War artist Jules George spent time with 2nd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment, formerly The Green Howards, sketching a record of life on the frontline. Andy Walker takes a look.

AN artist’s idea of life in a war zone was shattered when he spent two weeks with troops from the region’s own Army regiment in Afghanistan.

Jules George travelled to Camp Bastion, the main British military base in Afghanistan, north-west of Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province. He travelled with troops from 2nd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment, formerly The Green Howards.

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The battalion recruits heavily from the region and 41- year-old Mr George witnessed their work and recorded his experiences in a number of sketches and paintings.

He spoke of being unprepared for the massive infrastructure in place to look after troops in Afghanistan.

“Any preconceptions I had before I went were based on what I had seen in the newspapers and on television,” he said. “But the reality was completely different.

“I had no idea what it took to keep 100,000 troops going, the infrastructure was vast.

“Twenty-four hours a day there were convoys of hundreds of lorries bringing in concrete for buildings and the food that is required to feed all those troops.”

Camp Bastion is the largest British overseas military camp built since the Second World War. It was built in early 2006.

Mr George, who lives in London, sketched prolifically during his tour and plans to exhibit his work later this year.

He was inspired by the beauty of his surroundings, juxtaposed against the ongoing conflict. He said: “The landscape is incredible. There is this a weird contrast of stunning landscapes and war.

“You are constantly pulled between the two.” Although he admits he was apprehensive at first, Mr George said he enjoyed a good relationship with troops from the region.

He said: “I thought they might be sceptical about the paintings, but they really supported the idea.

“At night, when there is very little to do, I would paint a portrait, watched by all the soldiers. They always wanted to know if they were in the picture, so I think it was appreciated.”

As well as being constantly aware of enemy explosive devices, Mr George witnessed a three-hour fire fight. He said: “I was not in the thick of it, but my role was to draw it.

“I hope my work conveys the experience of what it is like to be on the frontline, the elements of fear and energy, the camaraderie and the determination of the troops.”