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Private First Class Robert Nelson Shotton

  • Unit: 60th Medical Battalion, 500th Collecting Company
  • Service Number: 33195747
  • Date of Birth: September 21, 1911
  • Entered the Military: August 24, 1942
  • Date of Death: June 6, 1944
  • Hometown: Scranton, Pennsylvania
  • Place of Death: English Channel, off the coast of Omaha Beach
  • Award(s): Purple Heart
  • Cemetery: Tablets of the Missing. Normandy American Cemetery, Colleville-sur-Mer, France
Contributed by Kimberly Ortiz
Mentored by Ms. Eden McCauslin
Woodrow Wilson High School

Early Life

Robert Nelson Shotton was born on September 21, 1911, in Scranton, Pennsylvania. His parents, Thomas and Anne Gillespie Shotton, had seven children: Donald, Douglas, Margaret, John, Thomas, Jr., and Robert. Thomas supported the family, who were members of the Westminster Presbyterian Church.

In the late 1920s, the family moved to Washington, D.C., to manage a large boarding house on Massachusetts Avenue. In November 1939, his father, Thomas, died.

Robert graduated from high school and had some college experience. Throughout the 1930s, city directors list him as living in Washington, D.C., working in various retail jobs. His draft registration card, completed on October 16, 1940, lists his employer as Fetterman Hardware and Electric Company on H Street.

Shotton was drafted on August 24, 1942, and entered service at Fort Meyer, Virginia.


Life in Washington D.C. in the 1940s

Washington, D.C. was the epicenter of the war effort during World War II. Foreign dignitaries, soldiers, and civilian workers walked the streets of D.C., going from one governmental building to another or driving down Pennsylvania Avenue from the U.S. Capitol to the White House. During the war, D.C.’s population was 500,000, with more than an additional 500,000 people coming in from the surrounding areas for their work (which still rings true today). At the time of the war, D.C. did not have home rule yet, which required Shotton to travel to Virginia to enlist in the U.S. Army since D.C. is not a state. Shotton lived quite close to our school, Woodrow Wilson Senior High School, in upper Northwest D.C. 

Military Experience

Shotton was assigned to the 60th Medical Battalion, 500th Medical Collecting Company. A Collecting Company’s job was to collect the wounded and carry them to the nearest aid station. Following basic training, Shotton’s unit trained at Camp Butner, North Carolina, and received additional amphibious training at Camp Pickett, Virginia. The unit departed from New York and arrived in England in January 1944.

The unit departed for France with the invasion forces. Their mission was to accompany the 6th Engineer Special Brigade and clear the Dog Green sector of Omaha Beach of casualties before advancing inland.

Shotton was aboard LCI-92 when it was hit by enemy fire, and the troop compartment caught fire. The 500th Collecting Company did come ashore at 4:15 p.m., but the attack on the ship killed Shotton and ten other members of his unit. The burns made his remains unidentifiable. 


On June 6, 1944, a large force of American, British, and Canadian soldiers sailed out from ports in lower England to cross the English Channel in the direction of a region of France called Normandy. The Allied forces would storm beachheads, diving headfirst into German troops posted along the 50-mile stretch of coast, and fight until August of 1944 to break through the German line and begin liberating northern France. This day, also known as D-Day, would start the end of German occupation in continental Europe and the end of the war.

On June 6, 1944, the city of Washington D.C. lost a man who was willing to sacrifice his own life for the safety and care of others while serving in the 60th Medical Battalion, 500th Medical Collection Company. Private First Class Robert H. Shotton, 29 years old, could not make it back home to their families after fulfilling their duty to our country while participating in the landing at Omaha Beach. About 250 yards offshore, his craft struck a mine, which resulted in casualties. The blast burned Private Shotton and another soldier, and their remains were unable to be identified.

Private First Class Shotton and his boatmates are true heroes that should be remembered, who paid the ultimate price by putting their lives on the line while attending to the wounded during D-Day and beyond. We know that you were starting to build your future. Even if you did not have a chance to live that future of yours fully, I want to let you know, Private Shotton, that even if you may not have a proper tombstone so we can pay our respects the way it should be: your sacrifice will not be forgotten. On behalf of the Washington D.C. community, I wanted to thank you for all the work you did and your service to our country. May you rest in peace, Private First Class Shotton.


When I was accepted into the Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom Institute, I read the quote, “It’s not just an day… it’s an experience.” I still remember thinking that now that I’ve been accepted into this once-in-a-lifetime experience, I will try my hardest to make the most out of this experience and not let anything get in my way. I found this experience a way to prove to people but, most importantly, that things can be done if you set your mind to it and not let anything get in your way of achieving what you want. I found this experience exceptionally uplifting and incredibly eye-opening going from the process of learning more about the war’s background leading up to being on the beaches where it all took place.

This experience helped me put things into perspective. It wasn’t just about pictures and reading in the textbooks from class anymore. It wasn’t about learning the same thing over and over again, just at a different grade level. Being in the institute, each of us learned about someone’s life and how they individually impacted the lives of so many others because of the sacrifices they made. Then finally, we learned how they all came together to make one significant impact on the world, our history, but, more importantly, our future. If it were not for this experience, I would have never known the true meaning of sacrifice, and for all of this, I will always be grateful.


Primary Sources

[Anti-aircraft gun on the top of the Government Printing Office.] Photograph. D.C. Public Library.

District of Columbia. 1930 U.S. Federal Census. Digital images.

Grave of an unknown American soldier. Normandy Cemetery. Photograph. AtlasObscura.

Mateyack, James. Broached landing craft on Omaha Beach during the storm. Photograph. June 21, 1944. National Archives and Records Administration (111-SC-193919).

Mydans, Carl. Negro backyard near Capitol, Washington, D.C…. Photograph. September 1935. Library of Congress (2017713921).

Operation Report: 500th Medical Collecting Company, [60th Medical Battalion]. U.S. Army Medical Department Office of Medical History. Accessed April 9, 2021.

Operation Report: Neptun, Omaha Beach, 26 February – 26 June 1944. U.S. Army Medical Department Office of Medical History. Accessed April 9, 2021.

Pennsylvania. Lackawanna County. 1920 U.S. Federal Census. Digital images.

Robert N. Shotton. Headstone and Interment Records for U.S. Military Cemeteries on Foreign Soil, 1942-1949.

Robert N. Shotton. Pennsylvania and New Jersey Church and Town Records, 1669-2013.

Robert N. Shotton. Pennsylvania Birth Certificates, 1906-1911. Digital images.

Robert N. Shotton. World War II Hospital Admission Card Files, 1942-1954.

Robert N. Shotton. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946.

Robert Nelson Shotton. World War II Draft Cards, Young Men, 1940-1947. Digital images.

“Thomas Shotton [Obituary].” Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, The Evening News [Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania], November 16, 1939. (131051434).

Washington, D.C. 1931 City Directory. Digital images.

Washington, D.C. 1934 City Directory. Digital images.

Secondary Sources

Carter, Elliot. “Washington During Wartime.” Architect of the Capital. Accessed April 9, 2021.

Chen, C. Peter. “LCI(L)-class Landing Ship.” World War II Database. Accessed April 9, 2021.

“Robert N. Shotton.” American Battle Monuments Commission. Accessed April l9, 2021.

Shilcutt, Tracy. Infantry Combat Medics in Europe, 1944-45. London: MacMillan, 2013.

“Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1940-1945: USS LCI(L)-92.” HyperWar: U.S. Navy in World War II. Accessed April 9, 2021.

Swain, Claudia. “Standing Room Only: DC’s WWII Housing Crunch.” WETA. April 8, 2014.

​“USS LCI(L)-92.” NavSource Online: Amphibious Photo Archive. Accessed April 9, 2021.