Churchill/Thatcher Expert to Open Special D-Day Exhibit at National Churchill Museum
Allen Packwood, Director of the Churchill Archives Centre and a Fellow of Churchill College, will open a special D-Day exhibit, “D-Day Normandy: Operation Overlord,” at a reception from 4:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m., Friday, May 30, at the National Churchill Museum.
Open until July 20, the exhibit tells the story of the greatest amphibious operation ever launched–the Normandy Invasion—through the visions and images of three of the U.S. Navy’s most talented combat artists: Mitchell Jamieson, Alexander Russo and Dwight Shepler.
The speaker of the opening day event, Allen Packwood, is the first full-time director of the Churchill Archives Centre at Churchill College in Cambridge, England. He is an expert on Churchill, responsible for the personal papers of Lady Margaret Thatcher and other great figures of recent British history. In his presentations, Packwood brings to life the 3,000 boxes of Churchill letters and documents from his first childhood letters to his great war time speeches.
“We are so fortunate to be able to bring this exciting exhibit from The National Museum of the United States Navy in Washington, D.C. to Central Missouri,” says Kit Freudenberg, Interim Executive Director of the National Churchill Museum. “The 63 watercolors and drawings in this exhibit are chronologically arranged so visitors can receive a true sense of the Invasion from beginning to end.”
Widely hailed as the turning point of World War II, the Normandy Invasion, or Operation Overlord as it was known, sent 1,000 ships, the greatest armada ever to set sail, from the British Isles to the Normandy coast on the night of June 5, 1944, to launch the liberation of Europe. Over 200,000 Allied soldiers landed on the French beaches there and although the cost in human life was high, the invasion held and the door to Europe was opened. More than two months later, Paris was liberated and within the year Hitler was dead and German defeated.
While the invasion forces gathered throughout Great Britain, the U.S. Navy assigned combat artists to record the great adventure. During their training period, the artists lived with the crews of the vessels destined to take part in the Invasion. They rode the ships across the English Channel and accompanied the troops as they landed.
Jamieson crossed the channel on D-Day on the deck of an LST and went ashore with the first demolition units at Normandy. Russo accompanied naval forces on a landing craft on D-Day. Shepler was on an American destroyer during the invasion and recorded the holocaust that was the first American beachhead in France.
This special exhibit divides the paintings into five different sections: Pre-Invasion Days, D-Day: The Troops Move In; D-Day: On the Beach; D+1 through D+3 and D+4 and Aftermath.
The exhibit is on loan from the U.S. Navy Art Collection.