Manzine contributor Stuart Griffiths (below) became a photographer while serving in the Parachute regiment. Subsequently he was homeless, worked as a press photographer and has now created a powerful body of work documenting the lives of the ex-Forces, the homeless and soldiers injured in combat. His new photobook, The Myth Of The Airborne Warrior, compiles a series of pictures he made while serving in Northen Ireland during The Troubles.
Stu, What made you join the army in the first place?
I joined up because it was either art school or the army. When I was at school at Warrington I used to watch videos at a mate's house at lunch break. One of the videos was the whole season of “The Paras”, a BBC documentary that followed recruits through training, that had a big impact because at my school many of the kids were taking drugs and robbing cars and I guess I wanted to prove I was tough enough to be a Para, die for my country and all that. It was also a way out, as I had already spent a night in a police cell for allegedly robbing a car and acknowledged early on, that if I was going to stick around Warrington and the North west, I would be having a career in Strangeways prison.
Why is the book is called “The Myth Of The Airborne Warrior”?
The myth of the Parachute Regiment is very much highlighted by the famous “Every Man an Emperor” speech by Field Marshall Montgomery [The Parachute Regiment Charter], and the battle honours from the battles of Arnhem Bridge to the Falklands War. The training for a start is much tougher than any unit in the armed forces, including the Royal Marines.