A new photographic survey has captured every soldier’s nightmare for a thousand years, from Hastings to Helmand – the layout of their personal kit.
Photographer Thom Atkinson has recorded the typical personal equipment carried by the common British soldier at landmark battles over the past millennium for his ‘Soldiers Inventories’ series. He painstakingly assembled the items with the help of re-enactors, collectors, historians and serving soldiers. The 13 images show startling similarities and differences in issued kit – from hand axes to laser-sighted assault rifles – and in personal items – from cup & dice to iPads.
“The Anglo-Saxon warrior at Hastings is perhaps not so very different from the British ‘Tommy’ in the trenches,’ he said. “There’s a spoon in every picture. I think that’s wonderful. The requirement of food, and the experience of eating, hasn’t changed in 1,000 years. It’s the same with warmth, water, protection, entertainment.”
1066 – huscarl, Battle of Hastings
1244 – mounted knight, Siege of Jerusalem
1415 – archer, Battle of Agincourt
1485 – Yorkist man-at-arms, Battle of Bosworth Field
1588 – caliverman, Tilbury
1645 – New Model Army musketeer, Battle of Naseby
1709 – private sentinel, Battle of Malplaquet
1815 – private soldier, Battle of Waterloo
1854 – private soldier, Rifle Brigade, Battle of Alma
1916 – private soldier, Battle of the Somme
1944 – lance corporal, Parachute Regiment, Battle of Arnhem
1982 – Royal Marine Commando, Falklands War
2014 – close-support sapper, Royal Engineers, Helmand Province