Full Version: The Lost Sketchbooks by Rex Passion
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Received this letter from an author whose book is to be released soon. Sounds like a great book. :pdt12:





I visited your website and thought you might be interested in my project. I am writing a book about a young Philadelphia artist, Edward Shenton, who enlisted in the Pennsylvania National Guard in early 1917. He went on to train with the 103rd engineers, later attached to the 28th Division and sailed for France in May of 1918. He saw action as a combat engineer at the battles of the Marne, Fismes, and Meuse Argonne, all the time carrying with him his canvas-bound sketchbook and drawing everything he saw. When he returned to the states in 1919, he put away his drawings and resumed his art career, attending the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and eventually becoming one of the foremost book and magazine illustrators of his day. The sketchbooks remained among Ed’s papers for over 90 years when they were discovered by his son many years after his death. I am putting together a book of his drawings in the context of the places he saw and the battles he fought. I have attached an announcement for the book, which will be out in the fall for the centenary of The Great War. You can see the book’s progress on


Rex Passion

Komatik Press

Here's the two images he sent me and his letter.


Hi Marion:

Thanks so much for your reply and for posting my letter on your bolg. I visited your "No Bridge Too Far" site and I think you will be quite interested in Company B, 103rd Engineers' work in and around the French town of Fismes in September of 1918. They were building bridges under heavy German small arms and artillery fire. Here is an excerpt:

On August 12, the engineers were finishing up the ambulance bridge. The decking planks had to be nailed in place, but any noise would bring machine gun fire. The men were equipped with hammers and proceeded to nail down all the planks at once creating a loud racket. In less than a minute, shellfire hit near the bridge covering the men with mud and water, and the machine gun bullets began to fly, but by then the work was complete. The bridge was finished and no one was wounded.

While conditions in Fismes were difficult and dangerous, those back at les Petites Chexelles Farm were little better. Despite their distance from the enemy, they still received their share of attention from the German guns firing at the nearby artillery battery. On August 13th shells killed several horses and gassed the battery on the hill above the farm. The mustard gas rolled down into the dugouts where the men were sleeping. Despite efforts to fan out the trenches with paddles, fifteen men were wounded and had to be evacuated to the hospital.

# 100 Gas

Company B built wagon bridges east of Fismes, in Villette, Magneux and Courlandon to accommodate the tremendous volume of traffic headed to the front. Despite their retreat, the enemy was still able to shell the Vesle and men were still being killed, gassed and injured; they could still only do their work at night.



# 104 Bridge across the Vesle below Magneaux



Rex sent me a copy of his book and it is absolutely wonderful. Can't wait to read it from start to finish, this month.


Here is a copy of the letter he sent me.

The Lost Sketchbooks - Rex Passion.pdf

Review - The Lost Sketchbooks - Rex Passion


Being the daughter of a WWII combat engineer, I was eager to read this book regarding an engineer from the Great War and was not disappointed. Beautifully bound and nicely laid out, I loved how Rex threaded the unit’s history throughout, alongside Mr. Shenton’s lovely illustrations.


The sketches and text drew you in and made you feel like you were there on the battlefields looking through the eyes of the young artist. I also liked the detailed maps, showing the movements of the 103rd Engineer Regiment. How sad and ironic that my father would be walking along some of the very same routes, only mere decades later. Unfortunately, history does and did repeat itself...

Hat’s off to Edward Shenton’s only son, who shared his father’s sketches and history and to Rex Passion, for skillfully presenting and packaging a real treasure.


Marion J Chard - historian
Proud Daughter of Walter “Monday” Poniedzialek
540th Combat Engineer WWII