2014 close-support sapper, Royal Engineers, Helmland Province The evolution of technology that emerges from the series is a process that has accelerated over the past century. The pocket watch of 1916 is today a waterproof digital wristwatch; the bolt-action Lee-Enfield rifle has been replaced by laser-sighted light assault carbines; and lightweight camouflage Kevlar vests take the place of khaki woollen Pattern service tunics.
1982 Royal Marine Commando, Falklands conflict From the cumbersome armour worn by a Yorkist man-at-arms in 1485 to the packs yomped into Port Stanley on the backs of Royal Marines five centuries later, the literal burden of a soldier’s endeavour is on view.
1916 private soldier, Battle of the Somme While the First World War was the first modern war, as the Somme kit illustrates, it was also primitive. Along with his gas mask a private would be issued with a spiked ‘trench club’ – almost identical to medieval weapons.
1944 lance corporal, Parachute Brigade, Battle of Arnhem Each photograph shows a soldier’s world condensed into a pared-down manifest of defences, provisions and distractions. There is the formal (as issued by the quartermaster and armourer) and the personal (timepieces, crucifixes, combs and shaving brushes).
1485 Yorkist man-at-arms, Battle of Bosworth ‘There’s a spoon in every picture,’ Atkinson says. ‘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.’