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Battle of Cambrai 1917 British MARK IV "Deborah"

Article about: Hi everyone, I visited the Cambrai area a few weeks ago and Would like to share the remarkable small museum build around the dug up Britsh Mark IV tank, called the " D51 Deborah",

  1. #1

    Default Battle of Cambrai 1917 British MARK IV "Deborah"

    Hi everyone,

    I visited the Cambrai area a few weeks ago and Would like to share the remarkable small museum build around the dug up Britsh Mark IV tank, called the " D51 Deborah", was the only tank that broke the Siegfriedline at that point. Nine others were destroyed even before reaching the village named Flesquieres. Alone the tank drove along the main road until it ended up on the other side of the village. To get the exact position of the new target, the German supportline, the commander 2th Lt. Frank Heap and another crewmember of the "Deborah" stepped out of the the tank to get a good compass reading. At that moment the "Deborah" was hit by a German 77 mm fieldgun (Now to be seen in the tank museum in Bovington). Both Heap and the other crew member survived and were able to get back to their own lines under fire. Heap was awarded the Military Medal for his escape. The crew inside died in the attack. Heap tried to get his crew out but as he recalls was sickened when he open the hatch and that no one could have survived.

    The "Deborah" was when it was left in the street hit by Britsh artillery, which damaged the front. Later it was towed by the Germans into a hole that was dug to make a German bunker and used as a makeshift sniper post or bunker at the other side of the village.

    Now the "Deborah"can be seen in a impressive display made for this extraordinary episode of military history, namely the first full out attack by tanks.

    Cheers Paul

    The D51 "Deborah"after she was hit in 1917:

    Battle of Cambrai 1917 British MARK IV "Deborah"

    In the present day:

    Battle of Cambrai 1917 British MARK IV "Deborah"

    Battle of Cambrai 1917 British MARK IV "Deborah"

    Battle of Cambrai 1917 British MARK IV "Deborah"

    Battle of Cambrai 1917 British MARK IV "Deborah"

    Battle of Cambrai 1917 British MARK IV "Deborah"

    Battle of Cambrai 1917 British MARK IV "Deborah"

    Battle of Cambrai 1917 British MARK IV "Deborah"

    Battle of Cambrai 1917 British MARK IV "Deborah"


    Damage from artillery fire:

    Battle of Cambrai 1917 British MARK IV "Deborah"

    Battle of Cambrai 1917 British MARK IV "Deborah"

    Battle of Cambrai 1917 British MARK IV "Deborah"

    Attachment 1597747


    Hook attached to the tanks to tow away the barbed wire defenses:

    Battle of Cambrai 1917 British MARK IV "Deborah"

    Battle of Cambrai 1917 British MARK IV "Deborah"


    Uniform of one of the veterans of the battle. Donated by his family:

    Battle of Cambrai 1917 British MARK IV "Deborah"

    Battle of Cambrai 1917 British MARK IV "Deborah"

    Battle of Cambrai 1917 British MARK IV "Deborah"
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Battle of Cambrai 1917 British MARK IV "Deborah"   Battle of Cambrai 1917 British MARK IV "Deborah"  

    Battle of Cambrai 1917 British MARK IV "Deborah"   Battle of Cambrai 1917 British MARK IV "Deborah"  

    Battle of Cambrai 1917 British MARK IV "Deborah"   Battle of Cambrai 1917 British MARK IV "Deborah"  

    Battle of Cambrai 1917 British MARK IV "Deborah"   Battle of Cambrai 1917 British MARK IV "Deborah"  

    Battle of Cambrai 1917 British MARK IV "Deborah"  

  2. #2

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    Just by looking at the pictures of the inside, you can understand the loss of life.

    Amazing to think that this tank was "found" fairly recently..

    Even better now it's on display

  3. #3

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    It's a stunning presentation - thank you for the photos. It's interesting that the damage to the rear doesn't appear in the period pic (flared side panels) and I wonder if, over time, a separate (but close) space could be dedicated to the wreaths, crosses etc....perhaps they're only on the vehicle following memorial events. Some money has gone into that display area and that's not overly common nowadays.....

  4. #4

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    Quote by Composite View Post
    It's a stunning presentation - thank you for the photos. It's interesting that the damage to the rear doesn't appear in the period pic (flared side panels) and I wonder if, over time, a separate (but close) space could be dedicated to the wreaths, crosses etc....perhaps they're only on the vehicle following memorial events. Some money has gone into that display area and that's not overly common nowadays.....
    Hi mate,
    We dug on the second Finding the Fallen Series at Cambrai and had Philippe Gorczynski along with us. We found a MkIV but when immobilised it was dem'ed in situ to prevent capture. I'm not sure what they used but between the dem and scrap collectors they had done a good job of removing everything big. I do know where there is a knocked out Mk IV on the Somme and plans are in production to go and have a look, (I suspect that there is not much left that is large but you never know). So far we have good info as to the location, the Mayor is well on side and the farmer is not averse to the idea. I will publish if we are going ahead and permission is granted, (it will be televised probably as they have already asked to play).

    Oh, and the grants and donations that went into that display were seriously large!

    R

  5. #5

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    I hope you do the "dig" and find some thing resembling a WW1 tank..

    Now that would be very interesting

  6. #6
    ?

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    Thank you Paul.
    Nice photo's.

    Semper Fi
    Phil

  7. #7

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    Quote by vegetius View Post
    Hi mate,
    We dug on the second Finding the Fallen Series at Cambrai and had Philippe Gorczynski along with us. We found a MkIV but when immobilised it was dem'ed in situ to prevent capture. I'm not sure what they used but between the dem and scrap collectors they had done a good job of removing everything big. I do know where there is a knocked out Mk IV on the Somme and plans are in production to go and have a look, (I suspect that there is not much left that is large but you never know). So far we have good info as to the location, the Mayor is well on side and the farmer is not averse to the idea. I will publish if we are going ahead and permission is granted, (it will be televised probably as they have already asked to play).

    Oh, and the grants and donations that went into that display were seriously large!

    R
    A great plan. Do you have a time table? Is it possible to volunteer for the dig, if you need some people to move some dirt?

    Cheers Paul

  8. #8

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    A very interesting piece of history.

    I did see the documentary about the recovery of the wreck but there was another more recent programme presented by former motorcycle racer, truck mechanic and all round nut-job Guy Martin which is well worth a watch;

    https://www.channel4.com/programmes/...rtins-wwi-tank

    It's on the Channel 4 website and you have to sign in to watch it so I don't know if that's possible overseas without great inconvenience but it is work trying I feel

    Regards

    Marrk
    "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing he cares more about than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature with no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

  9. #9

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    UK only here in Oz.

  10. #10

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    Quote by Irish1965 View Post
    A great plan. Do you have a time table? Is it possible to volunteer for the dig, if you need some people to move some dirt?

    Cheers Paul
    Paul,

    I am waiting on approval from DRAC the French Gov't Archaeology Dept. Yes, I shall be taking volunteers backed up with experienced Conflict archaeologists teaching and guiding them as trench supervisors. I have a couple of Universities who would like to send people to participate and by the sounds of it one will do the finds management for me, (a big weight removed from my shoulders).

    As well as a MkIV there is also a second class ammunition depot close by and as we have the only people able to, and with, government permission to deal with that sort of site I intend to put a few colleagues into that for a look as none so far have been dug in a proper archaeological manner to the standards that we require. A fighting trench and a couple of communications trenches also in the vicinity will also get a looking at as it is the whole landscape that is of interest not just one thing. The long term intension and that of the project design is to look at the village from 1914 to 1919 and the various phases of this front line Somme location as a 'Village at War'. This has already been warmly received and media interest is high. I do not want particularly to have this televised but the money they bring to it will pay for the costs of mounting the project.

    I hope for permission for between Jul to Sept 2023 and will initially do a two week, (or so) dig looking to continue should the results be promising. Hopefully we can avoid difficult crop problems with that window and we will probably run a couple of minor weekend practice digs in UK between now and then to give some people a bit of experience.

    Those attending will have to accommodate them selves as well as pay their own feeding, but I believe that we may be able to get this concessioned by the locals as they are very keen for us to conduct this in their village. Also if media is covering this some of that cost may be absorbed by them and even some money towards the participants is possible, but not guaranteed.

    Hope that throws a bit more light on the subject. I was not going to announce this quite yet but as you posted this thread it seemed a good time to introduce it.

    Yours Aye,
    R

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