'Between 9 and 12:15, 20th February 2010 (C Squadron Household Cavalry Regiment, Fire Support Group).'
Oil on canvas by Jules (Julian) George, Ministry of Defence (MOD) war artist, 2010.
This painting shows the start of a fire-fight between the British Army and Afghan insurgents in 2010, which lasted over three hours. The artist, a civilian, was sent to Helmand by the MOD to draw and paint what he wished, without censorship. One morning while he was staying at a Patrol Base near Musa Qala in the north of the province, a foot patrol went out at dawn to investigate a known insurgent area. The artist took up position with the Household Cavalry Fire Support Group stationed at a vantage point on a hillside overlooking the area, where he made sketches that were later translated into this painting.
The foot patrol of British infantry - identifiable from the shape of the bergens (rucksacks) on their backs - are advancing in the middle distance, just as the Taleban open fire from the cover of a wooded knoll beyond. Here, Regimental Quartermaster Corporal Shaun Fry MC, at centre right, and his men respond with machine gun fire, while on the right a Javelin missile is poised for firing.
Jules George recalled the next three hours as utterly chaotic: 'as we were fired at, we had to duck down inside the vehicle. The back door of the Mastiff (armoured vehicle) was open and I remember looking out at the most wonderful, beautiful landscape, while outside, the sounds - the gunfire and smoke - was going on. So you had this complete contrast of the beauty and the beast.'
NAM Accession Number
Not NAM Copyright, Artist's Copyright
National Army Museum, Global Role gallery