Gelatin silver print
Image: 24 x 34 cm (9 7/16 x 13 3/8 in.); Matted: 55.9 x 55.9 cm (22 x 22 in.)
Edwin R. and Harriet Pelton Perkins Memorial Fund 1990.89
This remarkable photograph was taken on assignment for LIFE (but not published in the magazine) and is one of the best examples of the narrative, documentary images W. Eugene Smith took between 1943 and 1945 while covering World War II in the Pacific. In this photograph, taken during the Battle of Okinawa, Smith demonstrated his ability to blend his strong compassion for humanity with superb aesthetic skills. In this carefully balanced and illuminated composition, he captured the strain, frustration, and terror of the soldiers' situation. Bombarded by mortar shells and trapped by the fire of machine guns, they were unable to move forward or retreat.
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