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Skull On a Tank

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by

German Munoz-Lopez

on 5 December 2014

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Transcript of Skull On a Tank

This photo of a Japanese soldiers' head mounted on a tank, was taken in World War II, 1942. Life.com published it in 1943. It was considered a horrifying image when it was released to the public and it was a symbol of the brutality of the Battle of Guadalcanal.
When was the photo taken?
Poem
Bald-bare, bone-bare, and ivory yellow: skull
Carried by a thus two-headed US sailor
Who got it from a Japanese soldier killed
At Guadalcanal in the ever-present war: our

Bluejacket, I mean, aged 20, in August strolled
Among the little bodies on the sand and hunted
Souvenirs: teeth, tags, diaries, boots; but bolder still
Hacked off this head and under a leopard tree skinned it:

Peeled with a lifting knife the jaw and cheeks, bared
The nose, ripped off the black-haired scalp and gutted

How the poem relates to the picture
About the photograph
by German Munoz-Lopez
The Skull On A Tank
Japanese Skull on a tank, in World War II, 1942 on an island called Guadalcanal.
The skull is from a Japanese soldier and it was mounted on to a disabled tank in Guadalcanal, in 1942 during the second World War. It's said to be that the Japanese soldier was burned first and then beheaded, that's why the skull looks burnt. The tank belonged to the Japanese, but the skull was propped on there by U.S. troops. The photographer who took this photo, Ralph Morse, was in complete shock after he took the photo because it was a very horrifying thing. His purpose in taking the photo was to probably show the world how brutal war is and maybe to portrait a symbol of hatred from the US troops to Japanese soldiers.
The largest of the Solomon Islands, occupied by Japanese troops during WWII. It was the site of fierce fighting (August 1942 to March 1943). The japanese skull mounted onto a disabled tank was found here on Guadalcanal.
The US Sailor with the Japanese Skull by Winfield Townley Scott
Poem continued...
The dead eyes to these thoughtful hollows: a scarred
But bloodless job, unless it be said that brains bleed.

Then, his ship underway, dragged this aft in a net
Many days and nights - the cold bone tumbling
Beneath the foaming wake, weed-worn and salt-cut
Rolling safe among fish and washed with Pacific;

Till on a warm and level-keeled day hauled in
Held to the sun and the sailor, back to a gun-rest,
Scrubbed the cured skull with lye, perfecting this:
Not foreign as he saw it first: death's familiar cast.

Bodiless, fleshless, nameless, it and the sun
Offend each other in strange fascination
As though one of the two were mocked; but nothing is in
This head, or it fills with what another imagines

As: here were love and hate and the will to deal
Death or to kneel before it, death emperor,
Recorded orders without reasons, bomb-blast, still
A child's morning, remembered moonlight on Fujiyama:

All scoured out now by the keeper of this skull
Made elemental, historic, parentless by our
Sailor boy who thinks of home, voyages laden, will
Not say, 'Alas! I did not know him at all'.
"The US sailor with the Japanese Skull" poem by Winfield Townley Scott has a lot of connection to the picture. The poem tells us about how the U.S troops carried a Japanese skull and it sort of gives a description on how the soldier was killed. The title itself is pretty relevant. In the first stanza of the poem it says that a yellow skull is carried by two U.S troops, and it also mentions that the Japanese Soldier was killed in Guadalcanal. In the poem it mentions the word fleshless, so one can assume the japanese body was more than likely burnt.
Citations
Reporter, Daily. "Hell in the Pacific: The Rare Pictures That Reveal Reality of the Battle of Guadalcanal." <i>Mail Online</i>. Associated Newspapers, 23 Oct. 2012. Web. 5 Dec. 2014.

"Behind the Picture: Skull on a Tank, Guadalcanal, 1942 - WAR HISTORY ONLINE." <i>WAR HISTORY ONLINE</i>. Web. 5 Dec. 2014.

"Portrait From the Brutal Pacific: 'Skull on a Tank,' Guadalcanal, 1942." <i>Time</i>. Time. Web. 5 Dec. 2014.

"Poetry and War - Other Wars." <i>Poetry and War - Other Wars</i>. Web. 5 Dec. 2014.
Full transcript