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Post Info TOPIC: Tanks for Artillery Target Practice?


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Tanks for Artillery Target Practice?
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I have come across an old local newspaper article about someone remembering a tank being brought to the local common in 1918 to be used as a target for artillery practice and I wonder of anyone here can help get some background information to this (presuming of course that it is an accurate recollection)

The area in question is Esher Commons, SW of London. It does make sense as an area to be used, since all the trees had been felled by the Canadian Forestry Corps in 1917 to provide timber for the western front, leaving open heathland. And in WW2 it was an active training area for the Canadian Army - there are still remnants of shell holes etc.

If this happened then I am assuming that the tank in question would be a Mk III, since none of these went to France as far as I am aware. Or maybe one of the 5(?) Mk IIs used for trials of different transmissions etc. and kept in the UK. And by 1918 they would be pretty worn out. Elsewhere on this site there is obviously an amazingly thorough life history of all of the tanks that saw active service, but I am not aware of anything anywhere for those that stayed in the UK (Mk IIIs are in fact specifically excluded from the lists in question).

So:

  • Does anyone know of any resource that would help tracking the fate of those tanks that stayed in the UK?
  • Has anyone come across cases of where old tanks were used for target practice in the UK?

Thanks in advance for any help anyone can give

A

 



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Legend

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Which (web?)site are you referring to?

An early Mark of tank would not be impossible, but I'd include the Mark IV in that. They were obsolete well before the end of the war.

Gwyn

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The local rag republished a letter from the Cobham Mail originally published in the  1990s. Thus it is highly unlikely that the original contributor is still alive

Although the Mk IV was indeed obsolescent in 1918 it didn't mean that it wasn't still used. I seem to recall that there were still 2(?) battalions equipped with Mk IVs in the summer of 1918. And any not used as front line tanks would either have been converted to supply tanks (in addition to those purpose built as such) or cannibalised for spares (Which were always in short supply). I can't believe that any would have been sent back to the UK for any reason until the war was over. Hence my thought that if a tank was used for target practice then it would have to have been one of those never shipped to France. But it is a big 'if'.



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Legend

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There were brand new Mark IVs standing idle at Newbury because no one wanted them. The last Mark IV wasn't built until October 1918. They didn't have to be sent back from France. In any case, who says this happened during the war? Who says the recollection of 1918 is right?

I am still puzzled by your reference to "an amazing thorough life history of all of the tanks that saw active service". Where is this?

Gwyn

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