LFI: Where did you get the camera from?
Jack Cohen: My uncle originally bought the Leica at a pawn shop in Liverpool, England. When he heard that I was drafted my other uncle Alex from New York gave me the camera telling me that he would pay for any development of the film as long as every roll had a picture of me in it.
Where did you get the films and where did you develop them? What kind were those films?
Again my uncle Alex provided the B&W film, and when I discovered that I could purchase an early Kodachrome film stock, I purchased a dozen at a camera store in Tokyo Japan. The Kodachrome was ASA 10, the B&W was also Kodak, probably Super-XX.
Did you need a photo permit from the military?
I did not have a photo permit and didn’t seem to need one, but as far as I remember I never asked! I was an amateur although I did professional darkroom work occasionally before I left for duty.
How long were you in the war and where exactly?
My tour was one year in Japan in Tokyo and Hokkaido before active duty, 9 months in Korea, 2 weeks in Japan for mid-duty. After duty I went to Japan for a few days before going back by ship to California, arriving in San Francisco. Altogether I was away from 1950 to 1952.
Is the camera still in use?
The Leica’s shutter was damaged when I fell into Imjin River while I was escaping the North Koreans. I air dried the camera later that day when I was safe and continued to use it, but some of the images had light leaks and some of the Kodachrome film images had damage as well. The camera continued to function throughout the rest of the year. I never got the shutter fixed, but the camera still works today.
Was there anything you did not want to take pictures of?
Actually, I never gave it any thought….I just took the pics and sent all the film to Uncle Alex to NYC undeveloped and then were developed by Kodak in New York. For two years I never saw a single image until I was home. Most of the people in my squadron did not come back from the battles.
All the photos Jack took can be seen here.