St Mihiel

The American Memorial at Montsec.

St Mihiel

American gun crew from Regimental Headquarters Company, 23rd Infantry, firing a 37mm gun during an advance against the German entrenched positions near St Mihiel, 1918.


© Mary Evans/Robert Hunt Collection

Loos

The London Irish ‘Loos Football’ on its home ground below the colliery spoil-heaps of Loos.

Somme

The Newfoundland Memorial Park at Beaumont Hamel contains some of the best preserved and most easily viewed trenches of the Western Front.

Flanders 1917

Three soldiers slihouetted on the Western Front.
© Mary Evans/Robert Hunt Collection

Somme

Dawn over the river Somme at Curlu.

Messines

Rain storm over the Messines-Wijtschate Ridge.

Messines

Reconstructed German trenches at Bayernwald.

Somme

A collection of munitions stacked in the corner of a private garden.

Guillemont

Welsh Guards rest in a reserve trench during the Battle of Guillemont 3-6 September 1916.
© Mary Evans/Robert Hunt Collection

Verdun

A battered gun turret atop the Ouvrage de Froidterre.

Verdun

German soldiers under fire from French artillery during the Battle of Verdun,1916.


© Mary Evans/Sueddeutsche Zeitung Photo

The Photographer

Fields of Battle-Lands of Peace 14-18 is the work of photo-journalist Michael St Maur Sheil.

Captured over a period of eight years, Michael’s photography combines a passion for history and landscape and presents a unique reflection on the transformation of the battlefields of the Great War into the landscape of modern Europe.

Michael commented:
“This collection represents a legacy which I hope will create a gateway to the battlefields themselves, thus encouraging people to visit these historic landscapes during the centennial period and so create awareness and understanding of the events and historical implications of the First World War".

After studying Geography at Oxford, in the early 1970's Mike began his life as a photo-journalist by covering 'the Troubles' in Northern Ireland. Here he became associated with the New York picture agency, Black Star and over thirty years later he is still in the fortunate position of being paid to do what he loves doing - taking photographs.

Mike has visited over 60 countries around the world, working for a wide range of clients such as ABC-TV, BBC, Anti-Slavery International, British Red Cross, European Commission, National Geographic, New York Times, Shell, Time & Time Life.

 

 

Mike Sheil

© Paul Brown/Mary Evans

The Inspiration

 

If any one wants the reason for these photographs then they have to look no further than 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.”

For me these words, which are both a declaration of loyalty to lost comrades and faith in a future world of peace and tranquillity, give some reason why all these years later we should be thankful to the men of ’14-18.

The writer’s nationality does not matter [he was an Englishman, P J Campbell] because his words are those of any soldier looking to a future in the hope that it will make sense of the past.

 

It was whilst on a visit to Dunkirk with my father, who had fought there in WWII, that I first became aware of the close attention that soldiers pay to the ground which surrounds them and the way in which their vision of a battlefield extends not to miles but just the yards,evenfeetwhichtheycansurveywithoutthemselvesbeing seen. It was Richard Holmes who shaped this further by insisting that my pictures should not just be an emotional response to a battlefield where men had died but should seek to tell the history, the stories of the men who fought there.

 

The Somme

Ypres

A scene in Chateau Wood, Ypres, Belgium, 29th October, 1917
©Mary Evans Picture Library

 

Learn more

Make a donation to Fields of Battle

Click the button above to help us raise the necessary funds to ensure Fields of Battle and commemoration of The First World War reaches as many people as possible in their own communities throughout the United Kingdom.

support for FoB
Support Fields of Battle

The support shown for the Fields of Battle Lands of Peace project has been extraordinary. The logos above represent a small number of the diverse organisations involved with the project. Click above to find out more.

support for FoB
The Exhibition

To date, Fields of Battle has been on display in The Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, London's St James's Park, Nottingham, Strasbourg and Istanbul. Click above to learn more about the exhibition and future destinations.

View a short video on Fields of Battle
Video

View a short video on the inspiration behind Michael St Maur Sheil's journey capturing the emotional and historical heritage of landscapes which witnessed the monumental events of the
First World War.

Buy your own copies of Michael's Images

Click HERE or on the images below to visit a gallery of images for sale. Then simply click on the image you want, choose your product and order. Mike St. Maur Sheil will be donating 5% of his profits from the sale of prints to the Fields of Battle 14-18 Charitable Trust.


Fields of Battle Book

 

A stunning 264 page, full colour book illustrating Michael St Maur Sheil's journey documenting the battlefields of the First World War is available to buy online from early June 2016.


With a foreword by renowned Historian Sir Hew Strachan, this moving series of photographs illustrates the power of nature and time to effect a transformation from the gruesome past and create landscapes whose very shape preserves the memories of The Great War in vistas of peace and tranquility.

 

Click the images to the right to buy your copy securely online.

 

catalogue cover

 

Western Front Photography

 

Mike Sheil's website, Western Front Photography, offers a further insight into his work with multiple galleries featuring images from each of the battlefields he has visited over his seven year journey.


Click the image to the right to visit the site.

 


 

 

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