TV tank heads to museum for WWI commemorations
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.
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