Above, surrendering French soldier completed in pen and wash in 1953.

Le Lam continued to illustrate journals throughout the progressive wars of liberation until the final unification of Vietnam in April 1975.
In the South

Le Lam Volunteered to go to South Vietnam in 1965. He set off on the Trung Son or Ho Chi Minh Trail armed with his brushes, paper, and colours, a young and idealistic revolutionary artist not imagining that he would not see his wife and two children for almost a decade.

The artist had undergone basic training in preparation for the arduous trek south, a journey that in those early days took an average of five to six months to complete. He carried up to 35 plus kilos on pathways that crossed mountains and deep ravines. The journey required one to forge numerous rivers and streams while sleeping rough. Within the Group with which he travelled were two famous musicians and one of the most celebrated male dancers of the age.

Whenever he had the time, Le Lam drew and painted his fellow travelers. He soon became known for his knowledge and love of poetry and song. He knew poetic verse and patriotic works by heart and was considered to have a fine voice. An example from one of his favorite poets, To Hu, is entitled 'Road Sabotage':

'Over the hills
The moon squats, watching.
The road is too long, the holes too shallow.
Deeper, there must be deeper pits.
Spades, shovels, hands, men, women.

The rocks fall, the earth breaks.
Deeper, they must be deeper.
The soil smells rich in the darkness,
The women compete with the men in teams:
Men, women, spades, shovels, hands.

The path curves, winds, twists,
Yet we gash our trenches into its flesh:
Pits for the French when they come this way,
Beds for the French to lie in.
Graves in the land for the enemy of the land'

There were the dangers to be avoided such as detection by enemy guard posts or aerial reconnaissance. This was coupled with ever-present hunger, nighttime chill in the mountains, and the danger of virulent malaria in the valleys and low lands. Le Lam fell victim to the latter and he arrived in the South sick and weakened.

Following his recovery Le Lam soon adapted to local life, which he found so different to that of the North. He travelled to various areas, always painting and mixing with the local inhabitants.