“Destroyer Gunners ‘Get the Word” by Dwight Shepler.
By chance, combat artist Dwight Shepler was an old New England skiing buddy of Emmons’ executive officer at Normandy (later CO) LCdr. Eugene Foss, USNR. Shepler, a Williams College alumnus and Foss, a Harvard graduate, had known one another before the war.

Click on any image to view it in more detail. Compare also with EmmonsReport and Narritive of the Operations.
Under the Enemy’s Nose Target of Opportunity The Battle for Fox Green Beach The Tough Beach Usurper's Watchtower

It was no surprise, then, that as a combat artist who had already documented early action in the Pacific war, Shepler was assigned to cover the D-day invasion embarked in Emmons.

With his Kodak 35 camera to take the photos from which many of his paintings were derived, he documented preparation in England and the opening phases of the battle from Emmons, and later went ashore. The result was a large body of work, much of which may be found on the web in the Naval Historical Center’s collection The Invasion of Normandy.

Seven watercolors and oil on canvas works tell the story from Emmons’ perspective, from the preparation on board ship (top) to opening fire. The situation in doubt at Omaha Beach is well captured in scenes from both off and on the beach.

A key to the battle was the Church of Notre Dame at Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, with a lovely 11-12th century steeple, faintly visible in the fifth work presented here. RAdm. Bryant in Texas, commanding the bombardment group, sent word that Germans were using it as an observation post and wanted Emmons to take it out without hurting the rest of the church. Sharpshooting Emmons succeeded in doing so, but the memory of demolishing it haunted shipmates as artist Shepler captures in the final watercolor in this sequence. (Post-war, the steeple was rebuilt.)

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Dwight Clark Shepler was born at Everett, Massachusetts and was graduated from Williams College in 1928, also studying at the Boston Museum School of Fine Art.

In May 1942 he received a commission in the Navy’s officer-artist program and soon saw combat in the South Pacific, initially from on board San Juan (CL 54) at the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands and then at Guadalcanal. In 1943, he went to England and in 1944 joined Emmons for the Normandy invasion, going ashore 11 June. With events fresh in his mind and captured on film, he went home to Massachusetts to prepare more detailed paintings, then returned to the Pacific. Embarked in DesRon 5 flagship Flusser, he observed the landings at Ormoc Bay and Lingayen Gulf and, from a PT boat, operations at Corregidor and Bataan. Again at home to finish the last of his more than 300 paintings plus two large murals for the U.S. Naval Academy, he retired from active duty with the rank of commander and was awarded the Bronze Star.

After the war, he continued his career painting landscapes, sports scenes and portraits in watercolor as well as commercial illustrations and advertisements. He also remained active as an educator and was President of the Guild of Boston Artists. He he died in 1974.

Many of his works are represented in the Naval Historical Center’s on-line collection.