Stoke & Staffordshire

Military tattoos exhibition reveals 'living memorials'

Paul Glazebook Image copyright Charlie Clift
Image caption Paul Glazebook has the names of six friends he lost in Iraq and Afghanistan scribed on his back

An exhibition of photographs revealing the tattoos of military personnel has gone on display.

The display at the National Memorial Arboretum reveals the stories behind the "living memorials" created by people in the armed forces.

Royal Air Force veteran Craig Daniell said his tattoos "commemorate those I lost along the way".

Organiser The Royal British Legion said the pictures reveal "stories of remembrance living on the skin".

The Tribute Ink exhibition, created in partnership with the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire and The Ministry of Defence, reveals tattoos that honour comrades and mark a sense of belonging.

Image copyright Charlie Clift
Image caption Craig Daniell, who was medically discharged after an injury, said his tattoos were his "own symbol of remembrance"

Mr Daniell, 29, is a former senior aircraftsman in the Royal Air Force who was injured during his second deployment to Afghanistan.

He said the inking on his legs marks the sacrifices that he and others made.

"For me, my tattoo... reminds me of how lucky I am to be here today," he added.

Image copyright Charlie Clift
Image caption Matthew Tomlinson has the names of fallen marines he served alongside inked on his back

Former Royal Marine Matthew Tomlinson, 52, has a silhouette of a bugler playing the Last Post inscribed on his back above names of fallen comrades.

"Each name is part of me as a person and I feel it's for me the best way to keep their memory alive," he said.

Image copyright Charlie Clift
Image caption Leading diver Michael Bell has "Bomb Frog" inscribed on his knuckles, a slang term for navy divers

Photographer Charlie Clift said it was an "honour" to photograph his subjects, captured in a range of locations from Royal Navy vessels to British Army Assault courses.

"The project has changed my perception of remembrance completely," he said.

"It doesn't have to be done in silence on a sombre Sunday, people can remember in a million different ways."

Image copyright Charlie Clift
Image caption Dani Cummings designed a swallow and anchor tattoo for her back while in Kandahar with the Royal Navy on her 21st birthday

Alex Owen, from the Royal British Legion, said the pictures offered a glimpse into the "bravery and sacrifice" of the armed forces community.

"The exhibition aims to uncover some of the inspiring modern stories of Remembrance living on the skin, and in the hearts, of our servicemen and women today," he added.

Image copyright Charlie Clift
Image caption British Army Lance Corporal Josh Pickman has the Essex Cap Badge tattooed on his arm to honour the regiment that generations of his family have served in

The photographs will be on display at the Arboretum until 1 December, before going on tour to cities, military bases and railway stations.

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