21-Year Old WWII Soldier’s Sketchbooks Are Visual Diary of War
November 16, 2019 1:41 AM   Subscribe

21-Year Old WWII Soldier’s Sketchbooks Reveal a Visual Diary of His Experiences
A visual diary with 158 pencil sketches brings to life the wartime experience of noted architect Victor A. Lundy, who served in the U.S. 26th Infantry Division during World War II. In 1942, Lundy was 19, studying to be an architect in New York City. Excited about rebuilding Europe post-war, he and other college men enlisted in the Army Special Training Program (ASTP). But, by 1944, with D-Day planned, the Army needed reinforcements, and Lundy and his company were thrown into the infantry. Lundy couldn't believe it and recalled during an oral history interview that during lectures, he "never listened, I was busy sketching." But soon, "I sort of took to it. ... war experience just hypnotizes young men."

Lundy, who is now 92, recalls his inability to listen during lectures. “I was busy sketching,” he admits. During his time in the infantry, he continued to sketch in his pocket-sized notebooks. The drawings, which were created between May and November 1944—when Lundy was wounded—take us from his initial training in Fort Jackson to the front lines in France. The vivid images show everything from air raids to craps games for cigarettes. A sense of longing for home is a recurring theme in his sketches, which include detailed drawings of his bunk as well as particularly dream-like drawing, titled Home Sweet Home, that shows a soldier lounging on a hammock.

Lundy, who went on to have an acclaimed architecture career, donated his eight sketchbooks to the Library of Congress in 2009. The sketchbooks have all been digitally archived and are now available for viewing online. Lundy’s gift is a precious one, as in this age of continued war and terror it is more important than ever to learn from our past history.
posted by infinite intimation (11 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
Access posted by infinite intimation at 1:53 AM on November 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

This is really interesting, thank you!
posted by PMdixon at 4:04 AM on November 16, 2019

Wow, the peaceful landscapes and casual duly mixed in with undeniable war is fascinating, thank you for posting this!
posted by lepus at 6:42 AM on November 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

His figure drawings have a sort of detached tenderness I find really interesting.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:55 AM on November 16, 2019 [3 favorites]

When we get to WWII, I hope to use some of this in my US History class.

This is really great, thank you for posting!
posted by dfm500 at 8:30 AM on November 16, 2019 [4 favorites]

If you want additional visual materials for your history class, there is a graphic novel by Emmanuel Guibert called Alan's War. The drawings are not contemporary, but the narrative is taken from the personal accounts of Alan Cope, who served in Patton's Third Army. It is just memoir of the relatively mundane experiences of a regular soldier in the armored cavalry, but it is absolutely engrossing, and the art is fantastic.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:06 AM on November 16, 2019 [5 favorites]

Excellent sketches. They give a rich and varied sense of a soldier's range of experience.
posted by doctornemo at 11:06 AM on November 16, 2019

"If you want additional visual materials for your history class, there is a graphic novel by Emmanuel Guibert called Alan's War"

I looked, and it looks good! I will order a copy soon. Thank you for the recommendation.

Yes, I am always looking for more visual stuff, mostly so that I can support my English Learners, and help them get to the content without getting tied up in difficult English.

On a related note, I just got a class set of these: US Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation.

Be cool,

posted by dfm500 at 11:19 AM on November 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Great composition, accurate shading, and an excellent sense of perspective in what appear to be charcoal stick drawings. It would be interesting to record Lundy's thoughts and memories now as he looks through his archived WWII sketchbooks.

More about his architectural career and projects:I really like the sweeping curves of his designs.

[Not to Godwin in any way, but what irony lies in comparing Victor Lundy's long, successful life to the short, tragic life of a failed soldier/artist/wannabe architect whose decisions ultimately brought Lundy to France.]
posted by cenoxo at 12:39 PM on November 16, 2019 [3 favorites]

Lundy previously.
posted by bryon at 11:10 PM on November 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Although Lundy was not among them during WWII, American official war artists have been part of the American military since 1917 (WP).

More details and gallery links at They Drew Fire – Combat Artists of WWII (PBS). Parts 1-4 of the 2000 PBS documentary are listed on YT here.
posted by cenoxo at 6:16 AM on November 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

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