As seen in The Telegraph, This momentous collection will include one of the first US flags flown on D-Day


Press Release

June 2024: Bayliss Rare Books is delighted to present The Beckham Collection, one of the most unique and unprecedented D-Day collections to ever come to market ahead of the 80th anniversary on Thursday 6th June 2024.

The highlight of this never-before-seen collection is one of the first flags flown on D-Day; an original, battle-scarred, 48 state US flag from the minesweeper USS YMS-381, one of the first boats to start Operation Neptune. Flags flown on D-Day are Incredibly rare with only a handful having ever come to the market and they always command significant sums. Unlike other flags, the provenance of this flag is unequalled and features the original customs documentation placing it back to the Normandy Beaches from where the ship’s captain, William Beckham mailed it from in September 1944.

The launch of this D-Day collection by Bayliss Rare Books marks the first time the flag has emerged in public and is the first time it has been offered for sale.

Alongside the flag, the collection also features the original D-Day assault documents, hand annotated by Beckham, detailing his mission orders. These documents were in use on D-Day. The near-suicidal minesweeping mission of Y-1 Squadron (the first wave of boats to start D-Day) was of critical importance to the success of the entire Invasion. After being spotted, the Squadron was on the receiving end of German gunfire. To see Beckham’s flag, maps, charts, course documents and orders provides a physical connection with the world-historic D-Day event that is nothing short of extraordinary.

What makes the Beckham Collection unique is the fact that recipients of TOP SECRET – BIGOT documents were under orders to destroy such assault papers immediately after their missions had been completed, and this destruction had to be officially witnessed and recorded under the Official Secrets Act. However, Beckham instead kept everything.

After eighty years in storage and never seen before, it is remarkable to have, for the first time ever, a D-Day flag complete with the relevant documentation available on the market. Each individual document of this collection is rare, but to have the collection as a whole is breathtakingly unusual and completely unprecedented.

Oliver Bayliss, Owner & Founder of Bayliss Rare Books says ‘this one-of-a-kind collection tells the story of a captain and his boat on the most important day of the 20th century. Alongside the original shrapnel-scarred flag, the archive contains Beckham’s set of D-Day documents, some annotated by the commander whilst on operations and under German fire. There is nothing else like this. It is truly awe-inspiring to offer one of the most important D-Day collections to ever come to market just before the 80th anniversary.’

For further information on The Beckham Collection and high-res images please contact:

Oliver Bayliss – | +447787359977


Oliver Bayliss