The Battalion Artist

The Battalion Artist explores the experiences of Nat Bellantoni, who left art school in the fall of 1942 to join the US Navy Seabees. He was twenty-one years old. In June of 1943 he shipped out to the South Pacific. Immersed in a weird, often terrifying, new world—steamy jungle, exotic birds, half naked aborigines, and the soundtrack of battle in the near distance—he turned to the coping mechanism he knew best. He created a visual diary. The paintings, sketchbooks, photographs and artifacts Nat brought back—from New Caledonia, New Guinea, the Admiralties, and Okinawa—were the inspiration for this book.

Nat’s story echoes the experiences of so many others, in all wars—those not on the front lines, who nevertheless faced down fear, witnessed horrors, endured hardship, yet carried on without complaint. They came home proudly, filled with hope, and determined to rebuild the lives they had put on hold in order to fight, defend, serve.

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