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Post Info TOPIC: Suffragettes and Tanks?


Legend

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Suffragettes and Tanks?
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As the centenary approaches, new books on the subject are starting to appear. I'm sure there are more in the pipeline. One such is Rise of the Tank: Armoured Vehicles and their Use in the First World War by Michael Foley. Can be partly read online here. At first glance, I can say I've seen worse. But one thing is very odd:

Suffragette2.gif

Suff_big.jpg

I might be wrong, but I have the gravest misgivings about this. The chronology is all over the place, and I have never heard of anything that remotely relates to such events. Has anyone else heard of this supposed episode? Or is it, as I fear it might be, a ghastly confusion with Munitionettes?

This passage is also rather odd.

Foley.gif

I don't think I would go along with that.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 



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Colonel

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Not at all impossible - Mrs Pankhurst and the main suffragette party put their efforts at the disposal of the state when the GW broke out. And if you needed a few dozen active and motivated women in a hurry, you could do worse than try asking her.

What actually happened is another matter, of course.

 

 



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Hero

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I'm unable to find any information that would confirm this, but it was a time of quick change driven by the need to win the War and do it fast. As much as I would love it to be true, I would guess it was just a suggestion, one of many, that is recorded somewhere in a long list of options.

You have to remember that at the time the idea of a large armoured fighting machine was seen as a bit of a fanciful waste of resources, within a short time though the trenches spread across Europe and suddenly they became something worth investing time and forces to.

On the outset of the Great War the Suffragettes (who were mainly Upper Class), saw that supporting the War efforts was going to better their cause and put their campaigning on a much quieter less noticeable setting. With women taking on jobs in Industry that would once of been unthinkable, the campaign for Votes for Women soon became more of a Feminist one, with voting rights becoming part of a much broader one for Equal Rights. It is worth remembering that Men of lower classes would also not be guaranteed the right to vote.

It is hard to believe that without the First World War turning the Edwardian world on its head, as a woman of lower class I would not be able to vote. 

I will continue to look into this one... be so cool to fly a Suffragette Flag from my Tank. biggrin



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Legend

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Well, your thoughts about the Edwardian England may well be true Helen but for once we, in these antipodes, were not drawn from the circumference to the centre - womens' sufferage became womens' suffrage (is it woman's/womens'? I get terribly confused) long before the exigencies of total global warfare required its grudging advancement. I'm sure there were other examples even in the self-governing/dominion parts of the Commonwealth, not to mention other parts of the world, all in yet earlier times. Still, have to admit purple, white and green (or is it green, white and purple? - awfully important to get it the right way up!) - look most fetching together.



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Legend

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James' first quotes about suffragettes look very similar to two mentions in books written just after the war. The Tank Corps by C Williams-Ellis, and IIRC, Tanks in the Great War 1914 to 1918 by JFC Fuller.

And almost all the anglocentric books about tanks written just after the war seem to confirm James' second quote is more or less true. Allegedly from captured documents, instead of developing tanks, the Germans developed anti-tank tactics. Yes, it's not true to say the whole German army was not interested in tanks, but one small department with a tiny budget shouldn't have much emphasis placed on it IMHO.



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Legend

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Ta, PDA et al. I'll have a look in Williams-Ellis. I don't doubt at all that suffragettes were among the women who worked on tank assembly etc, but I'd be surprised  if it were on such an organised basis. More to the point, I'm not sure that there was ever any plan other than that 20 Squadron would work under the Committee. There's no mention in Stern, Swinton, or any account that I can call to mind. Will report back.

As regards the last point, a reader hoping to learn from the book might conclude from that sentence that the Germans did nothing, which isn't the case.



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Legend

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There's nothing in the first two quotes to suggest that it was on "an organised basis". To me those quotes mean that it's possible that volunteers were asked for from the suffragette movement. Nothing more. 20 Squadron's future with the tanks was not assured and at one point they were to return to their normal duties (I believe that is in Stern's book).

With regards the last point, German tank development, as I said previously, it is not the case that Germans did nothing. Perhaps "next to nothing", "as good as nothing" or "almost nothing" would be more acceptable and accurate.



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