Brutal Pacific Portraits: Guadalcanal in Photos

In February 1943, LIFE magazine published a series of photographs from Guadalcanal—the largest of the Solomon Islands and the site of the Allies' first, pivotal offensive in the Pacific during World War II.
One of those pictures, made by a 25-year-old LIFE photographer named Ralph Morse, instantly struck a nerve with the magazine's millions of readers. Seven decades later, it remains one of the most unsettling images to emerge from any war. Morse's picture (the first in this gallery) of a severed Japanese soldier's head impaled on a tank captures more graphically and immediately than volumes of words ever could the relentless and often casual barbarity of war.

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