Gavin has already got one lifetime in the restoration of military vehicles. He started very young, when his Dad had to look for something to transport the family to the vehicle shows he attended with his vintage tractor. Naturally enough, he got a Willys Jeep.
By the time he could drive on the road, he was well and truly hooked, so he bought his first military vehicle, a GMC truck, and next an M3 White Scout Car. This was not the end of the family collection as his brother acquired a Bren gun Carrier at around the same time. After this they got really serious and traded both for an M5 Stuart, which they still have.
‘The next thing was an M36 Jackson. It was a ground-up restoration’, says Gavin. ‘It had come in from Croatia after the Balkan Wars of the 1990s’. The effort in doing this did not divert him from his ultimate goal, however: a Sherman.
When he acquired his M4A2, it was driveable but incomplete, especially internally. It had had a varied and active life.
‘As the original T number was still legible on the tank, its history could be traced fairly accurately’, he says. ‘It originally served in the Western Desert in 1943 before being shipped back to the UK and converted to a BARV (Beach Armoured Recovery Vehicle)’. In this form it went to Normandy soon after D Day. But its life was not over, nor its form.
‘Next off, it was shipped back to the UK and refurbished, and reconverted back into a gun tank, for display purposes in London, but this time with a 76mm gun’.
After disposal from the service, it seems to have languished in a scrap yard before being bought by the first owner who started the restoration. Gavin acquired it from him, fulfilling a lifelong ambition, about 6 years ago.
‘It really is the apple of my eye’, he says, ‘but it’s not all plain sailing’.
‘There seems to be some sort of law in vehicle restoration that the smaller the part, the more difficult it is to find’.
But find them he certainly has. The interior is now complete and immaculate.
Gavin has assembled all the equipment and small parts to enable him to fit the tank out either as a British or US model.
And it doesn’t stop there. If you have a tank, the next thing you need is something to transport it on. That something takes the shape of an M25 ‘Dragon Wagon’, restored from a scrapyard find, giving him a unique combination on the UK show circuit. Gavin and his vehicles can be seen at the major military shows throughout the UK and also at some of the European gatherings.