George SILK

New Zealand 1916 – Norwalk, Connecticut, United States of America 2004

  • Australia 1939-1945
  • United States of America from 1945

Blinded soldier, New Guinea ( Pte George Whittington being led to an aid station by Raphael Oimbari) 1942 Place made: Papua New Guinea
Materials & Technique: photographs, gelatin silver photograph

Dimensions: printed image 74.0 h x 74.0 w cm sheet 90.0 h x 86.0 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 2000
Accession No: NGA 2000.326


  • This iconic image from World War Two was taken by George Silk, official war photographer for the Australian Government 1939–43. It was taken on Christmas Day 1942 after Australian and American troops had reversed the Japanese advance in New Guinea.

    Silk recalled that standing alone near ‘the front’ in a field of tall Kunai grass he saw two people walking towards him. A New Guinea volunteer was tenderly helping a wounded soldier. Silk was deeply affected and his response as a photographer was purely instinctive. He took only one shot.

    Blinded soldier, New Guinea was a powerful replay of the Christian parable of the Good Samaritan and it vindicated the efforts of the New Guinea native volunteers whose involvement in the war was pivotal to the allies’ success.

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra