Sunday, May 22, 2011

R. Ernest Dupuy (1887-1975)

Author, Journalist, Editor, Military Historian, U.S. Army Officer
Born March 24, 1887, New York, New York
Died April 25, 1975, Walter Reed Army Hospital, Washington, D.C.

Richard Ernest Dupuy was not the typical (or stereotypical) pulp writer. When Weird Tales published his story "The Edge of the Shadow" in its July 1927 issue, Dupuy was already almost twenty years into his career as a U.S. Army officer. Dupuy's career would eventually carry him to the highest levels of command where he would witness the signing of the German surrender ending World War II in Europe.

Dupuy was born on March 24, 1887, in New York, New York, son of a French immigrant. As a young man he worked in a bank, but in 1909, Dupuy enlisted in the New York National Guard. During World War I, Dupuy saw action in an artillery unit in the St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne campaigns. After the war he transferred to the regular Army and was stationed at Camp Lewis, Washington. He also served in the Philippines. In later years, Dupuy returned east and was stationed on Governors Island in New York. In an army at ease during the interwar period, Dupuy made a name for himself as a polo player.

Prior to his military service, Dupuy joined the staff of the New York Herald, rising from cub reporter to ship news editor and feature editor by 1917. He also wrote fiction and non-fiction for magazines, even into the 1920s and '30s. In 1937, he co-wrote (with fellow military officer and Weird Tales contributor George Fielding Eliot) a book called If War Comes, in which the authors speculated on the course of future war in a world vastly changed from 1918. Over the course of his long career, Colonel Dupuy wrote more than one hundred articles and stories and twenty-two books.

As a second world war approached, Dupuy worked into positions of prominence. He served as official observer of the Spanish Civil War and was appointed to the post of public relations officer for the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1938. In 1941, he moved to the Department of War in Washington, D.C., eventually becoming chief of the news division of the department's Bureau of Public Relations. Dupuy could be heard on CBS radio in the late '30s as a commentator on the run-up to war.

During World War II, Dupuy served as chief of the news division for American forces in Europe. He was promoted to colonel and attached to Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) as director of public relations towards the end of the war. It was he who announced on the radio that Allied forces had landed in Normandy on June 6, 1944. Dupuy also witnessed the formal surrender of the German armed forces to the Russians in Berlin on May 9, 1945.

Dupuy continued writing after the war and retired as a colonel. His frequent collaborator was his son, Trevor N. Dupuy (1916-1995), also an army officer. Their first book together was To the Colors: The Way of Life of an Army Officer (1942). Their last was Encyclopedia of Military History (1975), published in the year of Colonel Dupuy's death.

R. Ernest Dupuy's Story in Weird Tales
"The Edge of the Shadow" (July 1927)

Further Reading
"The Edge of the Shadow" in 100 Creepy Little Creature Stories, edited by Robert Weinberg, et al. (Barnes and Noble, 1994)
"Col. R. Ernest Dupuy, 88, Dead; Publicist and Military Historian," New York Times, Apr. 26, 1975, p. 25.

R. Ernest Dupuy was a prolific writer of military history. His books, written on his own or with others, are too numerous to list here. A simple search on the Internet will turn up their titles and availability. You can read more about the Dupuys on the website of The Dupuy Institute, here.

World in Arms: A Study in Military Geography by R. Ernest Dupuy (1940).

Updated on June 10, 2014.
Text and captions copyright 2011, 2023 Terence E. Hanley


  1. Col. R Ernest Dupuy was my grandfather. I was not aware of The Edge of the Shadows. A couple more interesting tidbits about him: He never attended West Point; he was given an honorary degree and promoted within the Army. He was also the person who announced D-Day to the world. The story goes that there was bickering between countries involved about which one would have the honor of making the announcement. Granddad got fed up after several hours had passed, believeing the information should be made public, so he made the decision to go on the air himself.

    1. Good afternoon,

      I need a portrait photo of your grandfather Colonel Ernest Dupuy, to include in a book we are compiling on SHAEF. Would you be able to send me one. I'll pay whatever cost is involved.

      Winston Ramsey
      After the Battle
      The Mews
      Hobbs Cross House
      Old Harlow
      Essex CM17 0NN

    2. Dear Mr. Ramsey,
      The obituary I have listed in my posting includes a photograph. The New York Times, an agency within the U.S. government, or a unit in the U.S. Army may have a photograph you can use.


  2. Thank You, Anonymous,

    I'm always glad to hear from family members and to add even a little of the personal touch to the biographies I write here.