Armed Forces tattoos photography exhibition opens in London

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.

Who is in the exhibition?

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

Josh Pickman.

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.

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

Dani Cummings.

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.

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

David Godwin .

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.

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 partnership with The Royal British Legion and the National Memorial Arboretum.