Presented is an original First Day Cover envelope signed by twelve members of the First American Volunteer Group, better known as the Flying Tigers. Accompanying the signed envelope are a silk 48-star WWII blood chit and embroidered Flying Tigers patches.
Printed on silk, the WWII blood chit has a 48-star American flag at top. Below the flag are detailed instructions for locals to protect and assist downed Allied pilots and aircrew against the Japanese forces. The instructions read, “Dear friend, I am an Allied Fighter, I did not come here to do any harm to you who are my friends. I only want to do harm to the Japanese and chase them away from this country as quickly as possible. If you assist me, my Government will sufficiently reward you when the Japanese are driven away.” The instructions are printed in multiple languages including English, French, Annamese, Chinese, Burmese, and Malay. Blood chits were often sewn into the jacket linings of Allied bombers and airmen.
Blood chits originated during WWII with the famous Flying Tigers, and were later issued to other aircrews flying over occupied Axis territory. Special operations forces carried blood chits, along with silk scarf escape maps and gold coins, to persuade civilians to assist their missions. Despite their marginal results, the distribution of printed blood chits among soldiers was a positive morale device. They gave soldiers hope that they might be helped, should they find themselves in enemy territory alone. The use of blood chits continued during each subsequent war, representing the languages of the affected region.
The First Day Cover envelope bears a color cachet honoring the first combat by Flying Tigers on December 20, 1941, and is signed by pilots Charlie Bond, Tex Hill, Chuck Older, Dick Rossi, Bob Neale, Ken Jernstedt, Erik Shilling, Donald Rodewald, Ed Rector, P. J. Greene, Charles Mott, and Camile Joseph Rosbert.
The First American Volunteer Group, also called the Flying Tigers, was a short-lived unit, but during the seven months they flew combat under the leadership of Claire Lee Chennault, they destroyed almost 300 Japanese attacking airplanes.
In April 1941, American President Franklin Roosevelt issued a secret executive order authorizing reserve officers and enlisted men to resign from the Army Air Corps, Naval, and Marine air services for the purpose of serving in the American Volunteer Group under the command of Claire Lee Chennault. Chennault divided his unit of 100 P-40 fighters into three squadrons, stationed two in Kunming and the third in Burma to protect China’s passage to the sea.
The AVG first saw combat on December 20, 1941 when ten enemy heavy bombers raided Kunming. AVG fighters intercepted the bombers, shooting down six and damaging three while sustaining no casualties of their own. With the support of Chinese code breakers and signal intelligence, the AVG continued to provide cover for Chinese ground forces and defend Chinese cities against attacks by enemy bombers. Their exploits and distinct plane nose art designs garnered them the legendary nickname of the Flying Tigers.
Blood Chit: Printed silk. Evidence of having been stitched inside a jacket at some point, with needle sized holes and pulling along outer margins. Several stains, indicating war use.
Two Flying Tiger Patches: A Flying Tigers CBI Theater Crest Patch and Flying Tigers 3rd Fighter Squadron Patch. Embroidered onto a royal blue background. In good condition, minimal fraying to threads and backing material.
Autographed First Day Cover: In overall very good condition. Signed by Charlie Bond, Tex Hill, Chuck Older, Dick Rossi, Bob Neale, Ken Jernstedt, Erik Shilling, Donald Rodewald, Ed Rector, P. J. Greene, Charles Mott, and Camile Joseph Rosbert. Autographs signed in ink or ballpoint, in both blue and black colors. 50 cent Marshall Islands stamp affixed in the upper right hand corner. Postmarked December 20, 1991, By the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Majuro. Color cachet at left corner, featuring a downed Japanese plane, with billowing smoke and flames coming from the front of the plane. Cachet design matches stamp design. Envelope measures 3.75”H x 7.5”W.
The silk blood chit, signed First Day Cover, and patches have been artfully and archivally mounted on acid-free mats, with black wooden spandrels, black fabric top mats, UV Conservation Clear glass, and custom-built black wooden frame.Framed Dimensions: 38 1/2" H x 20" W x 1 1/4" D.
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