Description: Photographer Philip Coburn found the edit for the Retaking of Musa Qala piece quite difficult as he’d spent so much time with the soldiers 24/7 and had intimate photographs of the troops directly around him. However, everything about this assignment was about a major ISAF mission and everything about this job seemed like he was in the middle of a film set as everything seemed so unreal and surreal. d

They would sleep in the desert and he remembers one night looking up at the stars and seeing the “Milky Way” and realizing why it was so named. They ate ration packs and washed with a bottle of water every 3 days or so and the whole essence of the experience was to just stay alive.

Moving in the vehicles across the desert and Afghan plains and down through the wadis, they listened to the “chatter” from the Taliban from the interpreters and discovered that the Taliban nicknamed this unit the “Warriors whom God protects” as they thought that the lightly armored vehicles that they moved in, was a sign of invincibility.

After they left the unit they had to go into Camp Bastion for resupplies and their Commanding Officer insisted that they all shave the weeks of beard growth off their faces. They had all become fairly superstitious and had put their survival down to their lengthening beards and lack of grooming, and to this day they still curse the Colonel who made them wash and shave as they all think it broke a spell. Just before he left the B.R.F. (Brigaid Reconnaisance Force) to go into Musa Qala with a different Commado unit and a Ghurka unit, someone walked across their desert beds, i.e., a sleeping bag on the ground.

There was an etiquette about laying a bed out in the desert and everyone in the BRF knew that you didn’t walk across another man’s bed as that was his space and a big “No No.” So strong words were exchanged. About a month after he left the BRF he heard that Corporal Darryl Gardiner, who had driven him around in Helmand in his wagon, was killed whilst he was taking some injured colleagues to a helicopter medical extraction after several of his colleagues had been involved in a landmine strike.



Ex Distilleria “Lo Stellino” | Outdoor Pavilion
Via Fiorentina, 95 – Siena

Period: October 27th – December 1st
Opening Time:
Friday: 03:00 pm-07:00 pm
Saturday-Sunday: 10:00 am-07:00 pm
Holidays: 10:00 am-07:00 pm

Cumulative ticket: € 10,00 per person
Cumulative ticket (students – over 65 ): € 4,00
Free entrance for visitors under 12 accompanied by parents

Photographer Biography:     

Philip Coburn started working as a photojournalist in North Ireland in the 1980’s before moving to London where he freelanced for the Daily Telegraph in the early 1990’s.

He was based in New York in the mid to late 90’s before returning to London in 1999 and continued to work for the Daily Telegraph before moving to work at the Sunday Mirror & Daily Mirror.

He has covered many and various events, conflicts and natural disasters including the Rwanda genocide & refugee crisis in Goma, Zaire in 1994, Montserrat volcanic eruption 1997, invasion of Iraq in 2003, many embeds with British Military in Iraq and Afghanistan, Hurricane Katrina 2005. In January 2010 whilst embedded with 1/3 U.S. Marines in Helmand, Afghanistan that the MRAP that he and his colleague Rupert Hamer were traveling in was hit by an I.E.D. Rupert & a young Marine were killed in the blast. Coburn was seriously injured losing both his lower legs and his my back.

He returned to work in 2011 and has continued to work as a photojournalist. Post-blast assignments have included Gaza, Iraq, Nepal, Singapore, Ivory Coast, Yemen & Europe. He feels that his injuries have helped him as a person & as a photographer, he is more empathetic towards people and more thoughtful in how he shoots & approaches assignments.