For the Fallen: New book provides photographic tribute to those who served in the First World War

    For the Fallen. On sale 1 October 2014
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    Some of the UK’s most moving and beautiful war graves and memorials, from the impressive memorial in Tower Hill to the remote St Finnan’s Isle Burial Ground in Loch Sheil, are included in For the Fallen (1st Oct, AA Publishing, £25), a collection of stunning photographs by the highly acclaimed military photo journalist Michael St Maur Sheil.

    St Finnan's Isle Burial Ground. ©2014 CWGC / Michael St Maur Sheil
    St Finnan’s Isle Burial Ground. ©2014 CWGC / Michael St Maur Sheil

    For the Fallen is the touching photographic tribute to the unsung heroes of the Great War and the tireless work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) which keeps their memory alive. From headstones in the remote Namib Desert to those in the lush undergrowth of Buff Bay in Jamaica, and from an isolated grave on a tiny island on Loch Shiel to the 72,000 names on the Thiepval Memorial in France, this book commemorates some of history’s greatest and most devastating battles and the men and women who fought and died in them.

    St Finnan's Isle Burial Ground. ©2014 CWGC / Michael St Maur Sheil
    St Finnan’s Isle Burial Ground. ©2014 CWGC / Michael St Maur Sheil

    Acclaimed photo journalist Michael St Maur Sheil has been photographing sites of the First World War for almost a decade and this photographic odyssey captures the stories behind memorials and headstones worldwide – from the soldier buried alongside his twin (who died the same day) in Saskatchewan, Canada, to the memorial by the Tower of London dedicated to 12,000 men lost at sea. The stunning photos provide an insight into the sheer amount and spread of war graves and also the utter dedication of the CWGC’s staff: over 23,000 different locations worldwide are tended by over 1,200 members of staff, some of whom are third generation Commission employees.

    Tower Hill - Merchant Navy Memorial. ©2012 CWGC / Mike St Maur Sheil
    Tower Hill – Merchant Navy Memorial. ©2012 CWGC / Mike St Maur Sheil

    Peter Francis’ commentary provides a fascinating overview of the history of the organisation. Prior to its founding in 1917, soldiers who died while serving the British Empire could not expect a lasting memorial, their individuality lost in mass graves. The Great War changed everything, when CWGC founder Fabian Ware enlisted the Empire’s brightest stars, including Rudyard Kipling and architect Edwin Lutyens, to help him ensure that the dead would never be forgotten again. Although initially dogged by vehement objections against the policy of non-repatriation of the dead and use of headstones and not crosses, this book is testament to the Commission’s success.

    For The Fallen will be published to mark the First World War centenary and is the perfect companion for history, military and photography enthusiasts.

    Michael St Maur Sheil has been documenting battlefields of the Great War since 2006, and his exhibition Fields of Battle, Lands of Peace 14-18 will be in St James’s Park until Nov 14th. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a member of the British Commission for Military History.

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