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Post Info TOPIC: Mephisto Questions.


Legend

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Mephisto Questions.
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A) Several accounts say that Mephisto was recovered with the assistance of Gun Carriers. Just noticed that in the Tankograd book MH & RS say "with a couple of Mk V tanks." Who's right?

B) Wikipedia says Mephisto stood in No Man's Land "with dead crew inside." AFAIK the crew abandoned ship without casualties.

C) Where was Mephisto between July 1918 and June 1919? Some say it went first to Vaux. Some say it then came to Britain before being shipped to Oz. It wasn't on Horse Guards Parade. Others say it went direct from France. There is general agreement that it travelled on the SS Armagh, but from where? Anyone any info?



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Legend

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Mark Whitmore's book on Mephisto says Gun Carriers or Mark IV Supply tanks - I think I'd give the Whitmore text more credence - he researched Mephisto extensively.

There are lots of stories about Mephisto - most of them quite fictional. Summarising Whitmore's account....

Mephisto was lost about 2km inside the German lines and there were German attempts to recover it but these failed. Mephisto was discovered by a

night patrol of the 28th Bn AIF on 9th July - the German line had been pushed back gradually since the loss of Mephisto in April. By the 17th July Mephisto

was just inside Allied lines - two veterans of the 26th Bn recalled that the tank had been used as a strong point and there were several dead Germans

inside at the end of the fighting. The CO of 26th Bn was keen to salvage Mephisto and liased with the Tank Corps with his Brigade Commander's

approval. The 1st Gun Carrier company personnel worked with 23 and 26 Bn parties to prepare a recovery route to Mephisto from the 19th July.

Two tanks were sent forward under cover of a light artillery barrage on the night of 22nd July - it's not clear whether these were Gun Carriers or Mark IV Supply tanks. Mephisto was 

dragged clear and sent to Vaux-en-Amienois. It remained at Vaux for some weeks but by early October had been railed to the Tank Corps Gunnery School

at Merlimont. It was shipped by barge from Dunkirk to the West India Dock then loaded on SS Armagh which departed Tilbury on 2 April 1919 for Australia.

The Armagh arrived in Brisbane on 2 June 1919. 

Whitmore's book has been out of print for many years and it's difficult to find copies of it but it probably is the definitive work on Mephisto.

Regards,

Charlie

 



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Legend

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Thank you very much, Charlie. I really must get hold of a copy of MW's book.

Is there an explanation of how/why/when it was decided that Mephisto should go to Oz rather than be handed over?

The Wikipedia article is all over the place. Imagine that.

J



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"Sometimes things that are not true are included in Wikipedia. While at first glance that may appear like a very great problem for Wikipedia, in reality is it not. In fact, it's a good thing." - Wikipedia.



Legend

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I left that bit out of the summary. There was a push to acquire Mephisto as a war trophy for Queensland - this appears to have started

not long after the tank's recovery. (I'd note that 26 Bn was raised in Queensland). On 17 Oct 1918 the Queensland State Premier (T.J. Ryan)

wrote to the Commonwealth Prime Minister (Billy Hughes) requesting Mephisto for Queensland. The reply from the Commonwealth was

only a general commitment to consider the Qld Govt's request once the war trophies were landed in Australia. Mephisto's fate was

undecided even after it was loaded onto SS Armagh. The Armagh was diverted to Brisbane to deliver the tank apparently on the instructions of Dr. C.E.W. Bean.

It arrived on 2 June 1919 - the state govt was taken by surprise but quickly recovered - the tank was off loaded and dragged up the hill

by a pair of steamrollers to the old Qld Museum where it stayed until the mid-1980s. 

I'd note that Mephisto was about the only item off loaded in Brisbane (I have suspicions about a 10cm K04 but no evidence). The rest of the artillery

pieces went to Melbourne and were allocated and distributed from there.

Regards,

Charlie 

 



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Legend

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Many thanks to Charlie and Ernest for most helpful responses. V useful.



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"Sometimes things that are not true are included in Wikipedia. While at first glance that may appear like a very great problem for Wikipedia, in reality is it not. In fact, it's a good thing." - Wikipedia.

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