We have seen numerous fictional iterations of the momentous historical events that unfolded during the Second World War. But in reality, in between the epochal scenarios and occasions, it was the ordinary front-line soldier who carried on with his best foot forward. A volume of eight sketchbooks (that US Library of Congress has in its disposal since 2009) mirrors such an incredible scope of WWII, with tinges of poignant moments. Drawn by then 21-year old soldier Victor Lundy, the sketches provide a glimpse into the visual record of the ‘daily’ nature of the fateful conflict. Suffice it to say, these drawings present the pure perspective of the soldier, with the remarkable visual narrative trimming the line between the spectator and the participant, thus showcasing many aspects the ‘true’ side of war.
Lundy, who is now 92, did go on to become an accomplished architect with a bevy of fascinating projects to his name. In fact, a son of Russian immigrants, Lundy was already a student of architecture in New York when he was engrossed by the notion of participating in rebuilding projects in post-war Europe. As a result he enrolled in the Army Special Training Program. But by 1944 with D-Day being around the corner, the army needed reinforcements; and thus 21-year old Lundy was transferred to one of the infantry divisions serving in the front lines. The turning point was reflected by Lundy’s own words –
August 25th 1944, there’s a sketch which says ‘overseas at last,’ and since then, I realized we were part of a very significant occasion…this is real.
And in spite of what may seem as discomforting turn of events to a young soldier, Lundy continued with his detailed sketches in a number of pocket-sized notebooks. Most of these WWII-themed drawings were made in between the period of May and November of 1944, capturing a range of places and moments from the training days in Fort Jackson to the front lines in France. To that end, the sketches present a spectrum of details when it comes to the nuances of total war. And thus we are witness to air raids, camouflaged gun positions, craps for cigarettes, longing for ‘home sweet home’, and tragic deaths – all depicted by a real-time soldier who endeavored to visually ‘record’ the daily triumphs and rigors of Second World War.