This is an extract from Anthony Loyd’s account of his time in the Balkans and Chechnya. I read this paragraph yesterday and was reminded of its pertinence while watching the Channel 4 doc Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields and as President Assad’s forces continue to shell civilians in Homs, Syria.
“No weapon frightens me as much as the shell. Bullets have a certain logic. Even when people around you are hit the wound seldom seems so bad…But shells? They can do things to the human body you never believed possible; turn it inside out like a steaming rose; bend it backwards and through itself; chop it up; shred it; pulp it: mutilations so base and vile they never stopped revolting me. And there is no real cover from shellfire. Shells can drop out of the sky to your feet, or smash their way through any piece of architecture to find you.”
“There is a philosophical element to it all too: a bullet may or may not have your number on it, but I am sure shells are merely engraved with ‘to whom it may concern’.”
This extract is from My War Gone By, I Miss it So, by Anthony Loyd.