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Names of Tanks - personal


OpsMajor
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I have noted on several photos/postcards of tanks posted on the forum that they have names painted on them. Was this official or did the crews decide there own name?

Mike

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Not sure about the official line but there is a tale as follows.

The tank had a Scottish crew member to whom a reporter asked, " what is the name of this tank"? His reply was Ah Dinnaken, (I don't know). The reporter in his article named the tank as Dinnaken. The result is part of the village of Flers history.

Regards

John

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Tanks usually had names that started with the first letter of their unit (originally company, later battalion) Thus all F battalion's tanks had names starting with F. The choice of name appears to have been up to the tank commander. There seems to have been a convention that if a crew took over a new tank because the old one was knocked out it took the same name with a II or even a III after it. However if it was a replacement tank with a new commander then it got a new name. This was not a hard and fast rule - there is photographic evidence for example of a number of tanks with the names of Canadian cities on them (either because they were supporting the Canadians, the commander was Canadian or possibly both) Tanks on home service do not appear to have followed these rules and had a variety of names. When Mk II training tanks were despatched to take part in the Battle of Arras they brought their 'non standard, names with them. The tanks in Palestine also had their own names.

However I think you'll find that Dinnaken belonged to D company

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I have noted on several photos/postcards of tanks posted on the forum that they have names painted on them. Was this official or did the crews decide there own name?

Mike

Mike,

From what I understand, WW1 Tanks had an official " Call Sign ", probably similar to aircraft, allocated to them, and then the tank crew gave their tank a " name ", which was probably personal to that particular tank's crew.

For example tank " F " Battalion, which was formed in June 1917, their tanks were officially " F numbered ", and then in addition the tanks had " pet names " starting with the tanks " Call Sign initial ".

Here are the lists for 16 & 17 CO, F Battallion.

16 Co -

F.1. "Firespite". Ditched

F.3. "Frolic". Ditched and Destroyed Commander wounded

F.4. "Flint" (Flirt?). ?

F.5. "Firefly". Ditched and Broke down

F.6. "Feu D'Artifice". Ditched

F.7. "Feu de Ciel". Ditched

F.9. "Feu Follet". Rallied*

F.11. "Fizyama". Broke down

F.12. "Friar Tuck". Ditched

F.13. "Falcon". Destroyed Commander killed

F.15. "Fifinella". Ditched Commander & 1 crew wounded

*F9 Feu Follet was put out of action by shell fire after it had rallied

17 co

F.21. "Five Knights". Rallied

F.22. "Flying Fox". Broke down

F.23. "Foggie" Broke down

F.25. "Fums Up".. Broke down

F.26. "Fearless". Ditched

F.27. "Fighting Mac". Rallied?

F.28. "Formidable". Rallied

F.30. "Flaming Fire". Destroyed

F.36. "Furious" Ditched Commander wounded

F.37. "Ferocious".. Broke down

F.38. "Firefly". Destroyed Commander killed

F.39. "Formosa" Rallied

Hopefully, we shall hear from other members with their understanding of the tanks naming system.

Regards,

Leo

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Mike,

I found some more tank names, plus others which differ from the " Call Sign " initial :-

D6 Devil May Care

D11 Dominie

D28 Drakes Drum II

D32 Dop Doctor II

D41 Devil II

D45 Destroyer II

D47 Demon II

D49 Dollar Princess

D51 Deborah

B (2nd) Battalion, Tank Corps, June 1917

No 5 Coy (section 5)

B? Lucifer

B? Our Emma

B? Rumblebelly

B28 Black Arrow (Mk4 Male)

A (1st) Battalion, Tank Corps, July 1917 (third Ypres, Zillebeeke, Belgium)

No ? Coy

(section ?)

A? Appolyon

A? Aberdonia

No 18 Coy

F41 Fray Bentos

F42 Faun

F43 Fritz Phlattner

F45 Fiducia

F46 Fay

F47 Foam/Faralone

F48 Fiara

F49 Fairy

F50 Fay

F51 Fortuna

F52 Foam II

F54 Festina Lente

F56 Fly Paper/Fan Tan

F57 Flanders Fly

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Mike,

From what I understand, WW1 Tanks had an official " Call Sign ", probably similar to aircraft, allocated to them, and then the tank crew gave their tank a " name ", which was probably personal to that particular tank's crew.

For example tank " F " Battalion, which was formed in June 1917, their tanks were officially " F numbered ", and then in addition the tanks had " pet names " starting with the tanks " Call Sign initial ".

Here are the lists for 16 & 17 CO, F Battallion.

According to F Battalion's war diary the name was allocated by the tank commander not the crew (see my post above) The code number was a crew number rather than a tank number and so more than one tank could have it (though only one at a time). Many of these tanks were replaced with Tanks with the same name but with a II after it thus there was a Flaming Fire II but with the same crew number (again read my post)

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I thnk you'll find that those tanks with names (tanks did not have pet names) that don't match the company/battalion letter are MK II training tanks shipped to France for the Battle of Arras. Thus we have Perfect Lady, Iron Duke, Lusitania and We're all in it together for example

post-9885-0-14328300-1330114958.jpeg

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Mike,

F53 was missing from my list above, however, it survived and is now at Bovington, and was named Flying Scotsman.

Be careful about drawing any inferences from this Mk II tank. It's been altered (at various times comveted to a supply tank and a pseudo Mk I) and repainted several times after the war. With the F53 crew number it would have been an unarmed (apart from 1 mg) supply tank but the paint and markings you see today are not original and may or may not be authentic.

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Be careful about drawing any inferences from this Mk II tank. It's been altered (at various times comveted to a supply tank and a pseudo Mk I) and repainted several times after the war. As F53 it would have been an unarmed (apart from 1 mg) supply tank but the paint and markings you see today are not original and may or may not be authentic.

That's not cricket!

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I would have certainly thought that Fifinella - Deborah - Flirt - Our Emma - Fay - Rumblebelly, would come under the heading of " Pet Names " for a tank, or indeed anything else ! That would make more sense, than any other possible reason for the Tank Commander to name his tank " Fifinella ".

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Tank " Sir Archibald ".

These last two were part of the Palestine tank detachement - as I said in my post earlier not subject to the normal naming conventions

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I'm intrigued by the "HMLS" on there - HM Land Ship, presumably! Was this ever an officially sanctioned usage, or just an unofficial one?

-Andrew.

Andrew,

You are correct - HMLS - His Majesty's Land Ship.

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These last two were part of the Palestine tank detachement - as I said in my post earlier not subject to the normal naming conventions

Here are some other named tanks from that same Palestine/Gaza tank detachment -

HMLS Ole-Luk-Oie - Mark I, male

HMLS Otazel - Mark I, male

HMLS Sir Reginald - Mark IV, male

HMLS Tiger - Mark I, female

HMLS War Baby - Mark I, female

HMLS War Baby II - Mark IV, female

HMLS Nutty - Mark II, female

HMLS Lady Wingate - Mark IV, female

HMLS Kia Ora - Mark II, female

HMLS Ole-Luk-Oie.

post-63666-0-39172900-1330130765.jpg

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