In honor of the upcoming anniversary of D-Day, the Veterans History Project (VHP) is excited to debut a recently digitized new acquisition: a rare map used during the D-Day invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944.
Part of the Joseph Vaghi collection, the map was given to the Veterans History Project by Vaghi’s sons Joseph, Nino, Vincent and Peter in 2022. It depicts the Normandy coast at Colleville-sur-Mer, also known as Omaha Beach. Issued less than a month before D-Day, the map bears the ultra-secret “BIGOT” classification. BIGOT was the highest-level military security classification, above Top Secret.
A topographical map, it contains a profile view of the coastline to facilitate navigation, and as Vaghi’s note on the bottom indicates, he used “this chart during his stay on the beach.” Vaghi served as a “beachmaster,” a job that he explained in his oral history was akin to “a traffic cop at a very busy intersection”—an accurate understatement! Another beachmaster in VHP’s collections, Mortimer Caplan, offered a similar assessment of the role.
VHP is grateful to the Vaghi family for their generous donation of this rare map, which enhances the existing collections of his materials. For additional narratives relating to D-Day, please see our related online presentations, including D-Day Journeys, our award-winning Story Map, released in 2019 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day. And check this space tomorrow for a guest blog post by a Library staffer on her personal connection to D-Day.