Brothers in Arms

We recently crossed to Mull on the Oban to Craignure ferry, a short journey on the waters of the Firth of Lorne and the southern reaches of the Sound of Mull.  As the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry leaves Oban, it passes between Alexander Carrick’s War Memorial on the mainland to the east and the Isle of Kerrara to the west.  The Brothers in Arms sculpture, erected in 1923, is considered Carrick’s masterpiece and depicts a wounded soldier supported on each arm by his comrades; in turn their arms support his legs to form a cupped circle.  Perhaps the circular composition symbolises the passing of time and how we are locked into an endless cycle of catastrophic repetition.  It is reminiscent of Don McCullin’s 1968 picture of an American marine supported by his brothers in arms, having been shot in both legs during the Têt offensive at Hué.  Both sculpture and image have been compared to the crucifixion.

Years later I went back to Hué…..It seemed so inconsequential, the whole thing…..those men who died, and those men who were maimed for life, went through all that, and it was totally futile, as all wars are known to be.  Without profit, without horizons, without joy.  I remember there was a street in Da Nang called Street without Joy.  They could have called the whole country after that street – Don McCullin – Unreasonable Behaviour.

Brothers in Arms

(click on image to enlarge)