THE FIRST TANK CREWS

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


Number 4 section was commanded by Capt George Mann

Pictured (right) is Lt Harry Drader and Percy who fought with crew D20 in the tank named Daphne

D20 "Daphne" (No 744 Male) was one of 2 tanks (with crew D23 lead by Mann) tasked to support 15 (Scottish) Div in attack towards Martinpuich.  Drader’s original tank broke down on route to the Bde RV and he obtained another. His crew arrived at RV on time and advanced ahead of infantry, reaching their objective then halted.  At 0730 hrs, “Daphne” returned to his RV to refuel and re-ammo, the steering wheels damaged by Germany artillery fire en route.  At 0947 hrs, Capt Mann tasked Drader's tank to go forward to support the infantry but he was unable to do so (the dvr was suffering from shell shock). At 1200 hrs, he was again tasked to take ammo forward to form a depot to the SW of Martinpuich but was unable so to do. Eventually Mann took Daphne forward later that evening driven by his own driver Jack Rossiter.

Harry Drader was born in Marthaville, Ontario on 28 Apr 97 but, by 1901 the family had settled in England. Harry is reported as being 6ft 4 in. On 12 Jan 15 Harry (still 17) took himself off to France to try and work for the YMCA; Harry wanted to be a driver. He sailed from Southampton to Le Havre and then moved onto Rouen; he was back In England by early March and then tried to join the RNAS.  On 26 May, he went to the city of London to try to join the Inn of Court OTC. He was commissioned into 4 Bn North’land Fus on 5 Aug 15. He was seconded for duty to MGC on 27 May 16.  For his actions on 15 Sept 16, he was awarded MC for conspicuous gallantry in action. He fought his Tank with great gallantry, putting enemy infantry to flight and silencing a machine gun. Appointed T/Lt 1 Oct 16, on 14 Nov Drader lead two tanks to attack isolated location near Beaussart. The D Coy war diary states:  8.00 pm.  Orders received to send to two tanks to attack isolated strong-points situated Q17B74. (due to north of Hamel)  Lt Drader and Robinson 7A were detailed with Lt Bell in reserve.  On journey to starting point, Lt Robinson’s tank was hit by shell fire and placed out of action.  Infantry guide was picked up and travelled in leading tank (Lt Drader). At zero (6.00 am on 14 Nov) tanks advanced to the attack and at 50 yards range, Lt Drader opened fire with a 6lb guns. The tanks still advanced and crossed the first line of the strong point, doing good enfilading work. Simultaneously the enemy hoisted the white flag. The tanks at this moment became ditched and an awkward occasion arose, which was handled splendidly by both officers.  A machine gunner was ordered to watch for any sings of treachery on the part of the enemy & the officers and crews then left the tanks and entered the German trenches with loaded revolvers, then coaxed the enemy out of their dug-outs and after about an hour, the prisoners who numbered about 400 were despatched to the rear with an infantry escort. When the adverse conditions of the ground are reckoned with, this must be considered a very fine performance and all ranks engaged with the operation are to be congratulated.  Later awarded two MIDs.  Promoted T/Capt from 12 Apr 17, he commanded a section in 10 Coy during the battle of Arras, Promoted substantive Lt 1 July 17, he was presented with the MC at Buckingham Place by the King 31 Oct 17. Assumed duties of A/Adjt 10 Bn Tank Corps on 21 Mar 18, the first day of the Kaiserslacht offensive, following the shelling of the Bn HQ Mess Hut at Haplincourt Wood, which injured most of the Bn HQ staff. He was appointed A/Maj from 4 Apr 18 when he took over command of a Coy. He commanded B Coy of 10 Bn during the battle of Amiens in August 1918. He served with the Army of Occupation until Feb 1919 when he returned to the UK. He relinquished his commission 30 Sep 21 and worked in the Mining and Petroleum industries in Romania before moving to the USA and settling in Los Angeles. He married Peg Schafer in 1928 and they had one daughter Pat.  Harry became a highly successful business man as well as a naturalised US citizen; he died in Los Angeles on 14 Nov 1956 exactly 40 years after he completed the remarkable act of bravery near Hamel. (Family info and pictures in the Photo gallery provided by David E Drader).

Owen Rowe was born in Chagford, in Devon during the summer 1897. A farmer's son, he enlisted on 28 Feb 16 having previously lived at Scotstoun in Glasgow, and rapidly was appointed as an NCO,  In 1917 he became a Driving instructor at the tank driving school at Wailly. Later promoted Sgt, he lost a leg at the battle of Cambrai and was discharged on 1 Nov 18. Later worked a taxi driver with Roy Reiffer (D17) at Bovington, Owen died of TB in early 1923.

Walter Atkins was wounded during the action on 15 Sep; he was hit by shell splinters whilst standing outside the tank at the point of assembly. Walter Atkins was born on 4 Aug 95 at 57 Henley Road in Bell Green near Coventry. The only son of a coal hewer, Walter became a machinist in the burgeoning bicycle manufacturing industry.  He enlisted at Coventry in Mar 1916 joining the Machine Gun Corps, where he was trained alongside Roland Elliot at Bisley and Elveden.  Walter was wounded during the action on 15 Sep and his injuries were so bad that he was evacuated to the United Kingdom.  After treatment at Oswaldtwistle, Walter recovered and was posted to the new tank training grounds in Dorset where he joined No 19 Coy of  G Bn. On 8 Feb 1917, he sought medical assistance as he was suffering with extreme abdominal pain.  During an operation to remove his appendix the following day, he died aged only 21. He was buried at home in Foleshill Congregational Burial Ground. His letters to his mother, written whilst he was training at Bisley and Elveden arecheld in the Archives of the Herbert Museum in Coventry

Joseph Clark was born in c 12 Oct 89 at Newcastle. An optician, he was attested on 10 Dec 5, Mobilised to MMGS 3 Mar 16, he deployed overseas on 1 Sep and posted to D Bn (on formation) on 15 Nov 16. He was never promoted. Renumbered 200814, he was granted second class proficiency pay on 28 Jul 17. He posted to the Tank Corps Central Workshops on 27 Sep 1917 on whose strength he remained until de-mobilization.  He was granted UK leave in Oct 1917 and Oct 1918 and leave in France in Feb 1919. He was demobilised in May 1919 and returned to Corbridge on Tyne.

Roland Elliot was born in Foleshill in late 1896; he was the son of a mechanic Robert Elliott and his wife Florrie. Robert soon became involved in the cycle manufacturing trade which had became centred on Coventry. Roland’s elder brother Arthur followed his father into cycle trade but Roland initially became a butcher’s assistant; hge ater became a motorcycle tester.  Roland became the best of friends with Walter Atkins during his training . He served in the Tanks throughout the war, but other than the fact they he was never promoted, we know nothing of his Army life after 15 Sep 1916.   After the war, Roland returned to Foleshill and, in 1931, married Annie Taylor. They settled close by at 38 Churchill Avenue, only half a mile from his childhood home.  He managed Queens Mary's Road garage, off the Foleshill Rd in Coventry from 1935 until he retired in 1962. Roland died, aged  68 on 9 Jul 1965 at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Bournemouth.  

Ernest H Statham. born in Aston in 1891 but later moved to Keresley.  He married Frances Cliff in summer 1911 and they had two children, Alec and Phyllis before the war. Served with Walter Atkins and Rol Elliott in the Black Cat crew. After the war, Herbert set up business as a boot repairer. His youngest daughter Thora was born in 1926 and his son Alec was an international speedway racer. Ernest later set up a luggage manufacturing company but it failed shortly after his wide's death,  

Pte Frank Styring born 8 Nov 89 probably in Nether Hallam near Sheffield. The third child and eldest son of optician Charles Percy Styring and his wife Lilly he enlisted Sheffield; continued to serve with D Coy and then D Bn on its formation.  DOW, aged 27, on 9 Apr 17 during the opening actions of the battle of Arras.  Letters to the family state “"He knew no fear. He was one of my best men. He was guiding a "tank" over the Hindenburg line" OC.  "He was in the open pointing out the way so that his crew might get along safely" The Chaplain.  As he was buried at Beaurains Rd Military Cemetery, he was probably killed during the attack by 56th Div of the southern part of the Harp feature; the section being commanded by Capt Hugh Bell.  His parents, who later named their house as “Beaurains”, erected a fine memorial to their son at Crookes cemetery in Sheffield and also in St Stephen’s Church.

Pte Alfred Bowerman who suffered shell-shock during the battle, remained in the ASC after the action.

Afternote; D20 was photographed by Geoffrey Malins, both before and after the battle; the footage being shown in the film "The Battle of the Ancre":  the first footage was taken on 14th Sep as "Daphne" moved up to the action at Martinpuich.  Although Malins observed her in action in 15th Sept 16, he failed to take any pictures. She was photographed again prior to the attack on Beaumont-Hamel, in which the crew are seen to mount the tank but sadly the individuals are not identified.

D21"Delphine"  (No 512 - female). D21 was in support of 47th Div attack on High Wood.  Headed up the wood's SE edge where tank broke the axle of its steering tail after 10 minutes and finished near the mine crater south east of High Wood. Not recovered.

Lt Alex Sharp . the son of an engine fitter, was born in Dundee on 26 Jul 1892. He was awarded BSC for engineering at St Andrews University in 1916He was  commissioned Hy Sect MGC on 15 Apr 16. Promoted T/Lt 1 Jul 16, he relinquished commission on account of ill-health caused by wounds 9 Feb 19, and retained rank of Lt; his service being recorded on the Rosebank Parish Church Roll of Honour.  After the war he went to India where he was a member of the Indian Civil Service during the inter-war years, Bill Sampson reports he visited Poona in India during the 20s. He Married Bessie Donald and they had three children, Catherine George and Gillian. Probably died on 18 Dec 67 (shown as BSc, MICE, ICE (Retd) of 4 Richmond Terrace Dundee; beloved husband of Bessie Donald and father of Pat, Jock and Gillian.) There is a picture of Sharp and other company member on the rear page of the Daily Sketch published 23 Nov 1916; this photo was also published in the Birmingham on 26 Sep;Harold Wigley being mentioned..

Cpl Harold  Wigley was born in 1887; the son of a carpenter.  He lived at Small Health In Birmingham,  He fought at the Battle of Arras and was captured by the Germans on 11 Apr 1917. He remained a POW for the rest of the war. Possibly married in Jul to Sep ‘25 to  Miss Violet G B Stanley; they had a daughter also called Violet.  They later lived at Hannover St Bromsgrove (1963 Phone directory) Harold Wigley shown as a commission agent.  He died in Bromsgrove on 8 Mar 1966. 

George Charles Foot(e) MGC.  born 3 Sep 1897 in Regents Park, London.  George enlisted at Aylesbury and served with the Welsh Regt before joining the MGC.  He was awarded the DCM “for conspicuous gallantry in action.  He displayed great courage and determination fighting with his tank.  Later he remained for 30 hours with a wounded officer under heavy fire”. The citation was published in the London Gazette on 14 November 1916; the description of the action being similar to that recorded on 1 Oct 1916 when Lt Jefferson Wakley was injured whilst commanding D16; the tank having ditched near Eaucourt  L’Abbaye and Wakely being injured as he attempted to make his way to British lines. Later joining D Bn, Foote was promoted Lance Corporal. He fought at Cambrai, being  KIA on 20 Nov 1917 whilst fighting  in D51 Deborah as she made her way through the German occupied village of Flesquieres . After his death, Frank Heap wrote to Charles Foot stating he” was killed instantly and painlessly.  We buried him two days later where he had fallen”   Heap indicates that he expected Foot to be commissioned.  Foot was buried, along with the four other members of the Deborah crew, at Flesquieres Hill Cemetery.  He is commemorated on the war memorial at Great Missenden.

Gnr Hales                                                                                                 

Gnr George Moscrop  born 110 March 1894 in Longtown Cumberland, where he knew Douglas Tweddle who later served in tank D25. He enlisted 10 Dec 1915 whilst a boot maker’s motor driver. Mobilised in Mar 1916 and first joined for duty at Coventry on 27 Mar.  Posted to HSMGC on 4 May then to D Coy on 27 May . One offence of AWOL from Bulhousen Farm Camp on 28 May to 30 May 1916 – 7 days CB and forfeit 2 days pay awarded by 2Lt Hastie.   Deployed on 1 Sep 1916 and continued to serve with D Bn for the duration of the war. Renumbered later 200843 Tank Corps serving with C Coy 4th Bn. Blank conduct sheet, Returned to UK 30 Jan 19; demobilised and transferred to Z Reserve Feb 1919. He married Alexandrina in 1926 and they had five children whilst living in Patagonia. The family returned to the UK in 1932 and George died in Longtown on 17 Jan 1970.

Gnr J Preston probably 1583 Gnr John Preston RFA who became Tank Corps 200280

Gnr Shepherd – possibly 32100 Ernest Shepherd MGC; born Birmingham and enlisted Coventry. He continued to serve with D Bn and probably fought at the Battle of Arras, during the assault near Thelus, on 9 Apr 17.  He served with 12th Coy of D Bn and was KIA on 3 May 17 at the second battle of Bullecourt. Commemorated on Arras Memorial

Pte Herbert E Wilson -rebadged to MGC (75072) and survived

D22 (No 756 - Male) was in support of 47th Div attack on High Wood  This tank headed off up the wood's SE edge but became fouled on tree stumps, having wrecked its steering tail.  Stranded near the double crater, at the south east of the wood, its crew kept its guns working in support of the attack. Colle reported that it was stranded somewhere near the front line.  The crew dug the tank out after 14 days.  After action: D22 was next in action, on 25 Sep, in support of the Canadians near Courcellette and was destroyed to the east side of the village.

Lt Eric Robinson was born in Wood Green in East London on 2 Oct 92.  An engineer by trade, Eric enlisted in the RNAS on 18 Nov 14.  He first served at HMS Pembroke III as a PO Engineer until 31 Mar 15; he then served with the Armoured Car Division RNAS until 15 Aug when he was released having successful applied for a commission in the Army.  Commissioned into the MGC, Eric he embarked at Southampton on 2 Sep. For his actions at High Wood, was awarded MC for conspicuous gallantry in action. He fought his Tank with great gallantry. Later, when his Tank became ditched, he and his crew dug for 14 hrs under heavy fire, eventually getting his tank out and back to the assembly point.  Eric commanded one of three tanks tasked to capture German positions to the north of Hamel on 13 Nov 16; his tank was hit by artillery fire and put out of action. He transferred to D Bn on its formation and married Elsie Mapley whilst on leave on 27 Dec 16. He commanded no 9 Sect of 12 Coy during the assault on Vimy Ridge on 9 Apr 17; the tanks being all ditched due to the poor ground conditions. Appointed T/ Capt 12 Apr 17, he again commanded a section at the second battle of Bullecourt on 3 May 17. He was appointed A/Maj whilst comding a coy in 10th Bn from 25 Jan 18 and was wounded 21 May 18. He was awarded a Bar to MC whilst serving with 10th Bn  "Near Mallard Wood, on August 8th and 9th,18, this officer showed conspicuous gallantry and coolness directing his tanks under heavy fire . Owing to the heavy mist on the 8th., a large number of tanks and infantry lost direction. Major Robinson, realising the situation, came forward under shellfire and rallied the tanks and sent them forward again to lead the infantry to their objectives .It was largely due to this officer's personal gallantry and disregard for danger that his Coy was successful in its attack. On Aug 9th, when the tank commanded by 2/Lt Champeney was disabled in front of our infantry, Major Robinson went forward to obtain information regarding 2/Lt Champeney and his crew. Throughout these actions his great coolness and courage were a splendid example to all ranks serving under him, and inspired the whole Coy"  He was KIA on 4 Nov 18, aged 26, whilst serving 10th Bn Tank Corps at Cotillon sur Sambe near le Cateau; 4th Bn only being able to field two sections.  His body initially buried on the western outskirts of Cattilon sur Sambre but later moved to the Highland Cemetery Le Cateau. His name is found on the war memorial at Ilford Town hall and in The Church of St. John the Evangelist at Seven Kings (Essex) and also on the family gravestone at the City of London Cemetery Manor Park London. His picture and citations for his two MC are shown in the Ilford War Memorial Gazette published 1930


Cpl Dudley Neville White born 6 Dec 96 in Coventry, the second child (only son) of Frederick Charles White. Dudley first worked at Kenilworth Mill, then Eykyns Motor Garage where he learned engineering.  He was enlisted at Kenilworth in Oct 15 and promoted Lance Corporal within two weeks After the first action, he was also in action on 25 Sep, the tank being destroyed and White getting a bullet through his hat. He continued to serve with D Bn, probably with 11 Coy and almost certainly fought at the first battle of Bullecourt. Later renumbered 200865 in the Tank Corps; he was KIA aged 20 yrs on 9 Oct 1917 whilst serving as the tank NCO and gunner at Poelcapelle. His tank skipper, Lt J A Coghlan (who commanded Damon II) wrote to the family thus:  Dear Mr. White  I am very sorry to have to inform you that your son Dudley, the finest and bravest boy I have ever met, was killed in action on the 9th of this month. He was in my own crew, and we went into action at dawn on that morning against some strong points at Poelcapelle. From the start we were shelled heavily, and about 8.30 a shell struck the Tank, killing your son who was at his gun – he was a gunner – instantly. His death must have been painless, for he never uttered a word, being hit along the back and right side. The Corps has lost a brave soldier and my Company a dear comrade with his death and you have our utmost sympathy at this sad blow. Any of his effects he may have left in his kit will be sent to you. He is buried beside the Tank in Poelcapelle, and a braver boy never rests under the Belgian soil. I send the sympathy of the whole Company to you and your family”. His grave was subsequently lost and he is commemorated at Tyne Cott. At Kenilworth he is commemorated on the War Memorial and on a brass plate in the Church of St Nicholas.  Details obtained from Susan Tall from her book “Kenilworth and the Great War”. 

Gnr James Anderson was born in 93 at South Leith and worked as a clerk. He was attested on 29 Sep 15 in Edinburgh; authorised at Bisley 8 Oct 15, as a member of the MMGS and then posted to D Coy 27 May 16.  Fought at Flers and transferred to D Bn on formation in Nov 16 and served with No 12 Coy.  He fought at Vimy Ridge, on 9 Apr 17, when Pte Ewart Doodson (see D1) died on Anderson’s knee. Anderson then fought at the second battle of Bullecourt, as a gunner in Tank D41 commanded by Lt CM Knight and driven by LCpl Wateridge - see D1.  The tank made an initial attack, in support of 62nd Div to the south west of Bullecourt. The tank reached the German trenches, and patrolled then, by was unable to link up with any British infantry.  The Tank then withdrew to offload her injured crew; the unarmoured vehicle being damaged by armour piercing bullets.  Although Anderson was injured by bullet splash to the eyes, he refused to leave his duties and returned with the tank to the south east of the village, where again the tank patrolled the German trenches until it virtually ran out of ammunition.  It then returned to its rally point, having been in action for 7 hrs. Anderson was awarded DCM and Croix de Guerre. At Bullecourt, May 3.17. He was rebadged as 200774 to the Tank Corps and granted Cl pay 22 Oct 17.He returned to the UK for special duty and was attached to 14 Bn at Bovington on 14 Nov 17. He had retrained as a driver and was posted to 16 Bn on 3 Jan 18 and confirmed as 2 Cl Tank Mechanic 2? Mar 18. He was confirmed as  Class Tank Mechanic 10 May 18. He then caught from influenza and returning to duties on 21 Jul 18. He returned to France 10 Sep 18, later serving with C Coy 16 Bn Tank Corps. On 18 Jan 19 he was appointed LCpl by OC 16 Bn Returned to UK 25 Mar 19 and demobilised 29 Mar 19.


Gnr John Applegate was born Jan 92 at Chelsea; his father was  an insurance agent and many of the siblings were born at Chawton and Alton.  Authorised and joined MMGS on 1 Nov 15.transferred to MGC 1 Dec, he transferred to “21” on 4 Mar 16.  Post to “W” Coy on 24 May 16 and then embarked with D Coy on 2 Sep.  After the initial fighting, he was transferred to D Bn (on its formation) 14 Nov 16.  Later 200783 Tank Corps serving with C Coy of 4 Tank Bn. He was granted UK leave from 10 to 21 Nov (and therefore missed the Battle of Cambrai). On 13 Nov, he married Ada Mansfield at Aldershot. He was transferred from 4 Bn to the Home Establishment on 17 Oct 18 and posted to the Tank Depot, then to 19 Bn on 13 Nov.  On 12 Feb 19, he was serving with C Coy 19 Tk Bn. On 13 Nov 19, he was serving with A Coy Tank Corps Depot.  He was discharged as a pte on 31 Mar 20. Later requested to join Army B Reserve; he was attested at Guildford on 4 Mar 21. At this time he was employed as a storeman and living at 4 Alexander St, North Town Aldershot. Although he was initially passed as fit, he was subsequently shown to be suffering from varicose veins.  He was issued his medals on 21 Jul 21. In Feb 27, he sought the assistance of the YMCA St Patrol in London in obtaining his discharge certificate; at this time he stated he was a carpenter and living in 187 Marylebone Rd.


Gnr Jack Choules was born in Dec 97. Jack lived at 28 Norfolk Rd, Maidenhead and worked as a builder’s clerk.  Attested at Reading on 18 Oct 15, he enlisted into MMGS.  He was posted to D Coy 27 May and proceeded to France on 1 Sep 16, After the first action, was posted to D Bn on its formation. He then served with 12 Coy as a Lewis and 6lb gunner.  Probably served with 9 Section during the assault from Neuville St Vaast towards Thelus in support of 2nd Cdn Div on 9 April at Vimy Ridge.  Received GSW to the scalp on 3 May 17 during the attack by 12 Coy at the second battle of Bullecourt; hospitalised and returned to the UK. He was discharged from Hosp 16 Jun 17; posted to the Tank Depot at Wareham on 10 Aug 17 and then transferred to 3 (Reserve) Bn Manchester Regt on 20 Aug 17 which was based at Cleethorpes throughout the war.  He was appointed unpaid LCPL on 19 Apr 18 and discharged from the Army, as a LCpl on 20 Mar 19 and accorded 40% disability pension from GSW to the scalp. Possibly married Elsie King in Reading in late 1921, their a daughter Pamela was born the following summer.  Possibly died Eton in 50


Gnr Arthur Lowson was born on 24 Dec 95 in Arbroath. Before he joined the MMGS in Mar 16, he worked as a clerk at a local jute works in Dundee. He was wounded on 15 Sep whilst in action at High Wood,. Having recovered he served on with D then 4th Battalion.  He was declared missing on 11 Aug 18 after an attack near Parvillers when a composite section was deployed in support on 32 Div. He is commemorated at the Vis en Artois ememroial to the missing and also at his school in Dundee, the Harris Academy.


Gnr Percy Raworth. Born Knaresborough near Harrogate in Jun 90. The local paper, (Harrogate Herald) recorded he was a brilliant footballer and sportsman. He enlisted Rushden, Northampton where he was working for his brother in law at a shoe factory. MM awarded for his actions whilst extracting his tank from High WoodHe remained with D Coy then joined D Bn and served with them at the Battle of Arras. Renumbered on allocation to Tank Corps (200786) he died of wounds, aged 27, on 23 Sep 17, as result of injuries caused by an aerial bomb; he was on duty guarding the Bn's animals.  Buried at Gwalia cemetery near Ypres.


Pte Ernest Howes, the ASC driver who  was awarded the MM, was born in Shirehampton near Bristol. He trained as an electrical engineer as a young man .His medal card shows him as attached MGC but he later joined the Tank Corps. He married Violet Heath just after the battle of Cambrai. They settled in Sea Mills and Ersnest died, aged 77 in 1970. 

D23 (No 528 - female). One of 2 tanks (with D20 - Drader) tasked to support 15 (Scottish) Div in attack on Martinpuich. Arrived at RV on time but track smashed by artillery fire.  Returned to RV.  At 0947, Mann tasked Drader to go forward to support infantry but unable to do so (dvr had shock!). At 1200 hrs, tasked Drader to take ammo forward to form a depot SW of Martinpuich, did not do so. Eventually Mann took D20 forward later that evening driven by Jack Rossiter.

·Capt George William Mann. Born c 91 at Caterham. Served as a Regular soldier in the Royal Scots from 1906-1913.  In 1914, called up and transferred to MMGS, Deployed to France 22 Mar 15, later Sgt and WO2. Commissioned 8 Nov 15. Married Dora Pugh at All Saints Church Fulham on 12 Feb 16.  On 12 Sep 16 he was tasked to command tanks in support of III Corps and attended a Corps conference. A Section Commander on 15 Sep 16, he subsequently assumed role of Adjt on 6 Nov. On 14 Nov 16, he was tasked to establish a route across own lines and through German positions near Beaucourt station.  He returned to the UK in Mar 17 and served as 2ic 17 Coy of F Bn.  Died of his Wounds aged 26, on 24 Jul 17 from enemy fire whilst sheltering in a dug out at Trois Tours whilst tanks were being moved forward in readiness for action at the start of the Third Battle of Ypres.  He is buried at Dozingham British Military Cemetery.   

Sgt Nicholson 

Gnr Little

Gnr Parkin – possibly 40012 Pte William Edmund Parkin later Cpl 4th Bn Tank Corps.

Pte John Barnes Starkey Born summer 1896 at Basford, he was the only surviving child of a fruiterer. Enlisted at Nottingham, he later served with D Bn. Declared missing on 27 Nov 17 whilst serving with No 17 Coy of F Bn and attacking enemy position in Bourlon village.  Probably served in No 6 Sect in either Fighting Mac or Flaming Fire, both tanks being knocked out closed to the village. He was later declared to be Killed in Action.  

Gnr Tillotson – probably Henry C Tillotson who continued to serve with the Tank Corps but deserted in early Jan 1919. 

Gnr Douglas Benson Tweddle born Summer 1892.  Son of William Tweddle of Longtown in Cumberland. A 23 year old ironmonger, he was mobilized on 23 Mar 16 and approved at Bisley on 31 Mar.   Deployed to France on 31 Aug and transferred to D Bn on its formation. He was hospitalized with impetigo on 12 Jan 17 at St Pol but despite constant care, did not recover and returned to England on 3 Mar 17.  Posted to the Tank School as an instructor on 17 Nov and immediately appointed a first class tank machinist (TM). Married Agnes Rutherford at St Andrew’s United Free Church at Longtown on 16 Jan 19 and on 22 Jan, was appointed Sgt Instr with the Central School. Dispersed from Heaton Park on 26 Mar, Demobilised on 25 April 19.  Home addresses 43 Swan Street at Longdown.  Two sons Stanley born spring 1920 and Martin Autumn 1925. Possibly died in 1954, aged 62 years, registered in Carlisle.

Pte Osmond Woodford “Jack” Rossiter was born 10 May 97 at Moor Court Farm, Marnhull. Fifth child of Thomas and 'Bessie' Rossiter.  He joined the ASC as a driver. After the battle, he rebadged MGC then Tank Corps (Private 75066)  Injured in service twice; second on duty 29 Sep 18 and later served (as Sgt) with 19 Bn in UK. On 22 Jan 21, at Sturminster Register Office married Sarah Daniel (b 1889) from Yorkshire. They had two children Harry (b 1921) and John (b 1928). He set up business as a butcher at Hazelbury Bryan.  During the Depression, he moved to Boscombe where he found work as a mechanic in a Ford garage. The family was living over a butcher's shop where he later got a job. After the war, he again established his own butchery business, this time in Wimborne.  He died on 3 Nov 1963. (Family information and photograph for the Gallery provided by his grand-daughter Ann)

 

D24 (751 - Male).  D24 was in support of assault of 50th Div in area to east of Martinpuich in concert with Lt Colle (D25). Leaving Martinpuich Communal cemetery, the two tanks crossed the British front line at 06.03, 17 minutes before Zero Hour.  When the artillery bombardment lifted and the infantry advanced, Colle and Stones were in position on the German front line.  They gave close support to the assault and shortly after 07.00 followed it forward.  D24 got through to the second line of German trenches when it was hit by artillery fire, the officer (Lt Stones) was injured in the head and the driver (Pte Wood) in the eyes.  The tank was again hit on the right track and it was abandoned.  The crew took cover in shell holes and according to one account, joined in the attack.   They managed to get back to trenches manned by the Durham Light Infantry by 1.00 pm.  At 3.00 pm Pte Foster recorded they went to find one of the officers and by 9.00 they got back to camp.  The crew were pictured before they left Elveden and is shown in the photo galley.   

Lt Walter Stones. Born on 5 May 1881 in Doncaster and educated at the local Grammar School Walter was the son of a farmer. Walter was brought up in Warmslow. He became a farmer and a land agent.  Like several other tank officers, he served with 18 Bn Royal Fusilers in France before he was commissioned). He received a head wound on 15 Sep and was later awarded MC For conspicuous gallantry in action. Although wounded he fought his tank with great gallantry and determination, finally reaching his objective. (LG 24 Nov 16).  Returned to the UK, with Maj Summers then served under his command as a Captain with F Bn.  He then deployed with the Bn on 20 May to France, where it established its base to Auchy-Les-Hesdin.  On 1 Jun the Bn moved to Wailly (the Corps Driving School) for two weeks then to the Corps Gunnery School at Merlimont for live firing; tanks were then drawn and taken back to Auchy before deploying to the Ypres Salient on 2 Jul.  He fought at 3rd Ypres and Cambrai before returning to the UK just before Christmas 17. He was appointed A/Maj whilst comding a Coy 25 Jan 18 but relinquished comd 26 Aug 18; possibly after the battle of Amiens. He relinquished commission on completion of service and granted rank of Major 1 Sep 21. After the war, he returned to farming near Doncaster.  He retired in 1968 and settled in the Wheatley Hills.  He died Sat 1 April 1972 at his home, 10 Crossways, Doncaster “in his 91st year” and is buried Rose Hill Cemetery in Doncaster.

Gnr Coffey- possibly 206098 Pte Robert Steele Coffey who was born in Bradford in 1880.  The son of an Irish presbyterian minister, he was bought up in Bradford but later became a merchant seaman and wool buyer.  He was captutred by the Germans whilst serving with No 12 Coy following the 2nd battle of Bullecourt.  He was a POW from 3 May 17 to 11 Nov 18.  After the war, he travelled to Australia and died in Sydney in 1931. 

Gnr Foster – William Ernest (Billy) Foster was born in 5 Dec 93 in Mansfield where his family ran a grocers' shop.  He enlisted into the MMGS  on 16 Feb 1916. His height is recorded at 5’ 8” with a fair complexion, brown hair and brown eyes; he also wore glasses and had a very slight chest measuring 28 inches.  On 13 Sep, he deployed with his tank near to Bazentin le Petit. They went over the start line at 5.00 a.m. on 15 Sep, Billy  manning the left hand 6 lb gun. He recalled that the tank got through to the second line of German trenches when it was hit by artillery fire, the officer (Lt Stones) was injured in the head and the driver in the eyes. He served on with D Bn and later qualified as a Lewis Gunner.  Renumbered as 200816 Pte Tank Corps, he later qualified as a first aider. On 10 Aug 1918, whilst still serving with 4 Bn, his left forearm and abdomen were injured by a shell during the battle of Amiens – the tank comd was Sgt McNichol.  Billy was evacuated to 3 Aus Gen Hosp at Abbeville, and then to the Military Hospital Endell Street WC. The wounds were severe and Billy was not discharged from the Army Hospital at Sheffield until 11 Apr 1919 and on 21 May 1919 he was awarded a SWB. The damage to his left arm took many years to recover and he was awarded a pension until 1923, the same year married Winifred Morris. He conitnued work as a clerk and then became a transport manager.  The couple lived in Mansfield at least until 1967 when he attended the 50th Anniversary of the battle of Cambrai. After Winifred died,  Billy moved to Leicestershire where he died, aged 91, on 11 May 1984.  He is pictured in the photo gallery.

Gnr Hardy- no details are known about this soldier.

Gnr Reeve (13 possibilities) – Reiffer remembers Les Reeves who was in action at Arras , driving with Head. Probably  32101 Leslie Reeve born and resided Birmingham  (later 206154) DoW on 24 Apr ‘17 whilst serving with D Bn;  He is buried at Warlincourt Halte British Cemetery, Saulty; the plot being used for those who died during the battle of Arras by 32 Casualty Clearing Station. No family details given

Gnr Fred Rule   born Summer 1890 at Ford in Glendale Northumberland; youngest son (fourth child) of slater and plasterer John Scott and Mary; Frederick also became a slater and plasterer. He married Jane Anne Athey at 7 June 13 and their daughter Elizabeth born on 25 Aug 14. Frederick enlisted at 9 Dec 15 at Wooler, Northumberland. He was mobilised on 2 Apr and examined at Coventry on 5 Apr 16 so he must havejoined the MMGS.  Authorised at Bisley by Capt A G Woods on 5 May 1916, he proceeded overseas on 1 Sep 1916. His son Charles Eric was born on 25 Nov. Frederick stayed with D Bn after Nov 16 and must have fought during the opening actions of the battle of Amiens. He was wounded on 23 Apr 17 when he was burnt, presumably when his tank was hit.  Returning to duty on 8 Jun, he retrained as a driver. He later served with C Coy 4 Tank Bn and fought in tank no 4029 at the battle of Amiens. He was posted back to England on 18 Oct when he served with A Coy 25 Bn at Wareham as a corporal. Dispersed from Doddington on 22 Jan 1919; rank shown as Cpl.  The family later settled in Alnwick where Fred died on 16 Nov 59, aged 69.

Gnr Wells possibly Pte John Wells – born Harpurhey near Manchester, Lancs in 1892, the eldest son of labourer John and Hannah Wells who lived at 12 James St in Bradford in Bradford with Beswick; enlisted Coventry and later served as Pte in 4th Tank Corps died whilst serving aged 25 on 22 March 1918 during the withdrawal as part of the Kaiserslacht. Commerorated on the Pozieres memorial. 

M2/138915 Pte Frederick George Wood ASC who was wounded in the eyes during action.  Rebadged MGC then Tank Corps (Pte 75069).

D25 (No 511 Female).  D25 was in support of assault of 50th Div in area to east of Martinpuich in concert with Lt Walter Stones (D24).  The crew prepared for the attack near Flatiron Copse on 14 Sep and that evening, at 15-yards-per minute, drove north to Bazentin-le-Petit Communal Cemetery, their start point. The tank advanced to first objective, halted then moved forward again when Stones tank was hit by artillery and a track was smashed.  Colle's tank pressed on north, across the ridge towards Martinpuich, covering the infantry to the South east and then moved along the eastern edge of the village, where he put three machine guns out of action.  They then pushed on again reaching the final objective. D25 returned to the cemetery later that afternoon and signalled that help was needed to repair the tail gear and steering pump.   

2Lt Edward Colle. Born Llanishen Cardiff 12 Feb 93, the eldest son and third child of George Colle a well known Cardiff tailor and outfitter. After attending Penarth County School, he worked as a chartering clerk for the shipping firm of Lysberg Limited at Cardiff Docks.  In Aug 14, aged 21, he enlisted in 1/1st Glamorgan Yeo as trooper, joined its MG Sect and was promoted to a Sergeant Major.  He attended officer training at No 2 Offr Cadet Bn between Feb and Apr 16 and, on 15 Apr, was commissioned into the HS of the MGC.  For his action on 15 Sep Colle was awarded the MC For conspicuous gallantry in action. He fought his Tank with great gallantry, reaching the third objective. Later, on several occasions he went to the assistance of the infantry, and finally brought his Tank safely out of action. Colle was wounded later that month; possibly during the assault on Eaucourt L’Abbeye and returned to the UK.  Promoted T/Lt on 1 Oct 16, when he recovered from his wounds, he was employed at the Ministry of Shipping from Mar 17 to Apr 19. He relinquished his commission on completion of service 29 Jan 19 and retained the rank of Lt.  After the war he became a Chartered Shipbroker and later moved to Cheltenham. He was granted an emergency commission in the RTR on 22 Apr 40 and was initially employed at GHQ 2nd Echelon as a records officer until 5 Jul. He was then served with a number of pioneer companies and later employed as a salvage officer on North Africa. In Dec 44 he returned to India and was posted to the Calcutta Censor station and was later posted to Simla as OC of the Censor Detachment.  After the war ended, he acted as OC Troops on trooping ships for 2 years before demobilisation.  He returned to the Uk and lived in London until his death. 

Cpl Reynolds possibly Reynolds Henry T F , Tank Corps 200893 Warrant Officer Cl 2 born Plymstock Devon ‘86

Gnr Bell – Colle reported Bell was slightly wounded

Gnr Garner

Gnr James Petrie – Born 1 Mar 95 in Markinch in Fyfe, he was a shipping clerk who was living at 17 Nelson St Kirkaldy when he was attested on 9 Dec 15 at Perth. He was mobilized on 1 May 16 and transferred next day to HS MGC.  Posted to D Coy on 27 May and deployed on 1 Sep. He was wounded on 15 Sep and admitted to 22 Gen Hosp at Dannes Camiers on 19 Sep; he returned to D Coy on 10 Oct.  Joined D Bn on its formation, and served with 10 Coy.  He fought at the battle of Arras and was again wounded on 23 Apr 17, during the attack from Henin sur Cojeuil. Although he was admitted with gunshot wounds to his left thigh and hands, he rejoined his Bn the same day. He fought with 10 Coy in the Salient and at Flesquieres.  He later served with 10 Coy of the redesignated 4th Bn until the end of the war. He eventually was demobilised in Jan 1919.

Gnr Herbert Routledge was born on 23 May 92 in Abbey Town in Cumberland. His father was a carpenter and his mother a school teacher.  He was a milk recorder for the Board of Agriculture when he was attested on 9 Dec 15 at Penrith.  Stating that his preference was to serve with the ASC MT, he joined the HS MGC from the Army Reserve on 28 Apr 16. Transferred to D Coy on 29  May and deployed overseas on 1 Sep.  He joined D Bn in Dec 16 and served with No 10 Coy. He was wounded on 20 Nov during the attack at Flesquieres by a machine gun; the bullet passing though the left hand arm. He was evacuated on 11 Dec to No 3 Southern General Hospital at Oxford, treated for 3 days before convalscence at Barton Court Auxiliary Hospital. Returning to duty on 28 Jan, he served with the Tank Depot until he was posted back to France on 24 Apr 1918 and  joined 5th Bn Tank Corps on 5 May.  He served with the Bn as a private soldier and first class tank mechanic, and was demobilised in Jan 19.    

Gnr Wilkie – Colle reported Bell slightly wounded

Pte John Maude ASC wounded during the action; rebadged to MGC then Tank Corps (75063)

D25 (Lt Colle) was tasked to support D22 (Robinson) during an attack at Courcelette on 26 Sep but ditched near Pozieres en route.  The crew photo published on the IWM site is dated 28 Nov ’16; however it is almost certainly one of the series taken at Elveden prior to the Company’s deployement to France