A new exhibition opens tomorrow at the National Army Museum in Chelsea. Called Helmand: The Soldier's Story, it is a detailed, unique insight into life in a war zone - and a current one, which is a rare feat in museum history. A wide range of contributions from the soldiers of 16 Air Assault Brigade who were the first NATO troops to enter Helmand Province in 2006. Contributions from over 150 soldiers range from diary entries, oral accounts, letters and emails to photos, clothes and personal objects collected on the tour of duty.
The exhibition panels are verbatim transcripts of the soldiers contributions rather than summaries by the museum staff; there is also the likelihood these exhibition panels could be updated by the same soldiers as they return to conflict in Helmand Province, which has never happened before in a museum collection.
In keeping with the ethos of this never-tried-before way to mount an exhibition, soldiers from the Royal Engineers, Royal Logistic Corps, and Royal Irish Regiment were brought in to build each replica structure with, as you can expect from these chaps, a military precision that museum staff could not achieve. Accommodation tents, combat outposts, mortar gun positions and medical posts have all been recreated for the museum, faithful to the last detail and visitors will be able to explore each of these. The aim is to offer visitors a full immersive experience of what it feels like to be a soldier living, working and fighting in Afghanistan.
Helmand: The Soldier's Story at the National Army Museum, from Friday 3 August, entrance is free. For more information, go to the Museum website here.
Image courtesy of The Sizemore McCabe Project