The ongoing battle faced by families, one year since Afghanistan
To mark the one year anniversary of the withdrawal of UK combat troops from Afghanistan (27th October), SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity - has worked with renowned war photographer Robert Wilson to create a series of images that illustrate the ongoing battle for those who lost a loved one during the 13 year conflict, as part of SSAFA’s new campaign, Left Behind.
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The war in Afghanistan came at a significant toll to Britain, with 454 servicepersons killed during the 13 year conflict. SSAFA has launched the ‘Left Behind’ campaign to raise awareness of the fact that, although the war is over, for many individuals who lost a family member during the Afghanistan conflict, the battle is still ongoing as they continue to manage their grief and face life without their loved one.
As part of the campaign, British photographer Robert Wilson – who documented the withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan last year – has merged original imagery captured during his many trips to Afghanistan during the conflict, with recent images of bereaved family members completing an activity which reminds them of their deceased relative. The result is a set of extremely powerful images that show how, for bereaved family members, the battle still goes on.
Image one ‘Dog walking’, features father Ian Wright walking his dog, remembering the long walks in the countryside he used to enjoy with his son, Marine Gary Wright. The image was merged with a picture taken by Robert Wilson in Afghanistan during the war. Gary was killed by a suicide-borne IED, detonated next to the vehicle he was patrolling in Lashkar Gah in 2006 at the age of 22. Ian has attended SSAFA’s bereaved families support groups.
Image two ‘Hanging the washing’, features mother Sarah Adams hanging clothes on a washing line whilst reminiscing about the times her son, Private James Prosser, bought his washing home. The image was merged with a picture taken by Robert Wilson in Afghanistan during the war. James was killed in an explosion during a vehicle patrol in Musa Qaleh district, aged 21. Sarah has attended SSAFA’s bereaved families support groups.
Image three ‘Camping’, features sister Elizabeth Holmes-Daniels sitting, remembering the fond times that she shared with her brother Corporal Harvey Alex Holmes when they used to go camping as a family. The image was merged with a picture taken by Robert Wilson in Afghanistan during the war. Harvey was killed in an explosion in 2010 in Sangin. Elizabeth has attended SSAFA’s bereaved siblings support groups.
Image four ‘Playing chess’, features father Mark Bond in front of a chess board missing his favourite opponent and son, Sapper Elijah Bond. The image was merged with a picture taken by Robert Wilson in Afghanistan during the war. Elijah died after suffering fatal wounds following an IED explosion whilst conducting an engineer reconnaissance task in Deh Adham Khan in 2011. Mark has attended SSAFA’s bereaved families support groups.
War photographer, Robert Wilson, says: “Bereaved relatives have to live with daily reminders and visual triggers relating to the loss of their loved ones, often relating to hobbies or activities that they used to do together.
In mixing images shot in Helmand at the height of the Afghan conflict with images of those relatives affected by it, we have produced a series of highly emotive images that create a link between two worlds, of which I am immensely proud.
“It's a privilege to have been asked to work on this new campaign highlighting the fantastic work that SSAFA does for bereaved families.