Did you follow the original thread onesixman (http://vame.lefora.com/2010/08/17/us-field-camp/page19/)? The photos have since been temporarily removed, but you will see various viewpoints around what is clearly a sensative topic from a spectrum of people including civilians from different backgrounds, Regular Forces and Reserve Forces, Soldiers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Officers, some of whom have seen action and some who haven't. Whilst I respect your Father's view, I also disagree, as did the SAMA Chairman (personally) and Help for Heroes, who were fully supportive. I only chose not to proceed given that SAMA as a whole did not wish to endorse (the Chairman suggested I should proceed regardless, but I chose not to out of simple respect of the right of those who were there to hold the view they chose to take).
What's it like to experience combat; to be cold, wet, hungry, dirty, exhausted, scared witless and yet push yourself on to do the job you have been trained and paid to do, to close with the enemy, aim your rifle at another human being and pull the trigger, to experience the 'dead-man's click' of an empty magazine and resort to the bayonet, plunging in to the hilt before twisting and withdrawing, to experience the horrific sounds and smells of the battlefield, cordite mingled with burnt flesh and human entrails, to kill and see your closest friends killed ...............
Having endured such, it is understandable that some who have been there may struggle to see or simply not wish to see, that far from trivialising their service and sacrifice, it upholds and honours what they have done and gives those back at home a small insight into what they might have been through (not unlike "Commando's" or other illustrated comics). The VAM-Falklands series was never intended to be a wholly accurate recreation of the conflict, rather a commemoration and representation from the perspective of a (then) nine-year olf child who was re-creating what he saw on TV in 1982, with his Action Men, in context of military knowledge and experience gained since. Here is the introduction from the book which explains the background and rationale:
I was nine years old in 1982 when Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands. Rather at odds with my parents’ desires, I had maintained a keen interest in everything military since toddlerhood. Suddenly war that I had read of in storybooks or heard on cassette tape was being beamed almost live into the living room. I was gripped by the images of Britain’s brave servicemen fighting the pitched battles of our country’s last brief but ferocious conventional war on British soil. As they fought, I re-enacted the scenes on the living room carpet with my Action Men.
In the interim, interest in the military grew and after five years with the Army Cadet Force I joined the Reserve Forces with whom I would fulfil at least some of the childhood ambition over the next thirteen years, two attempts to join the regular army being frustrated by injury. The arrival of our first child was however to re-align priorities, Reserve Service and sporting pastimes giving way to more family friendly pursuits. Clearing the attic of the remaining toys from the now distant youth, I happened across my old favourite; Action Man. The great British Toy maker Palitoy’s Toy of the decade in the 1970’s, found in almost every household in the country. The nostalgia of battles fought across the living room and back garden came flooding back and a new pastime as a collector began. Initially putting together outfits I had desired as a child, I amassed 200+ figures and carded/boxed items. However, despite the interest fitting around the family well, viewing figures on shelves failed to hold an extended appeal. Instead, a burgeoning interest in photography combined with the degree of military knowledge saw replacement of the valuable pristine collectable's with suitably‘previously enjoyed’ examples. These were summarily deployed akin to childhood days, seeking to capture in lifelike and visually appealing arrangements, returning a degree of ‘the outdoors’ to the new interest.
I found the Vintage Action Man Enthusiasts (VAME) internet forum an interesting and fun way of interacting with fellow collectors including a surprising number of past and present servicemen who warmly received the resulting “Action Man in Action”pictures. Remembrance having always been very important, driven by both the military service and deeply held Christian beliefs, the Falklands War 30th Anniversary Year presented the opportunity to build on previous endeavours and produce a series of images in commemoration of the conflict. As I poured over history books and personal accounts, the initial thought of recreating thirty or so iconic images mushroomed into an endeavour to recreate a good proportion of the key events. As I read more deeply into accounts of the battles, I was able to build the images more closely around the narrative and seek to represent as many of the formations and units present as possible. Key constraints have however been what was produced by Palitoy and its competitor companies and the distinctly un-Falklands like terrain of North Wiltshire. Varying degrees of 'artistic licence' have therefore been employed, although the ‘funny’ camouflage, bulging eagle eyes, laughably out of scale vehicles and landscapes help maintain a sense of perspective that this is a representation of the conflict rather than a wholly accurate re-creation.
Beneath the fun lies a more serious dual-intent. The images seek to present an idea of what it may have been like for those called to close with and engage the enemy and the resulting effect this can have on our servicemen and women. Whilst the 255 British and 649 Argentinean deaths resulting from the conflict are hard enough to comprehend, it is a further horrifying statistic that the effects of Combat Stress have brought more servicemen to take their own lives than were killed in the conflict itself (over 300 British and 900 Argentineans). Further, although materially improved over the last 30-years, there remains insufficient support to treat those affected, particularly once they have left the armed forces. The books underlying aim is therefore, to increase consideration of the effects of Combat Stress that often results from what our country asks our servicemen and women to see and do on our behalf.
I hope this goes some way to explaining the motives behind the book, that the pictures will be enjoyed and a deeper appreciation gained for our servicemen and women who give themselves to upholding our country’s values of freedom and democracy.
“Through childlike eyes in commemoration and honour of those who served in the Falklands War of 1982.”
Tim Matthews, August 2012