In early 2014 a war photographer friend of mine told me that a British Army officer was looking for someone to photograph The Fusiliers during training. He suggested, if I ever decided to venture down that path of photojournalism, this would be a good way for me to learn the basics of combat photography and how to safely follow platoons during conflict.

Shortly after a few emails back and forth with Lt Col Jo Butterfill, I arranged to meet him at the Tower of London, where the Fusiliers have their headquarters above their museum. A waving St Jorge’s flag, not far from the Crown Jewels, pointed me towards the Fusiliers Museum on a sunny afternoon. I rang the intercom and a secretary buzzed me in. Everything felt quite like a James Bond film; the location, furniture and even the secretary’s 70’s look and accent. She walked me to a stunning office decorated with old war paintings, tall windows facing St John’s Chapel, Victorian cabinets filled with medals and multiple army paraphernalia, and a huge wooden table in the middle.
An immaculate tall man welcomed me with a firm handshake that expertly led me to sit down in front of a laptop, placed on the big table. Few sentences into the presentation that he was showing me on the computer and I could already see why any soldier would follow this man’s orders. Lt Col Jo Butterfill has a calming yet imposing presence, something difficult to describe with words but that I’d say makes him a natural leader.
He gave me a brief introduction to the history of the Fusiliers, then an update of the current situation and some insights of what their future might hold. At the time they were on the first year of a 3-year cycle:

-1st year: refresher and basic training and training support.

-2nd year: a full training year including overseas training exercises.

-3rd year: held ‘ready’ on a reduced notice to move (NTM) to be deployed anywhere in the world, at the drop of a hat.

This seems to be the way regiments work. In this 1st year of the cycle the soldiers learn new skills, such as driving or gunnery, tactics and low-level teamwork while experienced soldiers refresh their existing knowledge.

In the second year, the soldiers endure a gruelling learning curve and are mentally and physically pushed to the limit, to best prepare them for any real life conflicts, whether for humanitarian missions or war.

Furthermore the Fusiliers acquire special skills while training in extreme terrains in countries like Kenya, Canada, Lithuania and Brunei.

Spending long spells of time away from friends and family, the soldiers forge strong bonds with their comrades. They form themselves a home of sorts, a band of brothers who lookout for each other and for their nation alike. During the few days I spent following the platoons through the rolling hills of Salisbury Plain, I experienced first hand what it means to them. It’s an idea, very much alive, and it rests within the land they defend and fight for.

As they say: "Once a Fusilier, always a Fusilier".


To learn more about the Fusiliers visit:

Fusiliers site.

Fusiliers History.


Special thanks to Major Alex Mills, for his contribution with the picture captions.  Follow him on Instagram!

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