Inventories Of War


UK-based photographer Thom Atkinson’s series Soldiers’ Inventories – an attempt to explore “the mythology surrounding Britain’s relationship with war.”

With the help of historians, reenactment specialists, collectors and private soldiers, the series (featuring soldiers’ kits laid out and documented in detail here) span 948 years from Hastings to Helmand Province.

Above: typical soldier’s kit from the Battle of Hastings (1066), Siege of Jerusalem (1244), Agincourt (1415), Bosworth (1485), Malplaquet (1709), Arnhem (1944), The Falklands (1982), Helmand (2014).


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39 thoughts on “Inventories Of War

  1. Formerly known as

    How about the Siege of Limerick, Blood Sunday I and II, to name a few that they mightn’t be too keen to mention?

    1. Am i still On this Island

      Photo 5 is you siege of Limerick Kit! Same period and will be close to identical.

      1. Formerly known as

        Thanks. I was getting at the “mythology” always seems to leave out the massacres that they carried out and losses that they suffered.

        1. FHA

          The Normans won at Hastings, Bosworth was a civil war battle and the Germans held off the British at Arnhem.

          1. Formerly known as

            The Normans won, they went on to rule, hence a victory for the new force in charge of England. Yes, Bosworth was a Civil War battle, so that one doesn’t count.
            Arnhem was part of a larger campaign that was successful. Tell me about the massacres.

  2. Spaghetti Hoop

    Very good. The shovel can be used for any task but all I could think of was burying bodies. War, huh.

  3. Am i still On this Island

    “A soldier’s pack is not so heavy a burden as a prisoner’s chains.” Dwight D Eisenhower

    Spaghetti, entrenching tool, grave detail, digging OP’s and firing positions or in the case of Spetsnaz a throwing weapon!

    1. Spaghetti Hoop

      Grave detail = grim.

      I think Ike’s quote there is crap. Many a soldier would prefer to be a POW than endure battle. In WW1 that has been proven.

      1. Am i still On this Island

        Who says the chains symbolise a POW? It could symbolise those living under oppression or prisoners of Fascist states?

        1. Spaghetti Hoop

          True – never thought of that.
          Given the liberation of the camps under his watch I think you’re right.
          Still a nonsense quote though.

  4. Jack Aranda

    Also, why does the Helmand squaddie need a framed photo of what looks like a Suzuki Hayabusa?

  5. Rob

    Ah the British. Invaded over 90% of countries in the world… and counting. I think their relationship with war has been quite clearly established.

    1. scottser

      i went to the war museum in buenos aires a few years back. they have a whole section on the malvinas and sinking of the belgrano. even well educated middle class argentinians that i spoke to could not disguise their utter contempt for thatcher and her blatent warmongering in order to get re-elected. their views on britain would make your average shinner blush.

      1. CousinJack

        Middle class argentians were the main supporters of the Junta, so no surprise that they hate Thatcher whose response to the invasion of teh Falkland Islands led to the Junta’s collapse.
        Lets not forget the disappeared that teh middle class argentinians continue to ignore

    2. CousinJack

      Lets not forget that for most of the imperial period in excess of 50% of the British Army, were Irish volunteers, and a fairly high proportion of the rest were welsh and scots. The English tended to dominate in the Navy. To a large extent through British history, foreign British wars haved been Irish wars, and therefore those whom commited the British atrocities were?
      Sorry if this factual reality does alighn with republican mythology

      1. scottser

        i take your point about the numbers of irish serving in british regiments but to say that their wars were ours and we must take partial responsibility for atrocities is a bit of a leap. any evidence to support this?

        1. Am i still On this Island

          Scotser plenty of horror stories from the civil war and war of independence from the Irish side. Also plenty of evidence of IRA/ free state forces executing returning WW1 veterans in Munster

      2. Rob

        I am actually aware that Irish people served in the British army. And in the French army. And 150K-plus fought in the American Civil War. Why do you think that might be? Why would Irish people be willing to do these most horrific, dangerous jobs in the world? Jobs that people who were actually from the countries involved in these conflicts would often have to be forced into?

        Could it be something to do with the fact that the British kept ordinary Irish men and their families on the edge of starvation for centuries on end?

    1. Am i still On this Island

      L-9A8 BAR mine, anti tank/armoured vehicle weapon unique in it’s horizontal configuration rather than traditional round mines for Tanks/ armoured vehicles. It’s up for replacement soon if it has not been removed from service all ready

        1. Am i still On this Island

          Ex Service man & security contractor! Like most normal people work is rarely a dinner date topic

  6. Jay

    The footwear evolution is pretty interesting. Seems to progress in development and then in the 5th picture it goes back in development to before the first picture and then develops again.

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