TV tank heads to mu­seum for WWI com­mem­o­ra­tions

Black Country Bugle - - NEWS - By DAN SHAW

STAFFORD­SHIRE Reg­i­ment Mu­seum near Lich­field has se­cured the visit of the full-sized, work­ing replica WWI tank Deb­o­rah II, built at the Stafford­shire fac­tory of JCB, as part of their com­mem­o­ra­tions to mark the cen­te­nary of the end of WWI.

The tank fea­tured on the Chan­nel Four pro­gramme Guy Martin’s WWI Tank, which was broad­cast in No­vem­ber 2017 and Deb­o­rah II will take pride of place at the mu­seum from 9am to mid­day on Fri­day 2nd No­vem­ber, for one day only.

Guy Martin and his team worked on repli­cat­ing one of these “Land Iron­clads” as au­thor H.G. Wells de­scribed them. Last year the in­ten­tion was to drive the tank in the Lin­coln Armistice Pa­rade but con­cern for the cob­bled streets and the an­tic­i­pated crowds thwarted the plan. The tank was how­ever taken over to Cam­brai and paused on a French road – pin­pointed as the start point a cen­tury ago to the day when the 300 tanks got go­ing into ac­tion.

Deb­o­rah II was so named in hon­our of the Mark IV tank Deb­o­rah which took part in the Cam­brai at­tack and was ex­ca­vated from a shell-hole in 1998. D51 Deb­o­rah was com­manded by Sec­ond Lieu­tenant Frank Gus­tave Heap and was part of the sec­ond wave at­tack near Flesquieres, south-west of Cam­brai. Knocked out by sev­eral Ger­man ar­tillery shells, five of the eight-man crew were killed.

Not all tanks were named af­ter ‘sweet­hearts’ like Deb­o­rah – there are ex­am­ples of flow­ers, Hy­acinth, and less sub­tle nomen­cla­tures such as Hunkiller, Gravedig­ger, Fu­ri­ous and Blood­stone, as well as Lusi­ta­nia. One was joc­u­larly named F.U.L.W by its Stafford­shire crew – Fen­ton United Long­ton Wan­der­ers. Tank Bri­tan­nia was sent on tour of North Amer­ica in sup­port of Lib­erty Bonds fund rais­ing.

Ex­cited

Cu­ra­tor at the Stafford­shire Reg­i­ment Mu­seum Danielle Crozier said, “Fol­low­ing on from the news we have se­cured Lot­tery fund­ing for re­search­ing the lives of the men from the two reg­i­ments who went to war a cen­tury ago, we are de­lighted to have se­cured Deb­o­rah II, if only for a day. The staff, vol­un­teers, trustees and my­self are re­ally ex­cited at shar­ing this fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­nity to in­vite all those who are in­ter­ested to come and see Deb­o­rah II, the trench sys­tem and our new ex­hi­bi­tions.”

The visit by Deb­o­rah II kicks off the fi­nal phase of sev­eral com­mem­o­ra­tive events in­volv­ing the Stafford­shire Reg­i­ment Mu­seum which in­clude two new ex­hi­bi­tions on how the two Stafford­shire reg­i­ments cap­tured the St Quentin Canal 100 years ago and Wil­liam Colt­man VC the stretcher bearer who is to this day the high­est dec­o­rated Bri­tish sol­dier ever.

Tick­ets at the Stafford­shire Reg­i­ment Mu­seum, which in­clude ac­cess to the WWI Wil­liam Colt­man VC trench sys­tem, Deb­o­rah II tank and en­trance to the mu­seum, cost £4 (£3 for chil­dren) and a fam­ily ticket of £10 al­lows adults and up to three chil­dren to visit.

The mu­seum is be­tween Lich­field and Tam­worth (WS14 9PY).

The Deb­o­rah II replica tank

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