The Bart Vanderveen Challenge Shield is awarded annually to the individual, chosen by nominations, who has contributed most to the military vehicle preservation movement. Inaugurated and sponsored by After the Battle, publishers of Wheels & Tracks magazine which was founded by Bart Vanderveen in 1982 and edited by him until the 75th issue published in April 2001. The trophy is presented at the War and Peace Show, which is the world's largest gathering of privately owned military vehicles, held annually at The Hop Farm, Beltring, Paddock Wood, Kent, in July.
Please click below to view a rundown on each year's award.
L-R: Winston Ramsey, Barbara Dixon, John Belfield and Rex Cadman
Bart Vanderveen was acknowledged as the world’s leading authority on wheeled and tracked military vehicles. He was indeed a walking bible on the subject and I had the privilege of publishing his magazine Wheels & Tracks for nearly 20 years. When he died in 2001, I instituted the Bart Vanderveen Award in his memory and this year it gives me tremendous pleasure to have received the nomination for someone who has richly deserved acknowledgement for a lifetime spent collecting military vehicles . . . but 10,000 miles from here! John Belfield hails from Victoria, Australia, so I thought it would be fitting on this occasion for John to be introduced by a fellow Australian from the same state - my wife Gail.
In November 2011, John Belfield celebrated his 80th birthday but his passion for collecting and restoring military vehicles began at the age of six when his mother gave him a toy tank. Then, when a couple of years later he was given a ride in an army Bren Gun Carrier, it was all over and his lifelong passion for military vehicles had begun.
John served in the Australian Army from the 1960s to the late 1980s as a recovery expert, and during the following years in the army reserve. He scoured farms, scrap-yards and army sites across the country searching for abandoned relics for restoration and preservation. Then, with the support of his wife Pat, in 1993 he opened the Melbourne Tank Museum on a 20-acre site at Narre Warren. John painstakingly restored each of the museum exhibits to create Australia’s largest private army museum. The collection comprised over 50 restored vehicles and 20 artillery pieces together with a range of military memorabilia. Included were a Centurion Armoured Recovery Vehicle; an M113A1 Fire Support vehicle as used in Vietnam; a Japanese Type 95 tank; a Churchill Mk 7; a Matilda, a Grant and a Stuart; an LVT 4; an AC1 and AC3 Sentinel -- the only place where both could be seen side-by-side; an M2 White half-track, Australian Dingo and Rover; a Lynx, Staghound, Ferret, Saracen, Saladin, etc etc.
Although the museum as such had to close in 2006, John has continued his hobby of collecting and restoring and made his first visit to the War and Peace show last year. We are very pleased to be able to reward his dedication over so many years and only sorry that he did not pay for excess baggage and bring his latest acquisition with him: a Kaiser Prime Mover with Steco trailer complete with his LVT4 Buffalo on board!
One day in 1989 Barbara Dixon was working in her office as the secretary for Rex Cadman’s business. “Barbara we have a show to organise” said Rex. It was a simple statement that would change her life as Rex had just been given the task of running the IMPS annual show at Beltring.
As he was also organising other events for the IMPS such as the Hellfire Corner Convoy runs, it fell to Barbara to handle all that paperwork as well, and in those early days she was assisted by her three young daughters, one of whom still helps out today.
As the War and Peace Show grew to a scale that nobody could have ever imagined, it required a dedicated office where Barbara spent long hours after her day job had finished, and by 1998 she was working full time on the Show.
For the last 24 years Barbara has dealt with processing every vehicle entry, stall booking, and living history participant form. And her role hasn’t just been confined to the office as she sets her HQ in advance at the booking-in centre ready to welcome over 3,500 vehicle owners when they arrive.
But Barbara isn’t just an administrator working behind the scenes – she also owns her own Jeep - although this is the first time she has ever been in the arena. It therefore gives me great pleasure to present her with this special Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her dedicated contribution to the running and ultimate success of the War and Peace Show, now in its 30th year.