by: Frederick Boucher [ ]
Originally published on:
• Author: Eric Hammel
• 208 pages
• ISBN: 9781849085380
Author Eric Hammel presents a unique pictorial history of the US Marines who fought during World War II. Hammel selects the top 100 images from his private archives to share with readers—100 images that capture what Semper Fidelis meant to the fighting men during the war. With a mixture of iconic and unique photographs, readers will find themselves faced with the graphic images of Marines during wartime, from the thick of combat to every day survival. Here, in silent, stirring, unwavering testimony, is a display of what the very best combat Marines of any era can do to remain always faithful to their long history, their homeland, their proud heritage, the cornerstone of their honour, and their humanity. (from Osprey Publishing. Always Faithful. 2011)
Author Eric Hammel has scores of books to his credit and those that I have read have always been excellent. This large format title is not so much a reading book, rather a gallery of photographs with text to identify where and when. Each spread features the subject photograph on the right page with an enlarged part of the image on the left page. On the left page is the caption, e.g., Bougainville, November 1, 1943-January 16, 1944; New Britain, December 26, 1943-April 1944, etc.. These images lack any commentary or other captions. There is a short commentary on the title page of each section.
These 100 photographs are in 208 pages divided into 12 sections and an introduction:
1. Beach Assault
2. In the Jungle
3. Every Marine a Rifleman
4. Supporting Arms
5. In the Attack
6. Looking For a Fight
7. Stress and Tension
8. At Close Quarters
10. At Ease
11. The Fallen
Mr. Hammel has amassed quite a collection of WWII USMC images. If you have every read a book on the Pacific War then you have probably seen a few of them. However, he has included some fascinating images that probably haven’t been published before, such as:
• A bearded Marine aircrew boarding their TBF, the turret gunner receiving a Thompson submachine gun ‘just in case’
• The Marine crouching in front of a 75mm pack howitzer, in full firing recoil, on Tinian
• Haunting photo of a prone Marine looking over his shoulder in the scrub of Saipan
• ‘At ease’ on Bougainville, catching sleep with the crook of his arm as a pillow in a hole, thigh-deep in water
• On Iwo Jima, a flame thrower Marine lighting his pipe
• Three Marines hurling grenades--one a black blur just released from the hand
• Several poignant images of causalities
Every photograph is black and white. Only one vignette is colorized, the flag draped stretcher of one of The Fallen. Quality-wise, these run the gamut of studio quality to obviously shot by someone trying to grab a shot between bullets and shrapnel. To break up the uniformity the enlarged vignettes are often manipulated: pixilated, blurred, sepia toned, polarized, and other effects.
Truly, this is an amazing collection of US Marine wartime images that inspire, immerse and educate, and keep you turning the pages for the next picture. Historians and modelers will find a wealth of source material. Fellow Americans and family of Marines in general, and Pacific War Marines in particular, having really looked at these images, may come to better appreciate what their Marine did—and still do for us--even if they can never comprehend it. Highly recommended.
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