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For the 72 Million

American Dead on Buna Beach

Image Information
In this iconic photo by LIFE photographer George Strock, three Americans lie dead after they were ambushed by Japanese soldiers. Note Japanese landing craft and maggots on the corpse closest to the camera. The American advance on Buna was marked by green United States troops failing to advance against the Japanese. In frustration, United States Army General Douglas MacArthur relieved the commander of the 32nd Infantry Division, Major General Edwin F. Harding, and ordered United States Army Lieutenant General Robert L. Eichelberger to take charge. The 32nd fought hard in terrible jungle conditions and cleared Buna of Japanese resistance in early January 1943. The photo, taken in January, was censored until the September 20, 1943 issue of LIFE, when it was published as part of a larger publicity campaign to shock the American public, whom United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt believed had become complacent about the war. Condemned by many and praised by veterans, the photo was not the first photo of war dead to be published, but was marked by the greatest controversy. Strock reportedly took the photo as part of a feature on a GI named “Bill“ who was one of the three men killed.
Image Filename wwii1318.jpg
Image Size 1.68 MB
Image Dimensions 2317 x 3000
Photographer Strock, George
Photographer Title
Caption Author Jason McDonald
Date Photographed January 01, 1943
Location Buna Beach
City Buna
State or Province Papua
Country Papua New Guinea
Record Number
Status Caption ©2007, ©2024 MFA Productions LLC
Please Do Not Duplicate or Distribute Without Permission

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