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Remembered Today:

Presentation tank ? 2334 Leprachaun


delta
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A chum has asked if I can assist with fixing the location of this Mark IV female.  She initially served with C Battalion then with the 10th Battalion Tank Corps and allocated the name Leprachaun.

 

Can anyone identify the  location?  

Leprachaun.jpg

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Originally a C Coy tank called 'Caliban', crew C37. Hit on 18 Jul, went to a salvage Coy.  In action with 2nd Bn in Mar 18 (don't know the crew number) before moving to 12th Bn.

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According to the Landships website, Leprechaun II was in action at the Battle of Albert on 21st August as L37, (is that what's painted on the back?), with B Coy, 12th Bn. 2nd Lt Farthing (is this George Gresle Farthing?). It's not mentioned as one of the B Coy tanks in action on 23rd. Where did 12th Bn go after August?

 

I've just noticed the young lad who has climbed up the back of it.

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All,

 

In a higher resolution version of the image it does appear that the number on the back of the tank is 'L3?' which seems to support the information already provided.

 

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

 

History Teacher

RGSHW

 

 

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hello Bjorn 

 

Welcome to the Website and for the information about the tank being located at High Wycombe, Tracking down individual crewmen and allocating them to tanks is difficult  but we may be lucky.

 

It is fitting that the tank was placed near the school as one of the First Tank Crewmen was a pupil.   Gunner Basil Gardner served with D Company, one of the first two companies to take tanks into action in 15 September 1916.  Basil;s name is recorded as a crewman in tank D7 for a subsequent operation in the Adjutant's note book but not by one of those who fought in late September,  As you probably know he was killed in action on 11 April 1917 whilst serving with D Battalion; the exact place of death is not recorded but it was probably during the First Battle of Bullecourt.  , .    

basil gardner.jpg

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Hi Stephen,

 

I was aware of his involvement in Bullecourt but not of any previous action. I would be very keen to get hold of any detail you might have as we are doing a commemorative display at school which features Gardner very prominently.

 

The detail of the actions which this presentation tank was involved with I will presumably have to look up at Kew? We are due a research trip to TNA some time next year so I will add the relevant War Diaries to our shopping list!

 

Regards,

 

Bjorn

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Basil is listed as a member of the D18 crew (commanded by Lt Alfred Enoch) in the correspondence book maintained by the Adjutant of D Company; this entry was written with other crewlists between 19 and 21 Sep 16. Almost all other members of this crew were recorded in the Adjutant's notebook; as being members of the D7 crew (also commanded by Enoch) during the attack on 15 Sep 16 at Flers. It is possible that he had been the "spare crewman" on that date. 

 

sadly there is little information in the D Battalion war diary regarding Bullecourt - I will send you a soft copy.

 

 

 . 

 

Edited by delta
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D Bn war diary for No 11 Coy on 11 Apr 17:

All tanks were heavily shelled as owing to the snow on the ground they made conspicuous targets. All tanks received direct hit a from shells except one.

One tank caught fire and was burnt out.

When the retirement took place, damaged tanks had to be abandoned but wherever possible Lewis guns were salved.

Two tanks were able to keep going and retired behind our line (nos 800 and 593).

In this attack 8 tanks reached first objective.

Six tanks carried out their operations as detailed after capture of first objective.

The subsequent retirement necessitated the abandonment of tanks which would otherwise have been salved. 

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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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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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