THE FIRST TANK CREWS

The life stories of those who crewed the first tanks in September 1916


No 1 Section

Commander:  Capt Arthur Inglis (pictured right in Oct 17 during training prior to the Battle of Cambrai) who commanded the tank Crème de Menthe on 15 Sep 16 and was subsequently awarded the Distinguished Service Order. 

There were six tanks in the section; all of them were named after French drinks starting with the intial letter "c".  Two broke down before they crossed the British front line whilst two more became ditched as they followed a German communications trench towards the village of Courcelette. The final two - Creme de Menthe and Cordon Rouge - advanced together and reached the Sugar refinery at Courcelette where they assisted the Canadian forces to subdue the defenders. They then patrolled forward of the new Canadian defences, to prevent a German counter-attack, before returning to their rally point near the Pozieres windmill. That rally point is now the site of the memorial to the Tank Corps on the Somme battlefield.

C1 Champagne (No 709 Male). One of three tanks with Cognac and Cordon Rouge tasked to support 6 Cdn Bde's attack on Courcelette village.  Lost its steering on route to start point but crossed start line and pressed on.  Ditched, whilst following a German communications trench at approx 07.00 hrs. The crew attempted to dig out for 4 hours but failed. The skipper, Alfred Wheeler, was just about the order that the tank be abandoned when the driver, Horace Brotherwood was killed. The remainder of the crew got safely to their own lines and later recovered his body; the tank was never recovered.  Of the crew, three men came from Woking but sadly Horace is not commemorated on the town's war memorial.   

Lt Alfred Wheeler. Born 19 Oct 89 in Coventry, Alfred was a draper who ran one of his families' many shops.  He enlisted in the MMGS on 11 Mar 15 at Coventry and was commissioned four months later "in the field" whilst serving with No 10 Bty MMGS. Promoted T/Lt on 1 Jul 16, he served with C Coy until Dec 16 when he, Arthur Inglis and John Allan were transferred to the newly formed B Bn.  Appointed A/Capt on 12 Apr 17, he commanded 11th Sect of 6th Coy during the Battle of Messines. He commanded the same section during the battle of Cambrai; his tanks being involved in the break-in battle in support of 16 Inf Bde on either side of the Villers Plouich to Marcoing railway line.  The objective was cleared early in the action. Promoted substantive capt in Oct 1918, he served as an instructor with the Training and Reinforcement Depot in France until 4 Jul 19. He returned to Epsom and played in a tennis competition in 1921 at the Drive Hard Tournament at Fulham.  He married Gladys Webb, at Leatherhead Parish Church on 8 May 1923 and they lived, above the shop, at Waterloo House in Epsom. 

 

Sgt Fred Saker Born 3 Sep 1890, Fred was the youngest son of agricultural labourer.  In 1915, as he enlisted, he was the manager of the Cooperative shop at Knaphill.  He fought at the Battle of Arras in No 8 Coy. On 9 Apr, he was a member of crew C26 when the male tank ditched before it reached the British front line. Fred was  awarded MM, for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. "During the capture of Monchy-le-Preux, on April 11, 17, this NCO served his gun with the greatest coolness and effect. When his tank broke down under a very severe artillery barrage, he remained with it, using every effort to get it moving again. When the tank had to be abandoned, he showed great courage and resource in consolidating a trench under heavy fire."  He fought at the battle of Cambrai after which he was granted UK leave and married Lizzie Edwards at Woking Parish Church on 11 Dec 17.  He was admitted to hospital in Mar 18 from Spanish flu and lost his rank. he returned C Bn on 27 Apr where he served with B Coy.  He was not promoted sergeant again until 24 Sep when he was appointed CQMS of B Coy.  He was granted UK leave soon after the Armistice and demobilised in Feb 19, settling at his wife’s home at 125 High St, Old Woking. Their only daughter Myrtle was born 5 May 20. Fred worked as a buyer for 14 Co-op grocery shops around Woking, Fred died, aged 88, on 5 Nov 78 whilst staying with his daughter near Nottingham. Family information provided by Les Crow and Keith Wickham.

 

Gnr Ernest Bax was born in late 1893 in Wood Green London.  Ernest enlisted into the Wiltshire Regt and served in the Balkans from 14 Jul 15 then joined the MGCAwarded MM for bravery in the field LG 16 Nov 16, he was commissioned Tank Corps on 27 Jul 1917 and served as an Eqpt Offr . He was  appointed  T/Lt and A/Capt Tank Corps at HQ Tank Corps 26 Oct 18; His medal index card shows he later served as a Capt in Labour Corps. he was witness at the wedding of William Boylin (NCO in Champagne) and Bertha Mitchell at Epsom on 24 Feb 19. Home address shows home as 5 Clyde Road Wood Green in London. Commissioned again as Lt 1 Apr 40, he served with RAOC and awarded MBE 5 Jun 1942.  Ernest in Lewisham South East London on 31 Jan 68. 

 

Gnr George Lloyd  was born 20 Oct 96 in Woking; third son of domestic gardener. As a  19 year old motor mechanic, working at Mount Hermon Garage, he enlisted into the MMGS on 16 Nov 15.  He deployed to France on 16 Aug 16 and, after the first action, was admitted to 4 Cdn Hosp suffering from diarrhoea. He returned to duty on 24 Sep and joined C Bn on its formation. On 5 April he was admitted to hospital again, this time with a dental abscess; and thereby missed the battle of Arras.  He rejoined C Bn on 12 Jun and three months later was posted to the Reinforcement Depot for service with the infantry. He stayed with them until 21 Mar (the first day of the Great German advance known as the Kaiserslacht) when he was returned to 3rd Light Bn. Transferred to whippets, he was wounded on 8 Oct 1918 near Cambrai.  He received GSWs to the upper right arm and right leg and was evacuated to St Luke’s War Hospital in Halifax. Discharged from hospital, and demobilised on 20 Mar 19. he returned to the family home at 12 Kingfield Woking where he was still living in 1925. He possibly married Gwendoline Gascoigne in 193 and died on 10 Jun 1953 at the Victoria Hospital Woking.

 

Gnr Herbert Rothera was a pork butcher from Bolton. He enlisted at the age of 19 and served with C Coy and later with C Bn. He was badly wounded on the opening day of the battle of Arras; his legs being burnt.  After treatment by a US doctor, he returned to duty and served with A Coy of 3rd Light Bn until the end of the war.  After being transferred to the Reserve in 1919, he took over the running of his late father's butchery business.  He married a local girl Annie Slater and they had two daughters who helped him by applying lotion to his badly burned legs. Herbert probably died in Bolton on 4 Nov 48.

 

Gnr William Neilson Smith.  Born May 84 in Edinburgh, he enlisted on 24 Nov 15 at Glasgow whilst working as an insurance superintendent. Nn Nov 16, he was awarded MM for bravery in the field. Promoted Cpl to complete establishment on 18 May 17, he remained with C Bn then 3rd Light Bn for the rest of his service except for eight days in Sep 18 when he was detached to 7th Bn.  Appointed as a CQMS in 3rd Light Bn on 17 Oct 18, he returned to the UK on 4 Feb 19 for demobilisation. He settled at Cumnock in AyrshireMarried Mary Jane Reid at Johnston United Reform Church in Glasgow on 27 April 1923; still shown as an insurance superintendent.

 

Gnr Frederick Cecil Stone MMGS born in Belper Oct 1896 twin son of a railway signalman. A 19 year clerk, he enlisted on 13 Dec 15 and moved to Bisley the following day. Deployed 14 Aug 16 and later served with C Bn with No 9 Coy. He was wounded on 15 Apr 18 although his unit is not recorded as being in action.  In Sep 18, he returned to the UK as a candidate for a commission in the RAF and served with No 8 RAF Cadet Wg at Shornciffe. Transferred to Z  Reserve 21 Feb 19; he married Margaret Howarth at Belper the following summer and their only son Douglas was born in Belper nine years later.    Frederick was the secretary for the local Rotarian club. 

 

Pte Horace Brotherwood. Born 20 May 98 in Old Woking, Horace probably knew George Lloyd before they joined the Army. Enlisted at Guildford and trained at Grove Park MT Depot in SE London. He served in France from 26 Sep 15 and then joined 711 MT Coy and trained at Elveden.  KIA aged 18 on 15 Sep 1916 after his jugular was cut by shrapnel.  His body was recovered and is buried at Pozieres British Cemetery.  

C2 Cognac (No 522 female). One of three tanks (with C1 and C6) tasked to support 2 Cdn Div attack on Courcelette village. Reached RV safely then stub axle damaged whilst travelling through Pozieres on route to start line. Crew adjusted tracks prior to initial advance and crossed start line on time. Tank ditched in German comms trench (close to final destination of C1) but Pte Ledger managed to drive it out and continued towards the west of the village. Subsequently it ditched again, within 500m of target and the crew attempted to dig the tank out. They eventually abandoned the task at 2200 hours, and removing the gun locks, returned to their own lines. C2 was subsequently recovered and went into action at Thiepval but again sadly she ditched again, this time before she got into action.

·    Lt "Will" Bluemel Born on 8 Jun 89 on Mile End Road Town, London, he was the son of an umbrella stick maker who later established the famous cycle accessory business at Wolston near Coventry. Will was commissioned into MMGS as T/2Lt 9 Sep 15, his elder brothers Neville and Roland were seriously injured by shrapnel at Hooge on 21 Sep 15 whilst serving with the HAC. Neville died of wounds two day later and Roland was transferred to the TF Reserve in Sep 16 and worked with the family firm for the rest of the war.  Will was promoted  T/Lt 1 Jul 16. He was badly wounded on 16 Nov 16 at Hamel and evacuated home.  Like Roland, he was unable to return to active service and was employed with the Ministry of Munitions. Relinquished commission and retained rank of Lt 31 May 19. Married Katie Nichol on 16 Sep 22 at Hatch End. Roaldn and he took charge of the family engineering firm based in Coventry. Appointed Chairman of the Company Jul 1945. Was also chairman of the Tank Corps Old Comrades Association in Coventry for many years. Lived at Cannon Hill, Kenilworth Road. Coventry. Died 29 Aug 61

·    Sgt Arthur Milliken MMGS born summer 1886 at West Derby, Lancs. A bank clerk he enlisted 24 Nov 1915 into the MMGS at Coventry Later, whilst serving with C Bn at Arras April 17, he was awarded MM. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. This NCO has shown great coolness and gallantry in action, notably during the attack on Gavrelle on April 23, 1917. Owing to his skill and coolness he drove his tank through a heavy barrage to his objective, where it was of the greatest assistance to the infantry, until put out of action by armour-piercing bullets. (This was in tank C4 commanded by 2Lt C Le Clair; the tank being one of two from 7 Coy tasked to assist the capture of Gavrelle (north of the Rivder Scarpe); the other tank (C1)  broke the road chain driving the left driving sprocket soon after leaving its starting point.  Five of the C4 crew were wounded by armoured piercing bullets. Arthur continued to serve with C Bn as it converted to Whippets, Married in Summer 1918 in Birkenhead Cheshire to Marjorie Constantine, he was posted back to the Uk to 22 Bn as TQMS. His only son Charles was born in the Spring of 1919. Arthur returned to banking after the war, working for the Bank of Liverpool then Martins at their head office retiring in 1945 as the head of the foreign branch.  He died in the Spring of 1964, aged 77 years and is buried at St Oswald's Church in Bidston.

·    LCpl Harold Teft. Harold's birth was registered in Gainsborough in Summer 94. He enlisted into the MMGS and deployed to France on 24 Aug 16.  Commissioned into the Tank Corps on 20 Dec 17 and returned to France - possibly served with A Coy of 16th Bn.  He married Doris L Mawer in Gainsborough in early 1920 and relinquished his commission as 2Lt Tank Corps on 1 Sep 21.  His son Gerald E M Teft was born in Gainsborough in early 1925. In 1926 Harold is recorded as a shopkeeper and beer retailer living at 9 Bridge Road in Gainsborough.  Harold died (aged 50) 29 May 45 in Gainsborough.  A German bayonet scabbard has been found with his details and unit scratched on it; the bayonet almost certainly "acquired" in the Autumn of 1916 - see the Photo Gallery for pictures of the bayonet and of Harold.  His grandson Phil Teft and great grandson Michael are members of this site. 

·    Gnr Victor Archard was born Melksham Oct – Dec 92, one of twins born to Edward and Ann Archard. A school teacher, who was keen motor-cyclist and church organist, Victor joined the MMGS in 1915.  After the first action and the battle at Thiepval, Archard was employed salvage duties.  Posted to No 7 Coy of C Bn on 1 Dec 16, he later turned down the chance to be the unit telephonist in order to stay a tank crewman.  He fought in tank C4 on the opening day of the Battle of Arras (9 Apr 17), which ditched whilst trying to recover another tank. He was shot in the head by a German MG whilst out of the tank. he was admitted with scalp wounds to No 10 Gen Hosp at Dannes Cammiers and then evacuated as a walking casualty back to the UK on the SS Donegal.  At 1930 hours on 17 Apr,the Donegal, was torpedoed; Victor was rescued by HMS Jackal, one of the escort craft and taken to Southampton. He recovered from his wounds but was never well enough to serve overseas. As a result, he served as an instructor at Bovington, reaching the rank of Sgt. He was discharged from the Army in 1918 and was awarded the Silver War Badge. He returned to Winchester to teach and in 1920 married the daughter of a schoolteacher, Winifred Bugby at Bere Regis Parish Church. They later lived at Whitchurch in Hants, where Victor became the headteacher of the local secondary school.  He also was the organist and choirmaster at All Hallows Parish Church for many years. He died, aged 61, in 1943. His diary for the first six months of the deployment is held by the Tank Museum,

·    Gnr Robert Caldicott born 28 Jan 1890 at Aston near Birmingham. A carpenter he was attested 17 Nov 1915.  Transferred to HS MGC 4 May 1916 then to C Coy on 27 May; deployed to France 24 Aug. Stayed with C Bn on its formation. Attended 6 lb gun course 2 to 9 Feb 1917. Later 200559, he served with C Bn and then 3rd Bn throughout the war.  Appointed A/Sgt 19 Jan 1918 and then Substantive Sgt 16 Apr 1918 in C Bn then SSgt 13 Aug 18.  Demobilised 24 April 19, he returned to Birmingham where he died, at 84, in Spring 1974. Possibly married (Apr –Jun 1920) in Aston to Margaret E Wilson.

·    Gnr Alfred Ernest Hemington – Born Whittington Moors Derbyshire 85. A draper's assistant, he enlisted at Coventry on 24 Nov 15. Deployed 24 Aug 1916 from Southampton; arrived 25 Aug at Le Havre. Later transferred to C Bn on its formation in Nov 1916. Rebadged MGC and Tank Corps no 200569, continued to serve with C Bn then 3rd (Lt) Bn. Appointed A/LCpl on 3 Oct 1918 then paid LCpl on 9 Oct.  Demobilised whilst on leave 15 Jan 19. Final address given as 40 Pinner Road Hunters Bar Sheffield. He later became a tobacconist on the London Road Possibly died in Sheffield, aged 81, in early 1967.

·    Gnr A Sims possibly HAC and later 321584 then 7871656 Pte Royal Tank Corps

·    Gnr Donald Thompson birth registered Oct to Dec 1882  Liverpool. Scarlet fever at 14 years; married Eliza Barton Williams on 6 Jul 1910; they had three sons Robert, Jeffrey and Rodger.  A provisions merchant, he was attested Liverpool in Dec 15.  Mobilised 25 Mar and deployed to France on 24 Aug 16. Remained with C Bn – on 11 Dec admitted sick; admitted to Stny Hospital at St Pol and returned to duty on 21 Dec. Attended 6lb training at Wailly on 14-19 May 1917 Promoted LCpl 13 November and, after the battle of Cambrai, was admitted to hospital (Fish bone in throat) on 6 Dec 1917.  He served with 3rd Light Bn on Whippets; appointed 1st Class TM on 1 May 18.  On 15 Sep 18 returned to UK to join RAF cadet training unit.  Joined No 8 RAF Cadet Wg at Shorncliffe on 2 Oct 1918. Examined on 5 Oct and found fit to be either a pilot or observer. Returned to to the Tank Corps as RAF training programme ceased. Demobilsed 26  Feb 1919.  Living at Kelvin, Hillfoot Rd, Hunts Cross Liverpool in 1925Died on 8 Apr 32, aged 49 years; buried on 11 April at St Nicholas Church Halewood.

·    Pte Herbert Ledger volunteered to join the ASC in late 15; the London Gazette records his home town as Doncaster. After the first tank action, he transferred to the MGC and later rebadged into the Tank Corps (75045). Unusually he transferred to D Bn and was the driver of the tank "Dracula" at the battle of St Julien, (part of the Third Battle of Ypres or Passchendaele) where he was awarded a MM for his action during the attack in the swamp-like conditions on the Poelcappelle Road. The citation states: “On September 20, 1917, at Delta House, north of St. Julien, he left his tank on four separate occasions under heavy shell fire when it had become ditched and collected material to make ramps, and enabled his tank to reach firm ground. When his engine finally gave out, within 50 yards of the enemy’s line, he worked unceasingly for over two hours, until everything had been tried to rectify it without avail”. After the war, he was employed with Maidstone and District Motor Services. He also served in the St John Ambulance Bde for many years and was awarded the Defence Medal for his service during the second world war. After the war he was living at Pheasant Cottage in Sutton Rd at Maidstone where he died in 1974.

C3 Chartreuse (No 701 Male). With Chablis and Crème de Menthe, this crew was tasked to support 4 Cdn Bde's attack on the Courcelette sugar factory. The tank's steering was damaged by artillery fire whilst moving between the rendezvous and start point. As a result, it became ditched in a large shell hole filled with logs. The crew worked for 3 hours to “dig out” but its engine seized due to lack of lubrication.  The tank was abandoned on the battlefield and later destroyed.

2LStanley Clarke was born in 1888 at East Preston near Arundel. The son of a bank manager, he was commissioned into the R Fusiliers on 26 Mar 15 and attached to HS MGC on 17 Apr 16 After the first action, Stanley commanded Tank No 740 during the assault by 5 Div towards Morval on 25 Sep.  On route between Trones Wood and Guillemont, the tank ditched at 05.30 hrs but the crew managed to get it to the start point by 1500 hrs when he was ordered to halt. He was also held in reserve for the attack on 27 Sep.  Later appointed an Assistant Instructor from 27 Aug 17, Stanley commanded a tank company from 26 Oct 18. A post war picture shows him at a tank loading location possibly in Belgium. He later lived at Barnet and married Gladys Eade at Bournemouth on 20 Aug 28. The couple had four children and Stanley worked for the local Electricity Board. He died on 12 Sep 54. 

Cpl Reginald "Tubby" Shaw was born in Yoxall in Staffs in 1892. Commissioned on 28 Aug 17, he served with 12th Bn commanding the talk Leader. In 1919, he formed part of the British Military Mission to South Russia and commanded the tank training school and is pictured with the Russian CO, Col Khaletski  at the “battle practice ground” at Taganrog  in the Tank Corps Journal page 219.  The tanks were used to attack the Bolshevik Forces at Stalingrad and then advance towards Moscow.  After failing to make progress then tanks were withdrawn back to the Crimea and on 28 Jun 19, the training team was evacuated from Sevastopol. Awarded the MBE, Tubby settled at Eccleshall in Staffordshire where he was worked for a drapery firm and commanded the local fire brigade. He died on 9 Jun 53 and is buried in Eccleshall churchyard. There are four pictures of Tubby in the photo  gallery, the war images were provided by Carrie Peake whose grandfather Bill Stockdale (see Crème de Menthe below) was a close friend.


Gnr Ernest Edwards born in Nov 1892. A tailor from Newhaven, he enlisted on 24 Nov 15.  Posted to C Coy on 25 May and deployed to France 16 Aug 16, he joined C Bn on its formation and promoted A/LCpl (paid) on 20 Feb 17.  From 10 to 17 May attended 17 Corps Lewis gun school and then from 19 May to 10 Jun acted as instructor at 2 Tank Bde 6lb (Gun) School. On 5 Nov he was graded as Tank mechanist 1 Class (Driver) and on 6 Nov was promoted Cpl. After the Battle of Cambrai, he was granted UK leave. He remained with C Bn as it re-roled to light tanks and served through the battle of Amiens. He returned to UK on 24 Sep 18. Posted to the Tank Depot on 29 Sep, he was promoted Sgt on 6 Nov 19 and posted to 22 Lt Tank Bn as a Mechanist. He was transferred to Z Reserve on 23 Feb 19. Awarded BWM and Victory medal  In 1925 he was living at 39 High St, Newhaven. 


Gnr Alexander Garden. Born Oct 98 and a clerk, he enlisted at Aberdeen on 17 Nov 15.  Deploying to France on 16 Aug 16, he remained with C Bn on its formation. Attended 2 Tk Bde 6lber school from 14 to 19 May and a driving course at Wailly on 11-19 Jun.  He was granted UK leave from 2 to 16 Dec 17 so must have fought at Cambrai; he rejoined C Bn on 19 Dec. Possible detachment to Mechanical school in early 18.  Rejoined 3 Bn on 3 Oct 18, to bring the unit up to strength following almost three months continuous fighting, he immediately went into action and was awarded the MM. Near Estrees his tank was hit by antitank rifle fire and the crew wounded, although wounded himself brought the whippet out of action and conveyed the badly-wounded personnel to a dressing station.  After having his own wound dressed he remained at duty, and endeavoured to drive his whippet to a rallying point through heavily shelled area.  His great coolness and presence of mind showed a high sense of duty and he remained with his whippet until relieved by his company commander.  He was sent back to the UK on 17 Oct and posted to Tank Depot n 4 Jan 1919 and immediately appointed Tank Mechanist Corporal . Accepted offer of work on 17 Jan 1919 and demobilised on 16 Feb 19.


Gnr CF Philips deployed to France on 16 Aug 16. probably 200568 Cpl Charles F Philips Tank Corps. Paul Cherrington, who holds his medals, says Charles lived in the Isle of Wight and was a tank driver at the Battle of Cambrai.


Gnr Alfred SimpsonBorn 7 Dec 1892 in Clerkenwell, Alf worked on the circulation staff of the London Evening Standard from 1909.  Deployed to France on 16 Aug 16, he later assisted recovery of tanks including C2 from Thiepval. Was awarded MM for bravery in the field. Fought on the opening day of battle of Arras (9 Apr 17) and suffered gunshot wounds to the head. Hospitalised but not seriously wounded, he returned to C Bn on 8 Jun. Sent to tank driving school Wailly and re-trained as a driver, he remained in that  role for the rest of the war. He fought at 3rd Ypres and awarded Card of Honour for fighting his tank for 13 hours – certificate presented by Brig Gen Hugh Elles. Fought at Cambra near Bleak House on 20 Nov – the lead tank was hit; Simpson’s tank was stuck in the barbed wire entanglements and one crewman was shot in the ankle as the crew cut themselves out.  Simpson’s tank was also hit by direct fire by German 5.9 inch Naval gun from Lateau Wood but only one crewman was injured.  Alf later drove a salvaged tank and took part in removing the remains of dead crews from E Bn’s burnt hulks at Flesqueires.  Later fought with 3 Light Bn whilst it was equipped with Whippets, where he again was in action. Returned to employment with the Evening Standard and became a member of the Fleet Street branch of the British Legion.  Married Elizabeth Garwood in 1923; their only son Alfred was born in 1925. Following interest in the 40th Anniversary of the first action, corresponded with Liddell-Hart in Sep 57. Died aged 70 on New Year's Eve 1962 at his home in Willesden. 


Gnr George Kidd Stonehouse born 4 Oct 1894 at Edinburgh.  A clerk, living at 16 South Clark (now Clerk) St Edinburgh. Attested at Edinburgh on 11 Nov 15, he deployed to France on 16 Aug ’16 and transferred to C Bn on formation.  Attended 2 Tk Bde 6lb course training course from 19 to 25 May and then a driving course at Wailly from 11 to 19 Jun.  On 11 Aug, sentenced to 5 days CB having a dirty revolver.  Must have fought at Cambrai as he was granted UK leave from 5 to 19 December. Stayed with 3 Bn as it re-roled to Whippets serving as a driver. Granted UK leave after the Armistice from 27 Nov to 11 Dec – was back late by 24 hours and forfeited one days pay. Never promoted, he left A Coy of 3 Bn on 15 Feb and was demobilised from Duddington on 15 Mar 19Possibly married Alice and in the 1950s, established two licenced grocers shops in Edinburgh. He died on 28 Mar 1958 but the shops retained his name until 1975.


Pte Alfred Boult ASC was born in Scarborough. A special enlistment, with no previous military service, he completed a trade test on 5 Jan 1915 showed him to be "a skilled driver and mechanic". Attested on 18 Jan 15 at York, he joined the ASC at the Grove Park MT Reserve Depot in London.  He deployed from Avonmouth Docks on 8 Mar 15 to Boulogne and was posted to No 16 Siege Bty. In May 1916 he was posted to 363 MT Coy and then to the Base MT Depot (South) on 3 Jun 16.  Nine days later, he returned to the UK and joined 711 MT Coy who provided the original tank drivers. on 16 Aug 16 from Avonmouth to Le Harve; arriving on 22 Aug 16.  Little is recorded of his service with the tanks; he was on the held strength employed as a tank driver, when his general ability was assessed as “fair but unsuitable for the Heavy Branch”.  On 27 Jan 17 he was posted to No 1 MT Base Depot and then served the MT Depot at Norwood and the Tractor Depot at Avonmouth before deploying to Italy until 30 Jul 19. There is no record as when he returned to the UK but he was transferred to the Z Reserve on 28 Aug 19; his permanent address being Kilmore Grange, Felixkirk near Thirsk

C4 Chablis (No 503 Female).  One of three tanks tasked to support 2 Cdn Div attack on the Courcelette sugar factory. The tank was damaged en route from RV by shell fire and shed a track on route to the start point. Pte Cronin attempted to tighten the tracks, assisted by Cpl Harrison, but they worked loose again; one falling off completely at the start point . Campbell transferred the machine guns to Creme de Menthe, sent his crew to the rear and joined Inglis for the attack on the Sugar Factory. Chablis was never salvaged and was broken up in 1919. The Tank Memorial was built within 50 yards of the hulk's location. 

·    2Lt Geordie Campbell. Younger son of Lt Col CJP and Lady Ileene Campbell. Educated at Wellington, he was commissioned in 1915 and served with the tanks from 1916 to 1919. He was awarded the MC for his action at CourceletteHe married Jessie Mackie in Jan 1921 and took his wife’s name on marriage; they had three children. On 8 Sep 1939, he was appointed a 2Lt in the Royal Armoured Corps and then served in the RTR. In the 1950s he was appointed Chairman of White Horse Distillers. He later lived at Stonefield near Tarbet in Scotland and died in Dec 1956.

·    Cpl Charles HARRISON, later a sergeant instructor at the Driving and Maintenance School he was awarded the Belgian Medaille d'Honneur avec Glaives en Argent. This NCO has been with the Mechanical School since its formation and has done exceptionally good work as assistant instructor throughout. 

·    Gnr Reg Acock born 31 Mar 1890 at Bourton in the Water. Attested at Cheltenham on 8 Feb 1916, a motorcycle mechanic, he joined for duty 25 Mar. Deployed to France on 24 Aug 1916 and, after the actions of Autumn 1916, was posted to C Bn on its formation (18 Nov) later awarded MM "for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. During the 3rd Battle of Ypres, on 31st Jul, 1917, this man, with a Lewis gun kept up covering fire from a shellhole, to enable his tank to be unditched. Later, when a 6lb gunner became a casualty, he took his place and put out of action several enemy machine guns. Finally, when his tank was put out of action, he worked under heavy fire to get his guns up to the infantry”. Renumbered as 200626 on formation of Tank Corps. he was promoted Paid LCpl 8 Aug 1918; then paid A/Cpl on 3 Oct. Promoted Sgt and Mechanist on 26 Oct (this shows the level of casualties being experienced by 3rd Bn during its final actions).  On 22 Mar 1919 he was posted, as a sergeant with 12th Bn, and served with he Rhine Army on 8 May. He was posted back to the UK on 18 Sep 19.  Married Anne Vansittard Clark on 3 Aug 20 at Cheltenham Parish Church. From 1920 to his retirement in 1956, Reg was the manager of several Halford’s cycle shops.   Died in Cheltenham, aged 98, on 21 Dec 88; his wife Anne lived until 103 and died on 8 Aug 99. (Family details provided by Gnr Acock’s son Reg Acock and grandson John who is a member of this site)

·    Gnr Bill Boylin; DOB 1 Oct 1886 at Edmonton London, he as educated at Dalston public school and emigrated to South Africa.  He joined the South African Motorcycle Volunteers in Jan 1915 and then returned to England 12 months later, where he joined the MMGS. He was wounded during the attacks at the end of Sep 1916commissioned into 7 Londons with his great friend Roy Garlick  (see Creme de Menthe) on 26 Sep 17. He was seconded to Tank Corps (26 Nov 1917) and they served together in 11th Bn Tank Corps. He was appointed Eqpt Offr 2 Oct 1918. Shortly after he was demobilised, he married Bertha Mitchell in the Spring on 1919 at Epsom. He relinquished commission on 30 Sep 21 and retained rank of Lt  He moved to South Africa and worked as an insurance agent at Capetown. He eventually returned to England in 1949 and settled in the Deben area near Felixstowe.  He died, aged 63, on 5 Dec 50.

·    Gnr Bill Cheadle was wounded during the actions on the Ancre (25 Sep to 2 Oct) and later served with the Labour Corps.   In late 1950s living in Exeter, he. was a founding ember of the RTR Old Comrades

·    Gnr Charles Kidd was born on 7 Oct 91 and registered in Lambeth. A pencil maker by trade. he enlisted at Wembley into 1st Bty MMGS on 23 Nov 1914. He served with J Bty MMGS from 1 May’15 and then entered France 2 Jun 15.  On 13 Aug he was admitted to No 4 Gen Hosp at Versailles with internal damage to his knee joint,; he was evacuated to the UK on 27 Aug and was treated at Cheltenham until 29 Jan 16- the problem being a nipped cartilage to the left knee. He was transferred to MGC on 1 Dec 15 and was posted to Bisley. After training at Elveden, he deployed to France with C Coy on 24 Aug 16 and continued to serve with C Bn on its formation. On 3 Jul 17 he was at Etaples and then posted to the Reinforcement Depot on 4 Aug.  He was posted to A Bn on 13 Aug before being returned to C Bn on 1 Sep . On 19 Apr 18 he was posted to HQ 3 Tk Bde where he served for the rest of his service.  He was granted UK leave from 11- 25 Oct  and served with them, in Germany until 4 Mar’19 when he was returned for demobilization at Wimbledon. During his 4 years and 132 days service he was never promoted.   He married Nellie Gerrard n 7 Aug 20 and they had one daughter Joyce He became an analytical chemist with The Royal Sovereign Pencil Co. Sadly he separated from his wife in 1947 and died on 20 February 1963 at Margate. He is buried in an unmarked shared grave. (Later family information provided by Cathy Jenner - his grand-daughter - who is a member of this site).

·    Gnr James Makin From Bolton, Awarded MM for bravery on 9 Apr 1917 during battle of Arras. In 1925 living at 41 Knocklaid Rd, Club Moor, Liverpool.

·    Gnr Frank Pickworth. Born in Spalding Lincs and educated at Nottingham, he served with C Bn at Ypres. Frank was awarded MM.For conspicuous gallantry during the Third Battle of Ypres on August 22, 1917. When most of the crew of his tank had been severely wounded near Pommern Redoubt this man displayed great courage and self-sacrifice in several times passing through an intense artillery barrage in his efforts to obtain stretcher-bearers. he Aviva Roll of Honour shows an FR Pickworth of Nottingham working for the Fine Art and General Insurance Co. He married twice living at Rancliffe Lodge, Keyworth from 1948 – 58 then Hickling from 1959.

·    Pte Daniel Cronin ASC was born Bawnatoumple Ballingeary Co Cork in Ireland on 6 Dec 1890. A farmer’s son, he was the eldest of 9 children. Joined the ASC 1915; continued to serve with C Coy transferring to the MGC and later to the Tank Corps. He fought in the three great tank actions in 1917 and  was awarded Military Medal.  The citation readsDuring the attack on Lateau Wood and Pam Pam Farm, on November 20, 1917, this NCO displayed the greatest gallantry in firing on the enemy with his Lewis gun, although his tank had been pierced by armour-piercing bullets. Throughout the action he showed a magnificent example of courage and cheerfulness. This NCO has been previously brought to notice for conspicuous gallantry both at Arras in April, 1917, and again at Ypres on July 31, 1917.  Cronin was later promoted to Sgt and survived the war and returned to Ireland in 1925 before settling in Reading. 

C5 Crème de Menthe (No 721 Male).  Leader of three tanks with C3 and C4 in support of 2 Cdn Div attack on the Courcelette sugar factory.  The tank lost one steering wheel, en route to the start point, due to artillery fire but reached the objective.  The crew used the weight of the tank to break into the factory resulting in surrender of 50 Germans.  She then patrolled north and west to prevent the Germans then returned to her start point, deploying a signal cable most of the way.  An artillery shell destroying the drum as she approached her rally point (the site of the Tank Corps Memorial at Pozieres Windmill).  Creme de Menthe again went into action on 26 Sep in support of the 18th Div attack on Thiepval.  She crushed the resistance of the German machine guns teams around Thiepval Chateau; this allowed the infantry (who had been held up) to take the chateau.  Creme de Menthe became ditched across a trench just yards north of the Chateau's ruins.  She was never recovered and was used as a oil lamp signalling station and store. 

Capt Arthur Inglis was born 14 July 84 at Inverness and was educated at Cheltenham College. Commissioned 2Lt in 3rd Bn Wiltshire Regt on 2 Nov 01, guarded Boer POWs on St Helena.  He transferred to 2nd Bn Gloucestershire Regt in 1906. Promoted Lt 7 Apr 08, he later served as ADC to CinC of the Gambia. Promoted Capt 1 Aug 14, he served with the West African Front Force in the Cameroons until May 16.  He joined Heavy Branch MGC on 12 July 16 and was awarded an immediate DSO, the first for action in a tank, for conspicuous gallantry in action on 15 Sep 16.  He brought his 'Tanks'' forward over very difficult ground. Although one of the wheels of his own "Tank" was blown off early by a shell he succeeded in reaching his objective and manoeuvring throughout the whole operation. He returned to the UK in early 1917 and was appointed to command a company in the newly formed F Bn at Bovington. He deployed back to France in May 17 and commanded No 16 Coy at Ypres, Cambrai and during the German advance in spring 1918.  When the battalion (now 6 Bn) re-roled to light tanks (Whippets), he assumed command of A Coy. On the first day of the Battle of Amiens, he was severely wounded when a passing Whippet ran over an unexploded shell.  He was evacuated to the UK and later appointed Rail Transport Officer in London.   Died of his Wounds, aged 34 years on 12 May 1919 and is buried in St Mary's Churchyard, Prestbury.


Cpl Roy Garlick  Born on 1 May 92 in South Africa, the youngest son of John Garlick who established the Garlick's department store in Capetown.  Educated at Tonbridge School. Roy trained as an accountant and then joined the family firm. He returned to the UK from Cape Town on 12 Nov 15 and joined the MMGS.   He was commissioned in 7th  Bn London Regt 27 Sep 1917 but remained employed in the Tank Corps; as Captain he was awarded Croix de Guerre for service with 11th Bn on 3 June 19. He returned to South Africa and continued in business. He married three times and had a son and daughter, the family living near Capetown. He served with the South African Defence Force during the Second World War.  He died on 24 Feb 60.  There is a picture of Roy, as an officer cadet, in the Photo gallery.


Gnr Ronald Gibson was born on 13 Nov 88 at Newton le Willows and bought up in Bottle. His wife Margery was pregnant when he joined up and their daughter, who was named after her mother, was born just before he deployed to France.  Served with C Coy, C Bn and 3 Light Bn until Jul 18 when was sent to Reading for pilot training, He qualified as an observer cadet on 1 Nov 18 but, following the Armistice ceased training.  he was discharged in 1919 with the honorary rank of 2Lt and returned to Bootle.   


Gnr Lionel McAdam was born in 17 April 91 at South River, OntarioAt the start of the war, he tried to enlist in the Canadian Army.  Rejected because he was too short, he sailed to the UK at his own expense and enlisted in the MMGS on  22 Nov 15. He deployed to France on 16 Aug 16 and fought at Courcelette. He served on with C Bn and on 25 Jan was casevaced with shrapnel wounds to the UK and treated at Manchester.  Posted to the Depot Bn at Bovington, he deployed back to France on 30 May with F Bn Wksp Coy.   He remained with F Bn until 11 Jan 18 when the workshop companies of all battalions were disbanded and repair was concentrated at Erin. He was never promoted and was demobilised on 7 Mar 19. He returned to Canada and awarded a pension by the Canadian Govt.  He returned to employment with the Toronto Transit Commission, where he was known as Doc as he insisted that first aid kits be installed in the street cars.  He married Leila Charlton on 28 Sep 22 at York, near Toronto,and they had two sons Charlton and David. He served with the Canadian militia and rose to the rank of Sgt Major by the start of WWII. He later served in the Canadian Engineers with his son Charlton but did not go overseas. He retired from the Toronto Transit Commission in 1957 and died, four years after Leila, on 31 May 73.  There is a picture of Lionel in the Photo gallery. (Family information provided by Mac's grandchildren Sue and Peter)


Gnr Lawrence Rowntree was born on 4 Mar 95 at York the grandson of Joseph Rowntree, the social reformer. On the outbreak of war, he initially went to Belgium with the Friends Ambulance, serving for 10 months as a driver and hospital orderly near Ypres. He returned to York and worked at the Haxby Road hospital. On the introduction of conscription, he enlisted into the MMGS at Coventry on 23 May 16.  He was injured during the first tank action and evacuated to Edinburgh where he made a full recovery.  Subsequently commissioned into the Royal Artillery, he served in the Ypres salient throughout the 3rd battle of Ypres. He was Killed in Action on 27 Nov 17 and is buried at Vlamertinghe.


Gnr Joseph  Shepherd was born in Sep 94 in Marksbury near Keynsham. Joseph worked as a LNWR parcels clerk at Euston station.  He enlisted at St Pancras on 24 Nov 15; height 5 ft 11 inches. He was posted to C Bn on formation and attended driver training at Wailly from 11 – 19 Jun 17.  Served with C Bn then C Coy of 3 Bn (in whippets) throughout the war. Never promoted and did not claim a pension; he returned to the UK and was demobilised on 24 Feb 19; his home address was still 13 Raglan Street.


Gnr William Stockdale was born in Walthamstowe in 1896.  The son of a baker, the family settled in East Grinstead. He joined the MMGS and was rebadged into the MGC.  He was commissioned into the Tank Corps in Jul 17 and was employed as an assistant instructor from 1 July 18. He survived the war and returned to settle in East Grinstead where he married Dorothy Edwards.  In the 1930s, he moved to East Grimstead to the south of Salisbury where he died on 11 May 64.  His granddaughter Caroline Peake is a member of this website - she has provided the photograph of William in the gallery.       


A/Cpl George Shepherd was awarded the first DCM to a tanker for conspicuous gallantry and skill in driving the Tank of his Section Commander throughout an action. It was entirely due to Pte. Shepherd's skill and courage that it reached its objective, and was successfully withdrawn.”  Transferred from the ASC to the MGC (75041) and later Tank Corps, he was promoted to Sgt and served in the Mechanical School as a driving instructor and survived the war.  However he later took his own life and that of his wife at his home in Liverpool.

C6 “Cordon Rouge” (No 504 Female). One of three tanks (with C1 and C2) tasked to support 2 Cdn Div attack on Courcelette village. The tank followed the Sugar trench, which ran across the middle of the Canadian area, andfired on and silenced several machine guns and thus proved of much assistance in enabling our troops to advance (6th Cdn Bde War Diary)”.  The tank pushed onto the Sugar Factory, approaching from the north west, which stopped the enemy retreat from the Plant. She returning to the rally point at Pozieres Windmill and was the only undamaged tank in the sectionThe tank was later photographed on a number of occasions, including a staged photo of her on the Albert Road being cheered by lines of British soldiers. Cordon Rouge took part in the action on 26 Sep at Thiepval but became ditched before getting amongst the German positions 

Lt John Allan. Born c 1886/87; the son of George Allan who was later the Governor of Aberdeen Poor House, Eastbank, Oldmill in Aberdeen. A works manager, he enlisted at Hampton Court 10 Mar 15 as a Pte soldier (1427) in King Edwards’ Horse. Height 5’ 11”; weight 175 lbs, 38” chest;  size 9 shoes, brown hair,  Unmarried and a member of the United Free Church – home address is 469 Union St in Aberdeen. Deployed to France and Flanders 15 Jul 15; promoted LCpl 12 October and commissioned MGC 14 Apr 16.  Transferred to HS MGC (LG 26 Apr 16) and deployed to France on 24 Aug 16. Injured on 15 Dec and sent to the 4 Cdn Fd Amb – appears to have returned to duty the same day.  Rejoined C Coy on 28 Oct (had he been detached to D Bn?). Awarded MC for conspicuous gallantry in action. He maneuvered his Tank with great skill under heavy shell fire over difficult and unknown ground, and brought it into a good position for enfilading the enemy trenches, which he succeeded in doing with good effect. (LG supplement dated 14 Nov 16, page 11045). Transferred to B Bn on its formation 18 Nov. Granted UK leave from 15 to 25 Dec. Promoted Capt 12 Apr 17 and commanded No 10 Sect of 6 Coy during its assault of the Messines ridge, to the north of the village in support of 25th Div.  Allan moved forward in the afternoon of 8 June to follow-up his tanks but was mortally wounded (GSW to the back). Sent to No 2 CCS where he DoW 9 Jun 17 and buried at Ballieul Communal Cemetery Extension.  Tank Corps Roll of Honour shows him as a native of Aberdeen. Listed on the Scottish War memorial and at Eastbank. Probate granted to his father George Allan estate which was worth almost £1,100 are shares as in a Bolivian Company.  Note – a Scotsman named John Allan – aged 27 and shown as an overseer, returned from Callao in Chile   This is likely to have been the future commander of Cordon Rouge.  Simon Payne holds his MC.

A/Cpl Frank Vyvyan.   Born on 22 Feb 91 in Croydon, the youngest son of actor Herbert Vyvyan and his wife Alice.  Frank was awarded MM for his actions in Sep 16. He was later a regular performer as a member of the Willies, the C Bn concert party.  For his action at Arras he was awarded the DCM. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. During the opening of the offensive on April 9 1917, when the officer had been killed, he took charge of his tank and continued to fight it with the greatest boldness and skill. When he could not reach the enemy with his Lewis gun inside the tank, although under heavy fire, he fixed up a Lewis gun on top of the tank, and fired it from there. He thereby greatly assisted the infantry to advance.  Renumbered as 200580, he was promoted Sergeant. On 22 Mar 19, was commissioned into the Tank Corps.  Frank Vyvyan married Olive Emerton an actress (her 2nd marriage) in Jul to Sep 1920.  They emigrated to Canada and settled in VancouverFrank married Olive's sister, Phyllis after Olive died and they had 2 children.  After their divorce, Frank then remarried. He appeared in Canadian productions including Carry On; Don’t open until Xmas; Repatriated. Theatre Time. December 16, 1941; Scandal. Drama. February 12, 1943; and That Rakish Simon Lovewell at Vancouver on 2 March 54.  CBC productions include the first series of Cariboo Country as a rancher Morton Willoughby and he also appeared in Tidewater Tramp, a CBC children’s series from 1959 to 1962 filmed at  Vancouver. He died on his 76th Birthday in Vancouver.

Gnr Harry Bedford.  Born 24 Nov 96 at Sidmouth. Enlisted, aged 19, with MMGS at Bisley on 18 Nov 15. He deployed to France on 24 Aug 16. He was wounded during the action on 15 Sep and was sent down the line; he returned to C Coy on 28 Oct and was transferred to C Bn on its formation in Nov 1916. He was again injured on 25 Feb 17, playing football at Erin. Downgraded in May 17, he served the rest of his time at Bovington and Wareham with the Tank Depot.  Renumbered as 205390 in the Tank Corps, he was discharged in Mar 1919.   

Gnr Ernest Hunt,  born c 1895 and living in Acocks Green, he was in business in a morotcycle and motor shop. Initially in MMGS then transferred to MGC and deployed to France on 24 Aug 16 then Tank Corps. MIC shows MM but not recorded in Tank Corps BoH. Commissioned into Tank Corps (no date on MIC). T/Lt 28 Feb ’19.  Relinquished commission on completion of service 31 Mar 20.  Home address shown as 144 Kenelm Road, Small Heath Birmingham.  Medals issued Jun 1920, he later established a radio and TV shop. 

Gnr Arthur Jakins was  born 27 Dec 86. A 29 year old civil servant, he enlisted at Whitehall on 28 Jan 16 into the MMGS. He deployed to France on 24 Aug 16 and was wounded on 15 Sep. Continued to serve with C Coy and then with C Bn. Wounded in action on the opening day of the Battle of Arras (9 Apr 17) - later suffered a nervous breakdown (according to Piper's diary). He was hospitalised form 18 May to 8 Jul with influenza. He was evacuated to the UK. Later 205450 he was posted to Command Depot at Alnwick; a coy conduct sheet showing him serving with 17 Coy MGC.  He was appointed LCpl on 31 Dec 17. He embarked from France with 12 Bn on 4 Jan 18 on arriving at Le Havre the following day.  On 20 May he was admitted to the Medical huts at the Central stores at Erin.  As a A/Cpl he was wounded on 18 Oct 18 whilst serving with 12 Bn and was returned to the UK. On 13 Nov he was posted to 24 Bn at Wareham as T/MT Sgt with C Coy.  He accepted an appointment with the Post Master General, in 6 Feb ’19 demobilised and transferred to the Z Reserve one month later.

Gnr William Jones was wounded during the actions at the end of Sep 1916. Later 201270 Pte Tank Corps he was commissioned 2Lt Tank Corps (MIC card confirms)

Gnr Clarence Kilminster, Born Cardiff Apr – Jun ’93 the son of George and Alice Kilminster; moved with family to St James Place Leith by 1901. Enlisted at Edinburgh in the MGC and deployed to France on 16 Aug ’16  Remained with C Company, after the first action, and was renumbered as 206136 Gnr.  Whilst serving with C Battalion, he Died of Wounds aged 24 on 3 May 1917, presumably as a result of action during the Battle of Arras.  Buried in IVB11 at Duisens Mil Cemetery (location of 8 CCS) near Arras,

Gnr Victor Newby Enlisted, as a student. aged 19 years 11 months  on  17 Nov 1915 at Coventry. He deployed to France on 24 Aug 16; slightly wounded on 15 Sep and admitted to 4 Cdn Fd Amb; returned to duty the same day.  Stayed with C Bn on its formation and later renumbered 200557 Tank Corps. he later served with C Coy 3 Lt Bn in Whippet tanks. Promoted Cpl 14 Sep18 and transferred to Home Establishment on 17 Oct 18 losing his acting rank of LCpl. Joined 24 Bn and promoted A/Cpl on 4 Jan. Cleared  dispersal on 18 Jan and transferred to Z Reserve on 12 Feb 19. In 1925 he was living at 186 Cliffe Rd, Bradford

Pte Joseph Barton ASC.  Rebadged to MGC in early Jan 1917 and later served with Tank Corps. (77478) – survived