The British troops in Afghanistan are the subject of David Bailey’s latest book of photographs, a tribute to all the men and women serving there. ‘They are real heroes,’ he says, ‘they deserve to be celebrated.’
Bailey flew to Afghanistan to take photographs for auction to raise money for Help for Heroes, a charity that aims to help wounded servicemen and women returning from Afghanistan. Accompanied by a text by Dylan Jones, editor of GQ magazine, Bailey's pictures show members of the British Armed Forces, individually and in groups, in uniform, with or without the equipment that is part of their daily lives on tour of duty. Bailey is very far from a warmonger: ‘I hate war and I hated the idea of all these great kids being killed.'
Remembering his own National Service in Malaya in the 1950s, Bailey swiftly struck up an easy relationship with the men and women serving with the army and the air force. Surrounded by the weapons, ammunition and tools of war, a sense of camaraderie shines through these remarkable photographs. ‘I loved the troops,’ Bailey says, and the faces of individual men and women reflect the trust Bailey inspires. ‘They don’t want an outsider coming down there and taking pictures. I can be one of them because I was one of them.’
The book shows life inside Camp Bastion, where the NAAFI 'is harder to get into than the Ivy Club', according to Bailey, but also outside the perimeter, where real danger is ever-present, every day. Bailey's mission: 'Strict reportage. The truth, nothing theatrical.'
This is a fitting celebration of Britain’s fighting heroes, with Dylan Jones’s well informed and engaging text and Bailey’s inimitable directness, conviction and panache.
Sales of this book will benefit Help for Heroes, a charity that supports wounded British servicemen and women.