Norm Hatch and the U.S. Marine Corps Combat Cameramen of World War II
Staff Sgt. John F. Ercole behind Wahl 35 mm sound camera in New Zealand. 2nd Marine Division Photo Officer Capt. William A. Halpern is on on right, with Private Bill Kelliher, who would become Hatch's able assistant cameraman at Tarawa, smiling in the back.
After the Bomb. Nagasaki was in ruins when the 2nd Marine Division arrived in late 1945. The only buildings left standing had reinforced concrete.
During occupation of Nagasaki, Japan, 2nd Division Marines prepare to destroy big gun.
Enemy tanks seized by Marines during late 1945 occupation of Japan.
With his wavy hair and sideburns, Hatch (circa 1970) kept changing with the times as a civilian leading the Audio Visual Division of the Pentagon's Directorate of Defense Information.
Marines hugging shore of Betio Island, D-Day, Nov. 20, 1943. An outhouse on stilts over the water (left) was Japan's lone sanitation facility at Tarawa.
Hatch (foreground) on the beach at Betio sits against log seawall as he clasps film canisters.
Sgt. Hatch with 35-mm Bell Howell Eyemo filming training in New Zealand.
Marines carry wounded comrade to safety over the sea wall amid the carnage of D-Day at Tarawa.
Marine riflemen of the 6th Regiment wade ashore at Betio's Green Beach on third day of battle. The division reserves would soon be tested in fierce, hand-to-hand battle when the Japanese counterattacked under the cover of nightfall.
The Japanese used British-made Vickers eight-inch rifles to pick off the Marines' Higgins boats and amtracs. These weapons were purchased by the Japanese during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05, but it would be nearly four decades before they would be used in combat against the invading Americans.
Hatch, always a sucker for animals, pours water for a kitten he heard mewing under an abandoned Japanese tank.
Dapper Staff Sergeant. This portrait shot was taken right before Hatch shipped out of New Zealand for his first combat at Tarawa.
Warrant Officer John "Pappy" Leopold, assistant photo officer of the 2nd Marine Division, off-loading equipment from a Higgins boat to Staff Sgt. Carlos P. Steele.
One foot at a time. Marines crawling on sand at Betio, moving inland. The coconut trees were splintered by American naval bombardment.
Bloody baptism. Marines hold weapons high as they wade ashore at Tarawa. Higgins boats and amtracs ferry in men facing fierce enemy resistance.
Detritus and dead. A damaged amtrac dangles over the coconut seawall as corpses float nearby.
Eye of the Battle. Hatch (center) stands tall with his Eyemo filming the attack on the Japanese blockhouse. Note the periscope (uphill, right of Hatch) that gave the enemy a view of attacking Marines.
The blockhouse attack continues as Marines swarm Japanese. Hatch (mid-hill, right) returns from shooting what may be the only motion picture footage capturing the enemy and Americans in fighting stances in same frames of film.
The 2nd Marine Division Photo Section hamming it up: 1st row (left to right) S/Sgt Carlos P. Steele; Pfc. Jack E. Ely; Pfc. Fermen Dixon; S/Sgt. John F. Ercole; Cpl. Obie E. Newcomb; Sgt. Ernest J. Diet. 2nd row: Cpl. Christopher Demo; Sgt. Forest A. Owens; Pfc. James Orton; Cpl. Raymond A. Matjasic. 3rd row: S/Sgt. Roy Olund; Capt. Louis Hayward; Warrant Officer John Leopold; S/Sgt. Norman T. Hatch (Hatch's assistant, Pfc. William Kelliher, was among five Marines not pictured).
Dark Humor. One spelling-challenged wag posted a skull with the caption, "Tarawa Recrutin Office"
A more mature Warrant Officer Hatch.
At Camp Pendleton in late 1944, before leaving for Hawaii, Hatch peers into viewfinder of Bell & Howell Eyemo Model Q.
Warrant Officer Hatch behind a Bell & Howell Eyemo Model Q at Camp Tarawa at Hilo, Hawaii in December, 1944. Hatch was photo officer of the Fifth Marine Division completing training to attack Japanese at Iwo Jima.
Pfc. Bob Campbell (left) shot still photos while Staff Sgt. Bill Genaust filmed the second flag raising at Iwo Jima. The photos and film helped chronicle the controversial sequence of events atop Mount Suribachi. Genaust later was shot and killed in a cave; his remains were never found.
Nurse tends to wounded Marines in New Zealand.
Joe Rosenthal's iconic photograph of the second flag raising at Iwo Jima.
Boxes of blood marked in supply shed at Iwo Jima. Sadly, the Marines shed a warehouse's worth of blood to wrest the critical island away from a tough, intractable foe.
Before Joe Rosenthal made it to the mountaintop, Tech Sergeant Lou Lowery of Leatherneck, Magazine of the Marines, shot this picture of the first flag raising. A Marine keeps a lookout in the foreground, while (background) Marines work hard to plant a flagpole into rock-hard summit.
In a cave at Iwo Jima, two Corpsmen treat Marines wounded in battle.
Hatch in New Zealand checking his Second Division photographers during practice amphibious landing.
Another view of Joe Rosenthal's iconic photograph of the second flag raising at Iwo Jima -- this wasn't cropped and shows debris left by Japanese atop Mt. Suribachi. The debris was cropped out of Rosenthal's photo, creating a cleaner, vertical image of the historic scene.
Marines take down first flag raised over Suribachi while behind them another group holds pole for replacement flag. Photo by Pfc. Robert Campbell.
Hatch (left) on Iwo Jima with elbows on a D-2 (intelligence) box talking to 1st Lt. Herbert Schlosberg, photo officer of the Fourth Marine Division.
As the Japanese rain artillery and mortar fire down from Mount Suribachi, a lone Marine ducks for cover.
Warrant Office Obie Newcombe (left) beside Hatch in the Fifth Marine Division photo section's command post at Iwo Jima. Newcombe was Hatch's assistant photo officer.
Marine flamethrowers torch blockhouse on Iwo Jima.
After the landing at Iwo Jima, Feb. 19, 1945, the Marines dig in for cover. The Navy armada can be seen offshore of "Sulphur Island."
Staying warm on Iwo's cold, rocky ground.
Hi Folks! Joe Rosenthal (foreground) takes posed shot of Marines on Mount Suribachi -- a standard wire photo for the folks back home. This picture brought together the two groups of Marines who raised the flags to signal early American success against the Japanese. But the battle for Iwo Jima would rage on for weeks.
Joe Rosenthal's close-up on Marines celebrating after the second flag raising. The mix of photos -- some staged and some unstaged -- would create confusion over the AP photographer's body of work at Iwo Jima.
Combat engineer with flamethrower, dashes across Iwo's rocky ground -- hazardous duty since the charged canisters would blow up if struck by an enemy bullet.
Joe Rosenthal (left) takes a break with Marine combat cameraman Pfc Bob Campbell.
Book Signing & Talk with Norm Hatch - Library of Virginia, Richmond, VA
May 24, 2011
11:00 AM-1:00 PM
Library of Virginia
800 East Broad Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219-8000
Get a map or directions
Charles "Chip" Jones will discuss and sign his book that features some of the most iconic footage of World War II–taken while the photographers risked their lives. Yet the stories–and sheer guts–of the U.S. Marine Corps' combat cameramen have been overshadowed by the heroism of the men with the rifles. War Shots brings these photographers into sharp focus through the career of Norm Hatch, a true American character whose skill with a camera and knack for being in the right place at the right time thrust him to the forefront of the effort to record the Marines at war in the Pacific. Hatch will be a special guest at this event.
Reviews & Mentions
- Norm Hatch profile in The Washington Post
- Read "Eyewitness to History: Norm Hatch and the Marines at Tarawa" at the Richmond Times-Dispatch
- View "Tarawa Anniversary" at the Military Times website
- Jones to Receive Combat Correspondents' Top Award
The United States Marine Corps Correspondents Assocation has announced it is awarding Charles (Chip) Jones with the 2011 Brig. Gen. Robert L. Denig Memorial Distinguished Performance Award.
In the citation for its annual top award, the Association cited Jones' three books, including War Shots as "a definitive accounting of a group of men who risked their lives to chronicle the battles of the Pacific War." Past winners include Joe Galloway, James Bradley, Norm Hatch, Dale Dye, and last year's winner, Tom Hanks.
- Naval History Magazine Lauds War Shots
Veteran AP photo editor and author Hal Buell praises War Shots in the August issue of Naval History magazine. "Jones' telling of the bureaucratic maze Hatch navigated to gather equipment, supplies, and work space is as fascinating as his combat descriptions," Buell writes. Click here to read entire review.
- Listen to WVTF's interview and news story about the book
- Watch an interview with Jones and Hatch at the Marine Corps Association book signing
- Telling the Marine Corps Story in Wartime: "War Shots"
Read the PDFLeatherneck
- Virginia Book Notes
March 6, 2011
- Uncommon Valor Still a Virtue
Alexandria Gazette Packet
February 24, 2011
- Marine photographer recalls battle of Iwo Jima, 66 years on
February 21, 2011
- Lohmann: Opening a window on World War II
February 20, 2011
- Combat cameraman now playing a starring role
Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star
February 20, 2011
- War Shots - Living History
War Shots - Living History, January 2011, By Jack T. Paxton "The Tribal Elder" (Central Florida)
While the sub-title might imply this is a work about one person, it really isn't. Norman Hatch is a Marine Corps icon - at 94 he personifies Marine Corps photo history because he lived it and certainly helped develop it. The book, however, does much more than deify Hatch.
As he did so well in his "Boys of '67" Charles Jones chronicles the early life and adventures of a group of Marines, this time Norman Hatch and his band of photographers. As Norm emerges as one of the best cinematographers to cover World War II for the Marine Corps, War Shots may well emerge as one of the most definitive histories of military photography at war and the men behind the cameras who risked their lives to make sure the American public knew what was going on. Fortunately for us, Jones and Hatch teamed up while Norm is still alive.
As many of us did in our youth, Norm used the Marine Corps as a means to an end. As the Great Depression wound down, he made the decision to go into the Navy. When Navy recruiters dragged their heels an impatient Norm became a Marine. An early assignment with now defunct the March of Time shaped his future. From then on, as he says, "I was in the right place at the right time." From this point on we see the Pacific battles through Norm's Eymo lens.
Not only is this a comprehensive history of the use of motion and still picture photography in a combat environment, but the book offers today's warriors a glimpse of tactical development circa 1930-40 and the leadership that made the Marine Corps what it is today. War Shots introduces modern-day Marines to the legends of the Corps; "Howlin Mad" Smith, John A. Lejeune, Victor "Brute" Krulak, "Red Mike" Eddson, Julian Smith and many others.
Jones is painstaking in his research and those of us "buffs" of history can appreciate sources he uses throughout. From a personal standpoint we have always credited former boss, Bem Frank with being one of the best when it came to the history of our Marine combat correspondents. Like Frank, Jones refers often to the beginning of modern day Marine public relations and of our early development as "CCs" under Brig. Gen. Robert L. Denig.
Having known and served under many of those so named as well as being a friend of Norm makes War Shots an even better read. He is a great resource and even greater supporter of our United States Marine Corps Combat Correspondents Association.
— Jack T. Paxton, Executive Director, USMCCCA