26 November 2008

The Good Samaritan: Christmas Day Papua New Guinea 1942/Photo By George Silk

George SILK 1916, New Zealand
Blinded soldier, New Guinea 1942 printed 2000
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Theme: Patriotic Duty

Artist: George SILK
Birth/Death: 1916

Title: Blinded soldier, New Guinea

Credit Line: National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

This iconic image from World War Two was taken by George Silk, official war photographer for the Australian Government 1939–43. It was taken on Christmas Day 1942 after Australian and American troops had reversed the Japanese advance in New Guinea.

Silk recalled that standing alone near ‘the front’ in a field of tall Kunai grass he saw two people walking towards him. A New Guinea volunteer was tenderly helping a wounded soldier. Silk was deeply affected and his response as a photographer was purely instinctive. He took only one shot.

Blinded soldier, New Guinea was a powerful replay of the Christian parable of the Good Samaritan and it vindicated the efforts of the New Guinea native volunteers whose involvement in the war was pivotal to the allies’ success.

"Capa was an operator. Bourke-White was an operator. They saw the big picture and made it 'their war.' And George just doggedly wanted to be there and conquer his fears and show people what it was like."

"He wasn't an operator about the war," said John Loengard, a former picture editor at Life and the author of "Life Photographers: What They Saw" (Bullfinch/Little, Brown, 1998).

National Gallery Of Australia, Canberra
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