Tanks

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Tanks were first used successfully in battle by the Allies in the fall of 1917 to break through the enemy's defenses, in particular barbed wire entanglement. Although slow-moving, the tank was able to roll across a trench and climb obstacles.

Mr. MacLeod describes the effectiveness of newer tracked tanks in the Amiens offensive.

Transcript

Another thing in the Battle of Amiens that we, it was the first time that we ever saw our tanks in action. They had come in in the Battle of the Somme, but I, we had never, they proved so clumsy, and one thing or another, they couldn't use them there. The Germans used to shoot the steering apparatus off them and you had one wheel behind arrangement to steer by. Well, then they changed that and just steered by the tracks. So in the Battle of Amiens so many of each company were detailed to, six men, I think it was, from each company went into that particular tank and travelled with the, travelled with the tank so that when they reached their objective, these infantry men would leave the tank and hold the line until the rest of us got up. And this was a system that was used in the Battle of Amiens to considerable success too. It proved to the authorities that, actually, the tanks were feasible. Now, eventually they improved considerable in World War Two. But that type of tank had the track all around the outside. He watched them fire, they had 6 pounder guns, I think they were - one on each turret, on the right and left. They had a turret on the side of the tank, where they fired a six pounder gun and the machine guns in the front. They were quite effective when they went up to a machine gun, because the machine gun bullets wouldn't have any effect on them.

Images

Caption: The taking of Vimy Ridge. Canadians advancing with a tank over 'No Man's Land'. July, 1917

(Credit: Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/PA-001496)

Caption: Tank in badly shelled mud area, Battle of Passchendaele

(Credit: Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/PA-002195)

Caption: Tank advancing with Infantry at Vimy. April 1917

(Credit: Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/PA-004388)

Caption: Tank, homeward bound.

(Credit: PA-1417)

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