Wounds Treated During The Battle Of Saipan
In a battle that lasted over three weeks and saw tens of thousands of casualties, this photo manages to bring it all down to a pinprick. Here you can see a United States Marine combat medic with a wounded Japanese boy during the Battle of Saipan. His mother can be seen at his side, bowing. They had been hidden in bunkers during the battle, scared of what US soldiers would do to them if they surrendered.
Radio broadcasts had told the civilian population fabricated accounts that they would be tortured if they were found by Americans. Towards the end of the battle, Japanese Emperor Hirohito also sent out an imperial order encouraging the civilians of Saipan to commit suicide — which nearly a thousand did over a four day period, after being offered a privileged place in the afterlife. It’s astonishing and harrowing to think of how many people took their own life. After the Battle of Sapian, certain areas would be named “Suicide Cliff” and “Banzai Cliff” due to the number of lives lost jumping off.
Saipan, South Pacific Mandate (now, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands).
Image taken by W. Eugene Smith.