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OpsMajor

Names of Tanks - personal

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Lancashire Fusilier

Tanks could despatch a pigeon - they couldn't receive one - there was no way of calling the tank.

Apparently :-

Wireless tanks - 1917

During 1917 a number of MkI and II tanks were equipped to carry radios, these tanks appear to have remained in use for some time.

The first recorded use of wireless tanks was on the 31st July 1917 when C and F Battalions deployed one each (W23), B Battalion also had a signal tank but it remained in reserve on this date (W2).

From September 1917 onwards MkIV and V fighting and supply tanks were also tasked with carrying Wireless sets forward; these tanks are also often refered to as wireless tanks though they were not the fully converted MkI and II types.

A number of Mk IV “Wireless” tanks were deployed at Cambrai. These were all female fighting tanks that were tasked with carrying wireless. (see Cambrai narratives)

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Lancashire Fusilier

Robert Martin's website is indeed superb but it is not all inclusive.

That said, if I have a general query, it's my first point of call

Stephen

I have seen a reference to a book by " White " on the subject of WW1 Tanks & their markings, do you know the correct name of the author, and the book's title.

Regards,

Leo

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Sidearm

Here's another short article I wrote, again for "The Dragon", on a particularly curious name - "Dop Doctor".

"When discussing the name of a British First World War tank recently, someone said to me, “Yes, but what exactly was a Dop Doctor?” Frankly, I had no idea. Worryingly, Google seemed not to know either. “Did you mean Dog Doctor?” it asked, as if I could spell neither dog nor vet. I pressed on….

“Dop Doctor” was the name given to a Mark IV Female tank that fought, and was lost, during fighting around the village of Poelcapelle on 9 October 1917. The tank had ditched at the side of the road to St Julien, and had subsequently been hit and penetrated on the right rear horn, breaking the track and in all probability wrecking the secondary gears on that side. It was also hit on the left front horn, breaking that track too and shattering the idler’s housing, thus rendering the tank completely immoveable. Indeed, it stayed in that position until at least the 1920s.

It had been delivered from its manufacturer, almost certainly the Metropolitan Carriage Wagon and Finance Co Ltd in Birmingham, on 17 May 1917 and belonged to 7th Section of 11th Company, D Battalion. Its commander was 2nd Lieutenant G.V. Butler. The tank had the manufacturer’s number 2737 and the crew number D32. This last was painted in dark paint on a white background on the petrol tank, which on the Mark IV is between the rear horns, below the rear hatch. Its name was painted in neat white letters in an arch on the glacis plate.

Another tank, this one called “Dop Doctor II” and again commanded by 2nd Lieutenant Butler was lost to two direct hits on 20 November 1917, the first day of the Battle of Cambrai. 2nd Lieutenant Butler seems to have survived that encounter; at least I can find no entry for him on the Commonwealth War Graves website and a 2nd Lieutenant G.V. Butler is known to have fought with 5th Battalion Tank Corps in 1918.

“Yes, but what was a Dop Doctor?” Fortunately Google was only pretending not to know. “The Dop Doctor” aka “The Love Trail” aka “The Terrier and the Child” was a 1915 film directed by and starring Fred Paul, with Agnes Glynne, Bertram Burleigh, Booth Conway and Minna Grey. It was based on the 1910 bestselling book “The Dop Doctor” by Richard Dehan, the nom-de-plume of Clotilda Graves. (Never again will I think that Agatha Christie characters had ridiculous names).

So why was it considered a suitable name for a tank? The answer appears to lie in the synopsis. The story is set before and during the Boer War. Our heroine is the orphaned daughter of an English aristocrat, improbably employed as a sort of Cinderella in the home of a cruel and lustful Boer in south Africa. She runs away to escape his advances and on the outbreak of the Boer War becomes a nurse. Inevitably, for this is a romance after all, she meets and falls in love with an English doctor, though obviously not straightforwardly, who saves her from her former Boer master.

The big clue here is the setting in south Africa, for “dop” is both a Cape brandy and also a word of Dutch origin meaning a container for drink. Of course Afrikaans, the Boer language, has Dutch roots.

It is quite possible that the film would have been seen by the officer or crew of the tank and they may well have thought that the title of a decent English character that saved an innocent from the unwelcome attention of their nation’s enemy was a good name for their tank. They may even have felt the name summed up what they were fighting for, given widely circulating claims of German atrocities in British and French propaganda. Doubtless given the date of the film its makers would have laced it with such a subliminal message.

And why was the Dop Doctor so called? Well, I still don’t know, but I have a picture in my mind of a scene in a silent film with the good doctor reviving the wilting heroine with a dop from a dop."

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OpsMajor

Many thanks for that info - especially the photos.

Mike

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A crooked MP

D21 on 15th Sept 1916 at High wood has turned out to be HMLS Delphine, number 512 female tank commanded by Lt.Alex E.Sharp.

oops- corrected date as prompted below.

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delta

She was there on 15th September too

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Warwick

Not sure if this tank ever served (I am reasonably sure the picture was taken at Bovington after the Great War), and I cannot find the name on the landships web page? DHOLE is apparently the name of an indian wild dog!?

regards

Warwick

post-93893-0-51350900-1363735632_thumb.g

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Ians1900

My Great Uncle first served with the Leicestershire Regiment and then volunteered to join the Tank Corps; his name was Harold Smith from Coalville, Leicestershire. If his son's memory is correct, he told me that his tank was called "Freebooter", although I cannot find any mention of this tank online. Apparently, the tank went too far ahead of the lines somewhere, ran out of fuel and the crew were captured walking back to the lines - very unfortunate. I did find an article online which appeared in a New Zealand newspaper where he was interviewed and spoke of a German calling him a "British swine", so my Great Uncle punched him. His son added detail that he thought he'd killed him and buried his body under a pile of coal, but he had only been knocked unconscious, came round and reported him to his guards who punished him somehow. In the article, his rank is given as Lance Corporal.

Has anyone heard of "Freebooter"? Can anyone add anthing to this?

Ian

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Adam Llewellyn

Hello Ian,

Harold is listed on the Coalville 1918 Absent Voters List as being a resident of 6, Margaret Street, Coalville and his rank is shown as Gunner. His original 5th Leicesters number would have him enlisting sometime between 8th - 10th November 1911.

Sorry, can't help with the tank.

Regards.

Llew.

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delta

The name does not immediately come to mind - but will check "The war history of 6th Tank Battalion" over the weekend.

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Sidearm

Ian

Freebooter isn't a known name, but it's not impossible. As Delta says, it suggests F/6th Battalion. It would be useful to know when your GU was captured. If 1918 then we're looking at a Medium A (sometimes called a Whippet, a 'fast' tank, though the term Whippet wasn't uniquely used for Medium As). I can easily imagine a Medium A running too far ahead of accompanying troops. The story has a ring of truth about it to my mind.

Does the online article give the name "Freebooter"? Would you be able to provide a link to it, please?

Gwyn

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delta

Several Harold Smith in the tanks but one looks promising.

Service in 1/5th Leicesters in France from 28 Feb 1915 then 95564 Tank Corps (9 series men oftenappear in F Bn and wuld fit to his transfer in early / mid 1917,

However no mention of his being aPOW

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Adam Llewellyn

Delta,

95564 is the man living at 6 Margaret Street, Coalville. I can let you have all the Tank Corps men on the Leics. AVL if of any use?

Regards.

Llew.

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delta

Llew

That would be most kind

Thank you

Stephen

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Doctord84

Some great information! Whilst researching for the Yeomanry display at Beverley next year, I came across a very small snapshot of this wrecked tank. The accompanying lecture notes say eight went out, but only three came back. Can't see a name or a number, but this is probably one of the tanks knocked out on 17th April 1917 near Gaza - Sir Archibald maybe?

post-96627-0-88674200-1366308629_thumb.j

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tanks3

Llew

Any chance I could have a copy of this too?

Tanks3

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Ians1900

Gentlemen,

Thank you for your replies. Yes, Harold Smith did live at 6 Margaret Street, Coalville, so you have the right man. Unfortunately, I only ever met him once or twice as a small child, so I don't know when he enlisted or when he was captured. My Grandfather and Father have now passed away, so the only link with Great Uncle Harold is his son, who unfortunately is not well and his memory isnt what it used to be. However, I did speak to him this morning and the one thing he did remember very clearly was that his tank was called "Freebooter". In an earlier conversation he also told me that his father manned a 6 pounder canon. I am new to WW1 research, so I don't know if that helps identify the tank.

It is interesting to see that his number suggested that he enlisted into the Leicestershire Regiment in 1911; I know that he was a miner at a place called Bagworth, which is close to Coalville. His family were also all miners and I was always under the impression that he enlisted at the start of the war. Would he number have been re-distributed? Could he be the second person to have that number? Does that even happen?

I am really interested to know about the tank, what sort it was etc and which unit and battalion Harold served in. F/6 seems to be your agreed most likely unit. If you can confirm this, then the next thing I shall do is research their activities in the war. As I am writing this I have a vague memory that I was told about a book which had a photograph of the tank and it was a history of a tank battlion - maybe it was the 6th? If anyone can find a photograph, that would be great.

I'm sorry I can't add any more detail, and really do appreciate your replies and time researching on my behalf.

Kind regards

Ian

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Gareth Davies

Some great information! Whilst researching for the Yeomanry display at Beverley next year, I came across a very small snapshot of this wrecked tank. The accompanying lecture notes say eight went out, but only three came back. Can't see a name or a number, but this is probably one of the tanks knocked out on 17th April 1917 near Gaza - Sir Archibald maybe?

I think it is the tank pictured in post no 7 here

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=48439&hl=nutty#entry413613

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Doctord84

Hi Gareth

I think you are probably right - I'll have to put a bigger magnifying glass on the photo to double check. Too many years of squinting at tiny artefacts! No wonder most curators are short sighted....

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delta

Ian

the war history is readily available on the internet.

for example

http://www.amazon.co.uk/War-History-Sixth-Tank-Battalion/dp/1843426862/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1366409195&sr=1-1

The names of each tank are revealed through reports about their action in 1917. When the unit re-roled onto light tanks, only the serial number was recorded.

The family memory that he manned a 6lb gun makes sense as this was the size of gun fitted to "male" tanks

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Ians1900

Delta,

Thank you for the link. It's a different photograph on the cover but now I've read the title, I'm actually pretty sure it was the same book. So, we're looking at the 6th Tank battalion; do you think this is a good match?

I wonder why the name "Freebooter" isn't on the Internet like other tank names?

I looked at a "Landship" site but it wasn't mentioned.

I will have to buy the book.

Has anyone got a copy of this book? Is Freebooter in the book?

I would welcome your thoughts on the probability that my Great Uncle served with the 6 th Tank Battalion.

Ian

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Ians1900

Gentlemen,

I have just read all the related posts again and can see that the 6 th Tank Battalion does seem like a good match, as you all initially thought.

Using the information above, the details of his transfer to the Tank Corps appear to fit with 1917, which seems to indicate Male Tanks and not Whippets as does the family information about the 6 pounder gun.

Delta, you actually did already say that you have the book you provided the link to, so I will wait to see what you find. I hope there is a photo, that would be great.

Here is the link to the article, it only mentions him being a POW:

http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/1445397

Ian

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Sidearm

Ian

As I wrote earlier "Freebooter" isn't a known name so I doubt you'll find any record of it in the public records. It's family information like yours that's so important these days because it fleshes out what the published accounts and public archives tell us. That's fine for people like me, but will unfortunately be frustrating for you when we can't find a photo or mention of the tank you're looking for. It does however sound like your relative would have at one time been a crew member of a Mark IV Male tank. If you're in the UK you can see one of these at the Tank Museum, Bovington.

Gwyn

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Adam Llewellyn

Hello Ian,

The 5th Battalion, The Leicestershire Regiment was the County Territorial Battalion, so Harold was a part time soldier, his number 1204 was only issued once within the 5th Battalion.

Tanks3,

PM your e mail address and i'll send it over.

Regards.

Llew.

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Ians1900

Gwyn,

Thank you. Yes I am in the UK. and not too far from Bovington; I shall have to go and see the tank.

Llew

Thank you for clarifying the service number question. I will PM my email address now.

I have actually purchased the 6 th Battalion history book now and am looking forward to Monday's post.

Ian

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