Probably his best work of the 1960's, was in Vietnam where McCullin's images of the U.S Marines battling the Viet Cong in Hue showed the true terrifying nature of an urban battle. Hue was the cultural capital of Vietnam, a Cambridge and Oxford all rolled into one, but large parts of the city were destroyed by artillery and rockets within a matter of days. McCullin managed to capture the wars affect on both sides with an image of a shell shocked marine and a haunting photograph of a dead Viet Cong soldier, his personal belongings scattered around him. Regardless of the fact that this was an 'enemy' soldier, McCullin's image gave that man a life, an identity and a family.
McCullin has always remained a compassionate photographer despite the various conflicts he has worked in. This is his biggest strength and the reason why his images work so well forty years on. The wars change but the reaction on the faces of the soldiers don't. His work in South East Asia included time spent in Cambodia, where McCullin would be injured during an Khmer Rouge ambush that killed several Cambodian paratroopers. Loaded aboard a vehicle full of wounded, he was horrified to find that the truck went back towards the area of the ambush. After a period that seemed like hours, the truck eventually made its way to hospital where the photographer remained until he was removed to another hospital and then sent home. During his time recovering from his wounds, McCullin started to think about a photography project that would document the people of the UK; some of whom lived in the most deprived areas of the country.
All images by Don McCullin
Middle right - Shell shocked marine, Hue 1968
Middle left - Dead Vietcong with belongings, Hue 1968
bottom right - An Irish vagrant - London's East End