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Post Info TOPIC: Mark V tanks in Estonia/Latvia 1919


Legend

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Mark V tanks in Estonia/Latvia 1919
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I had an email from Dominic Manning about his grandfather who was a tank commander in Estonia in 1919.

<quote>

You may be interested in these documents. My grandfather, FEA Manning, was commander of tank no.9349 'Brown Bear' aka 'Uku' and then later in Riga trained the Latvians in no.9147 later known as 'Generalis Burt's'. He was awarded the Military Cross, the Order of St Stanislas (2nd Class) and the Order of St Vladimir (4th Class). 

</quote>

I've attached the images. There was also a scan of typewritten after action report/ unit diary. This is a bit large to attach - if anyone wants a copy of this PM me with an email

address.

Regards,

Charlie

 



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Lieutenant-Colonel

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It's excellent, thank you and Domenic very much!

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Regards

Denis



Major

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Charlie

PM sent

Tanks3



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Major

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That;s great news - thanks for posting

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Stephen Pope

http://www.firsttankcrews.com/


Legend

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Dominic got back to me with a new version of the report (smaller) and a scan of a letter from his grandfather to his sister.

These seem to have attached to this message - hopefully the forum software will allow the documents to be served.

Regards,

Charlie



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Legend

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Thank you Charlie, and thank you Dominic. These are fantastically informative documents that add a lot to what I knew. Thanks for so generously sharing them by posting here.

However, I have a problem with the identification of 'Brown Bear', 9349, as the tank that was known as 'Uku' in Estonian service. The issue is that both were Composites (aka Hermaphrodite) Mark Vs, but 9349 had its male sponson on the starboard side and and a Female sponson on the port, whereas 'Uku' was the other way around. Is there any documentary evidence to support the idea that 'Brown Bear' 9349 and 'Uku' were the same tank?

Gwyn



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Captain

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Кино, танки и хлеб - сим победиши.



Colonel

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Gwyn, please forgive my ignorance, as I'm no expert, but should/did Hermaphrodite tanks have the same layout?? i.e. Male sponson on the starboard side and a Female sponson on the port side...or vice versa? Would it not be possible to have some tank sponson layouts as a 'mirror image' to other tanks in the unit?

Grant

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PDA


Legend

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Don't know if I completely understand your question, Grant, but if you mean "Did they always have the male on the right and female on the left" then the answer is no. There is film footage of MkV tanks somewhere near the Kremlin (I think) and you can see that some tanks have female on the left, and others have female on the right. So, yes, composites could be mirror images of each other.

I suppose a composite tank could one week have the male on the right, and the next week put a female there and a male on the left. But I can't think why they might do that.



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Colonel

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Hello PDA, yes that is what I meant...do all Hermaphrodite tanks have the Male & Female sponsons on the same sides. I guess the simple answer is no!!

PDA Wrote "I suppose a composite tank could one week have the male on the right, and the next week put a female there and a male on the left. But I can't think why they might do that".

Could they swap sponsons if one was damaged? Just a thought.

Grant

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Legend

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There are different layouts to Composites (I prefer this term - it's less typing). As PDA has said, some have Male sponsons on the port side and Female sponsons on the starboard. In my own notes I refer to these as LH Composites. Alternatively, if the Male sponson is on the starboard and the Female on the port the I refer to them as RH Composites.

Now look at the photos I posted - two of 9349 and two of 'Uku'. (Incidentally these should have answered the question raised before it was asked. Also, it is possible to swap Female sponsons around, but you can't put a port Male sponson on the starboard side without it facing to the rear, or be upside down.)

The point I'm making is that 9349 is a RH Composite, but 'Uku' is a LH Composite. Therefore the statement in the very first post in this thread "...tank no.9349 'Brown Bear' aka 'Uku'..." isn't possible unless there was a need to replace 'Brown Bear's Male starboard sponson, a new Male port sponson was found from somewhere, the Female sponson was moved to the starboard side (or replaced, I'm not sure which - I need a top or bottom view of the Female sponson on both 'Uku' and 'Brown Bear') and the new port Male sponson was installed in its place. There is no evidence presented for this.

In summary, without some evidence to the contrary, I don't believe that 'Brown Bear' 9349 and 'Uku' are the same tank. I am simply asking on what basis that original statement was made. Hopefully it exists because I would like to know 'Uku's serial number.

Gwyn



-- Edited by Gwyn Evans on Wednesday 3rd of February 2016 09:07:17 PM



-- Edited by Gwyn Evans on Wednesday 3rd of February 2016 09:08:45 PM

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Dominic Manning

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Hi Gwyn

I think you're right, I don't have any evidence that 'Brown Bear' was indeed 'Uku', I may have wrongly deduced this from other websites. So presumably Brown Bear was one of the other three Estonian tanks , named Wahtula, Waldaja, Paalik. I think Waldaja is also a LH composite, so has to be ruled out. OR is it the other Mark V headed for Latvia (but not 9147, which in any case is also a LH composite)? Impressed by the evidence based approach - I'll stay stumm henceforth. Incidentally, I only have the first 4 pages of the field report, in case you were wondering. There is one final letter that I have from my grandfather Frederick Edwin Alfred Manning, dated 1.10.1917, when he was in the Ypres Salient with the Tank Corps, plus I have his annotated map from Zillebeke (just SE of Ypres), if of interest I can have these posted too. I don't know what Company he was in, so if anybody can work it out, that would be fantastic. He was injured twice shortly after writing the letter, bullet to the hand on 10th Oct then bullet to the foot on 24th Oct, he lost his little toe which became infected with gangrene, but he may well also have suffered from mustard gas poisoning. His involvement in WW1 was certainly over, until he is posted to the Baltics in 1919.



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Legend

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Granty101 wrote:


Could they swap sponsons if one was damaged? Just a thought.

Grant


 Yes. But as Gwyn says, the male sponsons are "handed"; the starboard and larboard sponsons are not interchangeable. I mentioned it merely as a hypothetical possibility, and it couldn't possibly be the same male sponson that was swapped from side to side. Also, Occam's razor makes this possibility seem less likely than Gwyn's tentative conclusion that these are two tanks not one.

Thinking out loud. Why would a commander change his RH composite to a LH composite (or vice-versa)? Well, as you say, what if the male sponson was damaged beyond repair? The easiest fix would be to replace it, like for like, but what if there wasn't another "starboard male", just a "larboard male". That could have happened, and I dare say it did with British tanks, but how many spare parts went with these tanks to Estonia? They could have cannibalised another tank. ... Hmmm. Not inconceivable.



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Colonel

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So PDA, the simple answer is, for one reason or another, (and this yet unknown), Hermaphrodite tanks didn't all have the same layout.

Grant

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PDA


Legend

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Granty101 wrote:

So PDA, the simple answer is, for one reason or another, (and this yet unknown), Hermaphrodite tanks didn't all have the same layout.

Grant


Yes, but some reasons are known or are easily deduced. If you have one male MkV and one female MkV, you have one effective (male) and one ineffective (female) tank if they ever were to meet an enemy's tanks (this was demonstrated in the first tank on tank fight). You would have known this, so you would have taken one sponson off the male and swapped it with one from the female to make two composites, mirror images of each other.

Another way of making a composite MkV, was to take the sponsons from an obsolete male MkIV and put them onto two female MkV tanks. Again, the two composite MkV tanks made this way would have been mirror images of each other.



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Legend

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Dominic Manning wrote:

Hi Gwyn

I think you're right, I don't have any evidence that 'Brown Bear' was indeed 'Uku', I may have wrongly deduced this from other websites. So presumably Brown Bear was one of the other three Estonian tanks , named Wahtula, Waldaja, Paalik. I think Waldaja is also a LH composite, so has to be ruled out. OR is it the other Mark V headed for Latvia (but not 9147, which in any case is also a LH composite)? Impressed by the evidence based approach - I'll stay stumm henceforth. Incidentally, I only have the first 4 pages of the field report, in case you were wondering. There is one final letter that I have from my grandfather Frederick Edwin Alfred Manning, dated 1.10.1917, when he was in the Ypres Salient with the Tank Corps, plus I have his annotated map from Zillebeke (just SE of Ypres), if of interest I can have these posted too. I don't know what Company he was in, so if anybody can work it out, that would be fantastic. He was injured twice shortly after writing the letter, bullet to the hand on 10th Oct then bullet to the foot on 24th Oct, he lost his little toe which became infected with gangrene, but he may well also have suffered from mustard gas poisoning. His involvement in WW1 was certainly over, until he is posted to the Baltics in 1919.


Hello Dominic

Thank you. I always try to follow the evidence.  But thanks again for allowing these documents to be posted here.  They are really helpful in piecing together the story of these tanks and the men who served in them. 

I'd narrow the search for 'Brown Bear' down to 'Wahtula' or 'Paalik', but I can't say which.  I have three Mark Vs in service with the Latvian Army: 9116, 9147 and 9369 so unless Latvia had a fourth I don't know of, or 9349 was lost on operations, I'd say 9349 went to Estonia.  As is so often the case, it's a matter of simply waiting until the information emerges.  

I have tried but failed to identify from the information provided which unit your grandfather would have been with in the Ypres Salient.  I'll make some further enquiries.  However I would be very interested in seeing the other documents you refer to.  You may also be able to trace his service records at The National Archives in London.  

Gwyn

 

 

 



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Legend

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PDA wrote:
Granty101 wrote:

So PDA, the simple answer is, for one reason or another, (and this yet unknown), Hermaphrodite tanks didn't all have the same layout.

Grant


Yes, but some reasons are known or are easily deduced. If you have one male MkV and one female MkV, you have one effective (male) and one ineffective (female) tank if they ever were to meet an enemy's tanks (this was demonstrated in the first tank on tank fight). You would have known this, so you would have taken one sponson off the male and swapped it with one from the female to make two composites, mirror images of each other.

Another way of making a composite MkV, was to take the sponsons from an obsolete male MkIV and put them onto two female MkV tanks. Again, the two composite MkV tanks made this way would have been mirror images of each other.


Grant, PDA

It's a little more complicated than this.  It appears that when the first Composites were converted after the shock of meeting the A7V in late April 1918 only Female Mark Vs were converted to Composites, initially using Male sponsons from increasingly obsolete but plentiful Mark IVs.  Then, after the Mark V entered combat for the first time in July 1918 Mark V Males became available whose hulls were damaged beyond economic repair but which had serviceable sponsons, so these were used to convert more Mark V Females (and Mark V* Females) to Composites.  Only post war were Mark V Males converted to Composites, presumably because machine guns were more useful for policing activities in Germany than 6 pdrs were.    

Mark V Males were not converted to Composites during the war because it didn't increase the effectiveness of an armoured unit in dealing with A7Vs.  In my opinion, Mark V Females were effectively obsolete before they ever appeared on the battlefield.  It is notable that 14th Battalion, when it arrived in France, was issued only with Mark V Males and Mark V Composites.  The Battalion had NO Females.

Gwyn 



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PDA


Legend

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Thanks, Gwyn. I was trying to remember what you'd said in the past. I admire your patience!



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Private

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I have only just come across this site and it is absolutely fascinating.  My grandfather was also part of the group that volunteered to go to Tallin, the same group that Domiic's grandfather was in.  We have no information about his time in Estonia except for a postcard that we found after his death with a message in Estonian from a girl that he had obviously struck up a "friendship" with.  If there is any more to the report that Capt Manning wrote, beyond the 4 pages on this site I would be very grateful to see them.  Thanks for accepting my request to join the Forum and I look forward to availing myself of the expertise that obviously abounds here.



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