: Starting with existing base maps and hydrographic data, largely supplied by the British Hydrographic Office, military cartographers and artists added data from aerial reconnaissance surveys by Allied warplanes, including extraordinarily dangerous low-level overflights. To these were added information from a host of other sources, including reconnaissance of the beaches by commandos (“frogmen”) and reports from French Resistance fighters.

A note on each map warns the viewer, “Underwater Obstacles of various Types are being laid with great rapidity and are likely to extend along further stretches of the coast.” Through May and into June, more detailed maps of individual beaches supplemented and corrected these larger maps, as may be seen for example on this May 12 map of Omaha. However, this was to our knowledge the most important series of maps to cover all the landing beaches and would have provided many officers with their first in-depth look at what they would be facing on the day of the invasion.

OCLC and Library Hub Discover list holdings of the complete set of five landing beach maps (including Sword) at the University of Oxford and the National Library of Scotland. We are unaware of any other sets of the maps. Examples of the Omaha Area map can be located at Texas A&M University, the British Library Reference Collection, and the National Army Museum in London. An example of the Juno Area map resides at the D-Day Story Museum.

The Neptune Monograph
88 pp plus Folios A-M (complete per table of contents). First two pages fully loose, other minor wear and soiling.

The Monograph summarizes Allied intelligence on the Normandy Beaches and German defenses as of the end of April 1944, with particular emphasis on the American sector including Omaha and Utah Beaches.  It is a treasure trove, combining strategic observations with tactical information, illustrated with a wealth of maps, charts, diagrams and photographs. Containing information of the highest sensitivity, it bore the distinctive “BIGOT” stamp, the highest level of military security classification, and it was printed and distributed in small numbers.

“An attempt was made to include in one convenient volume, in graphic form as far as practicable, a compendium of the intelligence required by ships and craft…. The Monograph was distributed to forces, groups, ships and craft down to LCT’s. Intelligence in the Monograph was kept up to date by the dissemination of supplementary intelligence to be inserted in the volume. This included corrections to material previously issued, and new intelligence based on photographic interpretations and revisions and additions to the plans for the operation.” (Commander in Chief, United States Fleet, “Memorandum: Report of NORMANDY INVASION,” Washington, Sept. 15, 1944. Accessed on line.)

The Monograph was issued under the authority of Rear Admiral Alan G. Kirk, Commander of Task Force 122, the huge fleet of landing craft and supporting vessels that that would deliver American forces to the beach. It is impossible to overstate the importance of Kirk’s role in Operation Neptune: The planning, preparation for and execution of the actual amphibious landings at Omaha and Utah Beaches were his direct responsibility.

We are aware of institutional holdings of the Neptune Monograph at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, the National Archives in Kew, England, the D-Day Story Museum, and the Grant Verstandig Collection at the International Spy Museum. I am unaware of any other collection, institutional or otherwise, in which a set of the N.1 Appendix VII Annexe A Series Maps coexists with the Neptune Monograph.

Operation “Neptune” Force “L” Operation Orders… 20th May 1944
Mimeograph, 13 3/8”h by 8 3/8”w. Numerous sets of orders, some individually dated as late as June 2, 1944, anywhere from 1p to 14pp in length, totaling 97 pages plus several maps and diagrams. Minor wear, several sheets loose. Minor annotations throughout.

This is the set of “Top Secret” orders provided to officers who were part of Force “L” (including Lovell’s Landing Group 50), slated to land the second wave of men and material on the British and Canadian beaches during D-Day. The report and its amendments cover sailing times, sailing instructions, loading information, signals, codes, and everything else that would have been needed for an LST group flagship to complete a safe and timely transit with its group intact.

I am unable to locate another example of these orders, either in institutional collections or having appeared on the antiquarian market.

Amphibious Operations Invasion of Northern France Western Task Force June 1944
10 ¼”h by 8 1/8”w. [i]; ii – v; [blank]; 1-1 – 1-23; [blank]; 2-1 – 2-28; 3-1 – 3-11; [blank]; 4-1 – 4-28; 5-1 – 5-40; 6-1 – 6-22; 7-1 – 7-4 (complete per table of contents). Cover bears a “Secret” designation, later downgraded to “Confidential”. Stapled to the inside front cover is an errata slip and a downgrade to Confidential designation, the latter dated 1946.  Manuscript pencil to front cover reading “10 Copies Rec’d [illegible].”

This document was issued after D-Day, on Oct. 21, 1944, and represents the Navy’s definitive after-action report on the landings. This report, labeled “COMINCH P-006”, was produced as part of a series of reports on amphibious assaults and was of particular interest to the Navy as it was ramping up its landings in the southern Pacific and contemplating an invasion of Japan.

The report covers a great range of issues in regard to the operation: weapons used, the strength and weaknesses of various armored tanks and land ships, logistics, medical evacuations, and much more. The textual report is supplemented by numerous sketches, maps, diagrams, and aerial photos to illustrate the events in question. The progress of various assault forces is discussed and interviews with key officers are transcribed.

The report was classified “Secret”, with a distribution list somewhat over one thousand. Today it is represented in institutional collections, but we find no record of another copy having appeared on the antiquarian market.  Examples may be found at the National Defense University Library, the Navy Department Library, the US Naval Academy, the US Army War College, the Library of the Marine Corps, and the Australian War Memorial. An additional example may be found at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library.

Commander Lovell, USN Commander LST Group 50 [Lovell’s personnel files]
Two sets of army-issued personnel files, each 12” by 9”. Approximately 100 pages total, including medical checkups, pay stubs, travel documents, orders, commissions, and other documents.

Royal Lovell was born in 1903 in Fargo, North Dakota as one of four children of Bertha Taylor and Verner Lovell. His father was a prominent judge in Fargo and one of the leading Democrats in the state. Upon graduation from high school, Lovell entered the Naval Academy at Annapolis. As a midshipman in the class of 1926, he penned the third stanza of the Naval Academy’s fight song, Anchors Aweigh, which was added on to the original two stanzas composed in 1906 by Charles Zimmermann with lyrics by Alfred Hart Miles.

Following his graduation from Annapolis, there is a gap in his records until the 1930s. At this time, he was stationed in the South Pacific, with service in the Philippines. He continued to serve on various ships and bases for the rest of the decade. In 1941 he was sent to Pasadena to train at Caltech for a degree in aerology (the use of aeronautical technology to study the atmosphere), to supplement the meteorological degree he had earlier obtained.  He was then sent to Samoa to serve as an aerological officer, accruing flight time for the next year, and possibly serving as a meteorological officer. In 1943, he was ordered to report to an LST training facility in Norfolk, Virginia, and from there was sent to participate in the D-Day landings.

During the landings, Lieutenant Commander Lovell commanded LST Group 50, composed of LST-138, LST-139, LST-524, LST-527, LST-536, and LST-537. Each transport vessel could hold up to several hundred soldiers, as well as armored vehicles. Of the LSTs that embarked, all safely made it across on the first day, although LST-524 later grounded on June 8th with casualties. Lovell evidently succeeded in this posting, for he was promoted to full Commander on June 13th, 1944, backdated to before the invasion. He served out the rest of the war in Europe and, as mentioned earlier, earned both the Legion of Merit and the Croix de Guerre for his role in the liberation.

Following the war, Lovell remained in military service until 1947, when he was discharged for health reasons. In his personnel files, we find several letters exchanged by Lovell that show him to have been a respected commander. The addresses which he provides for leave purposes following the war indicate that he remained stationed in southern California. He died in 1985 and is buried at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, in San Diego.

The significance, rarity, sheer volume, and provenance of this assemblage of material is extraordinary, and it is all-but impossible that another collection of this quality and cohesiveness could be assembled today.   

Greg H. Williams, The U.S. Navy at Normandy: Fleet Organization and Operations in the D-Day Invasion (2020).