First World War ‘Doughboys’ arrive at Guildhall Yard
American soldiers, or ‘Doughboys’, and their entry into the First World War in 1917 will provide the focus of a photographic exhibition in Guildhall Yard in the City of London next month.
Fields of Battle, Lands of Peace: The Doughboys 1917-1918 is the latest in an acclaimed series of centenary photographic exhibitions, created by Michael St Maur Sheil, to document the battlefields of the First World War as they are today.
The free exhibition (7 April – 23 April) has been commissioned and curated by the National World War I Museum and Memorial in the U.S. and is supported by the City of London Corporation, the UK’s largest funder of culture after the government, the BBC, and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
It will be installed in Guildhall Yard, the site of London’s Roman Amphitheatre, where 15 display stands will present St Maur Sheil’s evocative images in a similar format to his highly successful ‘Fields of Battle, Lands of Peace: Somme 1916’ exhibition last year.
More than two million American soldiers, or ‘Doughboys’ as they were known, served in Europe during the war. This exhibition introduces the viewer to the battlefields which, 100 years ago, were places of death and horror, now revealed by the photographer as landscapes of great beauty and tranquility.
Photographer Michael St Maur Sheil said:
“The U.S. involvement in the First World War was a hugely significant factor. Today, it is often overlooked, but it was a New World coming to the aid of an Old World, from which many of the young American soldiers - as first generation immigrants - had sought to escape. Their humanitarian effort in supplying and shipping over seven million tons of food to save the peoples of Belgium and northern France from starvation marked the advent of America as a united nation.”
Dr. Matthew Naylor, President and CEO, National World War I Museum and Memorial, said:
“The National World War I Museum is committed to understanding the Great War and how the conflict continues to affect the world to this day. The Museum holds the most comprehensive WWI collection in the world and uses that to tell the global story – an approach that differs from our peer institutions.
"We also have the responsibility to take the collection to new audiences. The impact of the Great War set in motion a deep and sustained relationship with our European partners, including the United Kingdom, making this powerful exhibition even more impactful.
“Through this exhibition in partnership Michael St Maur Sheil, we trace the journey of the American forces in 1917 and 1918, and commemorate their efforts. It is beautiful and poignant work. We’re grateful for our partnership with the City of London Corporation and the United States Embassy in London, which made it possible for this remarkable exhibition.”
Dr. Andrew Parmley, Lord Mayor of the City of London, said:
“Michael St Maur Sheil photographs World War One battlefields with great skill, bringing out beauty where there was bloodshed on an unimaginable scale. This unique exhibition in Guildhall’s courtyard, itself an historic arena for combat, will provide a fitting and poignant tribute in this centenary year to lives lost.
"My colleagues and I look forward to welcoming the exhibition to Guildhall, and to meeting those for whom the ‘Doughboys’ ultimate sacrifice has a personal resonance.”
Following its run at Guildhall, Fields of Battle, Lands of Peace: The Doughboys 1917-1918 will be exhibited in Grosvenor Square, before embarking on a tour of six major UK cities (including Cardiff, Liverpool and Belfast), which is supported by the U.S. Embassy in London.
The City of London Corporation, which owns Guildhall Yard, invests £80m every year in heritage and cultural activities of all kinds.
Notes for Editors:
Mike Sheil and Dr Matthew Naylor are available for media interviews. High resolution images are available for free use. Please contact Andrew Buckingham (see below) for further details.
For further information, please contact:
Andrew Buckingham, Media Officer, City of London Corporation
Tel: 020 7332 1452 / Mobile: 07795 333060 / Email firstname.lastname@example.org
About the City of London Corporation:
The City of London Corporation is a uniquely diverse organisation. It supports and promotes the City as a world leader in international finance and business services and provides local services and policing for those working in, living in, and visiting the Square Mile. It also provides valued services to London and the nation. These include the Barbican Centre, Barbican Music Library, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Guildhall Library, Guildhall Art Gallery and Roman Amphitheatre, London Metropolitan Archives, a range of education provision (including three City Academies); five Thames bridges (including Tower Bridge and Millennium Bridge), Central Criminal Court at Old Bailey, over 10,000 acres of open spaces (including Hampstead Heath and Epping Forest), and three wholesale food markets. The City of London Corporation is London’s Port Health Authority and also runs the Animal Reception Centre at Heathrow. For more details, visit www.cityoflondon.gov.uk
About the National World War I Museum and Memorial
The National World War I Museum and Memorial is America’s leading institution dedicated to remembering, interpreting and understanding the Great War and its enduring impact on the global community. The Museum holds the most diverse collection of World War I objects and documents in the world and is the second-oldest public museum dedicated to preserving the objects, history and experiences of the war. The Museum takes visitors of all ages on an epic journey through a transformative period and shares deeply personal stories of courage, honor, patriotism and sacrifice. Designated by Congress as America’s official World War I Museum and Memorial and located in downtown Kansas City, Mo., the National World War I Museum and Memorial inspires thought, dialogue and learning to make the experiences of the Great War era meaningful and relevant for present and future generations. To learn more, visit theworldwar.org