Pictures of World War II

Pictures of World War II

General Douglas MacArthur wades ashore during initial landings at Leyte, P.I., October, 1944.
Cropped from Select List number 150.

The Second World War was documented on a huge scale by thousands of photographers and artists who created millions of pictures. American military photographers representing all of the armed services covered the battlefronts around the world. Every activity of the war was depicted–training, combat, support services, and much more. On the home front, the many federal war agencies produced and collected pictures, posters, and cartoons on such subjects as war production, rationing, and civilian relocation.

The pictures described in this list are from the holdings of the Still Picture Branch (NNSP) of the National Archives and Records Administration. Most are from the records of the Army Signal Corps in Record Group (RG) 111, the Department of the Navy in RG 80, the Coast Guard in RG 26, the Marine Corps in RG 127, and the Office of War Information in RG 208. Others were selected from the records of 12 additional agencies.

Pictures are listed by subject and campaign. Original captions are in quotation marks. Photographers, artists, locations, and dates, when known, are also included. This information is followed by identification numbers in italics.

At the end of this leaflet there are instructions for ordering complete sets of slides from this and other Select Audiovisual Records lists. To order individual prints, negatives, or slides from this list, write to the Still Picture Branch (NNSP) for a current price list and ordering information. With the exception of 11 pictures that are also in color (indicated by an asterisk following the identification number), all pictures in this list are available only in black and white. Inquiries about other World War II pictures that may be part of the National Archives’ holdings should be made separately. Please list, as specifically as possible, names, dates, places, subjects, events, and other details. Please limit each request to three items.

Jonathan Heller researched, selected, and arranged the items for this list and wrote these introductory remarks.


How to Order


1. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signing the Declaration of War against Japan, December 8, 1941. 79-AR-82. National Archives Identifier: 520053

2.General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander, at his headquarters in the European theater of operations. He wears the five-star cluster of the newly-created rank of General of the Army.” T4c. Messerlin, February 1, 1945. 80-G-331330. National Archives Identifier: 520686

3. Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini in Munich, Germany, ca. June 1940. 242-EB-7-38. National Archives Identifier: 540151

4.General MacArthur surveys the beachhead on Leyte Island, soon after American forces swept ashore from a gigantic liberation armada into the central Philippines, at the historic moment when the General made good his promise `I shall return.'” 1944. 26-G- 3584. National Archives Identifier: 513210

5.Conference of the Big Three at Yalta makes final plans for the defeat of Germany. Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Premier Josef Stalin.” February 1945. 111-SC-260486. National Archives Identifier: 531340

6. American generals: seated left to right are William H. Simpson, George S. Patton, Jr., Carl Spaatz, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Omar Bradley, Courtney H. Hodges, and Leonard T. Gerow; standing are Ralph F. Stearley, Hoyt S. Vandenberg, Walter Bedell Smith, Otto P. Weyland, and Richard E. Nugent. Ca. 1945. 208-YE-182. National Archives Identifier: 535983

The Home Front

7.. . . we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain . . . Remember Dec. 7th!” Color poster by Allen Saalberg, 1942. 44-PA-191.* National Archives Identifier: 513637

8.We French workers warn you . . . defeat means slavery, starvation, death.” Color poster by Ben Shahn, 1942. 44-PA-246.* National Archives Identifier: 513688

9.I Want You for the U.S. Army. Enlist Now.” Color poster by James Montgomery Flagg. 44-PA-71.* National Archives Identifier: 513533

10.Man the Guns. Join the Navy.” Color poster by McClelland Barclay, 1942. 44-PA-24.* National Archives Identifier: 513519

11.For your country’s sake today–For your own sake tomorrow. Go to the nearest recruiting station of the armed service of your choice.” Color poster by Steele Savage, 1944. 44-PA-820.* National Archives Identifier: 514315

12.Buy War Bonds.” Color poster, 1942. 44-PA-531.* National Archives Identifier: 514010

13.SCRAP.” Color poster by Roy Schatt, 1942. 44-PA-1688.* National Archives Identifier: 515359

14.Harvesting bumper crop for Uncle Sam . Movie star Rita Hayworth sacrificed her bumpers for the duration. Besides setting an example by turning in unessential metal car parts, Miss Hayworth has been active in selling war bonds.” 1942. 208-PU-91B-5. National Archives Identifier: 535932

15.I’m conserving wool, this bathing suit’s painted on.” Cartoon drawing by Charles Shows. 208-COM-1084. National Archives Identifier: 535701

16. Sugar rationing. 208-AA-322I-2. National Archives Identifier: 535570

17.An eager school boy gets his first experience in using War Ration Book Two. With many parents engaged in war work, children are being taught the facts of point rationing for helping out in family marketing.” Alfred Palmer, February 1943. 208-AA-322H-1. National Archives Identifier: 535567

18.We Can Do It.” Color poster by J. Howard Miller. 179-WP-1563.* National Archives Identifier:535413

19.Secretaries, housewives, waitresses, women from all over central Florida are getting into vocational schools to learn war work. Typical are these in the Daytona Beach branch of the Volusia county vocational school.” Howard R. Hollem, April 1942. 208-AA-352V-4. National Archives Identifier: 535579

20. “Stars over Berlin and Tokyo will soon replace these factory lights reflected in the noses of planes at Douglas Aircraft’s Long Beach, Calif., plant. Women workers groom lines of transparent noses for deadly A-20 attack bombers.” Alfred Palmer, October 1942. 208-AA-352QQ-5. National Archives Identifier: 535577

21. Riveter at Lockheed Aircraft Corp., Burbank, CA. 86-WWT-3-67. National Archives Identifier:522880

22. “Line up of some of women welders including the women’s welding champion of Ingalls [Shipbuilding Corp., Pascagoula, MS].” Spencer Beebe, 1943. 86-WWT-85-35. National Archives Identifier: 535579

23. “Chippers.” Women war workers of Marinship Corp., 1942. 86-WWT-85-16. National Archives Identifier: 522889

24. “Man working on hull of U.S. submarine at Electric Boat Co., Groton, Conn.” Lt. Comdr. Charles Fenno Jacobs, August 1943. 80-G-468517. National Archives Identifier: 1633443

25. “Launching of USS ROBALO 9 May 1943, at Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co., Manitowoc, Wis.” 80-G-68535. National Archives Identifier: 520628

26. “Someone talked!” Color poster by Siebel, 1942. 44-PA-230.* National Archives Identifier: 513672

27. “Loose lips might sink ships.” Color poster by Ess-ar-gee. 44-PA-82.* National Archives Identifier:513543

28. “A young evacuee of Japanese ancestry waits with the family baggage before leaving by bus for an assembly center in the spring of 1942.” Clem Albers, California, April 1942. 210-G-2A-6.(ww2_28.jpg)

29. “Persons of Japanese ancestry arrive at the Santa Anita Assembly Center from San Pedro. Evacuees lived at this center at the former Santa Anita race track before being moved inland to relocation centers.” Clem Albers, Arcadia, CA, April 5, 1942. 210-G-3B-414. (ww2_29.jpg)

30. “Dust storm at this War Relocation Authority center where evacuees of Japanese ancestry are spending the duration.” Dorothea Lange, Manzanar, CA, July 3, 1942. 210-G-10C-839. (ww2_30.jpg)

Supply & Support

31. “Mechanics check engine of SNJ at Kingsville Field, NATC, Corpus Christi, Texas.” Lt. Comdr. Charles Fenno Jacobs, November 1942. 80-G-475186. (ww2_31.jpg)

32. “Ordnancemen loading belted cartridges into SBD-3 at NAS Norfolk, Va.” September 1942. 80-G-472528. (ww2_32.jpg)

33. “Victory cargo ships are lined up at a U.S. west coast shipyard for final outfitting before they are loaded with supplies for Navy depots and advance bases in the Pacific.” Ca. 1944. 208-YE-2B-7.(ww2_33.jpg)

34. “Corporal Charles H. Johnson of the 783rd Military Police Battalion, waves on a `Red Ball Express’ motor convoy rushing priority materiel to the forward areas, near Alenon, France.” Bowen, September 5, 1944. 111-SC-195512. (ww2_34.jpg)

35.Invasion of Cape Gloucester, New Britain, 24 Dec. 1943. Crammed with men and material for the invasion, this Coast Guard- manned LST nears the Japanese held shore. Troops shown in the picture are Marines.” PhoM1c. Don C. Hansen. 26-G-3056.

36.U.S. Convoy which operates between Chen-Yi and Kweiyang, China, is ascending the famous twenty-one curves at Annan, China.” Pfc. John F. Albert, March 26, 1945. 111-SC-208807.

37. “U.S. Marine `Raiders’ and their dogs, which are used for scouting and running messages, starting off for the jungle front lines on Bougainville.” T.Sgt. J. Sarno, ca. November/December 1943. 127-GR-84-68407. (ww2_37.jpg)

38. “Sgt. Carl Weinke and Pfc. Ernest Marjoram, Signal Corps cameramen, wading through stream while following infantry troops in forward area during invasion at a beach in New Guinea.” T4c. Ernani D’Emidio, April 22, 1944. 111-SC-189623. (ww2_38.jpg)

39. “Pfc Angelo B. Reina, 391st Inf. Regt., guards a lonely Oahu beach position. Kahuku, Oahu.” Rosenberg, Hawaii, March 1945. 111-SC-221867. (ww2_39.jpg)

Rest & Relaxation

40. “Marine Pfc. Douglas Lightheart (right) cradles his 30-cal. machine gun in his lap, while he and his buddy Pfc. Gerald Churchby take time out for a cigarette, while mopping up the enemy on Peleliu Is.” Cpl. H. H. Clements, September 14, 1944. 127-N-97628. (ww2_40.jpg) [The Marine on the left has been tentatively identified through information received by the National Archives as being Gerald P. Thursby, Sr. of Akron, Ohio, not Gerald Churchby]

41. “Sailor reading in his bunk aboard USS CAPELIN at submarine base New London, Conn.” Lt. Comdr. Charles Fenno Jacobs, August 1943. 80-G-468523. (ww2_41.jpg)

42. “Activities aboard USS MONTEREY. Navy pilots in the forward elevator well playing basketball.” Jumper at left identified as Gerald R. Ford. Attributed to Lt. Victor Jorgensen, ca. June/July 1944. 80-G-417628. (ww2_42.jpg)

43. “Liberty party. Liberty section personnel aboard LCM returning to USS CASABLANCA from Rara Island, off Pitylieu Island, Manus.” PhoM1c. R. W. Mowday, Admiralty Islands, April 19, 1945. 80-CASA-618. (ww2_43.jpg)

44. “Bing Crosby, stage, screen and radio star, sings to Allied troops at the opening of the London stage door canteen in Piccadilly, London, England.” Pearson, August 31, 1944. 111-SC-193249.(ww2_44.jpg)

45. “Danny Kaye, well known stage and screen star, entertains 4,000 5th Marine Div. occupation troops at Sasebo, Japan. The crude sign across the front of the stage says: `Officers keep out! Enlisted men’s country.'” Pfc. H. J. Grimm, October 25, 1945. 127-N-138204. (ww2_45.jpg)

46. “Pfc. Mickey Rooney imitates some Hollywood actors for an audience of Infantrymen of the 44th Division. Rooney is a member of a three-man unit making a jeep tour to entertain the troops.” T5c. Louis Weintraub, Kist, Germany, April 13, 1945. 111-SC-203412. (ww2_46.jpg)

47. “Marlene Dietrich, motion picture actress, autographs the cast on the leg of Tec 4 Earl E. McFarland at a United States hospital in Belgium, where she has been entertaining the GIs.” Tuttle, November 24, 1944. 111-SC-232989. (ww2_47.jpg)

48. “A youngster, clutching his soldier father, gazes upward while the latter lifts his wife from the ground to wish her a `Merry Christmas.’ The serviceman is one of those fortunate enough to be able to get home for the holidays.” December 1944. 208-AA-2F-20. (ww2_48.jpg)

Top of Page

Aid & Comfort

49. “Crewmen lifting Kenneth Bratton out of turret of TBF on the USS SARATOGA after raid on Rabaul.” Lt. Wayne Miller, November 1943. 80-G-415477. (ww2_49.jpg)

50. Medics helping injured soldier, France, 1944. 208-YE-22. (ww2_50.jpg)

51. “Private Roy Humphrey is being given blood plasma by Pfc. Harvey White, after he was wounded by shrapnel, on 9 August 1943 in Sicily.” Wever. 111-SC-178198. (ww2_51.jpg)

52. “Transfer of wounded from USS BUNKER HILL to USS WILKES BARRE, who were injured during fire aboard carrier following Jap suicide dive bombing attack off Okinawa.” PhoM3c. Kenneth E. Roberts, May 11, 1945. 80-G-328610. (ww2_52.jpg)

53. “In an underground surgery room, behind the front lines on Bougainville, an American Army doctor operates on a U.S. soldier wounded by a Japanese sniper.” December 13, 1943. 111-SC-187247.(ww2_53.jpg)

54. “Nurses of a field hospital who arrived in France via England and Egypt after three years service.” Parker, August 12, 1944. 112-SGA-44-10842. (ww2_54.jpg)

55. “With a canvas tarpaulin for a church and packing cases for an altar, a Navy chaplain holds mass for Marines at Saipan. The service was held in memory of brave buddies who lost their lives in the initial landings.” Sgt. Steele, June 1944. 127-N-82262. (ww2_55.jpg)

56. “The crew of the USS SOUTH DAKOTA stands with bowed heads, while Chaplain N. D. Lindner reads the benediction held in honor of fellow shipmates killed in the air action off Guam on June 19, 1944.” July 1, 1944. 80-G-238322. (ww2_56.jpg)

Navy & Naval Battles

57. “A PT marksman provides a striking camera study as he draws a bead with his 50 caliber machine gun on his boat off New Guinea.” July 1943. 80-G-53871. (ww2_57.jpg)

58. “Officer at periscope in control room of submarine.” Ca. 1942. 80-G-11258. (ww2_58.jpg)

59. “PT’s patrolling off coast of New Guinea.” 1943. 80-G-53855. (ww2_59.jpg)

60. “USS PENNSYLVANIA and battleship of COLORADO class followed by three cruisers move in line into Lingayen Gulf preceding the landing on Luzon.” Philippines, January 1945. 80-G-59525.(ww2_60.jpg)

61. “Coast Guardsmen on the deck of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Spencer watch the explosion of a depth charge which blasted a Nazi U-boat’s hope of breaking into the center of a large convoy.” Sinking of U-175. WO Jack January, April 17, 1943. 26-G-1517. (ww2_61.jpg)

62. Torpedoed Japanese destroyer photographed through periscope of U.S.S. Wahoo or U.S.S. Nautilus, June 1942. 80-G-418331. (ww2_62.jpg)

63. Sixteen-inch guns of the U.S.S Iowa firing during battle drill in the Pacific, ca. 1944. 80-G-59493.(ww2_63.jpg)

64. “Jap torpedo bomber explodes in air after direct hit by 5 inch shell from U.S. aircraft carrier as it attempted an unsuccessful attack on carrier, off Kwajalein.” U.S.S. Yorktown. CPhoM. Alfred N. Cooperman, December 4, 1943. 80-G-415001. (ww2_64.jpg)

65. “Japanese plane shot down as it attempted to attack USS KITKUN BAY.” Near Mariana Islands, June 1944. 80-G-238363. (ww2_65.jpg)

66. “USS BUNKER HILL burning after Jap suicide attack.” Near Okinawa, May 11, 1945. 80-G-274266. (ww2_66.jpg)

67. “USS BUNKER HILL hit by two Kamikazes in 30 seconds on 11 May 1945 off Kyushu. Dead-372. Wounded-264.” 80-G-323712. (ww2_67.jpg)

Top of Page


68. “A Chinese soldier guards a line of American P-40 fighter planes, painted with the shark-face emblem of the `Flying Tigers,’ at a flying field somewhere in China.” Ca. 1942. 208-AA-12X-21.(ww2_68.jpg)

69. “Pilots aboard a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier receive last minute instructions before taking off to attack industrial, and military installations in Tokyo.” February 17, 1945. 208-N-38374. (ww2_69.jpg)

70. “Dynamic static. The motion of its props causes an `aura’ to form around this F6F on USS YORKTOWN. Rotating with blades, halo moves aft, giving depth and perspective.” November 1943. 80-G-204747A. (ww2_70.jpg)

71. “Take off from the deck of the USS HORNET of an Army B-25 on its way to take part in first U.S. air raid on Japan.” Doolittle Raid, April 1942. 80-G-41196. (ww2_71.jpg)

72. “TBF (Avengers) flying in formation over Norfolk, Va.” Attributed to Lt. Comdr. Horace Bristol, September 1942. 80-G-427475. (ww2_72.jpg)

73. “The first big raid by the 8th Air Force was on a Focke Wulf plant at Marienburg. Coming back, the Germans were up in full force and we lost at least 80 ships-800 men, many of them pals.” 1943. 208-YE-7. (ww2_73.jpg)

74. “Photograph made from B-17 Flying Fortress of the 8th AAF Bomber Command on 31 Dec. when they attacked the vital CAM ball- bearing plant and the nearby Hispano Suiza aircraft engine repair depot in Paris.” France, 1943. 208-EX-249A-27. (ww2_74.jpg)

75. “Pilots pleased over their victory during the Marshall Islands attack, grin across the tail of an F6F Hellcat on board the USS LEXINGTON, after shooting down 17 out of 20 Japanese planes heading for Tarawa.” Comdr. Edward Steichen, November 1943. 80-G-470985. (ww2_75.jpg)

German Aggression

76. “Hitler accepts the ovation of the Reichstag after announcing the `peaceful’ acquisition of Austria. It set the stage to annex the Czechoslovakian Sudetenland, largely inhabited by a German- speaking population.” Berlin, March 1938. 208-N-39843. (ww2_76.jpg)

77. German troops parade through Warsaw, Poland. PK Hugo J.ger, September 1939. 200-SFF-52.(ww2_77.jpg)

78. “The tragedy of this Sudeten woman, unable to conceal her misery as she dutifully salutes the triumphant Hitler, is the tragedy of the silent million

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather