“War experience just hypnotizes young men.” So said Victor Lundy, a World War II veteran who recorded many of his war memories through his sketchbooks, now donated to the Library of Congress.
I interviewed Lundy for the Library’s Veterans History Project, and his drawings — and memories — are worth a visit on Veterans’ Day 2010.
“I never listened, I was busy sketching,” said Lundy. And could he sketch! The gentle portrait of Finey Towery in France really caught my attention. Staff Sgt. Towery hailed from Kentucky, and Lundy still recalls the song Towery often sang: “In the Pines.”
Lundy was in college, studying architecture, when he enlisted in a special Army engineering unit during World War II. He ended up instead at a boot camp in South Carolina, in 1944.
He’d use a pocket-sized pad to portray the daily routines in the PX, scenes of men dozing, and training sessions. He sketched while his ship crossed the Atlantic — the drawing “Goodbye Broadway, Hello France” captures the excitement. He sketched his unit landing at Cherbourg on Sept. 7 — the first big convoy in Normandy since D-Day on June 6. “I realized we were part of a very significant occasion,” he said. Lundy recorded French farmhouses and villages, battle scenes, Allied planes, and casualties he witnessed while serving as a squad leader.
After the war, Lundy became a noted architect. His sketchbooks and the oral history he offered show a serious young man’s coming of age, from college kid to seasoned soldier in a world war.