Return to Naval Historical Center home page. Return to Art Collection Page

DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060

Amphibious Operations


Of all the fighting forces of the Navy, the least understood are the Amphibious Forces. In a general way, of course, the public is aware that special craft, large and small, are designed to hit enemy beaches, disgorge their cargoes of men and material and then back off under their own power. There have been photographs and pictures of the assault waves doing this very thing. But nowhere, until this collection of paintings was put before Americans at home, has there been a graphic representation of where these craft came from, how they were operated, and how the officers and crews who manned them were trained.

And yet, the Amphibious Forces are a branch of the Naval Service which must appeal particularly to the hearts of Americans since they are in a very real sense " the infantry of the Navy," and their personnel and equipment, because of their front-line duties, form the "fightingest team" afloat. The Amphibious Forces have another aspect which also must commend them especially to Americans; they are brand new. There was never anything like them before.

The artists, whose work is here displayed, have felt and captured the deep and essentially American spirit of the Amphibious Forces. Wisely eschewing any attempt to glamorize their subject, they have done us all the great service of presenting their subject in the clear strong light of reality. The result is brilliant and stirring it is the truth.

Vice Admiral Daniel E. Barbey, USN, Commander of the Seventh Amphibious Force, Pacific


Marines on the beach attacking TarawaBeachhead Scene, Marines at Tarawa
Kerr Eby #23
Charcoal & Pastel, 1944
Gift of Abbott Laboratories
88-159-DG


 Marines leaving the transport for the attack on Tarawa.

 

Marines going down the net into the landing craftDown the Net
Kerr Eby #10
Charcoal, 1944
Gift of Abbott Laboratories
88-159-CT

 

Like a flowing stream, Marines come over the side of the transport for the attack on Tarawa.

 

Dead Marines inside an amphibious tractorGrapes of Wrath
Kerr Eby #34
Charcoal, 1944
Gift of Abbott Laboratories
88-159-DR


I make no apology for drawings such as this. The official designation of my job was activities of the Marines and dying terribly and magnificently is one of those activities. The inside of an amphibious tractor hit by an enemy mortar on the beach at Tarawa, it grimly shows the cost of the war.

 

body of a marine Ebb Tide, Tarawa
Kerr Eby #33
Charcoal, 1944
Gift of Abbott Laboratories
88-159-DQ


The attack was at flood tide and when the sea went out over the reef, this and much besides was left. In two wars, this I think is the most frightful thing I have seen, perhaps because of its isolation on the reef.

 

Marines in landing craft with explosions in front of the themThe Wave Breaks on the Reef
Kerr Eby #2
Charcoal, 1944
Gift of Abbott Laboratories
88-159-CL


Jarred to a halt by a hidden reef, an assault boat is abandoned by a unit of Marines. Doomed to near extinction by a storm of enemy fire, long since trained on this objective, the group pushes forward to a man into the hindering water, into the teeth of the deadly storm.

 

Marines in the water moving toward the beachD-Day on Tarawa
Kerr Eby #5
Charcoal, 1944
Gift of Abbott Laboratories
88-159-CO

Wading through a leaden surf, under an overcast sky, wave on wave of U.S. Marines doggedly brave a deadly sheet of fire to secure a beachhead on Tarawa on November 20, 1943. Overhead Navy dive and torpedo bombers scream down through a blanket of black smoke to blast at the Japanese, entrenched in well nigh invulnerable pillboxes.

 

Marines on the beach The Hard Road to Triumph
Kerr Eby #1
Charcoal, 1944
Gift of Abbott Laboratories
88-159-CK


Bodies angled forward, grim Marines press forward against the entrenched Japanese on Tarawa in the Gilberts in November, 1943. In the background an armored tractor lumbers forward, prodding the enemy defenses with fingers of fire.

 

Mariens passing by one of there ownMarine Fall Forward
Kerr Eby #3
Charcoal, 1944
Gift of Abbott Laboratories
88-159-CM


The road to victory in the Pacific is littered with the bodies of gallant fighting men. Like this Marine (right center) who fell in the assault on a Tarawa pillbox, the Honored Dead Fell forward, facing the foe, their feet driving to the last ebb of strength to carry on to the objective.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Forward to next page

search the NHC site | artists list | exhibit listing
Return to Naval Historical Center home page. Return to Art Collection Branch

1 April 2001