DRAMATIC colourised images capture the heat of combat, raw emotion and soldiers’ determination during World War II’s Pacific Theatre.

Sweeping the dusty ground for mines, fussing over an orphaned child and treating the wounded, these black-and-white photos – mainly taken 75 years ago – have been brought to life.

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Injured US Marines being treated on the sand, at an aid station on Iwo Jima (Iwo To), one of the Japanese volcanic islands, in 1945
Mediadrumimages/RoystonLeonard
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Lt Walter Chewning, a catapult officer, is shown climbing up the side of a F6F to help the pilot, Ens. Byron Johnson, out of the flaming cockpit, after a crash landing on the flight deck of the USS Enterprise. The vessel was en route to attack Makin Island in the Pacific, November 1943
Mediadrumimages/RoystonLeonard
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American soldiers pictured alongside a rescued Japanese child in Saipan, July 1944
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Working cautiously near heavily damaged tanks, a California National Guardsman methodically sweeps for mines
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Emerging with his hands held in the air, this man was the first of 20 Japanese to come out of a cave on Iwo Jima, on April 5, 1945. The group had been hiding for several days
Mediadrumimages/RoystonLeonard
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Pictured in July 1944, troops and vehicles en route for the invasion of Cape Sansapor, New Guinea
Mediadrumimages/RoystonLeonard
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The Battle of Okinawa in April-June 1945: US Marines take cover while a Bazooka operator looks for a target
Mediadrumimages/RoystonLeonard
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Flamethrower troops engulf a barren hillside with fire
Mediadrumimages/RoystonLeonard
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Battle-weary Marine: Relieved from the front lines after 12 days of fighting the enemy in Okinawa is Marine Private First Class Harry Kizierian, June 2, 1945
Mediadrumimages/RoystonLeonard

The Pacific Theatre was where a series of battles took place during the Second World War, explains website Visit Pearl Harbor.

Before the start of the war in the Pacific, Japan attacked Peal Harbor, the American military base located on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, because America had stopped trade of oil and other materials to Japan.

After this surprise attack, the US declared war on Japan on December 8, 1941 – one day after the attack – and joined the conflict.

This marked the beginning of World War II in the Pacific Theatre.

The website says that “together with Allied nations like Great Britain and Australia, the US started to fight the Imperial Japanese force on many islands in the Pacific.”

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African American Marines, attached to the Third Ammunition Company, in Saipan. Riding the captured bicycle is Pfc. Horace Boykin with, from left, Cpl. Willis T. Anthony, Pfc. Emmitt Shackelford, and Pfc. Eugene Purdy in June 1944. The Battle of Saipan was the first time black US Marines saw action in World War II
Mediadrumimages/RoystonLeonard
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Injured prisoners shown surrounded by American troops
Mediadrumimages/RoystonLeonard
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A Japanese tank and soldiers. Honour-bound, many Japanese soldiers fought to the death rather than surrender
Mediadrumimages/RoystonLeonard
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Heads bowed at the burial of Private First Class Mike Fenton, Okinawa, in May 1945. Fenton was killed in a Japanese counterattack
Mediadrumimages/RoystonLeonard

In 1942, the Japanese Empire was operating at the peak of its powers, attacking and occupying positions throughout the Pacific Ocean, ranging from Alaska to India.

In a bid to stem the Japanese advance, the US military decided on a strategy of ‘island-hopping’ – fighting for control of strategic islands along a path toward the Japanese home islands, bringing American bombers within range and preparing for a possible invasion.

The battles were bloody and conditions for prisoners-of-war were woeful.

Japanese soldiers fought the island landings fiercely, killing many Allied soldiers and sometimes making desperate, last-ditch suicidal attacks.

By early 1945, leapfrogging US forces had advanced as far as Iwo Jima and Okinawa, within 340 miles of mainland Japan, at a great cost to both sides.

On Okinawa alone, during 82 days of fighting, about 100,000 Japanese troops and 12,510 Americans were killed, and somewhere between 42,000 and 150,000 Okinawan civilians died as well.

Eventually the war would cease after the US detonated two nuclear weapons over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945, respectively.

It was the first time atomic weapons were used in warfare and resulted in the death of about 200,000 people (although estimates vary widely).

The images have been colourised by electrician Royston Leonard, 55, from Cardiff, who spends up to five hours working on each photo.

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A ruined Japanese tank smoulders in the background
Mediadrumimages/RoystonLeonard
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US troops hold a Japanese flag captured in July 1944 during the Battle of Saipan
Mediadrumimages/RoystonLeonard
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USS Tennessee bombards Okinawa with her enormous guns, as troops are carried to the invasion beaches
Mediadrumimages/RoystonLeonard
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Tanks on Okinawa work with the 96th Infantry Division on April 1, 1945. The battle was gruesome but paved the way for an allied victory in the region
Mediadrumimages/RoystonLeonard

 

 

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