In Arduis Fidelis (Faithful in Adversity)
Stanley Spencer served in the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) as a medical orderly at Beaufort War Hospital during the First World War. Famously, some of his war time experiences are captured on the walls of Sandham Memorial Chapel.
In Arduis Fidelis, motto of the RAMC, is a display of artwork and poetry created by present-day RAMC veterans who have received treatment from veterans’ mental health charity Combat Stress to help them overcome the trauma of war.
Although now consigned to history, the Falklands War, Gulf War, and recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to affect some of those who served on the front line. In the last ten years, Combat Stress has seen a 143% increase in referrals from former servicemen and women struggling with their mental health.
This exhibition provides a glimpse into the world of former combat medics. It is a reminder that for some veterans, the battle continues. The veterans offer their work to encourage others to seek help and not struggle in silence.
The exhibition begins with the poem Once a Medic by Trevor who served in Afghanistan.
Chris served with the Parachute Regiment before later re-enlisting with the RAMC and becoming a medic with Special Forces. He began using art as part of his recovery process whilst attending treatment at Combat Stress. His paintings and drawings represent war time experiences as well as the after-effects.
Into the Night is a sketch of the view he had every time he went on a mission in Afghanistan. He writes ‘As we walked towards the Chinooks in the dark, everybody was feeling the excitement and fear of the unknown. Everybody hoping we would all come back’.
Mike enlisted into the RAMC as a junior entrant and served for 26 years. He was with Airborne Forces and served in many war-torn areas of the world. Art therapy became part of his recovery process at Combat Stress. His work conveys the lived experience of post-traumatic stress disorder including depressive symptoms. Bee Behind Glass represents feeling detached from the world in the form of a bee caught behind the glass of a framed picture. He describes how at times whilst being able to see the world around him, he does not feel part of it.
Richard experimented with art techniques as well as engaging in art therapy as part of his recovery. He found inspiration in Bruce Bairnsfather’s Old Bill cartoons from the First World War, which also provided an outlet for his sense of humour. Do you know who I am? is one of his collection of cartoons based on the military.
Army veteran Ron has painted an image of Occupational Therapy, an echo of Stanley Spencer’s murals, capturing a rehabilitation environment. In the Occupational Therapy activities room at Tyrwhitt House, Combat Stress has provided a warm, welcoming environment for so many veterans over the years. There, veterans socialise and learn new skills. Many discover hidden talents that are nurtured by staff and peers. This work is a tribute to those who have passed through its doors and lingered a while.
Wed 27 Jun-Sun 8 July, 11am-4pm (Wed-Sun only)