The Things They Carried


Thom Atkinson photographed the battle kits of British soldiers over the course of 1,000 years:

The series, appropriately titled Soldiers’ Inventories, starts with the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and chronicles the gear soldiers carried into 12 other battles, from the battle of Waterloo to the war in Afghanistan. “Britain spends a lot of its time fighting people,” says Atkinson.

Each photograph is like a wartime version of Things Organised Neatly. Of course, the kits include things designed to kill people in ever more efficient ways. But they provide a glimpse into what the boredom and monotony of war, with things like playing cards, checkerboards, and iPads. To gather the objects, Atkinson visited living history communities, whose members collect such things for for reenactments. He would spend hours organizing the gear just so, beginning with bigger pieces like a musket or a jacket and filling in the holes with smaller objects. “It’s a lot like Tetris,” he says.

The above kit was fit for a knight during the siege of Jerusalem in 1244. See more of Atkinson’s work here.