Banter #3 - A Needle in a Haystack
October 29th, 2010
Hello Collectors! It seems I have something of a mystery on my hands, one that I am not ashamed to say I need your help to unravel. Earlier this month I received an email from one Rolf G. Wilmink, the Colonel of the Plettenberger Schützengesellschaft, a German Shooting Club established nearly two centuries ago. Herr Wilmink is searching for a piece of his organizations history, an item that hopefully is not lost to time. His letter is as follows:
Dear Mr. Wittmann,
through the internet, I found a newspaper article about your trip to Germany and the returning of a shooters chain to the city of Rodenberg. I had two long phone calls today with Mr. Günther Wehrhan and Norbert Thombansen. Both described how much fun and what an emotional event the return of the chain was. I hope that you enjoyed your trip and have good memories to it.
I recieved your email address from them because I first want to thank you for your noble deed. The returning of such a piece of art is one thing, but to fly there on your own expenses and returning it for free to the city is something that made me speechless and glad, that things like this can still happen in today's world. Thank you very much! I think you can imagibe how exciting it isif an old item comes back to its hometown.
Please allow me to introduce myself:
My name is Rolf Wilmink, I am 51 years old and the CO (Colonel) of the "Plettenberger Schützengesellschaft von 1836 e. V." This shooters club recieved a flag in 1843 that went missing in 1945. I have enclosed a word document with all the information.
Our association has in 2011 it's 175th Jubilee and we thought it would be a good idea to try and make a copy of the old missing flag. As you can see in the enclosed photos, we have no complete picture of the flag so we tried to reconstruct it.
We I read about the story I had the idea to write to you. Maybe you can spread the enclosed information to them many contacts you have. My hope is that maybe a collector, that has the flag, can send us somegood close up pictures so that we have the possibility to produce an exact copy of the flag.
Our greatest joy would be if the collector maybe would be willing to sell it back to us. The other possibility is that we would invite him to Plettenberg as a guest of honor, all expenses paid.
Well, there you have it... The Plettenberg Shooting Banner, missing for 65 years. Finding this item is certainly a tall order given all the time that has passed, not to mention the fragile nature of this sort of textile artifact. I'd like to think, however, that nothing is impossible, and armed with the information provided us by Herr Wilmink, we might be able to recover a piece of lost history. If you have any information regarding this banner, be it the possible location or current owner, period photographs of the facings, et cetera, please contact Wittmann Antique Militaria so that we can put you in contact with Herr Wilmink. Hopefully the banner is still out there somewhere, and even in the event it cannot be physically returned to the previous owners, perhaps we can help the Plettenberger Schützengesellscahft in the construction of a new banner faithful to the original design. Thank you, and good luck!
Thomas T. Wittmann
Mouseover images for addtional information.
In 1843, the "Plettenberger Schützengesellschaft 1836 e. V.", a German traditional rifle association, was awarded an honorary flag by the German Queen Elisabeth of Prussia, wife of King Friedrich Wilhelm IV.
White silk. Side one : City-Emblem on a blue background surrounded by a wreath of oak leaves. Side two: Initials of the Queen under a crown in a blue field.
This flag, together with others, was declared missing on 8 May 1945, at the end of World War II. It is assumed that these flags were turned to authorities of the following US Occupation Force stationed from 20 April until 6 June 1945 in Plettenberg/Westphalia/West-Germany:
75th Infantry Division, (289, 290, 291 Inf. Reg.),
Fifth Section of the General Staff
Official Allied Expeditionary Force, Military Government
Staff members of this unit who might have knowledge of this and perhaps contribute some information are:
Major Bach, (military town-commander May 1945 )
Capt. John E. Clark, 2D Military Government Regiment, Det H2E3 - MGO -
Sgt. (?) Hans Bauer, Philadelphia, (Military Intelligence Service)
S/Sgt. R.E. Rosenthal, N.Y.C. (Military Intelligence Service)
Pvt. Harry M. James, MP (St. Louis, MO)
Sgt. Elmer Rouse (Rosi ? Rosy?)
Lt. Reissig, (MP officer)
1st Lt. John W. Mistler
Major Baker / Mr. Loring (?) / Mr. Hustenford / Mr. Ingersoll / Mr. Fenster / Mr. Ried / Capt. Sears /Lt. Williams / Lt. Murphy / Sgt. Tipke / Mr. Goldberg ("Goldi") / \Military doctor: Major Fellows (Unit was also known under the nickname "Diaper Division“.)
We will update this page with any additional information we uncover in our own research into the whereabouts of this banner, not to mention anything interesting uncovered by the collecting community. Hopefully the banner will be flying again in Plettenberg in the near future.