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World War II Navy Art: A Vision of History

Dwight C. Shepler (1905-1974)

Commander, USNR

Born in Everett, Massachusetts, and a graduate of Williams College, Shepler became a member of the American Artists' Group and the American Artists Professional League. Commissioned in the Navy in May 1942 and assigned to the Combat Art Section, he first traveled with a destroyer on Pacific convoy duty. From the mud of Guadalcanal, through the years of the Allied build-up in England, to the memorable D-Day on the French coast, he painted and recorded the Navy's warfare. For his service as a Combat Artist, the Navy awarded Shepler the Bronze Star.

After the war, he continued his career as a pioneer watercolorist of the high ski country and served as president of the Guild of Boston Artists.


First Reconnaissance -- Manila Harbor
Dwight Shepler #176
Watercolor, 1945
30 1/4h" x 38 1/2w"


Two PT's prowled inside the breakwater entrance of Manila Harbor on February 23, 1945, first U.S. Naval vessels to enter in three years. Treading the mine strewn waters of Manila Bay, PT's 358 and 374 probed into the shoal harbor waters where countless enemy vessels sat on the bottom in mute testament of the severity of the fast carrier strikes of the fall of 1944. Manila smoked and exploded from the final fighting in Intramuros and the dock area.


Minesweeper Before Corregidor
Dwight Shepler #188
Watercolor, February 1945
30h" x 38 1/2w"


Cleaning a pathway through the mines off Bataan peninsula, these hardy little minesweepers can work under severe Japanese coastal bombardment. Despite Army air cover overhead, the enemy shore guns sank the motor minesweeper YMS-48 and damaged the destroyers Fletcher and Hopewell. On the following day, a naval task group landed Army troops on the peninsula and a short time thereafter resistance ceased on Corregidor and Bataan.


Bridge of the USS HornetThe Spider and the Fly -- USS Hornet
Dwight Shepler #191
Oil on canvas, 1945
28h" x 40w"



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1 June 2001