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Interview with Victor Lundy [3/11/2010]

Sarah Rouse:

Today is March 11th, 2010, and we're here at the Library of Congress, interviewing Mr. Victor Lundy for the [Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division and the [Library of Congress] Veterans History Project. I'm Sarah Rouse and my colleague Karen Chittenden [cataloging specialist in PandP] is with us sitting here as well. Mr. Lundy, the Prints and Photographs Division is delighted to have your architectural archive, but among the materials also are included some wonderful sketchbooks that describe part of your time in the Army. Maybe you could start the interview by telling us a little bit about how you got into the Army, what unit, generally what was your Army experience. So, when did and how did you get going in the Army?

Victor Lundy:

This is Victor Lundy speaking. Pearl Harbor was an unbelievable event in 1941, and I was starting my third year at the school of architecture at New York University--architectural trainingand I enlisted in 1942. I was 19 years old at the time and preparing for enlistment. Many of us at the architectural school took special courses in camouflage. It seemed appropriate with our training, and we were supposed to be officers in a camouflage corps. And strange things happen in wartime and the first strange thing was when I finally got in the Army, that camouflage corps had disappeared. I ended up in the Air Force and I was sort of planning--hoping--to be a navigator in the Air Force, when an important event occurred. And it's an untold story, but it represents how many people of my circumstance ended up in the infantry.

ASTP stood for Army Specialized Training Program, and it was a new program that really got guys like myself, who were, you know, pretty advanced in university training, interested. And we had to take examinations and ended up in universities around the country. And I ended up at the University of Maine in Orono, Maine, for eight months, in advanced engineering. I worked hard, in fact I got straight A's; I was really interested in that program. And we were supposed to graduate as captains in the engineer corps, helping to rebuild Europe and assess damage after the war was over. And then the unthinkable happened. It became obvious to the generals in Washington, planning what was to come, that we were going to suffer enormous losses in the invasion of Europe. And then just overnight, I still remember that winter, they just absolutely disbanded the ASTP program and all of us ended up in the infantry. And I remember when we were told that on a snowy evening in Maine, where the : commanding officer said, You're moving to Tennessee. And we all thought, Oh, University of Tennessee. They have a very good engineering school, I hear. And he said, Engineering school, baloney, you're headed for the infantry. And that's what happened. And so we joined the 26th Infantry Division, on maneuvers in Tennessee and it was February or March, 1944 that that happened. And these sketchbooks started at that time, in May of '44, spring of '44.

You know, you have to know that we were sort of handpicked, we were sort of the intellectual kids, I mean I was only nineteen, twenty at the time, but we were smart. And I think that's an untold story, about, you know, hundreds of thousands of young men like myself. We were probably the most intelligent infantry men in the history of warfare. But anyway, at the time I was pretty husky. And when I got off the truck on maneuvers in Tennessee they handed me a BAR, which is a Browning automatic rifle, weighs 65 pounds, and I was a BAR man. I had never so much as shot a BB gun in my life. But I sort of took to it. There was something kind of--you know, war experience just hypnotizes young men. And so the sketchbooks sort of started. And when we were on maneuvers in Tennessee, oh, for a couple of months, we transferred to Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and what was interesting and is probably apparent in the sketchbooks, almost none of us really believed that were were going to end up in combat, in World War Two. I mean, anyone who has see the "Band of Brothers" series on TV which I love to watch. I mean, those troops of the 101 st Airborne has two and a half years of specialized training to do what they had to do. We had three and a half months. And from May 10, when we were in Fort Jackson, to arriving in Cherbourg, September 7th, 1944. And during that time, as-I never believed we were going into combat-and I was sort of a-- I spread the rumor that we were going over to guard Chartres or Beauvais Cathedral, you know, stories like that.

While we were in Fort Jackson, D-Day happened, and--can I pause for a moment? I'm sort of flipping -if there's something--

Sarah Rouse:

Well, we'll interfere if you're not going in a good direction, but you are right on target.

Victor Lundy:

What I'm doing, I'm flipping the pages. I think the sketchbooks sort of indicate what we were going through. Well, you know what? Maybe as I flip the pages, I can just sort of react to what I see. Are we on?

Sarah Rouse:

Yes, carry on.

Victor Lundy:

As the sketchbooks sort of indicate the sort of training we were having. The sketchbooks were only three-by-five looseleaf sketchbooks. So they were small enough that I kept them in my breast pocket and used black Hardtmuth leads [drawing pencil] to do them. They probably reflect half of a disbelief that were were really going to go to war. We were there at Fort Jackson on D-Day, and the sketchbooks were done during the months of May, June, July. And in August, middle of August, we shipped by train out of Fort Jackson to New York harbor. I was very close to home. I'm a New Yorker by birth. I was born on the middle of Manhattan in 1923. I never told anyone, but the night before we shipped out I actually sneaked out of camp to say So long to my folks and girlfriend at the time, which was a terrible thing. I could have been shot for doing that. And, I think the sketchbooks--you know we talked about icon events, like, Wait'll you hit the gangplank, and so I have sketches of the gangplank, and reactions to views from standing on the deck of the ship. And 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. You know Patton's Army, that was the 3rd Army that we were joining, had gone through all of the really heavy fighting and they were stymied at the Moselle [River], the Siegfried Line, and I think that was what the generals had anticipated, that there would be a real need for reinforcement divisions. We were in the 26th Infantry Division, 3rd Army with General Patton. It was actually the 104th Infantry Regiment, Company K, 3rd Platoon, 1 st Squad. I ended up a squad leader in the 1 st squad before I got wounded. And there was a problem until late August '44, opening up harbors in Normandy. And we were in the first big convoy to land in a Normandy port. Cherbourg harbor had opened up and we landed on September 7th.

And I must say, the preamble to all of that, in my case, was not paying attention to lectures. I mean, whenever the informing sergeants at Fort Jackson would give lectures on how to use the BAR, I never listened, I was busy sketching. And let me tell you, when that convoy was parked outside Cherbourg harbor, with ships as far as the eye can see, I thought to myself, this is real. And I sort of paid more attention after that.

The sketches sort of indicate my reactions. I have always--I draw quite fast and I still do. For me, drawing is sort of synonymous with thinking. And so I actually drew sometimes while I was moving. Since that was sort of a new experience, General Patton had new troops stay out of combat in Normandy. And you know, the weather was still pretty pleasant. It was September, basically the month of September. And we were in, you know, base camps and the countryside, and fed well, and--but we got lectures that we all paid attention to, for sure. And Patton had the new troops visit the D-Day beaches. May I pause for a moment, until I find that sketch?

Sarah Rouse:

Sure. We've got them here as well. [ ... ] We're looking at them too, Mr. Lundy.

Victor Lundy:

The sketches sort of-- Were were young guys and flirted with the French girls. And you could tell I was an architect, I was fascinated with some of the towns we visited, drew sketches of churches, stone buildings. Bourg de Lestre was an interesting place.

But then, the first serious event happened that really jolted all of us. We visited Quineville [spells] a few times. And that was the beach that was supposed to have been cleared of dangerous things so we could really experience what camouflaged German gun positions looked like, what the beaches looked like when Americans stormed them, barbed wire entanglements, and so on. And I remember, and if you look at that sketch, Part ofthe Atlantic Wall, September 21, Quineville. I was up--I was always interested in drawing, so I went up on a high rise which overlooked the ocean--you can see convoy ships in the distance--sketching away. And then suddenly I hear some pop-pop noises, not very loud, and in the distance--actually I show it to to left of the those houses on the right of the sketch. And then after an interval of about five minutes, more popping. What had happened was that some young GIs didn't pay attention to a sign which says, Do not step over this-- You know, they saw something that looked like a souvenir. They stepped over it. And what they stepped on, that killed-- Six men from L Company were killed in that event. I must say the Germans have very perverse and impossibledetect booby traps. I dunno if you've heard of--we called them Bouncing Bettys--there were just three little prongs that stuck up in the grass, or whatever, impossible to see. And when you stepped on them, that would depress a detonator and something the size of a Coke can would fly up, waist-high, and explode. They were called Bouncing Bettys. And then, when these six guys from L Company were in distress, six more jumped in to help them, and it was just a mess. Anyway, that was our first experience and we knew we were at war. And I began trying to remember what I was supposed to know about firing a BAR.

These sketchbooks have some intervals for sort of a sad reason. I had many more of these. At a certain point, you know, to safeguard them, I had them--when someone else could transfer them to your baggage, which you were supposed to pick up if you made it out finally ... So, those sketchbooks--when I finally got my stuff, after I was wounded--they were gone. So, somewhere in the world are these sketches, sketchbooks that may turn up. That accounts for the blanks.

Then, you may have heard of the-I think it was called the Red Ball Express [Allied convoy system, operating Aug.-Nov. 1944 in Europe ]-trucks. When we were finally ready to go-- Oh, I must say a funny event, while we were still in Normandy, I remember one day. You know we looked all squeakyyclean and innocent, and probably dumb-looking to the real pros. And I remember truckfuls of-- We replaced the 4th Armored Division, which was an elite troop, division of General Patton. These were really tough guys. And I remember them riding by and roaring with laughter as we rode by in the other direction. That should have warned me about something. Anyway the Red Ball Express, we started at night in trucks, and I must say I found that fascinating. And I still kept up that silly banter, about, Don't worry guys, we're just going to Chartres and we'll guard the cathedral. What was interesting, was on pit stops along the way, some of the signs in France really got to me--directions to Amiens, to Beauvais, and I of course knew about the great cathedrals there.

And I'll never forget where we landed: it was early dawn and the trucks were driven by big-eyed guys, who--boy, the minute we were out of the truck, I've never seen trucks disappear so quickly and go the other way, because we were in a combat zone. We landed at Agincourt. If that isn't kind of interesting? And there was an entire division stretched out as far as the eye could see. And suddenly there was an artillery burst, it was our own artillery, and the entire division, we fell on our faces in the mud and sort of disgraced ourselves. But after that, you know, we held our own. I must say, I've never heard of a tribute to the--you know, the ASTP guys, that were--include them, these experienced divisions, you know we were sort of like replacements. In the beginning we were treated with sort of disrespect-you know, You college boys, what do you know? But I think it was pretty amazing that we, with really inadequate training for what we were supposed to do--I mean, if not for the experienced sergeants who whose portraits I think I include in the sketches, we would have been in bad shape.

Sarah Rouse:

I see you've got a guy named Finey Towery a couple of times.

Victor Lundy:

Oh, yes. He was killed. I still remember, and he used to sing [sings]: "In the pines in the pines where the sun never shines, and the cold winds blow shiver shiver." I mean these were all ...

Sarah Rouse:

You remember that after all these ...

Victor Lundy:

Oh, yeah. Can I tell you a war story, how I was wounded?

Sarah Rouse:

Absolutely. I was going to ask you if you didn't tell us.

Victor Lundy:

Well, it was--we were really out there. I remember my mother in New York would send me treats, I mean, she forgot that it took three weeks sometimes to get to me. I'll never [forget] sitting on a German pillbox, looking down on a town called Basonge la Petite [sp?] in Alsace-Lorraine, someplace northeast of Nancy in Metz where we were fighting. It was pretty tough there. She sent me a copy of the New York Times. I'm reading the headline and it said: "Forward-most elements of Patton's Third Army are fighting a furious battle outside the town of Basonge la Petite in Alsace-Lorraine, someplace north ofNancy"-And I was looking down on Basonge la Petite. You know, at that point, I mean you get to-- It's strange what war does. I was, I'm sort of a reclusive guy, and I never-- I was always fit but I never-- I thought to myself, Oh my gosh! I've never done that. I wonder, will I be a coward or whatever? And it turned out that...

Well, I guess I have a war story. You know DNA is something, and I have a great-great-grandfather who was a professional soldier. And who knows? I found that I was, you know, when gunfire, when you're hit by a mortar round real close and pieces of metal fly by your head, they sound like butterflies, but if they ever hit you, there goes your face. So anyway, on November the 11th-and by then it was really cold, I mean snowing, rain, it was pretty miserable. And Patton, he was an incredible general, I mean, you had to be really pretty tough to be one of his soldiers because he just used all of us, you know, he was a pro at that. And I remember--by then I was a sergeant--and he got the non-coms up about 3, 4 AM. We were somewhere in a rainy place in our foxholes trying to get some sleep.

He got us together, well, not personally but through officers and subalterns, and he ordered an attack on three towns. Just a surprise thing that he knew the Germans didn't expect. And so, everyone got ready and about 4 or 5 AM, there we were were, moving, by foot, all of us. You have to be pretty dam fit, I mean, you have to slog through mud for 25 miles some days. And anyway, the first town, we had some tank support with us, and the Germans just gave up, we surprised them, they had big-- I'm taking too long, let me shorten this.

Sarah Rouse:

No, go on. You're fine.

Victor Lundy:

And then, on we went. The second town was okay, and that happened rather easily. And then, the weather had really deteriorated, the skies were yellow. It was snowing, raining, sleet, really cold. Battlefields for some reason had yellow skies; it must have had to do with artillery-And it was like 4, 5 o'clock. And as we learned later, we should have stopped there. Oh, I might also say, I should say-I never -I don't know whether this should be at the Library of Congress [laughs ]-I was never impressed with our company commander. I mean, he was never with us, he was always back there somewhere safe. Because we were sort of smart kids, we in a way directed ourselves. When there was something stupid, we just wouldn't do it stupidly. In a way we were-- I'm sure that isn't so in most places, but in our case, I respected the pros, the sergeants, the non-commissioned guys. We should have stayed where we were, but instead, it was getting dark, it was snowing, and we advanced to the third town, which was called Rodalbe [NE of Nancy, in France], and we're tramping along, a whole battalion.

And a battalion has three companies, we were Company K. I remember when we got to the outskirts of this place. No lights, and there were townspeople applauding when we-- You know that used to happen when we liberated something, and the French people were just delighted. But, I must say, I thought, Boy, these townspeople look pretty husky.

It turned out they were German soldiers. And so the whole battalion entered this town, and it was-- There wasn't a sound, and we took turns staying in the stone houses, while others went on the outskirts to sort of stand guard, keep a lookout. No action at all, until dawn the next morning, when it seemed from all directions, artillery-- they just sucked our whole battalion in, and just poured German firepower on us. Later on, I forget the name of the magazine, the newspaper, [Army newspaper Stars and Stripes? SR] we were sort of the lost battalion they really clobbered us, and we endured that an entire day, and bad stuff happened. And that day, I. .. Is this too dramatic? Tell me.

Sarah Rouse:

No, I want to know what happened next.

Victor Lundy:

Okay, okay. On that day, it's not I almost died, I died--like three times. I remember, my turn, I was in a small stone house, and sitting there with a group of guys. We were glad to get in where it was fairly warm instead of being outside in the snow and mist. Suddenly a big shell hit the stone house and the whole house fell down on us; we were down under it. I was knocked out.

All I remember was the smell and the-- And then I sort of woke up and I was--luckily--I mean, my helmet was knocked off, my rifle was, I didn't know where it was. And so I got out of that pushing stones across, and there were a couple of guys screaming. One guy who was a big ladies' man, God, there he was without a face, and - it was tough--so we were enduring stuff like that all day, thinking, what to do?

And then, there was sort of a plan: let's wait until dark and then just get the heck out of there. We were officer-less, I mean there was no officer there to help us, so it was just, you know, amateur guys like me, and luckily there were one or two pro non-corns with us. And then the second time, I think I was sitting in a stone barn, leaning against it, it was like a rest after taking my turn outside. And the outside things, we made sure we were safe and not seen. And I'm, I was sitting there, and suddenly this sniper--there was a little window in the stone wall, and he shot through the window--and a bullet literally one or two inches from my left ear, I mean I was looking out. So that was the second time. Here comes the good part; are you ready?

Sarah Rouse:

Yes, we are.

Victor Lundy:

Okay, so we waited until it was dark--night-- and just as we had sort of decided, okay, what what we're gonna do is go up the side and away from all of this when it's dark. Let's hope we make it, because we knew we had tank support back at the second village we had captured. But just as we decided all this, we hear this tremendous roar. And the Germans, who out-figured us, and knew that's exactly what we were about to do, attacked that town with tanks from both ends. So, from-- The town was a just one-road town with stone houses on each side. And so we could hear these tanks in the distance, coming-and it was dark--from both sides, and everything happened very fast. And I remember--because I didn't like where we were, and so our squad-you know, we went out to get to a place. Oh, it didn't have a back way out, so we left our place and--which probably saved our life in a way, because if we had stayed there, who knows? And there we were, in the dark, but by then houses were burning. I mean, that town was lit up with flames and stuff. And then, I'll never forget, suddenly across the way, there's a big German tiger tank, and they have 80mm big guns. And I could see German soldiers at the base and it was maybe 25 feet away. So, there was a cellar with some steps, and I remember pushing guys down, and saying, Into the cellar, go, go, and so we all stumbled down into the cellar. And in the cellar were some French civilians, everything was black, it was dark. And then, through the cast-iron door which we had opened to get into the cellar-- I remember, I was the last one, and as I look out, here comes the German tank, lowering its 80, that big gun, right at me. I couldn't believe it. And I remember--it probably saved my life--Ijust quickly slammed that door against that vision, when the shell went right through that door, and I remember my left arm and shoulder flew upward and I thought they were gone. And right from that moment on-- it was so point blank that I had a nervous twitch that disappeared about three days later. And let me tell you one thing about war. When you're not wounded, you're okay. When you're wounded, forget it. [Laughs] What you want is a doctor's tender loving care. And I fell to the ground. The first thing I remember I did with my right hand, I gripped what I thought would be an empty space, and God, my arm was still there, but then I lifted it up and in the firelight, oh my gosh, my hand was all broken in half and I couldn't see my thumb, my elbow and side, and I was just lucky. It turned out that pieces of shrapnel just grazed my lung. I still have my left arm, and my left hand has been fixed up after months at Walter Reed. There I was on the floor, I mean, man, I was knocked out by it. And I'll never forget, there was a young guy, people used to make fun of him, he was a little, unlikely, very smart, typical ASTP soldier. His name was Red Fishman[sp?], and people would make fun of him. I was like his hero, I kind of took care of him. I remember his saying, Vic, Vic! I said, Red! I'm here, I'm hurt. He said, Get up, get up. He saved my life. He said, Get up, don't-- Follow me, follow me. So I did, I got up and I anchored my left arm against my chest, and I just sort of stumbled out the back, following him, and finally there we were, on the back of the street. You know these straight line houses on the street--when you were on the back, all this was happening on the street side. And so, for a while there we were standing out there. I was standing there twitching, waiting for Red to take care of me. And then I'll never forget, suddenly appears-Oh, I remembered his name, our stupid company commander, Hank O'Neill, he was a baker from Boston. Not that that's bad. And he said, Uh Vic, Red, thank God, I'm wounded, I'm wounded, help me, help me. I looked at his wound, he had a little scratch somewhere. [Laughs] I said, are you kidding, look at me! Then Red said, captain, I'll get you back. Put your arm around me; and I'm standing there twitching. And they thought I was following them. I was so-- I was erect, standing. You know, it happened within minutes. Anyway, there it is, at night. Everybody's gone. I'm all alone, looking down on this inferno, and I could hear Germans going, Surrender, or something. And I even heard American voices. You know, whoever wasn't killed was captured by the Germans and they ended up in a prison camp. And I'm standing there-I have to be a little vulgar, but it's what happened. It's part of the story. It's snowing. I had to go to the bathroom, just, you know, the minor part. I fumbled down there, and it was all frozen. [Laughs] Pants were frozen. And I thought, What the hell. I peed my pants. And you know what? It was so funny I just burst out laughing, silently. That absolutely woke me up. I said, I'm getting out of this bullshit. I turned around, away from the town. I didn't know where I was going, in the dark. When I came to barbed wire, I mean, no way could I climb over it. I mean, I would fall on it, and then kick my feet up, and then land on the other side and keep going. And then by luck, I came upon a group of guys, at first I thought, Oh my God, I hope they're not Germans. They turned out to be-- I was one of 16 stragglers who made it out of that. And I just joined them, and let me tell you, no one helped me. I was last. Then we walked, I don't know how long, until we did in the direction of the the middle town where we finally came upon our tanks. And then, some guys helped me up to the top of a tank. Oh, there's one more funny story. I'm on top of this tank as it starts going to the battalion aid station which is back a ways, away from direct fire. And the guy up on top said, Hey, Sarge, there's a guy wounded up here pretty bad and he's shivering; send up a blanket. And I heard a voice, Well, all I have is my blanket. I said, Send it up! So the hatch opens and a blanket appears and they put it over me. And then on the way, about 10 minutes later, the hatch opens and the guy took his blanket back. [Laughs] And at the battalion aid station, I mean, there were so many casualties. They put me in a truck, a double decker, with--on each side there were two. At the bottom, one over, bottom, one over-so, four guys. And I slipped on the right side, below, and that was it. It was at night and I just sort of conked out. And in the morning, the guy on top of me was bleeding so bad-he was bleeding on top of me, all day. And I remember being awakened by-- I heard that voiceyou know this guy Red? He came back to see if! had made it or something. I said, I'm here! I'm here! When he saw me he almost fainted. But the end of the story: He got my job--and he was killed one month later. So, that's a World War Two story.

Sarah Rouse:

That really is a story. You describe it so vividly.

Victor Lundy:

Oh, I remember everything [ ... ] Oh, there are a couple interesting things that I think you should know.

Sarah Rouse:

Are they in the pictures?

Victor Lundy:

No, not in the pictures, but they have to do with the pictures. Finally they fixed me up. Then I was put on a train to Paris, and then from Paris, sort of stabilized, and I ended up, because I needed some real surgery, I had fractures in my elbow, I had about an inch missing in my second finger, my thumb was hanging loose. It was pretty bad. I ended up by luck in a hospital in StourportSevern, in England, sort of northeast of Birmingham, with a wonderful incredible orthopedic surgeon, I'm pretty sure his name was Armin Akesian [later amended to be Hampar Kelikian]. He was famous orthopedic surgeon from Chicago? And it turned out he's the one who fixed Dole, Senator Dole who ran for president? I mean you've seen him holding pencils in a funny way?

Sarah Rouse:

Yes, I have.

Victor Lundy:

That's him. I'll never forget, that Dr. Akesian, you know, checked me out, and then, I had this sketchbook in my pocket -and he said, Sonny boy, you're what I have been waiting for. I said, What? You know what he had me do? He had me do medical drawings of his surgery. And he in a way probably saved my life, because he kept me there so long. I mean, at that time, they were sending guys back. He made sure that I shipped out after about three months to Walter Reed Hospital where it took eight months to patch me up. But it was really incredible. He put a hat on me, and I had a big cast on my left side. And I would draw his operations, and he invented an incredible operation. Just imagine if you've lost your thumb. All you have are four fingers, just try it. All you can do is hang, like a monkey. What he did, he took the second, the next finger over, closest to the thumb, and did very sophisticated surgery, reconnecting tendons and everything. The first part, when you lose a thumb, you have an enormous wound there, and unless that's patched the proper way, this could never work. So, the first thing, he would cut a u-shaped thing out of a guy's chest--no, high stomach--and he would sort of sew it on to the edge of the wound until it caught, and then he'd cut it loose. You know, in other words, he'd have four fingers and a surgically repaired thumb over there. Some guys had horrible looking repairs. My buddy Zonko Medich [sp?]-he was a--oh, God, he was a real sergeant with the 151 Infantry Division, in D-Day and all of that. His wound looked awful because he had an ugly hairy chest so he had an ugly hairy black hand. Somewhere, who knows, maybe you're going to get responses [to these images], because I was adopted by-You know, one thing about Army guys, they're very sharp. So I was very beloved by these paratroop guys who said, Oh man, we can make money off this guy. They would line up; I must have done about 100 portraits for 50 bucks, and they would keep 25 and I would keep 25. So there are about a hundred out there someplace. And also the remainder of my sketchbooks that were swiped by GIs. And I just have to tell you one more thing. The ending of my thing. So finally I was sent, and by then Roosevelt had died. Oh, I think, November 12th, that was very shortly before the Battle of the Bulge, and we knew that something big was happening. I mean, there was a constant roar in the distance, rrrr. You know, you could hear, it was just obvious. And we used to have patrols that went out until we could see traces of Germans in the distance--big, big, big deal. Well, anyway, so I ended up in Walter Reed [Army hospital], and they gave me a bone graft in my left hand from my left leg, repaired me, and I was all ready for civilian life. Oh, I forgot one of the great stories. When I was in combat, there was a captured Nazi officer and he was a pretty elegant articulate guy. You know, everyone knew I was an architect and a college guy. They said, Hey, Vic you ought to talk to this guy, I think he's an architect. And my gosh, I had a wonderful conversation with him. And guess what? He's the one who told me that Walter Gropius was at Harvard! And that Mies had moved to the States. So I learned from a German captured soldier about Gropius at Harvard. And when I was at Walter Reed, I even had an interview with Gropius. Boy, the hair on the back of my neck stood erect; he looked exactly like the Germans we had been fighting. He was a Prussian officer in World War Two. So, anyway, I'm almost at the end here. Eight months later, and I actually rented a room at Cambridge, I had my architectural books out. And then the time came for me to get my final exam before discharge. And unfortunately, two guys in front of me were really, I mean, badly, hurt, but they were two idiots that never were in combat. They fell in front of a tank or something, and lost a leg. But they were way worse than me. When my turn came, he said, Well, how do you feel? I said, Great. What I meant was for civilian life. Guess what? Back to duty. I did not have-- You know there was a point system? You needed 85 points. If you watched "Band of Brothers," that even occurs there. I didn't have 85 points. I wasn't that far behind; I had about 72 or 3. Back to duty! And I ended up in the same camp, Camp Upton, Long Island, where I had started. And as an experienced replacement infantry sergeant. And I was on my last furlough home. That was when they were planning the invasion of Japan. That war was big time, and they expected to have a quarter of a million casualties. I must say that it was at that time that I really gave up. I mean, that was it, I never-- You know what happened? On my last--I know this sounds made up, but it's true. On my last two-week furlough home, my mother used to wait up for me. And I would come home about 2, 3 AM after carousing all night. And my mother would say, Did you have a good time? Yes, Mom. She said, Good! You know what happened? Hiroshima, Nagasaki? The bombs were dropped and I was out of the Army in one week. Isn't that incredible?

Sarah Rouse:

That is incredible.

Victor Lundy:

That saved my life. You know those pictures of Times Square? Soldiers and sailors kissing everything that moved? I was right there.

Sarah Rouse:

Yes. That's exciting.

Victor Lundy:

Okay, now you're sick of my voice!

Sarah Rouse:

No, in fact we have a few more questions [ ... ] We're not going to ask you to identify every picture, but for the record, if you have any captioning information for some of the sketchbook images without captions, such as, just starting on page one, there's a soldier lying on his pack.

Victor Lundy:

I have the stack here. Why don't we just flip the pages? I'm on page one, Fort Jackson, South Carolina. You now, all of the pictures of guys lying down, we were under-- Those were 100minute breaks when we were on 10-mile forced marches, or we'd have a two-hour lecture on using the BAR [Browning automatic rifle] and then there'd be a 10-minute break. So, oh there, I even say 100minute break-those are soldiers. There are a lot of pictures like that, people just sort of sitting around, and it gave me a chance to draw them. I do remember a Shep. Later on there's a guy there's a guy named Shepard, with an address in Connecticut. That's Bill Shepard, I think. These other guys, I've forgotten their names. It's only the soldiers whose name I write down that were kind of of interest. There were a lot of dopes in the infantry! [Laughs] Don't quote me!

Sarah Rouse:

Do you remember a picture of Red Fishman?

Victor Lundy:

No, I never drew him.

Sarah Rouse:

This next picture, it looks like a movie theater.

Victor Lundy:

Oh, yeah, these sketchbooks started May 10, 1944, where the 26th Infantry Division that was on maneuvers in Tennessee, I think, I don't know, February, March, April. And then, then we came to Fort Jackson, South Carolina. So all of these are at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and that's an actual lecture theater with a screen where we would see demonstrations, and it probably exists. And then next to it, it says Home, [captions are set off in italics after this: SR] that was one of the wooden barracks, and that was my cot. Yeah, every time I say home, that's my home. Oh, yeah, you see on the left, after a forced march. Let me tell you, boy, that's hard, 10 minute break.

Sarah Rouse:

In these Fort Jackson pictures, everyone looks at rest, but as soon as they get to France it gets different.

Victor Lundy:

Oh, yeah, they're at rest, because you know, when you're on a forced march there's no way I can draw. So the other guys would be snoozing, sleeping, and I'd be sketching. Thenfirst aid lecture, oh, that was a little platform and we got demonstrations on what to do. I have to confess, like I said before, I really turned off. I could not believe that I'd end up in the infantry. I shouldn't say this because I could-- I wanted to do something, I even tried to get into the engineer section of the division. It was just impossible, they needed, well, they needed replacement infantry. Let's see. See the next one, .Joe Fisch, whoever he is, casualty, practicing first aid. Yeah, we would practice some guy being wounded. First aid lecture. Oh, yeah--the big boss, Sergeant Gardzina. He was the Company K platoon leader, and they have five stripes, you see on his right arm there. And Bert, I forget his last name, he was just one of the guys.

Sarah Rouse:

Did they want to you to give them their portraits from these sketchbooks?

Victor Lundy:

No, I wouldn't-- I wouldn't be surprised if most of them are dead. Do you know that only ten percent of people who were, you know, in our [WW2] experience are still alive? No kidding. SR: The best ten, maybe.

Victor Lundy:

[Laughs] You know, you never know? It might happen through--You know, if this is on a computer. There may be-- Sundays at Fort Jackson, we would just have a day off. Company street, that's in Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Oh, there's that theater again, giving a lecture, [ ... ] we're troops there, and they're talking about bombs, bomb lecture. Sergeant Kane, oh, he was a good guy, that's a bad sketch. He was in our platoon. Yeah, here we go, Fort Jackson, South Carolina, summer. Most of the sketches are soldiers at rest, not in action, because that's when I had a chance to draw them. Waiting to move, then let's see, break, a lot of breaks, one mile to go on a forced march. There's Sergeant Goodrich in front of his tent. Oh, there's Bill Shepard, and there's--Newtown, Connecticut. Maybe. And you see the tent, home? So, when we'd go on an overnight thing and set up tents. And these guys are identified, because they were our -these were experienced infantry leaders; we were the college guys. [Laughs]

Sarah Rouse:

I see Sergeant Cieniewicz looks pretty tough.

Victor Lundy:

Yeah, a typical guy. But, you know, the best guy was that guy Gardzina. He was noononsense, but a real... And he had--well, one thing--the only thing that counts are brains, and he was smart. And he had, he had a feeling for what we guys were going through, until people began to really, until we were really respected part of the team. Oh, yeah. You know what's interesting? I'm a New York City boy, I mean, I was born in the middle of Manhattan Island. So, in a way, the infantry was my first true experience in the country, so I ate it up, I was an eager beaver. I mean, the old guys liked me, loved me, you know? Hey, we got a real one! So I used to sketch at night, South Carolina woods. Oh, this is embarrassing. June 1, darky homes. Maybe you better pull that out. [ ... ] My God, I had buddies who were black. But at that time, you know, that's the way people talked. And that was done at night. Some of this stuff is silly. [ ... ] Barn, helmet liner, haystack, slumber. A lot of slumber pictures. That's Sergeant Gardzina, I can tell by that automatic gun against the tree. Oh, and Sundays before payday or whatever, shooting craps for cigarettes, there was always that going on. [ ... ] Oh, this guy Hernan, oh, yeah. He was just a real neat country boy, and boy, I remember what happened to him. You know, one thing, you never know how guys would react to actual combat, and no one ever made fun of someone who couldn't handle it. I remember in our first day, our first attack in combat, God, the executive officer of our whole company was just--in front of the whole company-he got totally out of control and began digging a hole feverishly. And this guy Heman, after about a week of it, he was just twitching, and shaking, and so he was pulled out. This guy was a good guy-Staff Sergeant Pierson. I was intrigued by the experienced non-corns. Oh, Epps. He was a good guy. He was one of the guys ...

Sarah Rouse:

Are we still in Fort Jackson?

Victor Lundy:

Oh, yeah, this is all--everything is Fort Jackson. Moving by truck. It's all Fort Jackson. Now, June 6, demonstration. There were a lot of demonstrations. I seem to remember, Bill Shepard and I were friends, but, I don't know, it just never, after the war-- Oh there, the brass: the entire division was assembled, and we were told about D-Day. But there we were at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.

Sarah Rouse:

Did you know D-Day was planned?

Victor Lundy:

Yeah, probably, but in no more intimate way than anyone else, you know. Something big was going to happen. I mean, you know, they kept a secret about that. And that, waiting to move, night sketch, let's see, another crap game. June 14th, PX beer garden. You know, all of these are at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Intelligence school. In a truck on the way to the range. Oh, Staff Sergeant Mozzi [spells ]-see the five stripes? He really liked me, he thought I was a real live one. In fact, he helped me get promoted to sergeant. And you know what? In our first attack in combat, Staff Sergeant Mozzi, who I expected to take care of me, was wounded within, like, ten minutes! All the little toes were shot off on his one foot. And the last I saw, he was being carted away, furious about what had happened. So, it's real weird. I mean, war is dumb. Oh, here he is, Staff Sergeant Mozzi, after a hard night. On a truck. I mean, you know, we were bad boys. Hernan, that's the guy who didn't last. Oh, this is funny: Jaffe, planning a platoon attack. There was a lot of goofing off. You know, Americans are very unique. I mean, we were-- I think, the American army was really pretty amazing. You know, the Germans were incredible soldiers, I mean, they just looked better than us, they were better equipped, they did things better, but no one could out-think or improvise an American soldier. No kidding. You know, we-- Part of being in this country, that's ingrained in you, being master of your own brain. Oh, big attack, we were snoozing through all that. Oh, attack on a fortified position. I think I've already said that when I was at Fort Jackson, I didn't think we were going to combat. Couldn't believe it. Dooley, oh, he was a bum, oh God, he was awful. And that's an awful thing, when, in your squad, when you have, there were at least three guys who, when they were on watch while you try to sleep. You know, when you're in your-you have to sleep at night, so, even in your slit trenches, there's always one or two guys who are watching. And boy, when one of these three guys was on, I didn't go to sleep. Okay. Oh, that guy. He was captured by the Germans. Here we go, August 25, 1944, overseas at last. You have to remember, I enlisted in 1942.

Sarah Rouse:

So you'd been waiting, waiting. remember, from May 10th to September 7th, that's only four months. So in four months we were in Cherbourg in combat, like. And, these are interesting: the troop train, overseas at last, they put us on a train, I think I mentioned it, to New York Harbor. Oh, there's aferry ride. This is--we're in New York, we're going to New York, we haven't gotten to the convoy yet. Troop train, ferry ride to New York Harbor. Oh, Goodbye Broadway, hello France! I forget that guy's name, but he was a sergeant, and he was an accomplished ladies' man, he was always boasting about it. And he's the guy who lost his entire face when that stone house fell on top of us. I dunno what happened to him. August 26, oh, yeah, here we go, we're on our boats.

Sarah Rouse:

Did it have a name, your boat?

Victor Lundy:

Oh, yeah. You know what? I remember the name of the two. It was either the George Washington or the President Roosevelt. I think I came back on the President Roosevelt and I left on the George Washington. I should have noted that down.

Sarah Rouse:

Well, we'll note it down for you here.

Victor Lundy:

And you know what's interesting? My father, who worked for the Bethlehem Shipyards? It turned out he helped install anti-magnetic mine protection on the boat I went overseas in! What a coincidence. I mean, you know, New York is a-Let's not get into that, I miss New York. I was ten minutes from home. There are boats from the deck of the ship. It hadn't left yet. There's Joe, he's identified, I don't have his address. On deck, we're still in the harbor, you see the sketch on the right, August 26, 1944? There's New York in the distance? August 26, there's New York in the distance. There's the famous gangplank. You know soldiers say, Wait'll you hit the gangplank. On deck at night. Oh, I like that one, the August 27th on the right. I mean, New York Harbor was a busy place, war equipment. And then, I'll never forget. I think-- You know we had tiered slings that we slept on, I have a sketch of that later. And I think, most of us were exhausted, we took a nap and I remember getting on the deck and here were these guys, and that's just what they were saying, Son of a bitch!

Sarah Rouse:

What were they looking at?

Victor Lundy:

The picture on the right. That was the first big first convoy to land in a Normandy port. They had just opened up Cherbourg harbor. Our armies were held up around the Moselle River, the Siegfried Line [German defensive line of 390 miles], reinforcements were needed. They knew they just couldn't suffer programs like ASTP anymore. They just needed--and I don't want to use the word cannon fodder, because I'm more than cannon fodder. We weren't exactly experienced infantrymen, you know. But, that convoy was a thrill. I mean, imagine. Being a kid and looking at all of that. And the next one, sunset, and then let's see. Oh, yeah! Here we go, view from my bunk, August 28, 1944.

Sarah Rouse:

Looks like socks hanging.

Victor Lundy:

Oh, yeah. That was-I mean, you know, you had a whole division of us on that boat, I mean, a lot of guys. And you know, on deck, that was all on the deck of that first convoy. Guys who I identify, I sort of knew by name. Charley Heathcock, Leon Berube "Joe the Gunga." We all had nicknames.

Sarah Rouse:

What was yours?

Victor Lundy:

Uh, you know, some of the nicknames I can't repeat. I don't remember. I have to remember, I'm not in the infantry now. OK, here we go, Finey Towery, he's the guy who sang that song, I was really intrigued by him. I think he was a sharpshooter, very good at that, but he was killed. [ ... ] And then it was August 28, but it was cold as hell, as the dickens, windy night, night watch. Oh, and of course, you know, the convoy, there were German submarines, and it seems to me at one point the entire convoy stopped and we got all excited, thinking something was going to happen, but nothing did. Who knows? Convoy at dusk. Gee, August 28, that was my wife's birthday. Wiley, he's a guy I knew. Oh, Theodore Rombo--he was the oldest guy in our entire battalion, and you know how old he was? Thirty-four. I mean, what was I? Twenty years old. Promenade deck. Oh, I like the next sketch, the one on the left, September 2, 1944, promenade deck. And you know, we were far from even thinking of combat. They didn't tell us. We didn't know what was going to happen, once we landed. They didn't tell us we were going to be in--you know, all of that happened--you know, the day it happens they tell you. [ ... ] Then the next one, land again. That's one, our ship. There's Cherbourg harbor, and we were the first convoy to land directly there after it was fixed up. Loading onto LCTs, September 7. There's Cherbourg harbor, September 7. I must say it was not easy to do these sketches, 'cause I was moving. [ ... ] You can sort of-I think the reason Brett wanted all my brains boxes (?) is because, they're likethey're not carefully drawn diaries, I just have a book and I record everything that happens every day, but including sketches and ideas. And he's gonna get all of them and I'm identifying them. Here we go, is homefar away now!. Boy, you can say that again. Ready to go. Going, going, gone. Then, we're in Cherbourg! And let me tell you, at that point, you begin to gulp, because I think it was in Cherbourg that we saw some of the real battle-hardened 4th Armored Division guys going there for a well-earned rest, passing in trucks and looking at us all squeaky clean [laughs]. At one point I was "Joe and Willy" [Bill Mauldin WW2 grizzled cartoon soldiers]. When you see a thing like a hangar, you see traces of what's happening. Ready to move by truck to our first camp in France. At that point, someone told us, We're moving you to your first camp in Normandy at St. Martin D'Audeville. Do you see my home there? [Arrow to pup tent, image 24253] Two and a halfkilometersfrom Montebourggten minute break. There are a lot often minute breaks. And you know we--Patton--liked, insisted that replacement troops like us spend at least two weeks in Normandy, safe from direct combat, seeing the beaches, like Quineville, and, you know, more training. So that was pretty intense, and that's when I began to give up the idea of standing guard over Chartres Cathedral. Oh, this is funny. Then, I began to write in French. Jean et Roget. You know, we'd be tramping along, and there'd be a house. Sergeant Kane and I got along very well, and we just walked to the front door. I was popular because I spoke some French. And, French farmer, he gave us some cider. St. Germain de Tournebut. These next pictures were places we hiked through. Commun de Lestre. It's still September, in Quineville. Wait'll I tell you. I do have to tell you. [ ... ] Cracking the Siegfried line, air raid over Germany, that was a thrill. Seen on a morning hike, we would see that in Normandy but also when we were in combat, at least two times, and boy, did that cheer us up on the ground. House where Kane and I got the roast chicken and cognac. Oh, I wrote "Marie Joseph," and you know why? Was she a pretty French girl! I mean I wasn't dead! [Laughs] Don't get mad at me. Bourg de Lestre, cafe where the two French girls bought us four bottles of cider. Kane and I got a little drunk. German gun position; barbed wire.

Sarah Rouse:

Your Atlantic Wall picture [Part of the Atlantic wall] is a marvel.

Victor Lundy:

Okay, that one, I forgot to tell you. Six men killed, the one on the right? I was sketching and I could tell by the puffs of smoke and guys running around, I didn't know what had happened, it was only after I got off that hill that I found out, and, boy, did we pay attention not to cross fences. But I forgot to tell you, I was done with the sketch and I stood up. When I stood up, you know one thing about GIs, you were always looking out for, you know, souvenirs, and as I stood up to leave, about a dozen feet from where I had been sitting on a little rock ledge there, I looked and half buried in the dirt was a leather case, half buried, and a couple of colored pencils sticking out. And I was saying, oh. I almost just grabbed it and lifted it up. And I thought, hold it. Then I got down on my knees and looked underneath, and sure enough, I could see a little wire was going into the ground from underneath that thing. You know the Germans were perverse. They had bombs, oh, my gosh. [ ... ] One of the real perverse things: GIs were always eating, I mean you were always hungry, so they hid it in chocolate bars, and candy bars, stuff like that, so you gotta be on your toes. Bourg de Lestre, the road cross. There were wonderful things like that. Oh, by the way, if you look on the back of sketchbook 8, [back cover], turn it over and you're gonna see a dark spot, and this is a little morbid, but that dark spot is my blood, from when I was wounded. [Laughs] I mean, I had that in my pocket. I think we've been through these. Kentucky-Finey Towery, he died. Oh, yeah, and I must-These are the ones--there are missing books, which absolutely broke my heart. Yeah, look! September 22, road cross, and then skip to October 31. There was a lot of work-it broke my heart. You know, I got so mad. Americans can be perverse. They're not, you know, there are good guys and there are absolute crazy trash, but that's America! It's still the best country.

Sarah Rouse:

November 1, [One of the 4-men German patrol], the only one in this whole set that has noticeable color.

Victor Lundy:

Oh, yeah. That was-- I must say, something happened. Well, we were in an advanced position, and then, there were always guys-- You took turns being in advance lookout positions, facing the enemy directly, and then positions further back where, you know, you could rest a little bit, and take a nap, have a guy on watch where you are. But we heard this shooting in the distance and we knew that something had transpired. And so we waited until that ended and when we went there, here was this dead German lying there, and in the trench where one of our guys had been, was empty. They had captured him. And his boots were there and you could see blood in the snow. I mean, God, it was ... The next day, when it got light, I leaned against-I dunno--a rock there, and I drew the German. Oh, it was funny. I hadn't finished yet, you know. And a couple of guys, they used to pull dead bodies, and put them in one place until they were somehow taken care of. And I remember saying, Hey, wait a minute, I'm not done yet! So they dropped his feet and and I finished the picture. [Laughs] Oh, yeah. November 7, we were filthy stinking GIs, Willy and Joe, waiting through the rain in a truck, and on November 7, 1944, election day, cold, miserable. They were gonna take us to a place to give us hot showers. And we were so miserable and cold, it was just too much effort, to hell with the showers, that's what that means. Oh, that's the last one.

Sarah Rouse:

It's been wonderful to have you tell about your war experience and then fill in the blanks telling us about these pictures; I hope you're not too exhausted.

Victor Lundy:

I really am very proud and moved that there's a place for my archive with the Library of Congress.[other comments about architectural drawings and about other materials he's preparing].I'm really moved by the attention. Thank you.

Sarah Rouse:

It's been a pleasure for Karen and me. [ ... ] This is a really nice addition and description of the sketchbooks. A lot of people are going to enjoy them.

 
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  October 26, 2011
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