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Each photograph shows a soldiers world condensed.
The Anglo-Saxon warrior at Hastings is perhaps not so very different from the British Tommy in the trenches, photographer Thom Atkinson says. At the Battle of Hastings, soldiers' choice of weaponary was extensive. Re-enactment groups, collectors, historians and serving soldiers helped photographer Thom Atkinson assemble the components for each shot. It was hard to track down knowledgeable people with the correct equipment, he says. The pictures are really the product of their knowledge and experience.Having worked on projects with the Wellcome Trust and the Natural History Museum, photographer Thom Atkinson has turned his focus to what he describes as the mythology surrounding Britains relationship with war.Theres a spoon in every picture, Atkinson says. I think thats wonderful. The requirement of food, and the experience of eating, hasnt changed in 1,000 years. Its the same with warmth, water, protection, entertainment. The similarities between the kits are as startling as the differences. Notepads become iPads, 18th-century bowls mirror modern mess tins; games such as chess or cards appear regularly.Each kit represents the personal equipment carried by a notional common British soldier at a landmark battle over the past millennium. It is a sequence punctuated by Bosworth, Naseby, Waterloo, the Somme, Arnhem and the Falklands bookended by the Battle of Hastings and Helmand Province.Atkinson says the project, which took him nine months, was an education. Ive never been a soldier. Its difficult to look in on a subject like this and completely understand it. I wanted it to be about people. Watching everything unfold, I begin to feel that we really are the same creatures with the same fundamental needs.Kit issued to soldiers fighting in the Battle of Waterloo included a pewter tankard and a draughts set.Each picture depicts the bandages, bayonets and bullets of survival, and the hooks on which humanity hangs: letter paper, prayer books and Bibles.While the First World War was the first modern war, as the Somme kit illustrates, it was also primitive. Along with his gas mask a private would be issued with a spiked trench club almost identical to medieval weapons.Each photograph shows a soldiers world condensed into a pared-down manifest of defences, provisions and distractions. There is the formal (as issued by the quartermaster and armourer) and the personal (timepieces, crucifixes, combs and shaving brushes).From the cumbersome armour worn by a Yorkist man-at-arms in 1485 to the packs yomped into Port Stanley on the backs of Royal Marines five centuries later, the literal burden of a soldiers endeavour is on view.The evolution of technology that emerges from the series is a process that has accelerated over the past century. The pocket watch of 1916 is today a waterproof digital wristwatch; the bolt-action Lee-Enfield rifle has been replaced by laser-sighted light assault carbines; and lightweight camouflage Kevlar vests take the place of khaki woollen Pattern service tunics.

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