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Post Info TOPIC: New (at least to me) views of Mk II 799


Field Marshal

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MK.II 799
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Hi
I am trying to find any info available on the mk.II number 799
several sources say it was captured and used by the Germans
does any one have any pictures or info on this particular tank


Thanks

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Legend

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Captured I can believe but as the MK II was a training tank with no armour plate (only mild steel) and very easily pierced by ordinary rifle rounds the Germans would have been crazy to use it unless very very desperate. The Mark II model was only used once in action by the British when this was forced on them by politician's demands

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Major

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This might be the one that A.J. Smithers (A New Excalibur) thinks was captured and paraded in Berlin. Mk IIs and IIIs were pressed into service as supply tanks and not meant to see battle. The Germans carried out tests on captured early Marks, possibly including this one, and didn't think much of them because of their poor resistance to small arms fire. The plate could be pierced by "reversed rounds" and armour-piercing ammo was thought unnecessary. Their capture therefore turned out for the best in the long run, because the Germans were unprepared for the superior armour of the Mk IV when it appeared.

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Field Marshal

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Well there is proff in German inventory totals that the MK.II 799 was sued as a supply tank, my question is if anyone has any photos or info to back that cliam up

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Legend

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JamesH wrote:

This might be the one that A.J. Smithers (A New Excalibur) thinks was captured and paraded in Berlin. Mk IIs and IIIs were pressed into service as supply tanks and not meant to see battle. .


Pressed by whom? As far as I can ascertain Mk IIIs never saw active service so could not have been captured by the Germans. Most supply tanks were MK I conversions or MK IV. The Mk II was pressed into service for the Battle of Arras because Lloyd George insisted on providing a diversionary attack to aid a French initiative (which failed anyway). There were simply not enough MkIs available and the MK IV was not yet available so about 30 MKII training tanks were used. Most were either knocked out and their crews killed or got bogged down in the mud. So yew a MK II could have been used as a supply tank by the Germans but never a MK III

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Major

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Sorry, I'm doing this from memory (at work . . . )


I'll check up on this when I get home and try to be more accurate tomorrow.



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Lieutenant

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I don't remember Strasshem and Hundleby's book mentioning or having photographs of anything earlier than a Mark IV. Might appear as a photo or postcard one day on e-b*y, like the captured St Chamond 'Pas Kamerad' which turned up a little while ago (see the thread on Missing Links)


EDIT Okay post first, then research...


This is allegedly 799 in German hands


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:German_photo_with_English_Tank.jpg


And this may be the tank in Berlin, it's a Mark IV, F41


http://www.greatwar.nl/germany/tankberlijn.html

-- Edited by Drader at 13:57, 2005-12-13



-- Edited by Drader at 14:12, 2005-12-13

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Lieutenant

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I'm pretty sure F41 was filmed too after capture, IIRC it's the tank shown in a short sequence pushing over a tree.

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Legend

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New (at least to me) views of Mk II 799
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An album of WWI photos has surfaced on eBay. In amongst the shots are three of Mk II 799 with the starboard 6 pounder still in place. The only shots I had seen previously were after the gun had been stripped. The auction number is 260089596719 and I have no connection whatsoever to the seller (unfortunately).



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Field Marshal

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Nice find, Mark. Something which has puzzled me is the number of photos showing groups of Germans standing around 799 (D26) in broad daylight. Considering that the tank was put out of action at Balcony Trench, only about 1000 yds. from the Australian lines and unscreened by woods or hills, I would have thought that groups of this size would have drawn fire. Was the tank moved from where it was disabled?

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Legend

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I don't know either way whether it was moved or not, but if it was I think it would have to have been towed out. There is a large shell hole near the port rear gear cover that would more than likely have broken the chain.

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Field Marshal

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can someone post the photos on the forum?

there is a theory at least that the Mk.II 799 was towed and fixed by the germans and used as a beute supply tank in 1918.


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Legend

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The tank appears in these photos. http://cgi.ebay.com.au/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=260089596719&indexURL=7#ebayphotohosting

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Legend

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Rhomboid wrote:

Nice find, Mark. Something which has puzzled me is the number of photos showing groups of Germans standing around 799 (D26) in broad daylight. Considering that the tank was put out of action at Balcony Trench, only about 1000 yds. from the Australian lines and unscreened by woods or hills, I would have thought that groups of this size would have drawn fire. Was the tank moved from where it was disabled?


 



The same problem must apply to removing the tank. One cannot envisiage the Australians sitting idly by whilst the Germans bring up a traction engine, winch or whatever - at the very least there'd be a bit of sledging However I also wonder that it would have been allowed to sit un disturbed so close the the Australian lines. I would have thought that artillery fire would have been called down to prevent the Germans acquiring it. Is the topology correct?

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Field Marshal

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The descriptions of the Bullecourt battlefield which I have read suggest it was almost tabletop flat with a slight declivity along the central road (the north-south road in the middle of square 29). 799 was disabled about in the middle of the letter"U" in square 30. During the first battle of Bullecourt on 11/4/17, observers on the railway embankment (which can be seen paralleling the Hindenberg Line about a mile to the south) thought they saw tanks advancing from Riencourt to Hendecourt. When 799 failed to return, it was assumed it had been knocked out in Hendecourt (as seen in the Tank Corps map produced after the action). In fact, none of the tanks penetrated beyond the second Hindenburg trench. The actuallocation where 799 came to rest was not determined by the British until after the war. I don't have a panorama ofthe area around Balcony Trench, however the attached photo shows the view from the railway embankment in square 28 towards Riencourt, and conveys the open nature of the terrain.

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Field Marshal

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according to the blood tub by Jonathan Walker on the battle of bullecourt, the Mk.II 799 got farther into the german lines than any other British tank, and it became captured by the Germans and studied in great detail and later used, I dont have a copy of the book so I dont know what were his sources on the claim that the tank was used as a beute.

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Legend

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Rhomboid wrote:

The actuallocation where 799 came to rest was not determined by the British until after the war.


Was 799 found by the British where it had been disabled?



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Field Marshal

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that would kill the beute MK.II 799 theory


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Field Marshal

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C.E.W Bean, the Australian Official Historian, determined 799's location from a study of postwar German divisional and regimental histories, but he makes no mention of having viewed the wreck after the war. His account, in Vol. IV of The AIF in France, is available on-line at the AWM site. If it had been left in place by the Germans, presumably the wreck would have been cleared at the end of the war. Of note, a current resident of Bullecourt has a gun shield which he claims is from 799. The sequence of photographs of 799 seems to show parts of the tank being removed for analysis by the Germans but, as Centurionhas suggested, removing the whole tank would seem to have been nearly impossible, given its exposed location.On the other hand, it seems unlikely that groups of Germans would have gathered to be photographed in this location, either, at least not in 1917. Perhaps some of the photos date from 1918, when this area was further behind the German lines.

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Field Marshal

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thank you for that rhomboid,

would you happen to have any more information on the tank or that resident, the story of the Mk.II 799 is rather key to my research into the beute tanks, because I want to prove or disprove this theory that the tank was fixed and used by the Germans in 1918.

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Legend

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There is a Bullencourt museum with its own website. It appears to have done some WW1 archeology recovering various parts of the tanks and plotting their positions. Has anyone been in contact? If not I'll drop them a line on Monday and see if they have any info.

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Field Marshal

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Eugene, here is the relic in question. I don't have much more information about it, but it turned up in a thread in the Great War Forum at The Long, Long Trail website. The thread is in the Soldiers and Armies of the Great War/Uniforms, Arms, insignia,equipment, medals sub-section of the forum. Perhaps the gentleman who originated the thread can tell you more. The thread is entitled "Help needed for tank no.s please, pretty please". Re-reading the thread, I'm not certain the item actually is in Bullecourt, however I have seen photos ofother tank remnants on display in thevillage.

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Field Marshal

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ah davies thats the commander of the tank

and also (you might be sick of hearing this) he is somehow related to Jonathan Walker the author of the Blood Tub, these kind of tid bits make this story of the Mk.II 799 so fascinating


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Legend

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That's not just the gun shield. That gun shield is sitting atop the remains of a starboard sponson, possibly 799's, possibly not.

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Field Marshal

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but isnt the gun too short?



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Legend

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eugene wrote:

but isnt the gun too short?




According to the post on the long, long trail forum, that isn't the original gun. It's acobbled together versionmade up to look the part.



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Legend

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I wonder if all the parts in that pile belong toone tank or many? The gun shield and sponson must be from a Mk I or II but the front horn piece and track roller could be from a Mk I, II or IV.

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Commander in Chief

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I am trying to find out a little more about D26, 799.

799 ended upby Balcony Trench, in the battle of Bullecourt. But which battle of Bullecourt?There were two battles of Bullecourt:

http://www.webmatters.net/france/ww1_bullecourt2.htm

http://www.diggerhistory.info/pages-battles/ww1/france/b-court.htm

And was she in support of Australians from 4th division (4th or 12th brigade)? Or British 62nd (West Riding) Division? I rather suspect that her final position (due south of Riencourt-les-Cagnicourt) would put her with the Austarlian 4th division, but I'm not certain.

And how was she KO'd? Did she stall or have mechanical trouble and was subsequently hit by artillery (after the battle)? Or was she hit by artillery during the battle?

Would she have D26 painted on the stores box mounted between the rear horns? I know that someMark IIs of C company(?) such as The Perfect Lady painted their call signs there. Is it reasonable to assume D26 would have done the same?

Also, I can see the words 'Englischer' and 'tank' on this German map but can't glean any useful information from it!

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7b/27._%28w%C3%BCrtt.%29_Inf.Div._11.4.1917.jpg


Help appreciated!

-- Edited by philthydirtyanimal on Wednesday 19th of August 2009 11:38:31 PM

-- Edited by philthydirtyanimal on Thursday 20th of August 2009 12:05:02 AM

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Commander in Chief

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OK, answering some of my own questions!

I have read on another forum that there is evidence to support the idea that 799 is number 3 on the attached map (from Bean). Does this match up with all the other maps?



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Field Marshal

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Here is a map from from the 27 Inf. Div. history which may be the source for Bean's location of wreck 3. Tank 799 was one of four tanks in the "Right" section under the command Lt. Wyatt (along with 586. 593 and 711) which supported the attack of 4 Aus. Bde. during the 1st battle of Bullecourt on 11/4/17. When the tank and crew failed to return to the rally point, it was assumed that it had been knocked out after entering Riencourt. In fact, it crossed Balcony Trench between San Souci Mill and Queant, and was set on fire after being engaged at close range by a machine gun of the 123 Inf. Regt. which wasfiring AP ammunition. The commander, Lt. Davies, was fatally wounded and the crew was captured. It is assumed that Davies had lost directionin the darkness and veered well to the right of the Australian flank, however the plan of attack for the tanks didintend for two of them to attack Balcony Trench after reaching the Hindenberg Line.

The best rear view of 799 which I have seen does not show the company number on the storage box, and I have not seen any other photos of D Bn. tanks taken from this angle.

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Legend

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If you study tank markings it is evident that different battalions did things their way within a general overall scheme. It would be very unsafe to assume that just because C Bn painted their crew numbers at the rear then D Bn did likewise. However, D Bn Mark IVs at Ypres III did have their crew numbers painted on their rear petrol tanks so it might be, in the absence of evidence, that this was a continuation of their former practice with the Mark II. Then there is the matter of the style of the marking. C Bn used white characters, but I am sure that I have seen some D Bn Mark IVs with their petrol tanks painted white with dark (black?) crew numbers.

Gwyn

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Commander in Chief

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Thank you Rhomboid and Gwyn. So it is safe to assume one shouldn't make assumptions!

I've re-read the Arras chapter of David Fletcher's Tanks and Trenches and noticed for the first time that it includes the battle of Bullecourt. It just doesn't mention 799 conclusively; it says one tank veered far to the right and was KO'd by a machine gun. This must be 799, but there is no mention of a Lt or 2Lt Davies.

Also, I have taken a 'change of tack'. I was interested in 799 because I am making up a Mark II for adiorama and was going to use the Black Lion Decals. But upon checking the decals I found that 799 is not there!

But 790 is. Now, checking through Rhomboid's fantastic list shows that 790 was with8 company of C battalion. Tanks and Trenches says on the 8th April 1917, 8 co C batt. assaulted The Harp, and half of them got to the string of The Harp. Does anyone know the fate of 790? And would it have been supported by (or in support of) Canadians, Australians, or British? Or someone else?

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Field Marshal

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Tank 790 (C28, 2/Lt. E.R. Sanders) supported the attack of the British 42 Bde. (14th Div.) at the Harp on 9/4/17. It "bellied" in soft ground prior to reaching the German front line trench, but was able to bring its weapons into action. It was one of six tanks assembled to attack Monchy-le-Preux on 11/4/17, but was ditched shortly after leaving its jump off point, as seen in the attached photo. On 23/4/17 it was in action again, north of the Scarpe, during the attack on the Chemical Works at Roeux, 3 OR's being wounded and 1 killed by AP machine gun fire.



-- Edited by Rhomboid on Friday 21st of August 2009 04:36:34 AM

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Commander in Chief

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Thanks Rhomboid. My 'little guys' have now changed nationality again, and they are now British, 42 Brigade, 14th Division (a Kitchener brigade?)!

That photo looks like it came from a book; may I ask which book, as it looks like it would be a good read.

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Field Marshal

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The photo was from "Cheerful Sacrifice" by Jonathan Nicholls. It covers the Arras offensive with extensive use of first person narratives, in much the same format as Martin Middlebrook's classic "The First Day on the Somme". Highly recommended!

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Commander in Chief

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Thanks, Rhomboid, I have just put both those books in my shopping basket.

As an aside, may I ask how you research the various tanks and tank actions? I am very impressed with your (and Gwyn's) knowledge on these matters. For my part, I just read the books that are on the 'reading list' on this site's pages, and any that forum contributors mention. As well as reading this forum - obviously!

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Legend

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In my case, I visit archives, and then spend alot of time reading and comparing different documents gleaned from those visits. I also have a network of other researchers (plus this forum and others) with whom I share information and finds. The Internet itself is also vastly important. I do read books, but now find this often less productive than reading the original records. I should say I've been researching and writing about tanks for thirty years or more.

Gwyn

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Commander in Chief

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Wow! Gwyn! Did you have any training for that? Or are you self taught? Have you written any articles or books specifically on just the Mark II?

And, what do you make of this photo? Its an enlargement of 799's port sponson. At the top it looks like there could be something written or painted on upside down. It's more apparent when the photo is turned upside down. Is this my imagination, or is it some sort of serial/identification number? Could it say something like '7RA67'?



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Legend

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Hi phil dont know if these are of any use to you.... 799 in various conditions various times...

Cheerssmile

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Commander in Chief

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I guess this tank is the most beeing photographed tank ever. I have also some in my collection. I don't collect this tank anymore - I am only looking for a coloured pic of it.

;o)

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