William Foley artwork from the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress.

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A North Dallas WWII veteran captured the images of that war with little more than a pencil and pieces of paper.

Art experts are now calling his work rare and unique.

William Foley is 86-years-old now. He has spent a lifetime painting beautiful landscapes, portraits and other subjects.

But it is the collection of sketches that he drew as an 18-year-old in the army during WWII that’s mustering most of the attention now.

“They’re done in combat when mortar shells are hitting nearby and splash water all over it,” Foley said.

It was only his third day on the battlefield when he realized art was what he wanted to do in life.

“This obviously was the direction I was going to go. If I survived this, I was going to be an artist. I could see that this was illustration,” he said.

He painted some of the drawings later in color. The original work was drawn with pencil and paper, sometimes with ink.

“This is just ink splashed on very cheap lined paper that we found at a German house,” he

The drawings were preserved thanks to a little military ingenuity. “All these drawings, I carried inside a cardboard tube that carried an 81 mm mortar shell,” he said

When he went on watch, his buddies carried the tube of drawings for him.

After the war, the drawings went into storage and Foley went into art school and onto becoming a professional artist.

He didn’t see his WWII combat drawings again until his daughter found them 10 years ago. “She found the graphic proof of her father’s experiences during WWII,” he said.

Some of the drawings crumbled when she took them out of the container. Other drawings perished on the battlefield. “I had done about a hundred. But, only about 50 survived,” he said.

He is only saddened when he thinks of the loss of lives. “It has to do with all the good friends that I lost,” he said choking up.

Foley lives in Dallas. His collection of sketches has yet to find a home. “They should be in a museum. They should be well protected. Because according to the D-Day museum, they’re unique,” he said.

As one of the dwindling numbers of WWII veterans still able to tell his war stories, he is unique as well.

William Foley’s WWII art work has been shown to the public in Chicago at the Pritzker Military Library and in New Orleans
at the National WWII Museum.

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