C13 (No 716 (male) Led two other tanks (C14 and C16) in support of 56th (London) Div in area of Leuze Wood. Track broke near Angle Wood en route to start line – a picture was subsequently painted of the hulk.
Lt Sir John Lindsay Dashwood Bt. Born 25 Apr ‘96; educated at Wellington and Magdalene College Oxford. Succeeded as Premier Baronet of Great Britain 1908.
C14 (No 509 female). Attacked German positions in area of Bouleaux Wood in support of 167 Bde. Crossed start line on time and reached German front line (Beef trench) well ahead of infantry; used machine guns to good effect but moved on before infantry could reach objective. Realising tank was well ahead, returned twice to Beef Trench; the final time approaching stern first (perhaps to give covering fire as it moved off again) when it ditched in a shell hole and could not be extracted. Cpl Paterson with Bernard, Winter and Williams attempted to dig it out. They were attacked by Germans troops using grenades; Pattinson was killed whilst throwing grenades back. Winter also wounded in the eye by grenades and later shot in shoulder by rifle fire. Williams used revolver to beat off German attack (killed one German in the process). 2Lt Arnold returned to own lines to get a recovery party. Whilst he was away Ritchie and Williams manned the MG and attempted to keep the Germans clear; this resulted in the tank becoming a target for German artillery fire. At 1600 hrs, crew decided to abandon the tank and made their way (under fire) 40 metres back to own lines. Bernard, Giles, Heath, Ritchie and Winter got back safely. On arriving Arnold instructed the crew to return and put the MG out of use to avoid them being used to break up any future British attack. Bernard and Williams did so, bringing the locks with them. Giles was killed whilst trying to get back to the British support line with Winter and probably Heath. On 10th October ‘16, Bernard and Williams awarded MM for putting the Tank MG out of use. Arnold recommended Pattinson for the VC but this was not taken forward.
- 2Lt Francis Arnold. Initially served with 19th Bn Royal Fusiliers, served as a Lance Corporal from 12 Nov ‘15 at the same time as Alec Arnaud. Commissioned into MGC 15 Apr ’16 and deployed to France on 24 Aug ’16; quote by Holford-Walker- this officer had never seen a shot fired in wrath in his life. Awarded MC for conspicuous gallantry in action. "He commanded his Tank with great courage and determination. Later, the Tank being held up, he and his crew continued to fight with their revolvers". Appointed Temp Lt 15 Oct ‘17 and A/Capt on comding a sect 1 Sep to 19 Oct ‘18. Relinquished commission on completion of service 1 Sep ‘21 and granted rank of Capt. Settled at 55 Sunray Rd, Bromley. In 1925 his address was the Tuxpam Bar in Ver Mexico. Commissioned in the rank of Capt in the Royal Armoured Corps 2 Sep 1939.
Cpl Gerald Pattinson Born Sunderland Apr to Jun ‘85, father was a ropewalkers traveller. Enlisted Coventry and deployed to France on 24 Aug ’16. KIA aged 31 years on 15 Sep ‘16 as a result of throwing back German grenades. Buried at VIIA21 at Combles Communal Cemetery Extension. Family shown living at Bridge Park, Gosforth, Newcastle-on-Tyne
Gnr Thomas Bernard born 27 April 1895 at Harwick St Nicholas Essex. He was the second son of Charles Bernard and Mary Dickinson - his father established the naval uniform manufacturers C H Bernard. Served from 4th Sep 1914 as a canteen manager on HMS Hogue, this armoured cruiser was one of three sunk by a German submarine E-9 on 22 September. Although 374 were killed, Tom was in the water for only 35 minutes before being rescued by HMS Lowestoft and returned to Harwich. After 24 hours at home, he went north to Invergordon to work again as a canteen manager. He lived in rented accommodation for some six months and had a “glorious time”; he spend the weekends at Fortrose where he probably met Elizabeth MacKenzie whom he later married. Whilst he was in Invergordon, his elder brother Charlie joined the MMGS. Tom volunteered to return to sea this time on HMS Fearless for foue months before being sent to Jarrow to superintend the export of goods to ships overseas. After three months, he decided to join the Army anf followed his brother into the MGC and deployed to France on 24 Aug 16. Awarded MM for action on 15 Sep 16. He later returned to the tank in early Oct (around the 7th) and found it had been rifled by the Germans, removing his diary. Survived and wrote record of the action which is in the Museum with other papers. Later Pte 201701 Tank Corps, he almost certainly served as a section commander’s orderly, probably at the battle of Hamel on 4 July 1918. On 22 Aug 1927, appointed a Land Tax Commissioner for Essex. By 1933, he was living at Colkirk, Fronks Road at Dovercourt where he was living during WW2. His company was the biggest naval outfitters duting the second world air. An alderman, he was awarded MBE on 29 Dec 1944, for Air Raid Precautions Sub-Controller, Deputy Co-ordinating Officer and Member of Emergency Committee, Harwich. Later appointed a JP, he died on 29 Jan 1971
Gnr Bertie Giles Born Barking c ‘98 enlisted Coventry and deployed to France on 24 Aug ’16. KIA, whilst returning to own lines, aged 18 years 15 Sep ‘16. Commemorated on Thiepval memorial. Son of Emma Giles of 79 Bourne Rd, Colchester, Essex, and the late Thomas Giles
Gnr Arthur Ritchie. Born West Derby Liverpool Oct – Dec ‘95, his father was a doctor. Enlisted at Halifax in the MGC and deployed to France on 24 Aug ’16. Injured during action and DoW, aged 21 on 4 Nov ‘16. His mother (Alice E Ritchie) and sister were present at his death; buried at Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension. Commemorated on the Norland war memorial in Calderdale.
Gnr W Williams deployed to France on 24 Aug ’16. suffered shock awarded MM.
Gnr Denton Winter – Born Leeds ‘90. Enlisted MMGS and deployed to France on 24 Aug ’16. wounded in eye and shoulder on 15 Sep. Evacuated to No 13 Stationary Hosp at Boulogne from where he wrote a letter to Bernard on 2 Oct ‘16 and also on 21 Feb ‘17 from MGC Base Depot where he was still suffering from the eye injury. Remained, as a Pte, with the Tank Corps, he later served with D Bn and suffered multiple injuries during the battle of Cambrai, probably as a driver at Flesquieres. Evacuated to the UK, he never returned to full fitness and served at the Tank Corps depot until demobilisation in Feb 1919. Denton married Gladys S Howes in Apr to Jun ‘22, whose father owned a number of off-licences, he managed several stores. The couple had two children and lived at Moorland Wines Stores, 3 Harrogate Rd, Leeds 7from 1945 to 1960 (his death).
Pte S L Heath ASC. Known as Sleath; made his own way back to own line at about 1600 hrs and reached safety. He was taken back to Caterpillar Valley (with Bernard) by 2Lt Arnold.
Casa (No 508 Female). Tasked to support of the attack by the Guards Div on Ginchy, then move towards Morval. Left start point on time, crossed German Front Line then supported attack by Leicesters on Morval and then withdrew as his bearings were starting to seize due to lack of lubrication. Returned to Guillement Station and collocated with Cole and Tull – sent pigeon message to HQ for Wenger’s assistance.
· 2Lt (Louis) Victor Smith. Born 15 Dec 1890 at Reading; the tank was named after the family home which was designed by his architect father. Commissioned Heavy Sect MGC 15 Apr 16, he deployed to France on 24 Aug 16. He commanded Tank 740, on 25 Sep, in support of the attack by 5th Div – the tank became ditched in a dug out as it deployed forward the start point but the crew got it out. He got forward to the valley facing Morval but found that the objective had been taken; he was then tasked to the starting point by Capt Holford-Walker. Awarded MC for action whilst commanding tank C7 during the attack on the Chemical Works at Roeux on 23 April ‘17, in support of 51(H) Div during Battle of Arras For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. "When in command of a Tank he rendered most valuable service by putting several enemy machine guns out of action. Later, he gave great assistance to the infantry by driving the enemy out of their houses and doing great execution with his machine guns". (LG 18 Jun ‘17). Appointed T/Lt 15th Oct 17; he was OC 2 Sect in 7th Coy at the battle of Cambrai; his section attacking the Hindenburg line to the east of La Vacquerie. He served as a section commander until Jul 18, when he was appointed to command the Officers Company at the Trg and Reinforcement Depot at Le Treport, Later he was appointed Commandant of the Depot until 27 Jun 19. On 28 Apr 21 at St Luke’s Church Reading Victor married Barbara Abram and they had four children. He was employed by Huntley, Boorne and Stevens the biscuit tin manufacturers from 1935 becoming managing director to 1960; then served as deputy Chairman until 23 Dec 1963. Elected to Reading Town Council in 1928 and raised to Alderman in 1948; he was awarded MBE for political and public services in Berkshire in Jun 1953. He appeared on the BBC panel show "What's the Link" with Victor Huffam in 1956 which brought the attention of the public to the first tank crews. Victor lived until he was 87; he died on 21 December 1977. (His grandmother's cousin, Michael Stevens, is a member of the site)
· Cpl Douglas Gardiner was born in Cardiff on 14 November 1894. An Insurance Clerk, he volunteered for the MMGS. Medically examined at Coventry 21 Mar ‘16; Posted to C Coy on 25 May ‘16; appointed a/LCpl on 27 Jun then paid Cpl on 7 Aug. Embarked So’ton 24 Aug ‘16, disembarked 25 Aug at Le Havre. Transferred to C Bn on its formation 18 Nov ‘16 then posted to MGC Base Depot at Camiers on 24 Jan ‘17 and reverted to rank of Gnr. On 22 Jun he was posted to the Infantry Branch MGC but remained at the Depot. Renumbered 73818 MGC. Posted to Composite Coy from 23 Mar to 6 April ‘18, then posted to Etaples on instructional duties from 8 Apr to 7 May then returned to depot. Posted to HQ 39 Div for instructional duties with the American Forces from 9 to 29 May; posted to 66 Div on instructional duties 3 to 6 Jun then returned to depot. Appointed /Sgt on 9 Nov to 18 Jan – reverted on joining 55 Bn. Demobilised 28 Jan ‘19; clean Regtl and Coy conduct sheets. BVM and Victory Medals received 26 Apr ‘22. Rank shown as acting Sgt. Married Helen Tobin in Cardiff Jul to Sep ‘24 and they had three children. Douglas died in Cowes, on the IofW, one day before his 95th birthday on 13 Nov 89.
· Gnr George Caffrey. Born Machynlleth Jan to Mar ‘95, enlisted Coventry and deployed to France on 24 Aug ’16. Later 201266. KIA/DoW whilst serving with 7th Bn, aged 24, on 2 Sep ‘18; buried at Vaux Hill Cemetery near Bapaume. Oldest son of George and Minnie Caffrey of Old Maengwyn, Machynlleth, Montgomeryshire
· Gnr Harry Greenberg Gnr in MMGS RA then MGC. and deployed to France on 24 Aug ’16.
· Gnr William Scott born 11 Feb 1897; he was attested at Bisley on 23 May ’16 aged 19. Deployed to France on 24 Aug ’16. He remained with C Bn on its formation and later served with 8 Coy C Bn and then B Coy of 3rd Bn operating Whippets. He was eventually returned to the UK to 22nd Bn at Bovington, then posted to 17th Bn in Ireland on anti-independence operations. He was discharged in Dublin and returned to Horsham. Brother to Pte J Scott also of C Bn.
· Gnr John Webby born Honiton Devon in 1887 eldest son (third child) of school master Tom P Webby and his wife Hannah – in 1891 living in High Street Honiton. . deployed to France on 24 Aug ’16, Later 200597 Pte Tank Corps, he was granted UK leave after the batttle of Cambrai and married Grace Pembroke in Croydon Registry Office on 7 Dec 17. He eventually reached the rank of ASgt. He returned to Devon and decame a teacher, living at Axminster then Seaton, where he named his house Elvedon. He died on 2 Dec 55. .
· Gnr John Witty deployed to France on 24 Aug ’16. He remained with C Bn on its formation. Later 200637 awarded MM for his service on 21 Aug ‘18 with 3rd Bn, British Advance ‘18, "During the action near Achiet-le-Petit, on August 21, ‘18, this man as driver of his tank displayed the greatest skill and daring under extremely heavy artillery and machine-gun fire Owing to his skill in manoeuvring his tank he enabled his gunners to inflict heavy casualties on the enemy. This man has driven a tank in every action of his Coy or Bn since the formation of the Tank Corps with the greatest gallantry and skill, and was especially brought to notice for gallantry in action on August 8, ’18. Still alive in 1925 (no address)
· Pte Stewart ASC.
C16 “Corunna” (female). Attacked German positions in support of attack by 56th Div on the right flank near Bouleaux Wood as part of the assault on Combles. Moved on time to junction of German Loop and Combles trenches (arriving ahead of infantry) and neutralised enemy MG fire even when his right hand tank track was hit by 18lb shell. The crew fought on for 5 hrs; the tank being attacked by Germans at very close range, until reached by 2 LONDONS. Eventually the tank ran out of ammo and was abandoned having been set on fire in accordance with orders.
· 2Lt Eric Purdy MGC was born in Australia,
on 5 September 1893 in Newtown, to the southwest
of Sydney. He
was educated at Sydney Grammar School and then at Ardingly
College in Sussex where he served in the OTC. Eric, who was in the hotel business,
originally enlisted in 23rd Bn London Regt
as a private soldier on 8 September 1914. He deployed to France
in 14 March 1915 and was commissioned, in the field, into the Northants Regt
on 26 March 1915. Eric was in action at Givenchy before he returned
to the UK
on 3 May 1915. He returned to France
on 5 September 1915 and served with 6th Bn Northants. He fought at the Battle of Loos and was
severely wounded in the left shoulder by a bullet whilst serving with 1st
Northants on 13 October 1915 at Hulloch. He was invalided back to Southampton on 16 October
1915 and after treatment at St Thomas’ hospital
in London was granted
leave for 3 months. Eric joined 8th Bn
Northants at Colchester on 22 Jan 1916 but was
transferred to HB MGC two months later.
He deployed to France
on 16 August 1916 and was awarded MC for conspicuous gallantry in action on 15 September.
Promoted T/Lt 1 Oct 16, Eric was
admitted sick to hospital on 16 October but rejoined C Coy after seven days. Eric was a popular officer and made frequent
appearances in performances by the “The Willies”, the concert party of C Bn,
often playing a curate. He fought at the battle of Arras
and, on 28 Apr 1917, he proceeded on duty to the UK. He was extended in the UK on 13 May to enable him to
attend his investiture and further extended on 14 May for “VIP affairs”. On 19 May 17, Eric returned to his unit and
was soon in command of tank 2728 driven by Pte Piper. After undergoing training at Wailly between
10 and 19 June, Eric was placed in commanded of No 10 Sect of 9th
Coy. On 31st July he
commanded 12 Sect of 9th Coy at 3rd Ypres, the
four tanks taking part in the assault on the Frezenberg redoubt. On 20 November, his section attacked and
captured Le Pave Farm, to the north east of La Vacquerie before advancing
through Laleau wood. On 23 November Eric commanded the section during an
assault on Fontaine Notre Dame which resulted in severe losses to the
tanks. Granted UK leave from 2 to 16 December
1917, Eric commanded 12 Sect of C Coy who successfully helped defend Colincamps
on 25 March 1918 as the great German offensive known as the Kaiserslacht
recaptured the ground captured by the British in 1916 and 1917. He remained with the re-designated 3rd
Bn, as it re-roled to a light battalion operating Whippet tanks and was in
action at Villers Brettoneux. Granted UK leave from 18 Jul to 1 Aug 1918, Eric commanded
12 Sect on first day of battle of Amiens and may
have commanded whippet “Cayenne”.
On 25 August, whilst still serving with
3rd Bn, he was wounded in the left thigh and arm; he was invalided
to the UK on 1 Sep 1918
where he was treated at 5th London Hospital
and on 18 September was declared as unfit for three months. However, within a month, he had recovered
sufficiently well to be granted three weeks post sick leave, at home on Wandsworth
Common, and then to join unit at Worgret Camp until 8 November. He was released from service on 7 January 1919
and returned to the hotel business. Eric
married Acile Wainwright at Maidenhead the following summer. Two years later he
applied for a Victualler and Publicans licence for the Naval and Military Hotel
in South Kensington. He was still there three years later when he
became a committee member of the newly formed C Bn OCA. His daughter Tania was born the following
year just before he was commissioned into the RAF (V) reserve as a General
Duties Flying Officer. His son Graham was born in 1929 and daughter Josephine
in 1930. He resigned his RAF commission
in 1936 but, on the outbreak of war, was again granted an RAFVR commission for
the duration of hostilities, serving as a
Flying Officer, After the war, he again became a hotel proprietor and owned
the Norfolk Hotel in South Kensington for many years. Sadly
his wife pre-deceased him in 1956.
Although the other crewmembers are not listed in official records, it is likely that Pte William Piper was on board. William lived
at 67 Woodstock Rd, Oxford, when he volunteered for service
with the MMGS. He was called forward for test on 21 March 1915 at Coventry. His scrap book shows
his tank was tasked to assault Leuze Wood - he probably fought in
Corunna. He says that he continued to serve with Eric Purdy as his driver
in May 17 and then he was tasked to crew with Capt Hiscock with Cpl
Alsopp. Later transferred to the Tank Corps, he was injured during the 3rd
Battle of Ypres and evacuated to the UK,
eventually being treated at Norwich. He was discharged around 24 Sep 17 and
returned on leave to his home. He was subsequently discharged from
the Army on 15 April 18 - his scrapbook is held at the Tank Museum.
C17 (No 741 - Male). Known as A tank in support of Gds Div attack on Ginchy Reached start point, steering gear wrecked whilst traversing no man lands. The tank was again used, on 25 Sep, during attacks in the Morval, Quadrilateral and the Bouleaux wood area, again commanded by Lt Tull. – the tank stopped due to problems with the electrics (platinum has come off the contact breaker) but this was repaired by the crew by 0700 hrs. The tank got up to the Quadrilateral Ridge where it .was ditched when a trench caved in. The tank (with others) was eventually withdrawn as it had been bracketed by artillery.
· Jethro Tull. Born 17 Dec 1886 at Streatham. the son of a brewer. Educated at Westminster School and then settled in Ceylon as a planter. Served with the Ceylon Planters Rife Corps from 1912 to 1914. Returned to GB and enlisted in 18th Bn Royal Fusliers on 15 Sept 1914. Commissioned T/2Lt MMGS 26th August 15 and deployed to France on 16 Aug ’16. Appointed A/Capt 12 April 17 he commanded No 2 Sect (supply tanks) of 7th Coy 3rd Bn HB MGC during 3rd Battle of Ypres. Relinquished A/Capt on ceasing to comd a sect 20 Aug 17 when he returned to Bovington to join the newly formed J Bn. Lost his eye after being wounded at battle of St Quentin canal on 29 Sep 18. Later returned to Ceylon as a planter. Returned to settle in England in 1945 and died in Bentley Hampshire in 1953.
C18 (No 745 Male) Known as B tank, in support of Gds Div attack on Ginchy. Reached first objective (Low Rd) then returned to refuel. Viner reports that the tank was badly scarred by shrapnel and bullets and the prisms were damaged. The crew was not hurt and bought back two wounded infantrymen.
· Lt John Clarke. Born near Taunton in
1897, the son of a successful local solicitor whose firm is still active. The
family later moved out to Staplegrove, a village on the town’s outskirts. John was commissioned into Prince
Light Infantry on 6 Apr 1915, aged only 18, and was attached to the MMGS on 10
October 1915. He must have been injured during the first tank
action as we have a copy of his report written at the Bristol Royal
Infirmary. The injury could not have
been severe as John was later to command a section of tanks in 12th
Bn. During the third battle of the Somme, on 23 August 1918, as the British troops were
again forcing the German troops back to the east, he was commanding a tank as
well as his section. Although this was
common in the first tank actions, it was most unusual in 1918 – he took a leaf
out of Hiscocks book from the first tank action. To quote from his medal
citation “During the early hours of
the attack there was a good deal of mist, and Captain Clarke realised that
there was a great danger of his tanks losing direction. He therefore led them
on foot, walking in the open under machine-gun and shell fire. In doing this he
was twice wounded, once in the arm and once in the leg, but he refused to leave
his section and guided them safely to the starting-point. He then entered his
tank and led his section into action, advancing through the village of Hamelincourt
and clearing it of enemy machine guns, thus enabling the infantry to advance
with few casualties. Throughout the action he showed a complete disregard of
personal safety and was a splendid example to all ranks in his
conspicuous gallantry and devotion to
duty was rewarded by a Military Cross. After the war, he trained as a
engineer. In 1921 he was living in Leeds,
where he became a member of the Yorkshire Ramblers Club and climbed the three
Whernside and Ingleborough in the North Yorkshire Dales. He returned to his home near Taunton, where he was living in 1925, but
soon travelled overseas. In 1928, he
returned from Bombay but he did not stay in England for
long. In 1934 he moved to Kenya, much
later than many of the unemployed ex-officers who moved there immediately after
the Great War. By 1936 he had
established himself as a farmer at Endebess in the Kenyan rift valley and he
lived there until he died, sadly young at 48, on 30 April 1944.
- The driver was Leonard Viner who was born on
5 Nov 1879 in Battersea. By the age of
21, Leonard was living in Dunstable, in Bedfordshire, working as a
photographer's assistant. Three years later, he was
working as a chauffeur in Epsom. In 1907, he married Maude
Davies in Warwick and they had three children Alan, Violet and Noel. He joined the ASC in 1915 as a motor transport
driver and was later posted to 711 (MT) Company at Elveden. There he met Denton Winter and Gerald Pattinson of C14 – he states he shared a tent at New Farm Camp with Pattinson. After the first action, Leonard
wrote the 3 page letter to his wife on 18 September 1916 which was counter-signed
by John Clarke which is how we know he was in the crew. Leonard writes that the tank was hit by
shrapnel and bullets and the prisms were broken; the crew was very tired but
unhurt. Leonard reports that he fired a
6lb quick firing gun during the action, which seems most unusual for an ASC
driver. He also reports that two infantrymen were bought back in the tank –one
of whom was shot in the jaw. Leonard was injured during the actions on the Ancre which took place in September to
November 1916, although we do not know in which action. His medal index card confirms he stayed with
the ASC, rather than transfer to the MGC as did some of the drivers. Afrer the warm he settled in Coventry and was employed as a test driver. He moved to India in 1940, where he died in Calcutta the following year. Family information provided by his grandson Mark Viner.