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Seated in the barracks guardroom, Private Laidler wears an fragmentation vest or ﬂak jacket, a 1944 pattern steel helmet fitted with face visor, and an anti-gas respirator, while cradling his L1A1 Self-Loading Rifle (SLR). Laidler’s weapon is ﬁtted with a SUIT (Sight Unit Infantry Trilux) sight, as an aid to marksmanship in poor visibility. It became common practice in Northern Ireland to loop one end of the rifle sling around the wrist, to prevent the weapon from being snatched during a riot. Normally respirators were worn by troops when using CS gas to disperse rioters. Flak jackets gave some protection against missiles and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) such as nail bombs. Laidler is seen behind a perspex riot shield that would have been made, like his helmet visor, from the specially developed, shatterproof material, Makrolon.
Private R. D. Laidler, Royal Regiment of Wales, Palace Barracks, Holywood, Belfast
oil on board
H 122.7 x W 122.2 cm
gift from the artist, 1989