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ITV News: "Armed Forces Tattoos Photography Exhibition Opens In London"


War Hero
"A photography exhibition exploring the stories behind tattoos of Armed Forces personnel has come to London.

Royal British Legion exhibition at the National Army Museum in Chelsea, tells the powerful and poignant backstories of these images.

Tribute Ink celebrates the various reasons members of the military get tattoos; some use them to mark their service, others have images to mark those who have died while serving.

Tribute Ink is a living project. If you have tattoos related to service, The Royal British Legion is inviting you to get involved and share your story at __ In partnership with The Royal British Legion and the National Memorial Arboretum."



War Hero
Lance Corporal, Josh Pickman (27) British Army, Combat Medic, 1st Battalion Irish Guards, based in Hounslow

The Latin phrase 'In arduis fidelis' is the motto of Pickman's corps, the Royal Army Medical Corps. Translating to 'faithful in adversity,' his tattoo shows his dedication to his regiment. The Essex Regiment cap badge on his arm commemorates the regiment his ancestors served in, connecting him to his family's military past and marking his pride in their achievements.



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Leading Hand Dani Cummings (29) Royal Navy, Based in Portsmouth, HMS St Albans

Whilst on deployment in Afghanistan working with the local police forces, Dani designed the swallow and anchor tattoo on her back to mark her 21st birthday. The swallow is a centuries-old naval symbol often worn to remind the sailor that regardless of how far they travel, they will always come home. Her husband also serves in the Royal Navy and they have a four-year-old son so she also has tattoos relating to her family life.



War Hero
David Godwin (67) Royal Hospital Chelsea Pensioner, Royal Military Police Veteran

Dave served for 25 years in the Royal Military Police and is the youngest resident at The Royal Hospital Chelsea and the only one with tattoo sleeves. These are a combination of some designs which he got before joining The British Army aged just 16 and also some that follow the Japanese Irezumi tradition. A chrysanthemum on his arm commemorates his daughter Jodie who sadly passed away three years ago, her ashes were mixed with the ink into one of the flowers.



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Leading Diver Michael ‘Dinga’ Bell, 29, Fleet Diving Unit, Royal Navy. Bell, and two friends he served with, got matching tattoos during their first deployment together, marking the strong bond between them
Credit: Charlie Clift


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Ex- Royal Marine, Matthew Tomlinson CGC MC, 52. Dedicated to those who lost their lives while under his command, Tomlinson’s tattoo depicts the silhouette of a bugler from the Royal Marines playing ‘The Last Post’. On the steps leading to the gates are the names of the fallen Royal Marines and US Marines with whom he served and commanded in both Iraq and Afghanistan. It also includes the name of Lieutenant Colonel Thorneloe, who was killed while commanding the Welsh Guards during an operation in Afghanistan in 2009


War Hero
I'm looking forward to the legendary fox hunting scene showing Reynard disappearing into a convenient bolt hole. I did see one for real back in the 60s but unfortunately did not have a camera to record the scene for posterity.


War Hero
Super Moderator
I'm looking forward to the legendary fox hunting scene showing Reynard disappearing into a convenient bolt hole. I did see one for real back in the 60s but unfortunately did not have a camera to record the scene for posterity.
Bloke in the mess on the Rusty B had that one.


War Hero
Most tattoed matelot I ever saw was an aircraft handler at Lossiemouth in the 60s. Sure that he would not mind being identified, he was one Dixie Deans, absolutely covered in tattoes including the infamous fox hunting scene witht eh fox going to earth. Dixie would be in his 80s now, I understood that the PMO al Lossiemouth asked him if he could have his skin when he popped his clogs. Sure that all this can be confirmed by Billy Budd who would most definitelly have served with him


War Hero
Doubt 2 pigs getting off with the scrib ' Makin bacon' would be OK for RBL..... or .'Pay please' on the right little finger visible on salute with ' Cheers **** ' on the palm of right hand. Tot era Jack would do owt for extra rum.

Chris P

War Hero
Yes, Dixie had several tats which probably were close to the knuckle, including on the knuckles, several other places easily seen and some in 'other places'not so easily seen! I reckon Dixie would be in has late 90's now. Another fox hunting scene devotee was Joe Hamer, chockhead also on the 'Old Grey Ghost' and I'd say he wouldn't mind being identified now either if he's still with us. If you are Joe, good health mate..


War Hero
Yes, Dixie had several tats which probably were close to the knuckle, including on the knuckles, several other places easily seen and some in 'other places'not so easily seen! I reckon Dixie would be in has late 90's now. Another fox hunting scene devotee was Joe Hamer, chockhead also on the 'Old Grey Ghost' and I'd say he wouldn't mind being identified now either if he's still with us. If you are Joe, good health mate..
Reckon there are very few if any characters of Dixies ilk in the RN now.
I knew him in the mid 60s but never thought he would be in his late 90s now, I would have been 18-20 years and am now 74.If it was blank week and you had nothing to read then you could lways read Dixie :)

Chris P

War Hero
You're right, I can't count - I think he was 36 when I was a yoof of 18 in '66, now 73 so that makes late 80's, he had a thing for livestock too i seem to remember, more than once when alongside in Singers he'd wake up with a chook or something in his pit with him in the morning!!
<<...Tattooing had existed in the islands of the Pacific for centuries before Cook arrived. The word tattoo is Polynesian, and is the sound made by the little wooden hammers that the islanders use to puncture the skin. The dense patterns of lines that adorned the locals impressed Cook’s sailors, and they asked tattoo artists to decorate their arms too, with anchors, slogans and the names of sweet hearts. When they returned home they were paid off and dispersed into the maritime community, taking their tattoos with them.

At first tattooing remained largely confined to sailors, although not necessarily to the lower deck. Lord Charles Beresford, a distinguished rear admiral in the Victorian navy, is said to have had a large tattoo of the hounds of the Waterford Hunt in full cry. The dogs poured over his shoulder and down his back in pursuit of a fox. Only the tail of the fox was visible, the rest of the animal having apparently disappeared up Admiral Beresford’s arse.

As the twentieth century started, tattooing moved beyond the navy and into society more generally. Although it remained a largely male and working class adornment, there were some notable exceptions. Lady Randolph Churchill, mother of Winston, had a snake tattooed around her wrist (where it could be concealed beneath a bracelet) and her son, (WSC) is said to have shown his obsession for all things naval by having an anchor tattooed on his forearm...>>

more at -


War Hero

"Royal Navy tattoos feature in Royal British Legion's Tribute Ink exhibition

Ink on Aircrew from RNAS Culdrose is on display at the National Army Museum in London

Tattoos on Royal Navy Aircrew from RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall feature in a new exhibition.

The Royal British Legion’s exhibition Tribute Ink brings to life the powerful and poignant stories behind the tattoos of people in the Armed Forces, opened at the National Army Museum in London on January 31, 2020.

Tribute Ink showcases how the military community use tattoos to commemorate comrades and loved ones who have made the ultimate sacrifice whilst serving their country.

The exhibition explores how serving personnel also use the art of tattooing to mark their service, achievements and sense of belonging to the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.

Air Engineer Technician Chris Warner, aged 36, is one of two RNAS Culdrose based RN personnel featured in the exhibition.

Pictured sitting beside a Merlin helicopter and leaning on a railing, AET Warner is proudly displaying his strong connection to his service - and his tattoos are steeped in Royal Navy history and lore.

His tattoos include a lighthouse, ships and quotes from Nelson, who transformed the Royal Navy and whose memory has reached almost legendary status.

Many of AET Warner’s tattoos also symbolise key moments in his career and bring back fond memories from his time training, when he bonded with fellow trainees.

Getting tattooed has often been a therapeutic experience for AET Warner. Both the process and the final artwork has helped him through difficult times in his life, such as the death of his father. He remembers his father with the tattoo of a Navy Harrier Jet they first saw together before he joined the Fleet Air Arm.

Meanwhile, RNAS Culdrose based Leading Air Engineering Technician Kye Beasley, 30, is pictured hitting a punch-bag and climbing a ladder.

LEAT Beasley joined the Royal Navy at 16 and serves in the Fleet Air Arm, maintaining helicopters for the fleet. His tattoos, inspired by Greek mythology, remember a career that has defined his life.

Featuring Poseidon, the god of the sea, they are a fond reminder of Beasley’s place in the Royal Navy.

His late grandfather’s face is the inspiration for the face of Poseidon, acting as a living memorial to the grandparent he lost, and keeping him close at all times, in fair seas and foul.

Other serving Royal Navy personnel featured in Tribute Ink include Leading Hand Dani Cummings, 29 who designed a swallow and anchor whilst she was deployed in Afghanistan to symbolise where she had been and the sense of home.

Curated in partnership with the National Memorial Arboretum and supported by The Ministry of Defence, Tribute Ink begins its national tour in London at the home of the history of the British Army, the National Army Museum in Chelsea.

The exhibition is free to everyone and runs until April 17, 2020.

Head of Armed Forces Engagement at The Royal British Legion and former Household Cavalry Officer Alex Owen, said:

“As a champion of Remembrance we hope this exhibition will draw in people from across the city, as well as visitors from the UK and overseas, to come and learn about the comradeship, bravery and sacrifice which are marked by the tattoos of our Armed Forces community. We would urge everyone to come and see the inspiring modern stories of Remembrance living on the skin, and in the hearts, of our servicemen and women today.”

The images in the exhibition are designed to immerse visitors in the powerful personal stories behind the tattoos. Renowned photographer, Charlie Clift was given unprecedented access to military-inspired locations to capture service personnel and veterans for Tribute Ink. These ranged from RAF Aircraft Hangars to the decks of Royal Navy vessels, British Army assault courses to barrack blocks.

Charlie Clift said: “It was a huge privilege to be able to work so closely with the Armed Forces and veterans and hear their stories first hand. The project has changed my perception of Remembrance completely - it doesn’t have to be done in silence on a sombre Sunday, people can remember in a million different ways.

"I hope my pictures can help honour those who serve and encourage others to remember in new ways.”

Alongside Clift’s photographs are life-sized replicas of some of the tattoos, which have been meticulously transferred onto 3D sculptures. Featured, is Lance Corporal Josh Pickman, 27, who is a Combat Medic Technician with 1st Battalion Irish Guards, based in Hounslow. His tattoos honour his own family ancestors who served in the British Army during the First World War.

Lance Corporal Josh Pickman said: “The tattoo of the Essex Regiment Cap Badge is my most important one as it’s my personal tribute to my family who served in WW1 and WW2. It was inspired by both my Great Great Grandparents who were in the regiment during WW2 and I used to hear all their stories when I was growing up, this is my way of remembering them all year round.

"I also have ‘In arduis fidelis’ on my arm, which is the Royal Army Medical Corps’ motto which means ‘faithful in adversity’, this is particularly poignant as a medic, it’s always about putting others first.”

Tribute Ink features four key themes; Rethinking Remembrance, Remembering the Fallen, A Badge of Belonging and Marking the Memories. The Royal Hospital Chelsea, next door to the National Army Museum, is also contributing exclusively to this leg of the exhibition.

Four Chelsea Pensioners feature their personal stories, alongside that of their Regimental Sergeant Major, a veteran with 24 years Army service who has extensive tattoos.

Justin Maciejewski, Director of the National Army Museum said: “Our purpose at the National Army Museum is to tell the story of Our Army and its soldiers. Telling these stories is, in many ways, a persistent act of Remembrance. It is therefore, an absolute delight to host this exhibition by The Royal British Legion and the National Memorial Arboretum.

"Working together we can bring to life the way in which people use tattoos as an act of Remembrance, honouring the sacrifice of friends, loved ones and comrades. To be able to share some stories from our neighbours the Chelsea Pensioners makes it all the more poignant and special for us.”

Visitors and members of the public are invited to upload their own images of their tattoos and share the stories behind them via the Legion website and social media using #tributeink.

So far more than 200 people have shared their tattoos and the stories behind them this way.

The Legion provides life-long support to the Armed Forces community, like those featured in Tribute Ink, as well as veterans and family members, and is encouraging the general public to visit to find out more. Open at the National Army Museum in Chelsea from January 31 until April 17, 2020, the exhibition is free of charge."

The museum will be hosting various events throughout the run, including a late-opening on Wednesday March 4, 2020 which will feature a panel discussion on how tattoos act as a sign of personal remembrance, short talks with serving soldiers, live music from the British Army Rock band, drawing classes and more.

The tour will then continue to be on at public museums and galleries, train stations and military bases until November 2020. Full tour dates are available here.

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