Year 5 and 6 were very fortunate to hear Michael St. Maur Sheil, the award-winning photographer behind the photographic exhibition, Fields of Battle, Lands of Peace, talk about some of the images and the stories behind them.
He spoke to the children about reconciliation and how the healing of time has had a huge impact on the land he photographed. The images he showed the children highlighted the impact of the war on the nations and societies involved. The photographs showed the healed scars of the First World War through the only remaining living witness: The fields of battle themselves. He went on to say that nature has an amazing ability to breath life into even the most desolate of battle fields. His parting words were that we must learn from our mistakes of the past. He read out the thoughts of a veteran leaving the shattered fields of the Somme for the last time who wrote:
“No they would not be lonely, I saw that bare country before me…the miles and miles of torn earth … the litter, the dead trees. But the country would come back to life, the grass would grow again, the wild flowers return, and trees where now there were only splintered skeleton stumps.
They would lie still and at peace below the singing larks, beside the serenely flowing rivers. They could not feel lonely, they would have one another. And …though we were going home and leaving them behind. We belonged to them, and they would be a part of us for ever.”