Drawing D-Day: An Artists’s Journey Through War offers an extraordinary, one-of-a-kind testimony in words and images by a soldier and artist who participated in one of the most famous military operations of World War II. One June 6, 1944, Ugo Giannini landed on Omaha Beach with a platoon of military police assigned to accompany the U.S. Army’s 29th Infantry Division. Only six of the thirty-seven men in the platoon made it to the beach. Told that he was needed on the bluff above the shore, Ugo climbed the Verville Draw, jumped into a crater made by naval bombardment, and spent that day and part of the next as an eyewitness to the invasion. Remarkably, he began to draw.
These are the only known drawings from that historic day. Drawn in pencil and pen, in a gritty, realist style, the images depict heavily burdened infantrymen trying to stay afloat in seawater, crawling on the beach, and dead among the ruins of a bombed-out village. The illustrations, interwoven with Ugo’s letters to his family and girlfriend, portray the horror of war in a deep and personal way. Abstract paintings at the end of the books, composed forty years later, make a powerful statement of the enduring power about war on an artist-soldier psyche.