Photographer Lalage Snow, who is currently based in Kabul, Afghanistan, embarked on an 8-month-long project titled We Are The Not Dead featuring portraits of British soldiers before, during, and after their deployment in Afghanistan. Similar to Claire Felicie’s series of monochromatic triptychs, Snow captures the innocent expressions of these men transformed into gaunt, sullen faces in less than a year.The three-panel juxtaposition allows the viewer to observe the physical changes a stationed soldier in a war zone goes through. Time is sped up for these men under the beating sun, amidst combat. Regardless of age, the boys that went in came back as men with experiences beyond their years. As weathered and worn as their skin or sunken in faces may appear, it’s their dilated eyes that are the most telling.Additionally, Snow’s series accompanies each triptych with quotes from each of the servicemen that gives a great deal of insight into their mental and emotional state at each given time. Sergeant Alexander McBroom’s first portrait, before deployment, features him bravely saying, “I am not worried about going out – it is my job after all.” Three months later, he is quoted as saying, “It has been an eye opener.” And, finally, another four months after, he says, “It is always that fear, that apprehension, what is going to happen if I get blown up?” Having gone through life-altering trials and warfare, it is no surprise that fear is no longer a foreign feeling to these courageous men.
Snow’s intention with the series is to not only honor their bravery by featuring them, but to also draw attention to every soldiers’ psychological transformation. She says, “It was a very personal project and stemmed from having embedded with the military on and off for 4 years in Iraq and Afghanistan and bearing witness to how many young men return as shadows of their former selves and, in many cases, with deep, psychological scars. As the body count of British servicemen killed or wounded rose and the political ramifications of the British army’s presence in Afghanistan became increasingly convoluted, more and more soldiers felt like they didn’t have a voice, or at least, weren’t being listened to. We Are The Not Dead is an attempt at giving the brave young men and women the chance to explain how it really is.”
Update: See more triptychs and read our exclusive, one-on-one interview with Lalage Snow, here.
Lance Corporal Sean Tennant, 29
Private Ben Frater, 21
Corporal Steven Gibson, 29
Second Lieutenant Struan Cunningham, 24
Private Fraiser Pairman, 21
Lance Corporal Martyn Rankin, 23
Second Lieutenant Adam Petzsch, 25
Private Jo Yavala, 28
Lance Corporal David McLean, 27
Private Sean Patterson, 19
Private Steven Anderson, 31
Sergeant Alexander McBroom, 24
Private Matthew Hodgson, 18
From time to time photos of child soldiers in Africa holding AK-47s or some other kind of weapon appear here and there provoking outrage and compassion from the Western public. But just a few decades ago, during World War II, there were often occasions of Russian kids fighting in the regular army against the Nazis.
Generally speaking, children were not allowed to join the combat army—but many exceptions were made. Many kids tried to run away from their homes “to the War” but most such cases were eventually captured by military police and returned back to their homes. While some did succeed in joining the army, it was often the case for these runaways to get lost in the woods or shot along their journey.
Also, from time to time, soldiers found children in the devastated and burnt down villages of the Soviet Union. While there was a directive for them to send such children to established orphanages, still sometimes such boys were simply incorporated into the active combat units. Specially sized uniforms were tailored for them and they were entrusted with guns. Some of those boys joined the army at nine or eleven, and stayed with their regiment through all the war front, from Russia to Germany, until the war ended and they were discharged at fourteen or sixteen, often with medals of honor.
What other country has three armies? You have the army of the 32 county Republic, Oglaigh Na hEireann. Then there is the army of the 26 county state, and then there is the British army in the six counties.
What do we need a defence force for, we do not do wars with other countries, the FCA will do fine.
Do we really need 7000/8000 soldiers sitting in dispersed barracks throughout Ireland. What do they do twiddle their thumbs? Look at the guts on some of them and you will quickly conclude their physique is a disgrace to the uniform. The army is becoming a joke a hiding place for maligners and part time devotees of the black economy.
I fully understand the need for the Navy. I would support the idea extending and developing their role. When not chasing down drug smugglers or illegal fishing in Irish waters they get at least due a little bit of shrimping, which may be of use to the economy