In this rarely seen photo, a group of marines celebrate on a mountain summit during World War Two as the Stars and Stripes flutters behind them in the breeze. If the scenery looks familiar, it’s because this is Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima, February 23, 1945 – and just moments earlier, five of the soldiers were caught on film erecting the US flag in what soon became an iconic image. The pictures were shot on the tiny Pacific island by Joe Rosenthal – and now his personal album has emerged for sale at auction.His image of American troops struggling to raise the flag after taking the mountain from the Japanese during the Battle of Iwo Jima won him the prestigious Pulitzer Prize.
Other images show the invasion landings on the island, soldiers in foxholes and troops holding up souvenir Japanese flags seized from the enemy. There are also gruesome pictures of dead enemy soldiers. The album was acquired from Rosenthal about 30 years ago by a private dealer who in turn sold it to American war historian Rodney Hilton-Brown who is now selling it.
It has a pre-sale estimate of £10,000.
Rosenthal’s Raising The Flag On Iwo Jima picture was used for the US Marine Corps Memorial in Virginia.
Tom Lamb, of auctioneers Bonhams, said: ‘After the battle, a smaller US flag was actually raised on top of the Mount Suribachi but that was deemed to be too small and so a much larger one was sent for. ‘Joe Rosenthal only saw the second flag go up out of the corner of his eye and took the shot. He didn’t known what he had got at the time. ‘He got a large group of marines to then pose for the camera around the flag. ‘He took his camera down the mountain, got a plane to Guam and had the film developed on the same day and the rest is history. ‘Joe Rosenthal was a very good war photographer but he was famous for this one image.
US army tanks roll into view in the battle against the Japanese Empire and, right, one of the American troops from 1945
‘This was his very own album of photographs that chronicle the Battle of Iwo Jima and is a very significant piece of photographic history.’ Out of around 30,000 US marines who attacked Iwo Jima, around 7,000 were killed compared to 20,000 out of 21,000 Japanese soldiers who fought to the death. There are 52 3.5in by 4.5in images in the album, that was signed by Rosenthal who died in 2006.
The auction takes place in New York on Friday.
Source: Daily Mail