In 1944, LIFE photographer Peter Stackpole was in the Pacific, covering the ugly, protracted Battle of Saipan. The battle proper lasted less than a month, with American soldiers and Marines largely taking control of the 44-square-mile island. But Japanese fighters dug in and resisted for months, with one small contingent of Imperial Army officers and troops refusing to give up until December 1945—long after Japan had officially surrendered to the Allies.
In John Loengard’s classic 1998 book, LIFE Photographers: What They Saw, Stackpole discusses the picture above, and how he came to make it:
Ben Cosgrove is the Editor of LIFE.com