It is over fifty years since the formation of the Military Vehicle Trust (MVT), a registered charity dedicated to the restoration and preservation of historic military vehicles and keeping alive the memory of those who used them. We like to say that we are keeping the ‘mechanical veterans alive’ as their human counterparts decline in numbers.
The Trust was originally started in 1969 and was called the Military Vehicle Conservation Group (MVCG) by a group of enthusiasts who wished to preserve our military motoring heritage. It changed its name to become a registered charity in 1987. Peter Gray, the founder, was an active member on the military vehicle preservation scene, and he showed the foresight to preserve this important element of our history in a time when preservation was not seen as necessary. The charity’s aims and objectives are to promote the recovery, restoration and preservation of all types of military vehicles, to encourage members by providing a communication network between other enthusiasts at home and overseas and support organised events for the demonstration and display of the members restored vehicles. As a registered charity we promote, sustain and increase individual and collective knowledge and understanding of the vehicles and artefacts in our care and advance public knowledge and understanding of the role they played in our local and national military heritage.
The MVT works with many official bodies in relation to its area of expertise and members provide vehicles for many high profile events, the D-Day and VE Day commemorations being notable examples. In addition, the Trust works with English Heritage, military organisations, national museums, veterans’ organisations, charities and film companies in providing support and information.
The MVT consists of 33 regional branches, known as Areas, so members throughout the country can attend local meetings closest to them. Trust membership stands at over five and a half thousand members, with a total military vehicle ownership of almost ten thousand vehicles. This makes the Military Vehicle Trust the oldest and biggest military vehicle preservation group in the world and the largest vehicle preservation group in the UK. The MVT also publishes “Windscreen”, our bimonthly magazine (every two months), containing technical articles, news and views and any changes to legislation which might affect members. Our website also provides important membership services as well as up-to-date news, along with members’ sales and wants and an extensive events diary. The MVT is a nominated verification club with the DVLA, and provides an authentication service to assist members correctly register their vehicles for the first time of licencing for the road.
Many types and variants of military vehicles have been preserved by the charity’s members from various types of tanks through to armoured cars, heavy trucks, to bicycles used by troops on the Normandy D-Day beaches. There are a good number of the ubiquitous wartime jeep to the relatively uncommon vehicle manufacturers such as Guy and Morris Commercial. Members’ vehicles are not restricted to those of British origin with vehicles of many nationalities owned by the MVT’s members, including many American, German and Soviet Block vehicles from all eras. All periods of history are represented from the First World War, the Second World War, Korea and Vietnam, through to the much more recent conflicts such as the Falklands War, Gulf War, Bosnia and Afghanistan.
Members travel many miles to attend shows and other commemorative events. Over the past years, anniversary visits too many historical places have been organised, including Paris, Arnhem, Brussels, Cherbourg, Jersey, and the Normandy beaches in France.
In addition members of the charity support events on a local scale, such as school and village fetes and charitable events, with widespread support for the Royal British Legion Poppy Day Appeal, Help for Heroes and other military charities. A number of the MVT’s Areas also organise their own annual Area military vehicle shows, inviting all members and their vehicles to attend. The shows include a wide variety of military vehicles with anything up to four figure numbers attending the larger events, both on static display and in action. Also on view, are displays of military equipment from many periods of history, militaria collectors’ stalls and many shows including “living history” displays, where the participants wear authentic period uniforms and equipment that help to put the vehicles in to context by being displayed in period settings.
The charity continues to grow in membership and activities, and some members are now undertaking important vehicle restorations that were previously considered impossible. Not only have skills improved but the internet has allowed enthusiasts worldwide to exchange historical information and to track down missing parts without which a project could not be started.
Membership of the Military Vehicle Trust is open to anyone with an interest in military vehicles and their history and they are not required to own a military vehicle to join.
So if you like what you see and have just read, why not pop along to your local area meeting, found here, have a chat with our members and become a member of the “Oldest and Largest Military Vehicle Restoration Club in the World.”