Image of a red and white British WW2 recognition marking painted on tanks and other armoured vehicles to identify them
Blog Post

Where are all the t-shirts that I want to wear?

Being of a certain age, my brother and I both grew up with Sunday afternoon war films on TV, making Airfix models and playing with toy soldiers. As time passed this has morphed into a slight obsession with tanks, specifically, and WW2 history and kit generally.

This growing interest in tanks led me to a visit to the tank museum at Bovington. It has a magnetic draw for lovers of armoured vehicles and houses over 300 vehicles. It really is a fantastic day out if you have an interest in the subject and I absolutely recommend it. It wasn’t until later that I had the pleasant surprise to find that it was where my earliest memories of tanks were formed over 40 years ago. This was in the days when you could still clamber all over the vehicles left to weather in the rain.

A young me sitting on an S-P 17pdr Archer in the late 1970s
Me, mom and my sister on an S-P 17pdr, Archer in the late 1970s at Bovington Tank Museum

The more I visited the more my attention was drawn to the markings painted onto vehicles signifying (I later found out) the Armoured Division or brigade they belonged to, or at least represented in the museum. They were simple, unfussy and striking images, but I thought nothing more of it than to taking a few photos. At least not until one of the semi-regular visits to the pub with my brother.

I forget how we got onto it, but we were probably having one of our usual arguments over the “proper” colours of Caunter camouflage or whether a Bren gun would fit on the mantlepiece or something equally tiresome to anyone other than a WW2 spod. We’ve had ill/half-informed arguments about most things. This time I got talking about t-shirts and the inability to find designs to my liking – i.e. British WW2 imagery. The internet is awash with WW2 t-shirts, but  Churchill and Spitfires aren’t my cup of tea. Don’t get me started on “Keep Calm…” t-shirts.

Where are all the t-shirts that I want to wear?

I wanted bold and historically accurate images like the markings I had seen on tanks at Bovington. The conclusion I came to was that the designs I wanted didn’t exist. I should make my own. The only thing stopping me would be lack of design skills or graphical software, no marketing knowledge, limited money and very little spare time. Oh, and that I’m hardly entrepreneurial and hadn’t a clue if anyone else would buy them. I’ve had other ideas ranging from a stall selling toast with different toppings to inner city roof-top campsites and buying a de-consecrated church for secular and pet weddings. None have gotten past the “talking rubbish” phase. I’m hardly Dragons’ Den material. This idea though had more going for it. The fact that it involved tanks and t-shirts. I’m pretty sure that they always say “do something you love”.

So here I am. I’m just starting up and feeling my way through it all. Making lots of mistakes and learning from each and every one them (I hope). When I get a spare few minutes I’ll try and knock out a few words on my trials and tribulations. If you’d like to take a look at what I’ve achieved so far then go here and take a look. 

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Ta-ra a bit!

Matt