The invasion of Rendova was one of the more obscure operations in the Pacific. In a nutshell, the small island was seized by the 172nd Regimental Combat Team in order to provide a base for long range artillery to pound the Japanese airfield and defenses at Munda Point on the island of New Georgia.
Like so many other operations in World War II, the operation was filmed by combat camera crews. And like so many others, the film was edited and released to the public. Usually these short 10-20 minute pieces would be shown before the feature at a movie theater, along with a newsreel or two.
These films were both for the general information on the war effort, and, of course, propaganda designed to generate support for the war effort on the home front.
This short film about Rendova gives an overview of the operation itself. The second half of the film focuses on the treatment of the wounded, and shows both that treatment and the production of medical supplies that the home front effort supported.
What’s remarkable about this 1943 film is that it breaks one of the taboos of wartime press. Showing Japanese dead was rather routine. But when it came to American troops, the rules were different. It was understood that photographs and film could show wounded US troops, but not the dead. This film, however, indeed shows the bodies of Americans fallen in battle, though carefully so that no individuals might be identified. It’s also somewhat more graphic than usual in showing the actual wounds of Americans.