A Fitting Tribute

I attended the funeral recently of a British serviceman killed in Afghanistan. Trooper Robert Pearson who was 22 and was serving with the Queens Royal Lancers came from Grimsby was killed when his vehicle went over a mine.
At the funeral, held at St Mary’s church in Grimsby, what became very obvious was the huge public participation. The street running alongside the church was packed with members of the public who were there to pay their respects.

The local newspapers in Grimsby had announced the funeral and had asked people to show their respects on the day, one paper included a full page picture of Trooper Pearson with a Union Flag superimposed behind him.

The picture shows a member of the public, and, to my knowledge has no connection to Trooper Pearson whatsoever, and yet she takes this picture from her paper and attends the service as a mark of respect.

This was replicated by many of the people who attended the service which was broadcast into the church carpark through loudspeakers. They stood in silent respect holding flowers, this picture from the newspaper, or simply with hands behind their backs. Many cried. All for someone who they didn’t know but still wanted to pay their respects to.

It was a remarkable sight, in this day and age, that so many people took time out from their day to attend.

About time

I started this blog last year when I was away in Iraq. However through a combination of work load, other distractions and general laziness I have neglected to keep on top of it – much to my frustration.

However, he says optimistically, this is going to change and I will endeavour to keep this updated with my comings’ and goings’ for anyone remotely interested. It is very much a ‘work in progress’ and the content and direction of the blog will no doubt change as I go along, but we’ll see how it goes.

Working in Iraq

I have recently returned from Iraq where I was working with the British Army in the South of the country in and around Basra.

During the time I spent there, some six and a half months in total, I was able to photograph various aspects of life for the British Troops in this volatile part of the world.

I was able to document patrols that were undertaken in many different parts of Southern Iraq, not only in Basra itself but also further north in Maysan province where troops lived for weeks at a time, in the most basic of conditions, in the desert. Moving daily to avoid potential mortar or rocket attacks they lived an almost nomadic life as they patrolled the vast expanse of the desert trying to combat smuggling activities that are carried out by various groups in this region.

The conditions proved to be just as hostile at times, with soldiers having to endure extremes of freezing temperatures at night to scorching days and, following the heavy rains at the beginning of 2007, thick mud that stuck to everything that moved and everything that didn’t!

The following are some of the images were made in the Maysan province…further images from Iraq can be seen on my website www.ianforsythphotography.co.uk

Feel free to have a look and any comments are welcome.

After The Silence

The idea for this project came about as I was walking through one of the larger towns in the North East as I was heading for a train. It was a couple of days before Remembrance Day and as I was walking along I happened to noticed that there was a lot of people who weren’t wearing poppies. Again I saw this as I sat on the train and I begin to think of a photo project that would raise the awareness of people to the reasons behind this tradition that we have of wearing poppies and what former soldiers do throughout the year once the spotlight of Remembrance Day has passed.

I didn’t just want to show veterans wearing poppies and marching to their respective War Memorials as people traditionally see, I wanted something different.

My idea is to show veterans, of any war or conflict, be it World War 1, although sadly many of the veterans from this area have died, World War 2, Korea, Suez, Vietnam, Northern Ireland, Sierra Leon, and of course the last 2 Gulf Wars in 1991 and 2003 and Afghanistan.

I want to photograph them in their natural surroundings, or where they feel more comfortable, be it walking their dog along a beach, sitting in a club with a pint, or reading, or something that shows what they do through the year when the focus has moved on and the average person on the street does not even think about them, or what they have done in their past.

Why do this?

What might it achieve?

Maybe nothing… probably nothing…But if the photos aren’t taken, then eventually, as the years march on and these veterans have died then the reasons behind what they did and the fact that they did it and were involved in such a big part of history, will die along with them and even fewer people will wear a poppy, let alone understand why they are wearing one.

So I’ll try and make some pictures and I’ll post them on here and maybe someone who wouldn’t normally wear a poppy, might, just for the day. It isn’t much to ask.

If anyone is interested in getting involved in this project…especially veterans then drop me an email and we can take it from there. Especially in the North East of England and North Yorkshire where I am based.