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Remembered Today:

Where is this?


centurion
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Attached a Mk I Male that appears to have come to grief. Its got its tail wheels which indicates pre Arras and the terrain says battlefield so one would think Somme. However what are all those corrogated iron huts doing on a battlefield? The tracks in sections suggest that it is being disassembled but the guns are still in place and one would have thought they would be the first thing to remove. The photo is one of a series in the archives of a German museum showing knocked out British tanks of all marks.

post-9885-1183920779.jpg

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A curious picture indeed. I assume the museum that holds this photo doesn't have any info about it?

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Could it have come to grief on one of the training sites

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Could it have come to grief on one of the training sites

If it had broken down in training I doubt they would be cutting up the tracks in sittu

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Were tanks used during the German fall back to the Hindenburg Line in 1917 following the Somme ?

Its hard to imagine it was taken at Guedecourt, Courcellete or Thiepval and what we see of the landscape, it does not look very 'Sommy'

Any chance of Fromelles ?

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Perhaps my ancestors practiced in this? - my dad did manage to jump out a couple in the North African Desert WW2 :ph34r:

Cheers

Shirley

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The low embankment nearest the photographer has been cut away to allow the steering wheels through. I think it's parked at a repair depot.

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The low embankment nearest the photographer has been cut away to allow the steering wheels through.

Why go to all that trouble? The wheels can be raised and the bank only extends a few feet to the port side of the tank anyway! More likely that the tank tracks made the gaps (so the bank must have been fairly soft) just before whatwver stopped the tank happened. If its a repair depot why cut both sets of tracks up? - scrapping yes repair unlikely

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Why go to all that trouble? The wheels can be raised and the bank only extends a few feet to the port side of the tank anyway! More likely that the tank tracks made the gaps (so the bank must have been fairly soft) just before whatwver stopped the tank happened. If its a repair depot why cut both sets of tracks up? - scrapping yes repair unlikely

I thought that the tracks would not cut as deeply as the picture shows. Was the belly that much above the ground? Were the steering wheels on a tank as wide as the tracks?

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I've been back to the source - a German site something called States archive (if I translate correctly) but whether it is Federal or some individual state (like Hannover or Saxony) there is no clue. Ineed there's b****r all textual info and its a so and so to navigate around (just like a Mercedes dashboard or some British local gov web sites I could mention). The only text says "destroyed British tank" (but in German) However there is a zoom facility and once you fathom how it works you can get quite a bit of detail. I attach a zoom of one of the rear wheels - from this one can see that the wheels themselves may have have cut their own grooves through the bank. The track sections have been dumped around any old how, not as one might expect in an organised maintenance facility. Indeed as I look at other detail there is a general air of abandonment. On another zoom I'll attach in a 2nd post the top rear of the tank and the inside of the rollers can be seen to be full of mud much of which would have to be cleared before new tracks could be fitted. There are also some interesting details such as a number of upright metal brackets that could have held a form of anti grenade netting (rather like the one at Thetford that looks as if its designed to allow the tank commander to carry his chickens into batlle with him).

I'm somewhatpuzled about the comment that the terraine looks "un Sommy" as I've a number od shots of ababnoned tanks on the Somme with a very similar vista (but no tine sheds!)

post-9885-1183998253.jpg

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I can't see how the wheels would have cut their own grooves. There would be separate track marks if that were the case (not if the broader tracks went over the top and the spring loaded wheels were dragged through). Also the tracks aren't that scattered [i]matter of opinion[/i].

Most importantly - you mention "organised maintenance areas". There's no such thing when a tank breaks down on the battlefield. In 1916 there would also have been a dearth of the type of cranes and other machines we would have seen later on to assist with such heavy work.

I'd still say those tracks have been taken off deliberately to allow access to the running gear.

A number of photos of maintenance in the field show the tracks being removed in one piece, it would seem that seperating those track plates was a major job. See page 34 of the Osprey Mark I book for an example. One point I'm trying to make is that I can't reconcile the corrogated huts with a battle field.

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A number of photos of maintenance in the field show the tracks being removed in one piece, it would seem that seperating those track plates was a major job. See page 34 of the Osprey Mark I book for an example. One point I'm trying to make is that I can't reconcile the corrogated huts with a battle field.

Hi Centurion

Can you zoom in on the sheds, just in case there's an officer and his frau sitting outside in a deckchair, or something. They do look rather like beach huts

cheers Martin B

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Hello,

I thought of zeebrugge of oostende, the cabines and the sand?

kind regards

sabine

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I've taken tracks apart. I know very well it isn't an easy job. To get access to the running gear you have no choice however and in the absence of heavy lifting gear (which I can't see anywhere in the picture) you would have to split the tracks into pieces which are manageable by the number of people you have on the job. I'm further convinced of this by the fact that the sections of dismantled track are not lying in a haphazard fashion. Left and right look as if they are being roughly stacked in the same area.

If you look at the way they did it in Palestine for example (do look at the reference I quoted) they took both tracks off in one piece. You simply cannot extrapolate experience with modern tracks to 1916 conditions

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Actually you can. The principle is just the same.

But a lot harder to apply

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The degree of resolution in this image is remarkable, Centurion - thanks for posting it. A couple of features may aid with identification. Firstly, as you have already remarked, are the struts on the the tank's roof. The location of the struts shows that it had carried one of the wood framed grenade roofs (rather than the unusual roof variant supported by wires which we discussed in a recent thread). The wooden frame was attached to the struts by U-shaped bolts. Only the tanks of A Company, and three sections from C Company received these roofs. Looking at the hydraulic fluid reservoir between the rear horns, it lacks the armoured skirt which seems to have been added to the assembly some time after the battle of Flers-Courcellette. The photos (limited in number) of A Company's tanks prior to their debut at the Battle of the Ancre seem to show these shields in place. So I would guess that we are probably looking at one of about ten tanks from C Company.

I would agree that the presence of tail wheels indicates that the tank was put out of action in 1916, and that the heavy cratering and desolation suggest a Somme battlefield. The growth of new grass suggests that the photo was taken in 1917 or thereafter. I don't think that the tank had driven through the embankment in the foreground, rather the earth appears to have been banked up around the wheels after the vehicle came to rest, perhaps due to later road repairs. There appears to be some excavation under the starboard rear horn, and it is possible that the tank may have served as an improvised dugout after being put out of action, or some attempt was made to effect repairs under the tank. The purpose of the corrugated metal shack eludes me - it may be unrelated to the presence of the tank.

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I would agree that some attempt has been made to at least salvage the track plates (these were evidently in short supply during the winter of 1916-17). A number of the tanks damaged on the Somme (some with little external damage evident) were left unrecovered, and were broken up following the Armistice.

The protection afforded by the hull of the MkI was far less than ideal, however there are instances of broken-down tanks being used as field fortifications. The wreck of D17 was used as a brigade headquarters after the battle of Flers-Courcellette, while C5 was used as a signal station after breaking down at Thiepval.

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The argument against it just having sat around for a year is that its 6 pounder is still in place, I've never seen another photo of a long abandoned tank with its guns still in place.

I've seen a reference somewhere - I'll go dig - to the effect that the pins joining the tracks on the early Mks were very difficult to remove, especially if the tank had some miles on the clock and the track needed to be laid flat and two men with 12 lb sledges were needed to remove a pin. I think this may be akin to the roller problem - the use of better materials and machining standards made it easier on later Mks

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I don't know if this helps or not but there is at least one shell hit on this tank. It's in the center of the attached image. Thanks, Centurion, for the website.

post-20824-1184364618.jpg

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I would agree, Centurion, that the 6-pr guns were usually recovered from the wrecks, but D22 (seen as a wreck near Courcelette in 1916 and probably the following year) would seem to be an exception. Perhaps some damage to the breech of the guns made them unsalvagable. Thanks for posting the link to the Staatsarchiv site, which has another interesting, high-resolution photo of a MkI wreck (possibly a tank from A Company). I can't seem to download the photos from the site as you have done.

post-11482-1184397076.jpgpost-11482-1184397104.jpg

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