The light’s go out in Yarm

To commemorate and remember the start of World War One on the 4th August, 1914 and as part of tributes and events taking place around the country the people of Yarm near Stockton came together last night to hold a service to show their respects to amongst the many thousands of others the 91 men from the town who died during the war. Held as part of the countrywide event organised by the group ‘1418now’ called Lights Out .

Ninety one candles, representing each of the men from Yarm who died during the Great War were lit and placed in specially made glass poppies. As the names of those men were read out to the gathered crowds each candle was extinguished until only one remained and at the stroke of eleven – the time that Britain entered into war with Germany – the final candle was blown out….

 

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Middlesbrough Remembrance

Serving and former soldiers, Army cadets and members of the local community take part in a parade and service on Remembrance Sunday on November 10, 2013 in Middlesbrough, England. People all across the UK gathered to pay tribute to service personnel who have died in the two World Wars and subsequent conflicts, as part of the annual Remembrance Sunday ceremonies.

 

Middlesbrough Remembrance Service

Middlesbrough Cenotaph

Middlesbrough Remembrance Service

Crosses of Remembrance

Middlesbrough Remembrance Service

A woman lays a wreath at the foot of the Cenotaph in Middlesbrough

Middlesbrough Remembrance Service

The shadows of soldiers standing on parade fall over the pavement

Middlesbrough Remembrance Service

Soldiers stand on parade during the Remembrance service

Middlesbrough Remembrance Service

Royal British Legion Standard bearers on parade

Middlesbrough Remembrance Service

The Last Post

Middlesbrough Remembrance Service

Veterans watch the wreath laying take place at Middlesbrough Cenotaph

Middlesbrough Remembrance Service

A young girl with a homemade poppy watches the service from behind a barrier

Middlesbrough Remembrance Service

A former soldier stands on parade

Middlesbrough Remembrance Service

A veteran takes the salute as the troops march past after the service

Middlesbrough Remembrance Service

Neil Taylor from Middlesbrough. A former soldier with the Royal Pioneer Corps

Middlesbrough Remembrance Service

A Royal British Legion Standard bearer takes part in the Remembrance service

Middlesbrough Remembrance Service

A young boy runs across the road to his Dad as the march past begins at the end of the service

Middlesbrough Remembrance Service

Soldiers, veterans and Cadets take part in a final march past after the Remembrance service in Middlesbrough

Middlesbrough Remembrance ServiceA young boy reads the names of crosses of Remembrance

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His duty done

When silence descends at 11am tomorrow morning and the majority of people around the country quietly acknowledge the sacrifice and commitment of the men and women of the armed forces with two minutes of quiet contemplation and respectful thoughts I will be photographing one of those services at my local war memorial in Saltburn.

It will be an unusual time for me also. Unusual not because of the wreath laying or the silence or indeed the veterans from many conflicts who might be there as I have witnessed and photographed these important occasions many times over the years – and feel privileged to be able to do so. But this Remembrance Day will be the first time, in twenty two years, that I do so as a civilian. My military career having come to an end earlier this year as my contract was fulfilled.

So to mark this Remembrance Day I have been through my archive of photographs from more recent years and have included some of them here to share with you.

Some of them may be difficult to look at for some. They should be difficult to look at. This should never be allowed to become the norm but it is hugely important, I believe, that we see these pictures so that those who aren’t aware can see the reality of what it takes to bring us all the freedoms that we enjoy.

Some of the pictures here I photographed during the repatriations of soldiers killed during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the final journey they made through the streets of Royal Wootton Bassett and RAF Lyneham. Others are from my own personal projects that I’m currently involved with documenting ex-servicemen. Some show military personnel who have suffered injury, either physical or mental, and who are now fighting their own hard battles, closer to home, as they try and get used to living without limbs or to break through the darkness of PTSD.

Other pictures show a young soldier in the back of an armoured vehicle in Iraq looking up as a bullet hits the outside of his vehicle. Another shows a soldier in Afghanistan sitting against the wall of a compound in quiet reflection, sweat on his face, after a firefight that we had just been through. Another shows a young child held aloft on shoulders at the Menin Gate in Ypres in Belgium- The memorial to those who were killed at the Ypres Salient during World War One and whose graves are unknown.

Others show veterans from those and other wars. On the beaches of Normandy. At memorial services. At the National Arboretum. Others show the headstones of those who have died, including that of German soldiers killed in 1917. There are no winners or losers in war. Everyone pays a price.

So tomorrow I will take my pictures from the small memorial held in my hometown. I will try and record as best I can the dignity and honour of those who attend. I won’t wear my medals. They remain wrapped in a cloth in a draw at home. I won’t march with those who march but I know that over the years I have witnessed and been a part of many things and that this year I am on the outside looking back in, in the knowledge that my duty is done.

So wherever you might be or whatever you might be doing tomorrow, take a couple of minutes…..it isn’t much too ask.

 

The Royal British Legion

Combat Stress

 

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