One blogger I read faithfully posted a picture and invited guesses as to what it is. I and others surmise it’s a picture of three Japanese soldiers during World War II, but anything more precise about the circumstances is just a guess.

That first picture intrigued me, and I went looking for other pictures of Japanese soldiers during the war. I eventually lit on this–a collection of Flickr photos. The photographs–and that’s one of them above (click for larger version)–were posted by a guy who is in possession of a photo album his grandfather picked up on Guadalcanal during the war. Most of the pictures depict a sailor (or perhaps marine), some alone, most with compatriots, in a variety of settings: on shipboard, some apparently in China. There are a few family shots, and a couple pages depicting the Japanese royal family. Nearly all the pictures have handwritten captions.

The guy who posted the pictures also started a blog–WWII Japanese Photo Album–which says he intends to “get this long lost treasure back to its family.” It’s a long shot–but a great project.

Meantime, you look at the pictures of the young men in sailor’s and soldier’s gear and you think, “These were just kids.” Odds are, most of the ones you see here didn’t survive the war.

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