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"Deborah" Tank at Flesquieres


Terry Carter
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A few months ago, after linking from one WW1 site to another, I ended up looking at a website showing the excavation and moving of the tank "Deborah" to its present resting place in the barn at Flesquieres.

Can any forum member give me the address of the website. I cannot remember it.

Cheers all

Terry

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Terry

I don't know, but I will be seeing Deborah in the flesh this coming weekend and am staying at the hotel run by the chap who discovered her. I will get you the address.

Charles

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Just to give the latest update on Deborah, whom I saw yesterday in company with many serving and ex members of the Royal Tank Regiment, she is very comfortable in her barn and is flying the Union Jack and RTR flag. Philippe Gorczynski's aim is to build a small museum around her in memory of all members of the Tank Corps who fell at Cambrai. At the Regimental dinner held in Cambrai last night in honour of the 85th anniversary of the battle Philippe was awarded the Regiment's Certificate for Meritorious Service, the first person who is not a member of the Regiment to be so honoured.

Philippe himself does not have a Deborah website.

Charles

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Charles - given what you have seen, given the various articles about this tank, and given that you are are an historian, what do you feel about the identity of this tank actually being "Deborah"?

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Were there any rules applied in naming Tanks...

A local veteran (now sadly no longer with us) discribed how his gun crew (RFA) attch RND sat out a shelling in a couple of knocked out tanks next to the wooden road coming out of Kitcheners wood in November 1917. The names of these 2 tanks was written on them but sadly he could not recall the names .... gone forever. ;)

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There were some tanks knocked out here in September 1917; I think there's an article about some of them in one of Tony Spagnoly's books.

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Thats amazing... I know it was November 17 that my man was taking shelter in those tanks because when he popped outside to have a look he got wounded... Is the mention in one of the Salient Points.... ? Incidently he was attached to the RND. One of these tanks was used by his gun crew and the other was used by officers.

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Paul

Re the identity of Deborah, having talked at length to both Philippe and David Fletcher (Tank Museum), who actually made the identity, I am convinced that she is Deborah. David, by chance, came across 2Lt Heap's grandson, who had photographs taken by Heap of Deborah in 1917. Close examination of these and comparing them with Philippe's tank made the identity certain, as it did Heap's own after action report. The damage to the tank tied up with that actually suffered by Philippe's tank.

Charles

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Charles - did Philippe mention to you the cleaning that was done this summer, during which the number D51 became quite clear on the tank? The photographs left no doubt, but this evidence surely confirms the matter.

Bet you had a great time at the Beatus!

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Graham

Philippe didn't mention that they found traces of `D51' actually on the tank. She was cleaned up by a team from the RTR, with instructions not to polish her! She is being preserved by spraying her with oil every three months.

The staff at the Beatus looked after us well and it was a memorable weekend, culminating in a very moving drumhead service at the Louverval Cemetery.

Charles

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Charles - did Philippe mention to you the cleaning that was done this summer, during which the number D51 became quite clear on the tank? The photographs left no doubt, but this evidence surely confirms the matter.

Bet you had a great time at the Beatus!

Hello,

Can someone confirm this? I heard stories that 'D51' actually was recently painted on the tank...

Greetings,

Jan

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It isn't conceivable, is it, that Philippe would have painted D51 on Deborah. The outline of the numbers was found quite clearly earlier this year when the tank was cleaned more carefully that when it first came out of the ground.

Nor is it conceivable that the exact configuration of damage done to the structure could match so closely the Heap tank (the photo taken by the tank commander on the day of its destruction at the Flesquieres Hill Cemetery end of the village) by accident. There's another unpublished photo (Gorczynski collection) of Flesquieres villagers standing on it in 1917/18 and the match is quite indisputable. What's now needed is for someone to sort out the history of how the damned thing was lugged from one end of the village to the other and why. Alas, how time takes its toll of information and memory...

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  • 2 years later...

Does anyone know what the state of play is with access to the tank? I get a lot of emails from my article on Tom Morgan's Hell Fire Corner, and normally tell them to contact Phillipe G direct. However, someone emailed me a while back saying that it wasn't possible to visit the tank anymore? I suspect this isn't true, but I would like to know what to say to people who enquire and if anyone has a direct email link to Phillipe can they PM or email it to me?

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I would also be interested in any direct contacts with Philip G as I understand that he is also the current owner of the 'BBC Trenches'. Any details would be appreciated.

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The best way to contact Phillipe is at the Hotel Beatus 718, Avenue de Paris,, 49400, Cambrai. Tel 0033 327814570. Although not a Tank Corps specialist, I have visited "Deborah" 3 times now, and have been impressed by the depth of research that has gone into this and I think it would be difficult for anybody to gainsay Phillipe's knowledge in this particular respect.

With regard to access, it is important to remember that Phillipe and his group have full -time occupations and visits depend very much on their availabilty. As Charles M has mentioned, there is an on-going project to set up a visitors center in the village, which, if sufficient funds can be raised, I am sure will be a real asset for those visiting the Western Front and the Cambrai area in particular.

Terry Reeves

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hi all

does'nt time fly. I started this topic in 2002!

Towards the end of April, this year, 2005, I will be amongst a party from Knowle making a trip to the Somme for a long weekend. There will be around 20 of us. I have been told by my friend, Mike, who is organising the tour that we will be visiting Flesquieres to see the Tank and also the trench system used in the BBC series 'The Trench'. I will find out a bit more info, tomorrow, must go, on nightshift.

Regards

Terry

Got in touch with Mike.... he has had no reply from Phillipe, so the visit is probably off.

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  • 1 year later...

he has had no reply from Phillipe, so the visit is probably off.

Hi Terry,

Philippe kindly gave our group a most interesting tour of Deborah last month. Peter had emailed him several times with no reply. On arriving at the Beatus, we met Phillippe and the next morning, to our surprise, we were introduced to Deborah. What an amazing story it has been. This has certainly been a labour of love for Phillippe. A delightful man.

He is building a memorial to those who fought at Cambrai on the high point on the southern end of the village overlooking a panoramic view of the battlefield.

Regards

Chris

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It isn't conceivable, is it, that Philippe would have painted D51 on Deborah.

...sort out the history of how the damned thing was lugged from one end of the village to the other and why.

Hi Graham,

There was no D51 newly painted on the side of Deborah when we saw her last month.

According to Phillippe, Deborah was dragged by two tanks from her original position to the pillbox hole she was placed in. This was done by attaching steel ropes to holes on the outside plates at the rear (at each side). The outside plates have been bent outwards as the hauling tanks maneouvred to pass around each side of the hole and hauled Deborah into it. She was placed in the hole and converted into an underground shelter, hence her being buried and lost for so many years. Phillippe found corrugated iron placed around her to stop earth coming in through the gaping hole on Deborah's right front and debris that showed signs of occupation as a shelter when he unearthed her.

Regards

Chris

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  • 2 weeks later...

Where exactly is the tank stored at ? and can it be viewed without the owner ?

Mick D

(I couldn't open the links on page 1 if the answer is there)

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We met Philippe at High Wood with Trevor Pidgeon on Sept 16 this year. We then went on the Sunday to see

Deborah. A French group was being shown around and the tank is obviously a local star. I think it will be available to visit at weekends but best to contact Phillippe in advance.

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Where exactly is the tank stored at ? and can it be viewed without the owner ?

Mick D

The tank is stored in a barn in Flesquieres, on the Ribcourt Road. The barn is on the left hand side, about 100 metres south of the main square; the barn has two national flags(one British, one French) on the outside

I have never known entry to be granted without Philippe being present

Stephen

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