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Back To Their Roots For The Royal Tank Regiment

The soldiers have visited the Tank Museum to learn about their history as the world's oldest fighting tank unit.

More than 150 soldiers from the Royal Tank Regiment have visited the Tank Museum to learn about the Battle of Cambrai.

Taking a step back into the past, they have heard about the history of their regiment, which is the world's oldest fighting tank unit.

Lt Col Simon Ridgway, Commanding Officer of the Royal Tank Regiment, said that the key thing for them is 'being part of a crew':

"When you see some of the conditions that those first tank crews had to live in, I think we got it pretty lucky today.

"It does reinforce that being part of a crew is fundamental to who we are as a regiment."

At Cambrai, on 20th November 1917, over 400 tanks punched a hole five miles deep through German lines.

Thousands of infantry also came out of the mist at dawn, catching German soldiers completely off guard.

With the Germans quickly overwhelmed, the British were able to roll up their line.

General Hugh Elles - the first commander of the newly formed Tank Corps during World War I - then succeeded in making what was then the greatest advance of the war.

Surprisingly, a lot of the tactics employed during the battle would be familiar to present day soldiers.

David Willey, curator at the Tank Museum, said:

"For the first time, the British army are using what nowadays we'd call combined arms tactics.

"We've got infantry with new infiltration tactics, tanks - we're using 400 tanks in a mass attack - we're using artillery in a preregistered bombardment.

"We don't slog away for a whole week!"

Next week, the Royal Tank Regiment will take part in the commemorations of the battle, which is also their regimental day, in the French town of Cambrai.

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