[Okinawa: 1945-1946]. 363 original photographs, most 3.25 x 4.5 or 3.75 x 5 inches. Loose photos, some curling to approximately half of group. About 200 images neatly removed from previous album or other housing, with adhesive remnants on blank versos. Pencil annotations with dates and locations on a substantial minority of photographs. Occasional minor wear, some fading to several photos, but mostly clean, crisp images. Overall very good. Item #1299
A remarkable and large collection of over 360 vernacular photographs taken by an American soldier on Okinawa and several other outlying islands in the Amami and Tokara chains, following the final surrender of Japanese forces and the end of World War II. The images present here depict a wide array of subjects, including the destruction on Okinawa, the building of American military camps, cleanup and disarmament of Japanese military installations, remnants of local villages, and Japanese residents attempting to resume their lives.
One of the most fascinating and extensive series of images present here documents the disarmament and deconstruction of Japanese island military installations, carried out by their own soldiers still in uniform. Numerous photographs depict soldiers carrying bombs, arms, and equipment out of bunkers and other installations being dismantled under the supervision of American forces. Many images incongruously depict American and Japanese officers deep in consultation, or mixed groups of enlisted men working or milling about together. Several shots show Japanese soldiers Japanese soldiers posed at stations in the bunkers as if they were still on duty.
A second significant run of images present here depict life such as it was for surviving residents of the islands. Many photographs show rebuilding in progress, men and women scavenging materials, and farmers working fields and harvesting hay and grasses. Others document aspects of town life -- small gatherings of villagers, children playing, men returning from a fishing expedition, women washing clothes in an irrigation ditch. A few photos show a group of women from the local red light district.
Overall, these images give an excellent and detailed view of the situation on the outlying islands of Japan just after the conclusion of the war. The photographer clearly had license or orders to travel fairly widely, and his photographs are taken from varied locations on Okinawa and several other islands south of the Japanese mainland, including Tokunoshima, Amami Oshima, and Takarajima. The landscape on these as it appeared in the direct aftermath of the war is extensively documented.
Although the photographer is not identified, he is clearly the subject of several portraits, posed in front of military airplanes, on ships, with groups of soldiers and with local Japanese people. The images display a good sense of composition and a keen eye for interesting subject matter, and given the access that many of these subjects required, it seems clear that the photographer had some training or professional experience and was employed by the military. Nevertheless, 170 of the images are clearly his own personal, vernacular photography, thereby making the scope and extent of this group all the more remarkable. An excellent and sizable group of postwar Pacific photographs, and an outstanding visual document of Okinawa soon after one of the bloodiest and most desperate island campaigns of the war.