Photos from Tinian during WW2.
May 29, 2006 8:14 AM   Subscribe

Fantastic photographs taken and developed on the island of Tinian during WW2, now scanned and restored. There are some bodies and nudity/nude art, so it's potentially NSFW.
posted by WinnipegDragon (51 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Is that "end-01" photograph what I think it is?
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 8:21 AM on May 29, 2006

Great photos.
what's this got to do with fark, now?
posted by Baby_Balrog at 8:21 AM on May 29, 2006

The other day, someone was telling me about some website you could go to if you wanted to read Fark. I can't remember what the the address was, though.
posted by BeerFilter at 8:22 AM on May 29, 2006

I thought the photos were good enough to post, regardless of the source.

If I hadn't mentioned Fark, would you still be snarking?
posted by WinnipegDragon at 8:23 AM on May 29, 2006

WinnipegDragon: Probably not. :)
posted by BeerFilter at 8:26 AM on May 29, 2006

Finding something isn't the same as authorship.
posted by wigu at 8:35 AM on May 29, 2006


Yeah I think it is. In the other thread, the guy who posted the photos mentions that his grandfather developed photos for other airmen stationed there, so it seems likely.

I can't imagine that there are many original photos of that incident. I hope he has those photos secured and insured.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 8:39 AM on May 29, 2006 [1 favorite]

Yes, I sincerely apologize, WinnipegDragon. This is a good FPP. I also apologize to the community for my prejudicial domainism.

(I was just complaining at someone in another window for turning that space into a Fark-worshipping drool-fest, and then I clicked over here to see the dreadful beast referred to once again, and the snark just continued to flow from my fingers unabated. Sorry.)
posted by BeerFilter at 8:44 AM on May 29, 2006

If I hadn't mentioned Fark, would you still be snarking?

No, but... what was even the reason you mentioned fark at all, other then a little [via fark] link at the end of the post? If the pictures are good, then they can be posted here, if not, not.

So why write so much about the fact that you found the pictures on fark?
posted by delmoi at 8:44 AM on May 29, 2006

Omigod, these are great documentary photos. I love the church service at the Servicedrome! Wish there was info about the images, but this is fantastic stuff.

Sure, it's a FARK post, but this deserves to be seen.

Um, why is that even in your post? If the link's good, it's good. Don't apologize; it only asks for derails.
posted by mediareport at 8:44 AM on May 29, 2006

Here's the site owner's Fark post; that bomb photo is indeed Nagasaki:

All these photos were developed by my grandfather, a seabee stationed on Tinian during WWII. I scanned them and restored them as best I could so he could see them before he died in 2001 at the age of 89. This is the first time anyone else other than those in my family have seen them. He ran an underground photo lab in his tent and was basically the guy you went to when you needed anything. His irish temper was notorious and he spent a lot of time in the brig for punching out officers.

the mushroom cloud picture was the bomb that destroyed Nagasaki. All these photos are originals and I have them in my possession. Please don't hotlink them without permission and/or credit.

I don't have a lot of details on the photos but they're classified based on subject:

J: Photos and film taken off dead japanese soldiers
tinian: photos taken on Tinian Island
b29: photos of the nose art on the planes
k: photos taken inside a korean concentration camp
ships: photos taken onboard the ships

Some of the photos are NSFW.

I'd like to thank my grandfather and all who served with him, before him, and since then for defending our country and sacrificing everything to do what they thought was right.

posted by mediareport at 8:49 AM on May 29, 2006

These are stunning. The shot of the bombers against Mount Fuji ought, by rights, to be one of the iconic pictures of WWII.

It's a shame that the gallery interface mungs the aspect ratio of so many of the pics.
posted by Hogshead at 8:54 AM on May 29, 2006

Sweet zombie Christ. I just wanted to attribute the link to the source I found it on. I'll admit I was impressed, as I don't expect that kind of link on Fark, and I thought I would mention it.

Now, I'll MeTa Jess or Matt to change the post title, but in the meantime, let's stop derailing and focus on some insanely good photos of an important historical subject, shall we?
posted by WinnipegDragon at 9:04 AM on May 29, 2006

Here here.
posted by wheelieman at 9:08 AM on May 29, 2006

Tinian is the key to understanding why the Pacific War started and ended the way it did:

a) The Japanese thought they were fighting the "Greater East Asia" war. This map is what the Army and Navy had their eyes on going in... the European colonies to the South. For the Army, any sea battles to the East with the Americans were simply Not Their Job, and for the Navy, the simple institutional honor (found in any military force worth its salt) required it to believe in the prospects of crushing any American moves westward (that the IJN had the best destroyer, cruiser, battleship, and carrier forces going in certainly aided this confidence).

b) Looking at the map above, who in late 1941 would be able to visualize the massive B-29 raids on the homeland launched from that tiny dot labelled "Tinian"? Both the Army and Navy's strategy going in was a "defensive offensive", taking ground and then fighting a war of attrition in defense, inch by bloody inch (pretty much how the Nazis fought their battles right to the bloody end in Berlin).

The B-29's first flight was still a year away, and the B-29 was the only plane able to make the flight from the Marianas to Tokyo carrying more than spitballs, and it itself was something of a technological miracle that revolutionized strategic warfare doctrine. And who in 1941 would be able to visualize the massive firebombing campaign (to which I think the atomic bombs belong) that the USAAF would inflict on the Japanese people? (The legal wrt the Hague Conventions, high-level bombing the B-29s initially sortied with were not proving workable -- payloads were too low (given the distance and amount of fuel required to attain altitude), accuracy over the target too low (jetstream winds), and losses during daylight too high (the targets were way outside friendly fighter cover range).

So I think Tinian, a tiny mustard seed in the Pacific, and the B-29, and the US's bloody "area bombing" campaign, simply blindsided the IJN war planners.

as far as morality goes, I don't necessarily hold that a civilian's life has more value than a soldier's. Human is human. Once the legalisms of war (eg. Hague) were stripped away (eg. the European bombing, the Russian nastiness, and, most importantly, the "sneak" attacks of Japan 12/7/41 and their truly abominable treatment of our POWs, we got to see the true nature of war, which was far from the pretty parades and martial music the warmakers of Japan launched their campaigns on.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 9:09 AM on May 29, 2006 [2 favorites]

Good post, brilliant photos.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:13 AM on May 29, 2006

More on the past and present military significance of Tinian Island. Among other things:
Although Tinian will forever be linked to "Fat Man" and "Little Boy" and the infamous U.S.S. Indianapolis, the island holds another, lesser-known distinction in the annals of modern war. As part of the 13-day naval bombardment of Tinian leading up to the invasion at Unai Chulu, U.S. forces utilized napalm bombs against the Japanese. It was the first time napalm bombs were ever used during warfare.
Let slip the dogs of war...
posted by cenoxo at 9:24 AM on May 29, 2006

Mod note: removed fark references from fpp at poster's request
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:41 AM on May 29, 2006

Thanks Jess!
posted by WinnipegDragon at 9:43 AM on May 29, 2006

Incredibly moving photos, thanks for posting
posted by jonah at 10:02 AM on May 29, 2006

That Nagasaki photo looks almost identical to this one.
posted by gubo at 10:14 AM on May 29, 2006

These are fascinating photos - thanks, WinnipegDragon!
posted by carter at 10:33 AM on May 29, 2006

Awesome photos, in the fullest sense of awe. As Hogshead mentioned, that one of bombers over Fuji is jawdropping, iconic, mesmerizing.

the slideshow thingie nor any of the links work for me in forefox,osx. anyone else?
posted by Rumple at 10:34 AM on May 29, 2006

Nope, not with FF for OSX. Reported as error.
Works with Camino (not the index page but the slideshow)
posted by hank at 10:43 AM on May 29, 2006

That Nagasaki photo looks almost identical to this one.

After looking at them side by side, I'd say they're probably printed from the same negative, though the one displayed in the FPP is a better print/restoration than the wikipidia image you linked to. Interesting that a print resided in this guy's possession all these years.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:50 AM on May 29, 2006

James Michener had a little anecdote in one of his books "Return to the South Pacific" I think, about an Australian man who could sense the coming war and wanted to move to a place that he thought would be inconsequential enough for the war machine to overlook. He took into account many things, such as location, and before the war began he moved to his perceived haven of peace: Guadalcanal.
posted by rougy at 10:51 AM on May 29, 2006

Thanks, wonderful stuff. That airplane nose art is a bit raunchier than most I've seen.
posted by marxchivist at 11:08 AM on May 29, 2006

Cracking photos, thanks WinnipegDragon.
posted by jack_mo at 11:11 AM on May 29, 2006

Moving and saddening.

I wonder how perceptions of our current conflicts might be if seen through the lens of restored grainy and cracked B&W images.
posted by marvin at 11:17 AM on May 29, 2006

These are great photographs. Each is ghostly, and all suggest thousands of lost stories... Fantastic post.
posted by MarshallPoe at 11:46 AM on May 29, 2006

Re: "James Michener had a little anecdote..." There's a parallel in a similar story told in Ken Burns' film of the US Civil War. A farmer named Wilmer McLean, whose farm was situated on the field of First Bull Run (and whose house was Confederate General Beauregard's headquarters), saw first-hand the carnage that the War was going to be. He decided his life would be a lot more peaceful if he moved his family to where he thought they would be well removed from it. He relocated them to Appomattox and thus was host to both the first and last major battles of the War. It was in his living room that Lee signed the documents surrendering what was left of the Army of Northern Virginia to Grant.

Stuff like that really makes you think that God has a strange sense of humour.
posted by Mike D at 12:42 PM on May 29, 2006

I don't necessarily hold that a civilian's life has more value than a soldier's. Human is human

No intention to derail an excellent FPP, but the thinking that goes into international law isn't that a civilian life is worth more, but that he or she is not part of the government apparatus nor a threat, and that it is the duty of opposing military forces to go to war not with a people but with their government, and their military as an extention of that. I don't see someone brandishing a gun in my direction and a person walking down the street unarmed in the same light because of their shared humanity. One is a threat; the other is not. Not conclusive regarding what happened here; just a different way to evaluate the result, in light of the idea of minimal harm -- the least harm needed to achieve your military goals (something argued again and again regarding this very event). Of course, there has always been and continues to be a very stark divide with regard to how we measure loss to us and loss to them, civilian or military. Just sayin'.
posted by dreamsign at 12:56 PM on May 29, 2006

bombers flying by what looks like Mt Fuji
Amazing photograph; one'd say it has been choreographed for propaganda.
posted by jouke at 1:33 PM on May 29, 2006 [1 favorite]

What's with all the Fark hate? I somehow manage to read and comment plenty there, without hating on MetaFilter.

Is this like XM vs. Sirius or Atari vs. Intellivision or something?
posted by Confabulat at 3:15 PM on May 29, 2006

Thanks, wonderful stuff. That airplane nose art is a bit raunchier than most I've seen.

I guess in forward areas they knew that nothing would be getting back to the states uncensored, so there was no harm in letting the crews indulge themselves.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:57 PM on May 29, 2006

Awesome photos. Thanks!
posted by grapefruitmoon at 4:40 PM on May 29, 2006

WinnipegDragon, Thanks for an excellent post and, of course, particularly potent on Memorial Day. Those images haunted me all day. As a result I emailed a friend who was a soldier and told him I'm glad he didn't die in war, that I loved him.

About this time of year I travelled through Verdun and stopped at the veterans' cemetary there. It feels like as far as the eye can see, just dead soldiers. So powerful and sad.

I looked carefully at each photograph and thought a lot about my late father who was in the Navy in WWll and then drafted into the Army during the Korean War. (He lived until 1978) Those photos are some of the best I've ever seen of the war in the Pacific and the map is educational. The ones on the ships had an emotional impact, something personal about them.

Yes, iconic is a good word for quite a few.

That one of the mushroom cloud is THE photo of that devastation and it's the better version, if better is the correct word for a document of such monstrosity.

It's hard to imagine these images have been in hiding all this time.
posted by nickyskye at 7:12 PM on May 29, 2006

Thanks for the images.

The pictures of the bombers over Mount Fuji, the nose art, and Little Boy going off are certainly iconic of WWII.

But, I think the pictures of folks on the ships is the real deal. Some are so clear you can see multiple conversations arrested in time.

The pictures of the graves strike me as iconic of all wars and the real focus of Memorial Day.

Like nickyskye, I have looked out upon acres of the can seem like a view into forever. Like the mourners in j16.jpg, I have attended my family's dead.
posted by taosbat at 9:09 PM on May 29, 2006

Looking over it again, these two really caught my eye: suffering, courage/chaos.
posted by Rumple at 9:35 PM on May 29, 2006

I'm the owner of the photographs. Thanks everyone for your appreciation.

All the photos are real. My grandfather ran his own little photo service for his buddies as well as developing his own film. He used his gambling winnings to finance the operation and had his wife ship him the supplies. The Nagasaki mushroom cloud photo was made from the original so he and his buddies could have their own souvenirs. It's not identical to the offical photo on Wiki although it looks like it was taken within a few seconds and at a slightly different angle.
posted by deveyn at 9:37 PM on May 29, 2006 [2 favorites]

deveyn -- thanks for sharing those photos - they are very immediate and moving and some of them are downright awe inspiring. Are those all the photos you have? Is there information attached to them?
posted by Rumple at 9:43 PM on May 29, 2006

My father said there are a few more and I'll try to get them soon. As far as information about them, it's a bit sketchy. I know the j and k photos were from film and prints taken off dead japanese.
posted by deveyn at 9:51 PM on May 29, 2006

I surmised that about the j and k -- some of those are terribly sad. By the way, I posted earlier the site wasn't working in osx witgh firefox, but it is now -- maybe before it was getting pounded from metafilter. Anyway, thanks again, and welcome to metafilter.
posted by Rumple at 9:58 PM on May 29, 2006

I'm not sure why the slideshow javascript was malfunctioning. It worked ok with my macbook with OSx and FF. I was going to remove it but wasn't getting any other complaints about it.

8 million hits in 24 hours. I'm not surprised if some things weren't working well.
posted by deveyn at 10:12 PM on May 29, 2006

8 million hits in 24 hours.!!!!!!! I'd imagine your grandfather would have been well chuffed. Great photos.
posted by tellurian at 10:54 PM on May 29, 2006

My grandfather and uncle were in the Royal Navy during WWII and brought home a bunch of surreptitiously shot photographs of bombardments, planes shot down and crashing into the sea and ship sinkings, etc from portholes. None of them from as significant an event as this, but poignant nonetheless. There were no scanners or internet around at the time I saw them and goodness knows what happened to them, lost.
posted by tellurian at 11:10 PM on May 29, 2006

deveyn, welcome to MetaFilter. Thank you for sharing this extraordinary treasure of historic images. Sounds like your grandfather was a character.

8 million hits in 24 hours, wow.

There is a World War ll veterans site with a forum and perhaps members there will be able to add information or know somebody who could offer more details about each picture.
posted by nickyskye at 11:43 PM on May 29, 2006

thanks, I sent my submission to them. Most of the guys in the photos are dead now and others I barely met... they were all "uncles" when I was very young. I already received a message from someone whose father was on the plane with the "she hasta" graphic on it.
posted by deveyn at 12:09 AM on May 30, 2006

Welcome deveyn. Did your corespondent talk about the art on the plane? Re: the play on words "she hasta". I get the obvious connotation of sexual congress but was it also 'she has to' as in, 'make it through the battle/war' or something else, because the literal translation of 'until' or 'as far as' doesn't make much sense to me?
posted by tellurian at 12:32 AM on May 30, 2006

This is why we come to Metafilter.
posted by vac2003 at 1:51 AM on May 30, 2006

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