Robert S. Bond was a forward artillery observer for the 6th Armored Division in World War II. He landed with the division in Normandy, France, and advanced into Germany. Along the way, he participated in the fighting in France, Belgium, and Germany, including the Battle of the Bulge. In 1945, while in a single-propeller reconnaissance plane, he and the pilot spotted a prison-like place he later learned was Buchenwald concentration camp. Bond and the pilot landed and became witnesses to the grisly Nazi holocaust. Much later, after the war, he donated to the Library of Congress a collection of road maps and celebratory map of the 6th Division’s advance through Europe.
The highlight of the collection is the map “Campaigns of the Super Sixth Armored Division.” It contains a large map of the campaign from France to Germany. Emblems of the American fighting forces in Europe adorn the top of the map. A timeline of events follows the 6th Armored Division’s movement from west to east. On the bottom is list and description of the 52 points noted. An undamaged version may be viewed at the division’s commemorative site.
Three inset maps detail combat actions in Brest, Bastogne-Schnoenecken, and Nancy-Sarreguemines. Of particular interest is the inset map for Bastogne, Belgium, that illustrates the 6th Armored Division’s movement during the Battle of the Bulge. Responding to the German surprise offense that had the goal of reaching Antwerp, the division raced to help relieve the 101st Airborne Division and other units that were desperately holding the town of Bastogne. The battle’s turning point, illustrated by point 31, occurred on January 9 and 10, when the 6th Armored Division assaulted over snowclad hills and destroyed numerous German armored vehicles and positions. The last major German offensive on the Western Front was stopped cold.
Two sets of road maps are also part of the collection. The European Road maps, scaled at 1:200,000, and maps of France, scaled at 1:50,000, were likely used for navigation during the campaign. As Bond operated at the forefront of the division’s advance, he relied on his strong mathematical skills to plot the location of enemy forces, obstacles, roads, bridges, and other relevant tactical information. The maps bear place names well known to those familiar with the history of the Normandy landings and subsequent battles in France – Cherbourg, Brest, Avranches, and others.
For his conduct in the war, Bond’s family has informed the Library of Congress that he won the Silver Star for Bravery, three air medals, and a battlefield ribbon from a Belgium town during the Battle of the Bulge. He came home to Haynesville, Louisiana, in 1945, and met Wadean, whom he married on April 15, 1947. They were married for 54 years and had four children. Robert S. Bond died March 27, 2002.
The Library of Congress Geography and Map Division thanks Mr. Bob Bond for assisting with this blog.