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Post Info TOPIC: Fascine Questions


Legend

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Fascine Questions
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Following David Fletcher's remark on the Mk IV Tank Chat that fascines were used only at Cambrai - " . . . so if you see a tank with a fascine on it, it must be taking part in the Cambrai action somewhere along the line.  . ." - I got to wondering.

It's often reported that 400 fascines were made, but were they all fitted to tanks? I've read (admittedly on a blog) that only 36 Mk IVs were adapted to carry a fascine. That seems to be roughly the number shown in the small collection of photographs of Mk IVs on rail wagons. Is that true, or were all 400 fascines fitted to tanks? I've scrutinised the available photos but still can't make out exactly how they were retained and released. Are there any clear drawings of how that all worked?

As regards their use in the battle, I've observed before that there is hardly a mention of them in contemporary accounts. Albert Stern says that at Cambrai they were "little used," so what happened to 400 of them?

Also, there are AFAIK three photos of Mk Vs carrying cribs, but I've seen no detailed accounts of their use. How many were made? Where and when were they used?

 

 

All info gratefully received.

I've just realised that "fascine" is a bit like "fascinating". Must check why.

 



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Legend

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Forgive me for returning to my own post, but I find the lack of response from our normally forthcoming membership to be rather odd. This is not what usually happens when we cast our net for information.

The Cambrai fascines are a "given" in any account, and their place in history seems to have been secured by Bovington's decision to depict one on the Mk IV. We get the story of their manufacture, with the chains and all that, the number produced, the plan for deploying them in groups of three, and so on.

But then the info becomes harder to find. The Williams-Ellises say " . . . when each of the second line of Tanks stopped, ducked its head, laid its 'stepping stone' in the trench and crawled easily over it, the enemy completely lost his balance." So that indicates that at least some were used. But Stern says, "In the battle, however, it was hardly found necessary to use them at all."

So what exactly did happen? Were 300 tanks driving around with unused, 1.5 ton fascines on top of the cab? In the past we've reexamined the accepted wisdom from time to time and found that some supposed facts are just carried forward without being tested. Is there a story that has been forgotten here?



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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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Best source to answer your question is the Battle History Sheets completed by tank commanders after action on 20 November 1917. My recollection of them is that there are lots of accounts of fascines being used for the purpose intended, though I stress I have not specifically studied them for this purpose.

Gwyn

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