Tattooing in the military can be traced back to ancient times where shamans, priests or medicine men would tattoo talismans, shields and images for protection on their warriors.
Many tribes and various peoples through history would paint themselves in preparation for battle in addition to wearing permanent tattoos for protection, as a marker of their achievements in battle, to identify them in death, to ensure the correct burial in accordance with their religion or to aid them in their journey to the afterlife.
Modern tattooing is attributed to a voyage by Captain James Cook to the South Pacific where a number of the crew came home with tattoos acquired in the islands. This started a tradition of tattooing in the naval forces and the first emergence of tattooing in a military arm.
With tattoos becoming popular almost commonplace in the British Navy, it wasn't long before the British Admiralty followed suit with Field Marshall Earl Roberts is rumoured to have stated that"every officer in the British Army should be tattooed with his regimental crest". It was not only a means of creating additional comradeship but also made identifying corpses much easier.