THE FIRST TANK CREWS

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


No 2 Section commanded by Capt Graeme Nixon

Pte Horace Allebone - pictured seated - who fought with Nixon in crew D12 and who was killed at Flesquieres on 20 November 1917.

D7 (No 742 - Male). 


Part of G group, one of 3 tanks supporting the 41st Div attack on Flers. It crossed the British front line but was unable to keep up with Arnold (D16), due to trouble coping with the heavily shelled ground.  Its steering tail was also damaged.  It became ditched in a large shell hole and attempts to drive it out caused the engine to develop a loud knock (probably due to a large of lubrication).  The crew got out safely and it was subsequently recovered by the ASC workshop staff.  David Fletcher states that the tank was tasked on 16 Sep in support of attack from Flers but became ditched; Archie Richards story is at odds within this


Lt Alfred Enoch. Born 25 June 1891 in Willenhall near Wolverhampton, the son of a house finisher, Alfred studied art as a young man. He was commissioned into 3 Bn Notts & Derby Regt (Spec Res), shortly after the war started and was promoted Lt on 7 Apr 15.  He was appointed to 14th Bn but, as the unit was transferred to the training reserve, he joined to HS MGC on 17 April 16.  After the first tank action, he continued to command D7 and fought at Battle of Morval on 25 Sep when the tank was destroyed. Transferred to D Bn on its formation. he commanded D43 Delysia (a female tank), in No 9 Sect of 12 Coy, in support of an attack by 51st Highland Div on 23 - 24 Sep 17 at Ypres.  His tank followed Lt Sherwood's along a road towards Poelcappelle, Sherwood’s tank became ditched and, despite continuous efforts to get past the wreck, Delysia driver's was unable to do so.  Enoch's tank however used its Lewis guns to good effect in breaking up a German counter-attack.  Appointed T/Capt on 17 Nov 17, he commanded 11 Sect of  12 Coy of D Bn at Battle of Cambrai.  After the initial repulse to the attack on Flesquieres, Enoch lead a section from the Bn Rallying point, by the railway line, and went through the village at dusk.  The "Deborah" tank website then reports he took command of No 12 Sect after Capt Graeme Nixon had been wounded.  He commanded a tank section which delayed the Germans adavnce in March 1918. During the final advance, he was appointed LO to the American division when the Bn was in support during early October 1918. Appointed Adjt of 4 Bn on 16 Oct 18 and served in that role until 17 Mar 19, he was the only officer who served with D Coy, then D Bn and finally 4th Bn from the time it deployed to France until the Armistice.  Awarded MC for service whilst with 4th Bn Tank Corps: (LG dated 30 May 19).  Relinquished commission on 20 May 20) and retained the rank of Capt.  Died aged 68 years in Wimbledon and buried at St Thomas's Cemetery, Memory Laneat  Wednesfield, Wolverhampton. He is buried with his wife Eva Compston whom he married in early 1916. Their son William became an actor and is best known for playing Ian Chesterton in the first Doctor Who series.   His grandson, Alphie Enoch is also an actor who appeared the Harry Potter films and is now making his reputation in the United States,

   

Cpl Charles Ironmonger. Born 5 June 97 n Clerkenwell. He was bought up in Islington and then Southwark. He drove  a 3 wheeled car for a wetfish shop before he joined the MMGS. He was one of the dozen or so men who where sent to the Trident works at Lincoln to assist in the early work on Mother then deployed to Elvenden for training. After being wounded at Morval (see below), when his tank was hit, he bailed out and picked up a tin helmet, that was on the ground, for protection, “only to find with the remains of some poor souls head in it”.  He was evacuated to the UK, then re-badged to the Tank Corps (201272) and later fought at Cambrai.  Survived; after the war he was a driver for Boots the Chemist.  Details provided by Frank Daley (Lancer). On 26 Dec 19 he married Louisa Lloyd at St Michael’s church in Southwark. after banns; his parents were the witnesses; address of both groom and bride was 17 Bittern St Southwark.  Charles and Louisa had two sons; Charles and Edward. Sadly Louisa died in 1932, Charles Senior surviving until Feb 1976.


Gnr Bowen – possibly 200919 Harold R Bowen enlisted 1 Jul 15; later promoted Cpl, discharged and awarded SWB for sickness, having served overseas, on 19 Mar 19.This may be Harold Rhys Bowen, who was born in Chalford near Stroud and who later move to Plymouth. His father was an engine fitter.  Harold settled in St Budeau after the war and married Elsie Peglar from Torpoint. Harold died, aged 67 on 10 March 1965.  , .


Gnr George Hume was born in Edinburgh on 29 Sep 1896, an unmarried Law clerk, aged 19 years, he enlisted on 28 Sep 15. He joined at Bisley on 1 Oct and was approved at the MMGS Trg Centre on 8 Oct 1915. He deployed on 28 Aug 1916 and later fought in Tank D20, with Lt Alfred Enoch at Flers and at Morval on 25 Sep 16. He was transferred to D Bn on its formation (18 Nov 1916). Later 200775 Tank Corps he was injured during the battle of Cambrai and casevaced to England on 19 Dec 17; admitted to Priory Hospital Cheltenham on 24 Dec 1917 with GSW to the right leg’ also noted as having pneumonia (“an unusual cause”). Recommended for discharge from Army on 27 Mar 1918 by the Special Invaliding Board at Cheltenham. Discharged having been awarded SWB 17 Apr 1918 and pension for 52 weeks. Wounds shown as GSW to Right hand shoulder, leg and side; damage to lung also listed. He died of lung cancer on 7 Aug 1918.


32182 Gnr Alfred Lapthorne. Enlisted 18 Oct 1915; badly injured on 25 Sep 16 -discharged as a results of his wounds and awarded Silver War on 5 May 17. 


200862 Gnr Archie Richards. Born 7 Jan 97, formerly a Cornish tin miner; served as 6lb gunner. Afterwards fought with C Bn at Arras on 9 Apr 17 during 14th Div attack on the Hindenburg Line; his tank fought through to its objective and returned to its rallying point; one of the few to do so. He survived and was interviewed for several books, including an account of the first tank action in “Veterans” given whilst living with daughter and son in law in Maidenhead.  Died 10 Feb 1998


2098 Pte Sydney Thompson MMGSb C Oct 1889, a grocer’s manager, he married to Sarah Ann Ward  on 21 Mar 14 at St Paul’s Church in Oldham.  Attested at Coventry on 4 Aug 15 whilst living at 29 Plymouth Street, Hattershaw in Oldham.  He transferred to the MGC on 1 Dec 1915; was posted to “21” Bty on 4 Mar; to the HSMGC on 4 May and to D Coy on 25 May. He deployed on 28 Aug 16 and was transferred to D Bn on its formation (18 Nov 1916).   Later renumbered as 200771 in the Tank Corps, he was posted to the Reinforcement Depot in Sep 17. Involved in an incident at the Mechanical School on 19 Jan 18 (Thompson’s third and fourth fingers on his right hand were injured when an unlocked sponson crushed when Tank No 4658 was being driven cross country at Wailly; an inquiry confirmed he was not to blame. Posted to 10th Bn on 11 Apr and appointed 2nd Class Tank Mechanic on 12 Apr 1918. Served with C Coy as 2nd Dvr, he was wounded in the right hand on 9 Aug and evacuated on 13 Aug. Posted to the Tank Depot on 14 Aug 18; held on A Coy strength (as a Pte) prior to demobilisation on 25 Feb 19.


M2/1857 Pte Sydney G Barnes who remained in ASC.

 

Later action; The tank was one of three D Coy tanks deployed during the Battle of Morval on 25 Sep; Cpl Ironmonger’s notebook states that the tank was knocked out at about 14.40 hrs.  The crew consisted of 2Lt Enoch, Cpl Ironmonger, Gnr Tomson (sic), Gnr Richards, Gnr Bowens, Gnr Franks wounded, Gnr Llapthorn (sic) wounded, Gnr Humes (sic), Reserve Gnr Vince. Ironmonger was wounded in chest (notebook shows shrapnel wounds), knee, face and arm; he was evacuated to the UK and arrived at Hosp in Bristol at 07.30 on 30 Sep 16.  D Coy’s war diary however states that Enoch commanded D18 which attacked from Martinpuich, in support of 23 Div, but was ditched near M26d8.8.

D8 (No 720 - Male). 

Tasked to move along NZ Divisions left flank to Factory Corner, a location to the northwest of Flers and a major enemy position.  The tank was damaged as it moved up to the start point; its steering wheels were useless, but 2Lt George Bown pressed on and had caught up with the infantry at their first objective (Switch Trench) by 07.05 hrs.  At 07.20 hrs, the tank moved forward, as the creeping barrage resumed its forward progress, and supported the NZ troops for the rest of the day.  It reached the third objective, northwest of Flers, and in so doing, not only providing support to his own Div but also 47th Div to his west near High Wood. As this put pressure on the German units in the area, especially in the Switch Line trench.  Bown’s tank was soon targeted by enemy artillery and both he, and his ASC driver (Pte BJ Young), were temporarily blinded by glass fragments from the tank’s shattered vision prisms. At 14.50 hrs, orders were received for the infantry to consolidate on the third objective; at 15.30 hrs, a further order was given for attacks to crease until the following day and for the tanks to return to their base. Accordingly Bown, who had recovered his vision, headed south in Coy with D16 and D18. The tank was in action some 20 hrs


2Lt George Bown.  Born 20 Aug 1892 in Mudford near Yeovil, the eldest son of Walter Bown. Educated at Wellington County School. Attended Glasgow University and was a Pte in OTC until Jan 1914 when he left.  He followed his younger brother Cyril into the West Somerset Yeomanry, was promoted Sergeant and then commissioned on 2 May ‘15. He was attached to MGC from 16 Apr 16 and less than 6 months later was in action. Awarded MC for action on 15 Sep for conspicuous gallantry in action. He fought his Tank, which was disabled, with great gallantry, reaching his third objective. He put two machine guns out of action. Promoted T/Lt 1 Oct ‘16; he took part in the action towards Eaucourt L'Abbaye; his tank became ditched and Bown fired it to prevent its capture by the Germans - the crew returned to their lines unharmed. On 7 Oct, whilst undertaking a recce prior to the attacks in the Auchonvillers / Hamel area, he was injured by artillery fire and evacuated.  He returned to the UK and was later posted to F Bn.  He was appointed A/Capt whilst comding a Sect 12 Apr 17 and deployed with the Bn on 20 May to France.  He fought at 3rd Ypres and then dislocated his shoulder whilst being thrown around inside a moving tank. He was evacuated to a hospital in York and therefore missed the battle of Cambrai. Promoted T/Capt from 19 Oct 18, he relinquished rank of T/Capt on ceasing to be employed with the Tank Corps 16 Mar 21. Home address shown as Cornhill, Sherborne in Dorset.  In 1921 he went sugar planting in Cuba. He met Gladys Menzies on the boat out, and they were married in 1922. They returned to England in 1926, and George became a successful farmer at Sherborne and then Bryanstone in Dorset until retiring in Blandford Forum. Died in the Poole area in Autumn 1969. 

      Note his younger brother Lt Cyril Walter Bown joined the West Somerset Yeo two weeks after his 16th birthday in 1910. He was commissioned on 29 Oct 1915 and later attached to the Tank Corps.  Cyril served with H Bn and commanded the tank Hotpsur, in his first action, which was hit by enemy artillery fire on the first day of the battle of Cambrai. When the German counter-attack took place on 30 Nov, Cyril was among those loading tanks onto trains in the town of Fins. His sponsons were jammed  and so he took command of the skipper-less "Hermosa" and joined the hastily-organised force of tanks and grenadier guards that re-took Gouzeaucourt and halted the German advance. On 1 Dec, the same makeshift group launched a successful attack on Gauche Wood with 16 tanks, and it was as they pushed on to Quentin Ridge after this attack that Hermosa was hit by German artillery - the tank became an inferno, and all the crew were "burned to ashes". We assume that Capt. Hickey of H Bn (who describes these events in his book) thought it was kinder to tell the family that Cyril had died of wounds, which sounds less horrific than incineration. Info provided by his great nephew Aidan Cook

Cpl Jimmy Lindsay born 5 October1889 at 6 Clarence Street Edinburgh; son of cooperage manager Alexander Lindsay. Family history is that he was a highly talented sprinter and was a candidate for the Berlin Olympics.  Awarded MID on 25 May 1917.   Later 201665 Sgt Tank Corps, Jimmy served with 1 Salvage company. Awarded the MM for his work at Hooge.  On the morning of 27 August 1917, a tank was badly ditched and left at Clapham Junction (at this time, the Menem road was a mass of enormous shell craters; all full of water and there was no possibilities of any advance).  Sgt Lindsay was in full view of the enemy and at a place which was constantly shelled.  By a remarkable display of perseverance, judgement and devotion to duty, he succeeded in bringing the tank back. Commissioned Tank Corps 3 Mar 1919 and married Agnes (known as Jez); they had a daughter.  He became a commerical travellet and settled in Doncaster.  At the start of Workd War 2, he volunteered again but was turned down when his age was revealed. He died, aged 59, on 6 Feb 1949 (Family details provided by A Lindsay who is a member of the site)

Gnr Clayton

Gnr Ernest Didcote born Homerton London Oct 92; Enlisted into the MMGS, aged 23 years, at Coventry on 3 Nov 15. He reported to Bisley on 9 Nov 15 and deployed with D Coy to France on 28 Aug 16.  He was posted to D Bn, on its formation on 18 Nov and admitted sick (in the field) to 22 Fd Amb on 28 Nov 16, returning to duty on 1 Dec.  Renumbered as 200789 in MGC and later the Tank Corps he was appointed LCpl on 28 Aug 17. He was granted UK leave from 11 Dec to 25 Dec 17  On 24 Dec he was admitted to Hosp suffering from septic poisoning to the legs and foot. He was discharged on 6 Jan and on 8 Jan 18, he returned to his unit in France.  On 5 Jan appointed acting corporal by OC 4 Bn but reverted 2 days after, due to reversion of A/Sgt Taylor.  On 17 May 18, Didcote was posted to the Mechanical School at Bovington. He arrived on 18 May and was immediately promoted to Cpl to complete the establishment, graded as a tank Mechanist Cpl 1st Cl. On 30 Nov 18 whilst serving at the Driving and Maintenance School was granted 6d per day extra duty day for being employed as an assistant instructor from 1 to 25 Oct 18.  He was posted to the Reinforcement Depot on 3 Dec 18.   He was discharged to the Reserve, on 23 Mar 19; his permanent address being shown as 25 York Rd, Woking Surrey.

Gnr Pestell (possibly William F Pestell; 2465 Gnr MMGS (RHA/RFA) then 200778 Gnr MGC then 310525 Spr RE – Signals ?)

Gnr John Morris Tennent born Jan 1895. A postal clerk he enlisted 13 October 1915 at Edinburgh aged 19 years 10 months. Deployed to France on 27 August, served on with D Bn after 18 Nov 1916.  Later 200781 Tank Corps; qualified as Tank Instr and MG Instr.  Appointed aLCPL 24 November 1917, presumable as result of losses at Cambrai. Appointed paid LCPL on 29 November 17.  Awarded MM as a result of the fighting during the Kaiserslacht.  The citation states “On 24 Mar 1918, at Combles, a runner was required to take important messages forward to his section commander. This NCO volunteered and, in the face of very heavy rifle and machine gun fire, succeeded in delivering the messages,  On a subsequent occasion, he volunteered and delivered his messages.”  Later POW, having been reported missing; captured at Parvillers – Les –Quesnoy on 10 Aug 1918 during the Battle of Amiens, he was later held at Friedrichsfeld near Wesel.   Returned to the Uk 22 November 1918. Posted as a LCpl to Tank Depot Appointed Cpl;  Admitted to Wareham Military Hospital then transferred to RVH Netley on 3 Mar 1919; subject of investigation of infection. Demobilised by 3 March 1919 and dispersed from Kinross 5 Jun 1919.  Pension of 8/- awarded 14 Sep 1920 for 13 months (dermatitis of the neck). 

Gnr Eddie Williams born c 1892 in Ferndale in Glamorgan. Initially employed as a teacher by the Local Authority, he later frollowed his father as a engineer at the local coalmine. Enlisted Coventry. Continued to serve with D Bn  later 200788 LCpl  Tank Corps, Killed In Action  (aged 25 years) on 9 Oct 1917 whilst entering the village of Poelcapelle; buried in the village near the Tank Memorial, he is commemorated at Tyne Cott Memorial. 

M2/1650 Pte Bertram Young ASC. Born 1879 New Hampton Middx. The eldest son of a licensed victualler John G Young; in 91 his family were living in Hounslow Rd, Bedfont near Staines. Young was temporarily blinded during the action but recovered and drove the tank back to the rally point. Awarded MM for his actions which included driving for 10 hrs using only the brakes and gears.  He continued to serve with D Coy and then rebadged to the MGC as Pte 75073.  He served with D Bn and was Killed In Action (aged 38) on 20 Nov 17, probably whilst D Bn was attacking the western side of Flesquières. His grave site is not known but he is commemorated at the Louveral memorial, his next of kin being this mother, Martha Young, of 25 Oxford Avenue, Merton Park, Surrey

 

D9 Dolly (No 546 Female).

Tasked to support 41st Div attack on Flers.  Moved in concert with D14 (Court); failed to cross British trench system and also failed to tow out D14 once it has crashed into a dug out. The failure to get across the trench could have been because the ASC driver, Pte George Mullis, did not go into action.  The tank was dug out by 4th Bn South Lancs, Dolly's skipper was given a rocket by his Company commander Frank Summers and retasked to support attack on Gueudecourt the next day. On 16th Sep, in Coy of D14, Dolly made its way to south of Flers, and linked up with infantry by 5.30 hrs. Told by the infantry the advance had been cancelled; Dolly was tasked by Summers to advance and lead the left element of assault on Germans to north of Flers. The original driver was injured by artillery shrapnel; LCpl Sanders took his place and drove on.  2Lt Huffum saw Cort destroyed by German artillery fire.  Dolly was then hit by artillery fire; two crewmen killed, four injured including Huffam.  (Did Huffam drag Sanders back to safety using belt?).  The tank remained between the German and British Lines; its guns were later removed by Gnr Albert Smith of D1 and Gnr Roy Reiffer of D17 to avoid them being used by the Germans during subsequent British attacks.

 

2Lt Victor Huffam.  Born 18 May 1890 at Heaton Chapel, near Stockport, Victor was the son of a company secretarySpent 1907 to 1914 in Australia working as a technician and agent with an engineering firm (Crossleys) in the gold fields of Western Australia and served with 18th Australian Light Horse as a trooper.  When he returned to UK Jul 14 on leave, he enlisted in 18th Bn Royal Fusiliers; he was subsequently commissioned into 3rd Norfolks 11 May 15; Coy commander with depot Bn, he volunteered for secret duty whilst at Felixstowe. Attached to HS MGC on 17 April 16 but according to his own article did not arrive at Bisley until May 16. Sufficiently injured (shell shock) on 16 Sep to be evacuated to he UK; Sampson reports his hair also turned white overnight.  He was treated in a Hosp at Oxford, where he was visited by Court's mother; he later visited Sanders in hospital.  1918 Army list shows him employed with Ministry of Munitions. As Lt (T/Capt) relinquished commission 1 Apr ‘20 and granted rank of Capt 9 Mar 21.  Later ran an engineering Coy in North London and traveled extensively overseas.   Second marriage to Violet M Verral in 1945 in Surrey. In 1957 he provided picture of D Coy officers – see Liddell Hart papers - and started to locate members of the first tank crerews.   In 1963 he visited Natal and met Arnold who was living near Bloemfontein.  He later settled in South Africa and died on 31 Jul 1982. ten days after his wife.  They are buried at Stellawood Cemetery at Durban, which is also the site of the largest CWGC graveyard in South Africa.

LCpl Archer – NCO and driver ASC (tbc) - blinded (temporarily) during attack on 16 Sep 16.    Born Oct 1894 and registered at Burton on Trent, the eldest son (second child) of postman Arthur and Emma Archer. From Horninglow, living at 13 Outwards Street, from at least 1901, he enlisted into the MMGS at 21 years 1 months whilst a clerk at Longton Burton upon Trent on 11 Nov 15; could this mean his was employed in the pottery industry? Height at 5’ 11”; brown hair and eyes, fair complexion. Posted to D Coy on 27 May then appointed LCpl on 5 August. Deployed on 28 August. On 16 Sep 16, hospitalised through 1st NZFA on 17 September then through No 38 CCS and onto 2nd Cdn Stny Hospital at Outreau. Evacuated on HS Jan Breydal on 19th September. Reverted to Gnr on 23 Jan 1917 and admitted to Wool Hospital on 7 Feb suffering from paralysis to the right arm from GSW.  Released on 15 Mar and discharged 28 April 1917 from wounds.  Awarded SWB.  Later allocated 206229 Tank Corps. Possibly married Sarah A Wild in Oct to Dec 1919 at Burton on Trent.

Gnr Alfred Andrew; born ‘88 Barnes in Surrey; the son of a draper Alfred C Andrew and his wife Maria; in 1901 the family were living in Hillside, West Ashford in Kent. By 1911, he was working as a cycle maker in Brighton. He enlisted at Trowbridge and joined the Motor Machine Gun service, later being transferred to the tank crews. He was serving as a port-side gunner when he was Killed In Action on  16 Sep 16. He commemorated on the Thiepval memorial, which means his body was probably not recovered. 

Gnr Ronald Charles Eric Chapple was born at South Stoneham near Southampton Jul - Sep ‘97. lived and enlisted Coventry KIA age 19 on 16 Sep ‘16; son of Charles and Gertrude E Chapple of 9 Egham St Canton, Cardiff –Chapple commemorated on the Thiepval memorial

Gnr Reginald Laverty was born on 19 August 1893 at Winchester, Hants; the tenth child (and seventh son) of a wood carver James Thomas Laverty and his wife Margaret Johnson; James ran a family business of wood carvers. Reginald, who was nearly 6' 4" tall, served in the TA ASC for four years before the war and served with the MMGS in France,before returning to Bisley where he joined D Coy. Reginald suffered shock as a result of the action on 16 Sep but then served at every major action until he was posted to the Reinforcement Depot in Sep 18. He returned to Winchester after the war and returned to the family firm. He also taught at the local School of Art and at Winchester College.  He later met up with Victor Huffam in the late 1950s and died in his home town of Winchester in early 1965. 

Gnr D Martin – wounded

Gnr Powell

LCpl Harold Sanders - NCO gearsman according to Huffam; took place of driver; lost both legs when tank was hit by artillery fire during attack on Gueudecourt on 16 Sep; he survived and was later visited in a Kentish Hosp by Huffam. Survived until 1957 – corresponded with Liddell Hart whilst living at Yardley in Birmingham. (No MIC, pension or service record found.)

D10 (No 535 - female).

One of four tanks supporting the New Zealand Div assault.  Leaving the RV at Delville Wood, the tank moved up the hill to the British front line, crossing it close to the current NZ memorial; it then followed the track north which was also the route of the German communication trench, known as Fish Alley.  The original plan was for D10 to veer off towards the Northwest edge of Flers, but Darby continued north until he reached the track linking Flers with the rear of High Wood as he had seen that the NZ infantry were held up by a large barbed wire obstacle.  As he guided his tank towards it, D10 was hit by an artillery round which shattered the prism glasses which temporarily blinded both Darby and his driver (LCpl Phillips).  A second shell hit the tank which smashed one of its tracks and buckled the outer plating, shattering the cast-iron controls inside the tank. As a result, the tank was uncontrollable and Darby and his crew abandoned the vehicle, taking shelter in Fish Alley and then joining the infantry in the attack.  The tank was abandoned.


2Lt Harold Darby. Originally from Ipswich, Darby worked for Messrs Oxwoods Motor Works, before moving to Cirencester where he worked as a motor engineer. He joined the Gloucester Hussars as a trooper and deployed to Gallipoli where he was wounded nd subsequently evacuated. Having reached the rank of LCpl he was commissioned into HS MGC 15 Apr 16. Darby.who was wounded in the action on 15 Sep, was awarded MCfor conspicuous gallantry in action. He fought his Tank with great courage and determination. Later, with his crew and one gun, he went to support the infantry. He set a fine example.”  Promoted T/Lt on 1 Oct 16. he returned to the UK with Summers and served with F Bn. Appointed T/Capt and section comd on 12 Apr 17. he then deployed with the Bn on 20 May to France and attended the F Bn dinner night on 27 Jun 17, where many other officers from C and D Coys were present. He ought at Cambrai and remained with the Bn as it converted to Whippets. He was promoted Major, from 11 Aug 18 (the third day of the battle of Amiens) as the OC (Maj Rycroft) had been severely injured during the initial action.  He commanded B Coy during its action in support of 4th Army. Originally based at Le Quesnel, where it undertook repairs and necessary maintenance after its action, B Coy was tasked to support the Northumberland Fusiliers on 22 Aug 18, during an action on the Albert to Bray Road. The infantry were held up and Darby moved forward to undertake a recce when he was severely injured and was evacuated. His injury was reported in the local newspaper.  He was awarded the Silver War Badge on 17 Oct 19 and discharged from the Army. The badge was sent to his home address 308 Norwich Rd, Ipswich; his medals were not however claimed until 27 Nov 1926 when he was living at York, working as a Rolls Royce salesman.  He returned to service during the Second World War, serving during the invasion of Europe.  He settled in Hove and died aged 89 in 1978.    

LCpl William Lauder Hogarth MMGS– born Oct 86 in Galashiels  he was the son of William Hogarth, later of 62  High Street Galashiels.   Hogarth enlisted at Galashiels on  9 Nov 15; he was employed as a Clerk.  His height was given as 5’ 5½”, his chest was 33½” and his sect was Presbyterian.   Authorised at Bisley on 15 Nov, he was granted leave, marrying Annie Scouler Walker of 34 Chambers Street Edinburgh on 17 Jan 16.  he was posted to 21 on 3 Mar then to Armd Car Sect MGC, appointed unpaid LCpl on 10 Apr.  He was promoted LCpl on 5 May 16  and posted to D Coy on 27 May.  Deployed to France on 28 Aug, he remained with D Bn on its formation. His daughter Janet Leitch Hogarth was born at Galashiels on 16 Oct 16.   He attended training at 6 Corps school from 8 to 19 May 1917. Promoted Cpl on 17 Jul 1917, to bring D Bn to establishment, he was renumbered 200792 and transferred to the Tank Corps.  He was granted UK leave after the Battle of Cambrai from 11 to 25 Dec 17, rejoining his unit on 28 Dec. His daughter died, of TB meningitis at 8.15 am on 19 Feb 18; the child’s grandfather Francis J Walker, who was present at the death, registered the death (NOTE Howarth ‘s employment was shown as a cashier.) Haworth was detached to “5” (5 Bn?) from  9 to 13 Apr 18.  He was then transferred to the home establishment on 27 Sep 18, and joined  the embryo 22 Lt Bn serving with B Coy from 15 Oct. He was demoblised in Jan 19 and returned to Galashiels. 

Gnr Lionel George Harry Britt, born 1892 Hollington Sussex, Lionel was a monumental mason. He was married to Ada F Marchant in the summer of 1914 and their daughter Laura was born the following Autumn.  He enlisted at Hastings into the MGC and later transferred to the Tank Corps.  KIA aged 26 years on 21 Mar 18 whilst serving with 4th Bn, during the German offensive. Commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial.  Son of George Henry and Mary Britt of Beauport Cottage, Hollington, St Leonards-on-Sea; husband of Ada Florence Britt of 19a Bohemia Rd, St Leonards-on-Sea

Pte Clement John Dale  Born in Uttoxeter in Jan to Mar 88; fourth child (third son) of painter Charles J Dale and his wife May a dressmaker.  A Grocer employed by Messrs Parkman? and Co at the Market Stores. According to Woods’ notebook, he took Darby to hospital.  On 25 Sep he was a Vickers gunner of the B Crew attached to the Reserve Army.  On 19 Aug 17 admitted to 3rd Aus Gen Hosp with POU, and then suffering from fever.  Evacuated to Queens Mary Hospital Whalley in Lancashire.  There is in (arrived 16 Sep 17) his record card shows fingers healed on arrival but suffering from pains in legs later sent to Primrose Band Hosp Burnley. Later posted to A Coy Tank Corps Depot. Discharged 2 Apr 18. Later Pte 4th Bn Tank Corps-On 16 Jun 18, he was treated at Wareham after suffering from neck swelling. Transferred to the Reserve 22 Feb 19, he married Eveline Constance Wallace Walton in Jul to Sep 30. Their son Thomas M Dale born Apr to Jun 31; died in Derby in 38. The family lived in Windfield House, Stafford Road in Uttoxter.  Francis died at Derby city hospital on 19 Sep 58.

Pte Horace J Ellocott MMGS born Cardiff Apr to Jun 1893; enlisted 9 Nov 15. On 25 Sep he was a Vickers gunner of the B Crew attached to the Reserve Army. Awarded SWB, presumably for injuries received dueing the Battle of Arras, he was discharged from the Army on 2 Aug 17.  Address shown as 41 Whitchurch Road, Neath near Cardiff. Possibly married Eva M A Woodhouse in Oct to Dec 1925; in Hammersmith; their son Owen E Ellocott was born in early 28 in Peterborough.

Gnr Robert William Frederick Cornish Frost MMGS, born 26 Dec 92 and registered in Newton Abbott. In 1901 shown living with father, an auctioneer Frederick RC Frost his wife Mary and two elder sisters Dorothy and Winifred, living at 5 Regent Street in East Teignmouth.  Married to Margaret E Rowe in Newton Abbott, just beofre he deplyd to France in Sep 1916. later commissioned into the RFC. RAF records show him as married, formerly an estate agent in Teignmouth and his wife in Hartlepool. 1928 Phone shows Rober Frost Auctioneers at Regent Street Teignmouth. 1962 formation of Devon Tank Corps OCA lists him living At Teignmouth. Died in Jan to Mar 1980 and registered in Newton Abbott. 

Gnr Leonard Haygarth born Jan – Mar 89 in Colne Lancashire Lived with grandparents and mother in 1901 at Colne. Continued to serve with D Bn. DoW, aged 27 years, on 30 Nov 17, probably as a result of action at Cambrai.  Buried at Grevillers Military cemetery near Bapaume.

LCpl Ernest James Phillips ASC.  Born Brackley Northamptonshire in early 90. The youngest son of James and Alice E Phillips.  Before the war, Ernest was employed as a chauffeur by Lady Brown, who lived in Astrop House Kings Sutton to the west of Brackley. In 1914, Ernest married a local Brackley girl, Helena Roades at St Georges Hannover Square; their only son Leslie Percival Phillips being born on 4 Dec of that year. When he enlisted in 1915, at St Johns Wood London, he was working as an instructor and lecturer at the Motor Training Institute Ltd in London. Wounded during the first action, he tranferred to the MGC and later served with A Bn.  He was promoted corporal by the time of the Third battle of Ypres and later reached the rank of SSgt Mechanic - he was one of only two in his battalion at this rank. He was awarded the Croix de Guerre in 1918, whilst serving with 1st Bn Tank Corps, and was KIA on 29 Sep 18 during an attack on the Hindenburg Line near Bellicourt and Vendhuille. His widow remarried on 22 Sep 1922 to John Boden, who had also served in the ASC. Ernest's son Leslie married Muriel Grisewood in Ryedal Yorks in 1942; their son John has provided photos of Ernest which are in the gallery.  

D11 “Die Hard” (No 547 - male).

One of four tanks supporting the New Zealand Div assault. D11 followed D10 northwards and, realising Darby had not cleared the wire obstacle, flattened the wire without difficulty, after which the infantry then stormed through the gap and captured 100 Germans at about 08.15 hrs.  “Die Hard” then followed the track towards Flers village and assisted D16 (Arnold) and D18 (Bond) as they destroyed the enemy position to the northwest of the village.  It remained in the area, supporting the NZ infantry consolidation at their third objective. Despite being ordered to return back to the dump, Pearsall continued to stay near Flers at the request of the New Zealanders, to beat off any counter-attacks.  Fearful of becoming a static target, he ranged across the fields and was spotted, that evening by a RFC aircraft, in ground still held by the enemy, less than 350 yards SE of  Gueudecourt.  As night fell, “Die Hard” moved froward out of  Flers, where it remained overnightto protect its infantry.  The next morning, at about 09.30 hrs, he assisted the destruction of a German counter-attack to the northeast of the village.  He then again supported the NZ Div as they continued their advance north towards Gueudecourt.  A shell explded under thr tank as it left the village, which damaged the tank’s gear box.  Pearsall and his crew continued to fire their guns, as the troops advanced, then left the vehicle and supported the attack with dismounted machine guns.  They remained until 1600 hrs but, as the tank could not been moved, then returned to Green Dump. Pearsall's report on the action is held at the Tank Museum in the D Company correspondence book. 


Lt Herbert George Pearsall.  Born 17 Jul 1888 at Smethwick;the elder son of George and Mary E Pearsall. Bought up in Smethwick, where George was a printer machine minder, George attended the Five Ways grammar school.  He was awarded a Toynbee Hall scholarship to Emmanuel College Cambridge, graduating with BA (Maths) 1910 and LLB 1911. He was appointed as a mathematics master at Batley Grammar School on 1 Aug 12, and was seen as a fair and active master - who was also a good sportsman.  George initially joined the MMGS in Apr 15 and was commissioned into MGC 15 Apr 16. Pearsall was awarded MC for conspicuous gallantry in action. He fought his Tank with great gallantry, protecting the flank of the infantry and repulsing an enemy counter-attack. Later, when his Tank was disabled, he fired a machine gun from the trenches, displaying great coolness and initiative. Appointed Temp Lt on 1 Oct 16, he worked with Head and Hastie, under the direction of Inglis in the Green Dump; probably undertaking tank salvage. Appointed Temp Captain from 12 Apr 17, he probably commanded a section during the battle of Arras with D Battalion. He was a section commander during the final stages of the battle of Ypres.  At the opening of battle of Cambrai, George was 2IC of No 10 Coy which attacked the hilltop fortress of Flesquieres; his Coy Comd was captured during this action. George was then appointed 2IC of the composite coy commanded by WHL Watson; the unit went into the attack again on 23 Nov at Bourlon Wood.  Watson describes this action vividly in this book A Company of Tanks. George was appointed commander of No 10 Coy from 5 Dec 17 before he was posted to 1st Bn in Jan 18 and served as a coy comd until the end of the war.  rps in Feb ‘19 and returned to teach at Batley, where he died from Spanish Influenza aged 30 years on 19 Mar 19 (Sampson’s grandson states despite his hardy physique) and is buried in Uplands Cemetery in Smethwick.  

32160 LCpl Harry Earle Nixon   Born 10 Dec 92 in Grimsby.  Wounded during the first action.  Awarded MM for the action on 16 Sep 16. Listed in supplement to Tank Corps Honour and on MIC; commissioned as 2Lt Tank Corps 29 Sep 17 – returned to France 1 Jul (?) 18. Home address in 1918 - 58 Heneage Road in GrimsbyRelinquished commission on completion of service 1 Dec 20 and retained the rank of Lt. MIC shows address as Craiglands in Healing near Grimsby.  During WW2 served as a flying officer in the RAF; he died in 1964 in Fairford Gloucs.

LCpl Moss- possibly 32500 later 200897 Pte William Moss, born Kendal enlisted Clapham. Promoted to Cpl; KIA aged 21 years on 18 Aug 18 whilst still serving with 4th Bn. Son of Richard B and Ann Ellen Moss of Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancs. Buried at Bouchoir New British Cemetery, a concentration cemetery near Amiens.

Gnr Honor= 2652 MMGS Pte James George Daniel Honour, born 6 Oct 1896/7 in Willisden, son of James Honour.  An assistant postman his home address was 100 Charteris Rd, at Kilburn but he also lived at Southampton.  He enlisted at Kilburn, aged 19, on 18 Nov 15 and joined at Bisley the same day. Height 5’ 8” and 10 st 2 lbs, he may have been known as George. He was posted to “21” on 5 Mar 16 then to E Coy Armd Car Sect then to the HS two month later. He was disciplined for two minor charges before he was posted to D Coy on 27 May and was admitted to hospital from 20 June to 6 July 1916. Deployed on 28 Aug and rebadged to Tank Corps as 200795. Granted UK leave from 2 to 18 Nov, he rejoined on the opening day of the battle of Cambrai. Detached to 1st Bn on 26 Jan 18, he was posted to the Bn on 9 Mar (could he therefore have formerly served with the D Bn Wksp Coy?)  He was granted UK leave from 26 Sep to 10 Oct 18.  Never promoted he returned to the UK for demobilization on 2 April 19, being processed at the Crystal Palace.  Married at Hampstead in early 1923 to Kate E Duffield. Possibly four children – James R Honour born Hampstead Jan to Mar 1924; Derek R born Edmonton from Apr to Jun 1927; Audrey born 1930.  In 1967, living at 2 Stanley Ave in Wembley. Died Apr to Jun 1969 in Brent.    Identified by Simon Payne. 

Gnr Kettle

Gnr J Lee – probably Pe Joseph R Lee enlisted 12 Dec 1915 . Wounded during the action; evacuated and reported back to Loop on 18 Sep. Also injured in the legs on 25 Sep. According to Graham Wood's notebook he replaced Pte Stuart; Discharged on 22 Mar 1918 due to wounds. Awarded SWB

2965 Gnr Charles Henry Leeming the son of John Henry Leeming was born in Oct 1891. Living at  7 School Terrace Walsall, the manager of a buckle works he was attested, under the Derby Scheme, on 8 Dec 1915. He volunteered to join the MMGS and was mobilised on 20 Mar 1916. Approved at Bisley on 24 Mar 16, he was first employed with E Coy of the Armd Car Sect – he was found guilty of overstaying his leave on 23 Apr by 11 hrs. He was  transferred to HS MGC on 4 May and posted to D Coy on 27 May.  He deployed overseas on 28 Aug through Le Havre. He suffered from shell shock as a result of the action on 16 Sep 1916 and was sent to the NZ field ambulance.   On 7 Nov he went sick which resulted in his evacuation to the General Hospital at Dannes.  He was transferred to the MGC Depot at Camiers on 19 Nov and rejoined (the newly formed) D Bn on 8 Dec 1916. He was rebadged as 200826 Tank Corps serving throughout the war with D Bn and 4th Bn. He was granted UK leave from 2 to 16 Nov 1917, rejoining the Bn on 20 Nov.  He was again granted leave from 2 Oct to 26 Oct 1918 during which he was married to Nora Cooper at St Peter’s Church Walsall.  On his return to the Bn, he was detached on 18 Nov to the Tank Gp HQ as a cook.  Now serving with HQ 3 Tk Gp, he was then detached to the Duren Group returning to 4th Bn on 26 Aug 19.  On 2 Sep he was posted to the dispersal group before returning to the Uk via Lendersdorf . On his demobilization from Ripon on 13 Sep 1919, he returned to 11 School Terrace in Walsall. His medals were received on 28 Jun 1921. 

M2/194988 Pte Frank Still ASC.  Fought throughout first day, remained overnight at Flers, then took part in assault until hit by arty during second attack on 16 Sep.  Awarded MM for action. Rebadged to Tank Corps as 75067 Pte. Survived and awarded medals ‘19.

 2782 Gnr Charles Platt Stuart MMGS was a journalist who worked for the Observer in Wigan. Born in 14 Oct 1888, he was smaller than most tankees at only 5 feet tall and was extremely slight (the medical record states he was under standard weight; he also had very bad teeth.)  He originally was a member of A Company but he joined D Company in time to deploy to France on 28 Aug. He continued to serve with D Bn and then 4th Bn. In March 1918, whilst working as an orderly room clerk, he was admitted to hospital with trench fever. He did not recover in the expected month and was evacuated to the UK, being admitted to the Keighley War Hospital.  He was not fit for duty until Jul when he was posted to the Tank Depot at Bovington where he continued as a clerk and was promoted to paid Acting Cpl.  At this time, his bad teeth were removed but he was disatisfied with the treatment, claiming for a pension when he was demoblised in January 1919.  He married Elizabeth Crook shortly afterwards and they had three children; Gordon, Marjery and James by 1923.  He died in Bristol in the Summer of 1975

After action: The tank was not recovered and subsequently destroyed by artillery fire

D12 (Tank No 719 - Male).

Sect Comds tank supporting the New Zealand Div assault. D12 with D10 (2Lt Darby) and D11 (Die Hard - 2Lt Pearsall) were to work together on the NZ Div right flank, close to the village of Flers. Midway across the NZ frontage, Nixon’s tank worked its way north until he received a request for help at 09.15 hrs.  The message, carried through heavy fire by Rfn JW Dobson, was follows:  “From Lieut Butcher to O.C. Tanks. Enemy machine guns appear to be holding infantry in the valley on your right.  Can you assist in pushing forward? Dobson was the target of heavy enemy rifle, as he tried to reach D12, but eventually got inside and accomplished the first example of infantry – tank target indication.  He guided the tank crew to the east and identified a farm building where the machine guns were located.  Nixon used the tank to collapse the building and its occupants scattered in all directions.  He then pressed on, heading for the northwest corner of Flers until his tank was hit by artillery fire. The tank’s steering was damaged so Nixon headed south, eventually becoming ditched in a shell hole.  The tank was once again hit by enemy artillery fire, which killed one of the crew (Gnr W Debenham), and caused a fire.  Although this was subsequently put out, by other tanks crews; D12 had become totally unusable and was therefore abandoned.

Capt Graeme Nixon was born in Sep ‘95 West Derby, Lancs, the third child (second son) of Robert Nixon a schoolmaster and Annie G Nixon.  Graeme studied Engineering at Liverpool University 1913. He was commissioned into the Royal Scots Fusiliers and served at Gallipoli from 3 Nov 15, then transferred to MGC in Apr ‘16. He was promoted T/Capt 12 Aug ‘16 (Sect comd) and led 4 tanks in support of NZ Div attack at Flers-Courcellette. On 14 Nov 16, he lead a section of six tanks from Auchonvillers to Beaucourt Station, crossing own lines and German lines to relieve Capt Mortimore and his six tanks.  He continued to serve as a section commander in D Bn . At Ypres, on 22 August, he commanded 12 Sect of 12 Coy during their attack near St Julien.  He then lead 1 Sect, 12 Coy of D Bn during the battle of Cambrai – he was wounded and replaced on the opening day of the battle; two of his three tanks being destroyed by direct fire as they attempted to push into the village of Flesquieres on the eastern side (by the Chateau wall).   He commanded a coy (probably A Coy) from 5 to 20 Dec 17, being promoted A/Major . In early 1918, he lead his company to Merlimont where they undertook gunnery practice. He commanded A Coy throughout the Kaiserlacht withdrawal, when the tanks were either destroyed or abandoned and Battle Of Lys, when his coy was used in the MG role. Awarded MC Jun ’18.  At the Battle of  Amiens his Mark V tanks were in support of 2nd Cdn Bde for the initial action.   He relinquished command on 6 Sep ‘18 and returned to the UK and served with 22nd Bn Tank Corps as a company commander until 11 Jul 19 when he lived at Overmoigne near Dorchester. On resigning his commission, he moved to Radstock Rd, Fairfield Liverpool and later became a school teacher. In 1967 still living in 16 Pinfold Road, Hunts Cross Liverpool. Note – his elder brother Robert Nixon (who studied Medicine at Liverpool University) volunteered for the Kings Lancashire Regt in August 1914 but was discharged due to ill health in early 1915).

2993 Sgt Reginald John Vandenbergh (spellings change) was born 8 Dec 1889 in Islington, the second son of commercial clerk  Reginald was also a clerk when he enlisted (aged 26 years) at Whitehall. Posted to Bisley on 13 Mar, he was promoted three times in five months. Deployed to France on 28 August, he was posted to D Bn on formation. Attached to Reinforcement Bn on 13 Jul, he returned to the UK on 19 July 1917 as an instructor. On 1 Dec 1917, he was posted to J Bn on 1 Dec 1917, deployed overseas on 20 Dec 1917 and served with C Coy 10 Bn as Tech MS from 23 Jan (OC was Maj Kemp-Robinson. Returned to Tank Trg centre, as an instructor, on authority of GHQ on 14 August 1918. Married Amelia Whitehead on 5 October 1918 at Christchurch Kensington Liverpool, he was posted to the Central Schools. Discharged 27 September 1919, he settled in Brighton, the couple had three daughters – Betty born in 1920; Norma in 1921 and Audrey in 1923; all registered at Steyning.  Reginald died in Brighton in the Spring of 1977.

32206 Gnr Horace Allebone was born 29 Aug 89 the elder son of Augustus Allebone and the director of a boot manufacting company at Rushden. He intially attended to avoid conscription but volunteered and enlisted on 10 Mar 16. Later 200864 of D Bn Tank Corps, he served as a driver and was awarded 2 parchment certificates: one for gallant and meritorious service in the field; one for soldierly conduct under heavy fire 4th Oct ‘17, during the 3rd battle of Ypres. Promoted LCpl he was KIA aged 28 on 20 Nov ‘17; whilst serving with No 2 Sect of 10 Coy, when his tank was hit by direct artillery fire to the west of Flesquieres. Commemorated in the Louveral Memorial and Rushden War Memorial Northants.

32105 Gnr William Bertram Debenham born Canterbury ‘90. Moved to Coventry by 1901 and was living with mother Annie and stepfather James W Appleton. Enlisted Coventry. MIA age 26 on 15 Sep 1916 (CWGC states 24) son of Mrs Annie Laureen Appleton of 33 Northumberland Rd, Coventry. Commemorated on the Thiepval memorial later allocated no 206155.

2963 Gnr Cecil Frederick Gloyn was born in Plymouth Devon ‘97 the son of Frederick Albert Gloyn and Jesse A Gloyn. Living in Plymouth 1901. Attested on 22 Feb ’16; aged 18 years 11 months. Employment shown as Grocer , weight 7 st 13 lbs. height 5 ft 63/4 inches; chest when expanded 34 inches. Father shown as NOK, living at 2 Sussex St, Plymouth. Mobilised in MMGS at Bisley on 3 Mar ‘16; Transferred to HS MGC 4 May ‘16, Posted to D Coy 24 May ‘16 and proceeded to France 28 Aug ‘16.  Casualty Form Active Service signed by Capt AG Woods (D Coy) - majority of service details indistinct. Continued to serve with D Bn. Later 200824 Tank Corps, Granted UK leave by OC 4th Bn, 16 to 30 Dec ‘17; he rejoined his unit on 4th Jan ‘18. . His contact sheet was lost during action on 23 March ’18 (Kaiserslacht); the replacement shows him serving as a Cpl with B Coy of 4th Tank Bn.  No Hosp admissions recorded.  Discharged, with clear conduct sheet and no claim for injury, as Cpl from 25th Bn Tank Corps, as part of early release scheme on 29 Jan 19. Home address shown as 2 Sussex St in Plymouth. Medals issued 28 Jun ‘21. Married Elizabeth E.B Pain April to Jun ‘22 in Plymouth.

Gnr Mead

205666 Gnr Harry Zimmerman (later Tank Corps) possibly earlier service as 9881 Pte Ox and Bucks LI.

M2/191040 Cpl Robert R Murray ASC re-badged as a Private in the MGC (75064) then transferred back to the ASC with original number.

Further info; the remains of the tank were still on the edge of the village in the early ‘20s where they were played on by local children