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Post Info TOPIC: Mark IV Female Presentation Tank - Operational History?


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Mark IV Female Presentation Tank - Operational History?
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I believe this to be the tank presented to the town of High Wycombe in early 1920 in recognition of their efforts with War Savings schemes. The tank was a feature placed in front of the Royal Grammar School in High Wycombe and was removed and sold for scrap by 1931. I have several mentions of the tank's arrival and decline in the school magazine:

 

(Vol. 4, April 1920, page 195) - The Tank, presented to High Wycombe, in consideration of the towns very handsome efforts in connection with the War Savings Associations, has at last arrived, and at present occupies a proud position on a concrete emplacement prepared for it in front of the School. Its imperturbable progress up Amersham Hill took place amidst scenes of "the wildest enthusiasm" the Law cleared a path before it, the Army guided it along that path, and members of the R.G.S. - and others - regarded all the proceedings with the liveliest possible interest and curiosity. It may not be out of place here to mention that the "National" Savings Association is progressing favourably, and that the average amount subscribed per week under the new scheme (scheme 7, to which reference was made in our last number), has been £4. We hope that a great many new members will join next term.

 

 

(Vol. 4, July 1921, page 286) - At the last Governors' Meeting it was decided to communicate with the Town Council requesting that the Tank just outside the School might be made less unsightly or removed. (I believe it was painted - the photo appears to pre-date this painting).

 

 

(Vol. 7, No.3, September 1930, page 66) - At their meeting on July 17th, the Governors decided that the tank in front of the School should be removed, and the newly-acquired piece of land should be fenced at a later date.

 

 

(Vol. 7, No.4, January 1931, page 95) - Visitors to the School will notice that the Tank, one of our land-marks which has rested in front of the School since 1920, has been removed. It was sold for £20 5s. 0d., and this sum has been handed over to the Youens V.C. Memorial Fund.

 

I believe that the buildings appearing in the background are part of Little Totteridge Farm in a hamlet north of High Wycombe which was called 'Terriers' at the time. 

 

Any more detail about the operational history of this tank and those who may have served with her before being given to High Wycombe would be received with interest by the school.

 

Bjorn



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Major

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Bjorn,

Thank you very much for posting this.  I am interested in this on several levels.  Firstly, can you please clarify the number on the tank the photo of which you have posted?  Is it 2334 or 2554?  Secondly on behalf of the Friends of the Lincoln Tank I am researching the presentation tanks of England and Wales.  I was not aware of this machine so I wonder, if I PM you with my email address, would you be kind enough to send me a high resolution scan of the photo along with copies of the school magazine extracts?  These will then be added to our archives.

Look forward to hearing from you and again many thanks for this posting

Tanks3



-- Edited by tanks3 on Thursday 24th of November 2016 05:12:31 PM

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Legend

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An identical query has appeared on the Great War Forum. This is my response to that, in case any Landships users don't use the GWF, where I post as "Sidearm":

This is rather an interesting tank. It was serial number 2334, so was made by William Foster & Co Ltd at their Wellington Foundry at Lincoln. The company gave it their 'engine' number 14330. This isn't the number of the engine by the way, just Foster's reference number for the machine. Foster's contract was for 100 Mark IV Males, so at some point the tank was converted to Female configuration - I'll return to this later. Typically for a Foster's built tank, it has the early-style envelope radiator (the give-away is the pins protruding through the radiator armour at the rear, though the cover for the filler that they supported has been filched, probably by a souvenir hunter). It also has the rectangular design of mid-roof camouflage bracket seen on earlier Mark IVs, but later replaced by a type with a cutout to accommodate 22-and-a-half inch wide tracks. The exhaust is somewhat unusual. Foster's Mark IVs were built with the early type of long exhaust that ends about level with the top of the petrol tank. This was later modified in the field by a chap with a hacksaw who went around cutting them so they ended level with the outlet vent from the radiator fan, so the outflow of air dispersed the exhaust. Sometimes these shortened exhausts are bent too. This one has been cut but also has a very extreme bend inserted that I don't believe I've seen before. The tank shows signs that whilst it once had unditching beams these have been cut away.

As to its war record, it was allotted to crew number C37 of 8th Company, C Battalion on 13.7.17. Around this time it was given the name "Caliban". On 18.7.17 it was damaged during shelling of the Tankodrome, at which time it had been allocated to 8th Section, 8th Company of C Battalion and was commanded by 2/Lt E. R. SANDERS. The damage was considered unrepairable in the field so on 20.7.17 it was "handed to salvage", i.e. struck off strength of the fighting battalion and transferred to a salvage company, in this case No 2 Salvage Company. I have a note it may have been damaged by shellfire again on 21.7.17. On 8.9.1917 it was at Central Workshops. By 22.3.18 it was serving with 2nd Battalion when it had mechanical trouble. By 19.8.18 it was serving as L37 "Leprechaun II" of 5th Section B Company 12th Battalion and was under the command if 2/Lt G. G. FATHING. I had not known of its use as a presentation tank or ultimate fate so this is very welcome information.

A fairly large number of Mark IV Males were converted to Females from late April/May 1918 onwards when their 6 pdr sponsons were required for fitting to Mark V Females and V* Females to convert them to Composite (aka Hermaphrodite) configuration, as a result of the appearance of the German cannon-armed A7V on the battlefield on 21 April. Some of these Females saw service with 12th Battalion. You will notice that the colour (or tone perhaps I should say) of the sponson is slightly different to that of the hull, and this is because it's been taken from another tank. Whether the sponson has come from a Mark V (or V*) or another Mark IV isn't possible to say from this photo. The internal ammunition stowage would have been unchanged, so it still had the tubes for the 6 pdr shells even though it didn't have cannon.

The painting of the name on the horn and crew number on the radiator armour is typical for 12 Battalion, as are the white/red/white stripes which are probably also on the cab roof. The serial number would have been painted low on the rear horn on the post side.

As I say, rather an interesting tank.

Gwyn

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Legend

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I have just noticed that I have a little more!

The tank was presented to High Wycombe in March 1920 having arrived from Richborough in Kent (the main port in 1918 for the shipment of tanks etc between France and Britain), and stood on a triangular piece of land outside the Royal Grammar School donated by the Marquis of Lincolnshire. It was sold for scrap in November 1930, the proceeds being used to fund a university scholarship at the Royal Grammar School in memory of 2/Lt Frederick Youens VC.

Information can be found in The Times 17.11.1930 and the Bucks Herald 13.3.1920.

Gwyn

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Gwyn,

That is what I call a detailed reply! Thank you very much for all this information - it is much appreciated. I have the original hard copy of the photo at school and intend to donate it to the Bucks County Archives in Aylesbury. I'll make sure your information is attached to the photo to assist with identifying its provenance in the future.

Bjorn 



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Gwyn,

Just as an afterthought, do you know if this tank would have seen any actual 'combat' with the 12th Battalion? If so, I would be keen to find out more from the Battalion War Diaries. I'm planning a visit to Kew with my Sixth Form boys to research elements of the school's links to the First World War. 

Bjorn



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Legend

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Bjorn

My pleasure, though I must make two corrections. Firstly the name is Farthing and not Fathing. Secondly the word "post" should read "port".

Yes, I believe this tank saw action, certainly on 21 August 1918 and possibly on 23 August. I have a copy of the War Diaries here (they are in WO 95/100, which has been scanned). Usually the National Archives staff will insist you refer to the scanned copies of the documents and won't allow access to the originals for preservation reasons. There's not much in them that identifies specific tanks and the Battle History Sheets are missing. You'll just have to watch out for the actions of B Battalion. There is somewhat more at the Tank Museum Archive at Bovington, but hopefully your pupils will learn the need to collect, collate and evaluate historical information from different sources to build up as full a picture as possible, bearing in mind that sources may disagree. The action on 21 August is a good case in point, as it took place in thick mist and one gets the feeling from the Battalion History that even the participants didn't know what was happening.

Thank you for your intention to lodge this photo at the County Records Office. It's the right place for it.

Gwyn



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