Tri-Service

Tank Centenary Marked By WW1 Ancestors

The world’s first ever tank battle took place 100 years ago this week.
 
Ancestors of those who fought in tanks during the First World War gathered at the Honourable Artillery Company in central London to mark the occasion.
 
The tank was first used during the Battle of the Somme on September 15th 1916 and marked a military milestone by the British, as well as a change in armed warfare. 
 
Tanks were capable of flattening barbed wire and deflecting machine gun bullets. They were designed to save British soldiers lives, but the first tanks sent to the front had some teething problems. Of the 49 tanks sent to France only 9 reached or penetrated the German front line.
 
A new book, Deborah and the War of the Tanks, written by John Taylor was launched at the gathering of relatives, to coincide with the centenary.
 
Tank 100
 
D51 Deborah is one of five surviving Mark 4 female tanks. She was attacked and put out of action at the Battle of Cambrai on the 20th of November, 1917, killing five of its eight crew members.
 
Over eighty years later Deborah was excavated from a field in Flesquières, France after a painstaking search by Philippe Gorczynski back in 1998.
 
10 years after Gorczynski’s excavation, John Taylor, along with a team of researchers, started work uncovering the human story of the pioneering men who worked inside the Deborah.
 
During their investigation they contacted and were able to enlighten relatives of Deborah’s crew with new information, as well as find out more through each family’s records.
 
Nowadays there are over 60,000 tanks in operation worldwide, they remain as relevant now, as at their introduction during the First World War.