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April 2014

Tank Times

Published by The Tank Museum, Bovington, Dorset, UK, BH20 6JG

Tel: +44 (0) 1929 405 096

Warhorse to Horsepower Opens in Style

www.tankmuseum.org

FROM THE WORKSHOPS

Mike Hayton Mike Hayton takes a light hearted look at the “A” team…

In early April our new Warhorse to Horsepower exhibition was opened with the appropriate pomp and circumstance by Troopers Cribb and Sherring of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry, Trustee Dan Snow and one very well-behaved horse. The new display examines the role of horses before, during and after the First World War, with the key emphasis on the British Army’s transition from horsed Cavalry to armoured vehicles and the reasons behind this major shift in land warfare. In his opening speech Dan Snow said, “Warhorse to Horsepower tells one of the key stories of the First World War; it isn’t one of suffering and futility, but one of innovation. If you want to find out about the real stories behind the wonderful Warhorse fiction come here, to best Museum in the UK, to hear them.” Following the speeches were finished, the doors of the hall opened to reveal our Mark IV replica tank, accompanied by the two troopers and Adam, the horse. Guests watched as Trooper Cribb marched forward and cut the ribbon with a First World War sword; declaring the exhibition open. Two years in the making, the exhibition starts just before the First World War, when mechanisation had already begun, and takes visitors all the way through to the start of the Second World War when armoured vehicles had largely replaced the horse at war. The display uses model horses to tell their story and highlight their struggle through the various stages of war.

emotional response than traditional text panels. Although only newly opened, visitors have already been observed listening in to the horses’ chat and even occasionally stroking them.” With the original vehicles and model horses, a host of interactive displays and dramatic imagery; it is hoped ‘Warhorse to Horsepower’ will have a multi-generational appeal and do justice to the experience of both men and horses between 1914-1939.

First World War CENTENARY COMMEMOR ATION

04.08.14

Exhibition Manager, Sarah Lambert said, “The design team opted for nine talking horses to act as the storytellers of the exhibition with the belief that they would inspire a more

Inside… ● Funnies that missed D-Day ● TANKFEST UPDATE ● What’s On ● The Morris Brothers ● Tiger Day

The Tank MUSEUM - THE WORLD’S BEST COLLECTION OF TANKS An Independent Museum and Registered Charity No 1102661

So just how do seven full time workshop staff potentially keep up to 90 vehicles in running order, fill the VCC to overflowing and organise over 60 volunteers? Let me introduce you to my “A” team. Andy Price is the Workshop Volunteer Manager, whose part aim in life is to keep everyone happy. Andy, whose favourite saying is “I think we should”, is often seen scratching his head and muttering. A rose between two thorns can best describe Workshop Foreman, Bob Nelson. Bob sits firmly between two managers (myself and Andy), he also handles the “needs” of the workshop staff who comprise: Ian “Buzz” Aldridge is our Sherman driver and Fury film veteran, with a worrying resemblance to Buzz Light Year. Brian Frost, Rides Vehicle mechanic and Sherman driver was an extra on the Fury film, as well as an expert on fencing. Wherever we go we hear Brian say, “you see the fence over there, I built that”. Matt Carvalho jealously guards the Leopard C2; we think his investment in three dogs is to keep us away from his beloved tank! Matt is responsible for all Tank Museum vehicle licencing, as well as advising the almost computer illiterate Workshop Manager! Ian “Slim” Burgess is our most Continued on page 2...


The Tank Museum - April 2014

FROM THE WORKSHOPS Continued…

www.tankmuseum.org

Tiger Day

Tel: +44 (0) 1929 405 096

In Brief

experienced Tiger 131 driver, he doesn’t seem to be put off by the fact that it successfully managed to break his leg last year. One of Slim’s many talents is an ability to mimic his colleagues with uncanny accuracy. My job is certainly made easier by having a contrasting but utterly reliable team. Meanwhile, what do we actually get up to? Well, our main task is to keep the running fleet running which, as the years go by, gets increasingly arduous – both with vehicle reliability and sourcing parts. In addition we have five M548 fully tracked cargo carriers, which have been converted to Rides Vehicles. These travel a lot of miles in the course of a season and require constant attention. Vehicle preparation for recurring events like Tanks in Action and our Experience days etc., is ongoing. Then there’s Tankfest. This event requires a tremendous amount of organisation from every department in the Museum, including the Workshops. In addition to ensuring all the additional vehicles required will run safely on the day, Tankfest also requires the input of a large number of volunteers. Everyone needs to know which vehicle they’re driving and what their responsibilities are. Many use the grassy area behind the main workshops to camp for the week and it makes for a lively atmosphere. In order to cope with some of the extra vehicle activities a new volunteer workshop bay has been built recently, together with another workshop bay for Community Service use. The volunteer workshop bay is large enough for one Chieftain sized main battle tank or three smaller vehicles to be worked on simultaneously. To the rear of these workshops is a ‘dry storage’ area to store spares for running fleet vehicles. All in all my job is very special to me; I would never have guessed 20 years ago that one day I would be responsible for the operation and preservation of the greatest collection of tanks in the world.

Tiger Day 2014 was another roaring success, with over 2000 visitors pouring in to The Tank Museum to see Tiger 131 in action.

on to the Vehicle Conservation Centre floor. Rare vehicles like the Conway tank and Valentine DD were on display for our visitors to get a closer look at.

Despite a little drizzle, crowds packed the arena to see the Tiger and its contemporaries; Panzer III, T-34 and the Kettenkrad as they charged around the track. The display also featured the Centurion and Leopard, accompanied by commentary from David Willey looking at the impact the Tiger had on these future designs.

For two guests it was a particularly special occasion, as they became two of only a handful of people to have ever ridden in the original Second World War Tiger 131, after each having been successful in either our Tiger tank raffle or eBay auction.

This was also the first Tiger Day at which visitors were allowed access

Tiger Day returns next year and Premium tickets are available now from our website.

an armoured fighting vehicle. To finish off the day, our staged arena battle will be based on Operation Market Garden in recognition of its 70th anniversary.

As well as updating the look of tankmuseum.org, there is now scope for more detail on what visitors will be able to see and do during their visit, with more information on our collection as a whole. One of the key parts of this is our new Virtual Tank Museum. Partly funded by the Art’s Council, the Virtual Tank Museum gives visitors the opportunity to explore The Tank Museum’s main exhibition hall, The Tank Story Hall, which tracks the history of armoured vehicles from start to finish. Each tank is accompanied by images and videos, as well as a run-down of key facts. The website address remains the same, tankmuseum.org, and we hope that you will find the new site informative and engaging.

There will also be entertainment in the form of 1940’s dancing, as well as mini tanks to drive, a shooting range and a living history area; to name just a few activities on offer. Tankfest is one of the biggest dates of the year in The Tank Museum’s calendar. Planning this weekend is an all year round pursuit for our staff and this year’s event is fast coming together. This Tankfest looks set to be our best yet and visitors will be treated to a whole host of activities. There will be arena displays throughout the day, including historic armour, a British Army display and the inaugural tank pull challenge, which will see teams from The Royal Armoured Corp and The Royal Marines go head to head pulling

Annual passes are not accepted at Tankfest. Standard admission tickets are still available. We look forward to seeing you there!

Mike Hayton Workshop Manager

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We are always trying to give our visitors the best possible experience when they come to The Tank Museum. Part of this is what they see before and after their trip, and more and more people are checking our website for up-to-date information. With that in mind we have recently launched a brand new website.

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World of Tanks merchandise is now on-sale in the Tank Museum shop, both online and at the Museum. The popular online game World of Tanks, part of a series developed by Wargaming.net, has produced a range of t-shirts and accessories for fans of the game and tanks alike. We are the only retailer in the UK to stock official World of Tanks merchandise and it is already proving to be a hit with our visitors. See tankmuseum. org for more details.

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The Tank Museum - April 2014

www.tankmuseum.org

Tel: +44 (0) 1929 405 096

THE FUNNIES THAT MISSED D-DAY by David Fletcher

A Churchill Mark IV fitted with the Farmer Front anti-mine plough. A number were built but it was never used in action.

Hobart’s Funnies are almost inseparable from D-Day; never mind that they continued to work, and prove useful for the remainder of the war in Europe. Or that by popular acclaim they lasted for some years afterwards and still do to a limited extent, it is their contribution to D-Day and the Normandy Landings that have grabbed the public imagination and of course the transient interest of the Media. But when you come to look at it carefully you find that essentially only three types took part in the assault landing, these were the Sherman Duplex Drive amphibian, the Sherman Crab mine clearing flail, and the Churchill Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers or AVRE. Indeed the Sherman DD had ceased to be one of Hobart’s Funnies by then and had been passed on to other regiments not now part of Hobart’s 79th Armoured Division. Plus the AVRE of course appeared in a number of guises, fitted with the Bullshorn mine clearing plough, the Bobbin carpet layer, the Small Box Girder Bridge and the fascine, but these were all attachments to the basic tank, attachments that could be shed once their special role was over, while the basic AVRE remained to continue the fighting. Perhaps we should not forget the armoured bulldozers, Caterpillar D8s mostly, which also operated on the Normandy beaches under the auspices of 79th Armoured Division. And granted, by the end of the day some Churchill Crocodile flamethrowers had landed with 141 Regiment, RAC, but these were not numbered amongst Hobart’s Funnies at this time, nor would they be for some months to come.

A Churchill Mark IV using a Churchill ARK Mark I to climb a vertical earth bank.

However, after that rather extensive preamble what I really want to mention here are those Funnies, which for one reason or another, did not participate in the Normandy landings. Some, such as the RAM Kangaroo, LVT Buffalo and Canal Defence Light along with the Centaur Dozer, would arrive later but there were others which might have proved useful but which, for one reason or another, were not scheduled to take part. These include the various types of demolition device attached to a tank and, most surprising of all the turretless Churchill ARK.

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Davis Submarine Escape Apparatus

The demolition charge placers can be dealt with first; there were any number of these rejoicing in such names as Carrot, Onion, Goat, Elevatable Goat and the mysteriously named Quinson Device. Some of them date back to 1943 and originated from other organisations such as the Obstacle Assault Centre or the Special Devices Branch of the Department of Tank Design. Not all of them were attached to the Churchill AVRE, though of course they could be, but in pre-AVRE days they were often fitted to ordinary Churchill gun tanks. Some of them worked quite well, quite devastating in fact but one feels the reason why they never appeared on D-Day was because the 290mm Petard weapon carried by the Churchill AVRE was almost as devastating and on the odd occasion where it could not demolish an obstacle in one go it could ultimately batter it into submission. Mind you in terms of variety you could say the same about the mine clearing ploughs, besides the Bullshorn Mark IIIA, use in limited numbers on D-Day, there were dozens of others developed by a variety of organisations, which were never used at all. They make an interesting subject for study by themselves. But all of these were in a sense attachments to the AVRE and were represented, at least vicariously, on D-Day; the ARK was not, and despite the fact that it was used extensively in Italy it never appeared in Normandy nor very much, if at all, later on in the campaign, as far as one can see. And this despite the fact that some fifty were built, on redundant Churchill tank hulls mostly by the MG Car Company at Abingdon. Never mind what other authors say on the subject, proof is lacking and they are certainly not listed amongst the types used on D-Day. And by the way, irrespective of what other authors tell you about ARK being derived from Armoured Ramp Karrier it wasn’t, Ark was short for Ark Royal which was also flat on top, work it out for yourself. As to why the ARK wasn’t used on D-Day one can only assume they had a viable alternative; in this case it would have been the Churchill AVRE with Small Box Girder Bridge, there are plenty of instances where you see them being used to climb a sea wall onto a promenade, just as ARKs were often seen doing on pre D-Day exercises in Britain. The advantage of course, when shipping space was at a premium, is that this way you got two for the price of one, a ramp or bridge that could be put in place and a fighting tank which could afterwards go on to do other things. The odd thing is that ARKs are rarely mentioned after D-Day, particularly not in the 79th Armoured Division history where you’d expect to find them if anywhere. Two are mentioned as being attached to F Wing, the 79th Armoured Division’s experimental wing at Gheel in Belgium, but what they were doing there is not explained. Naturally if anyone does know, or has any actual evidence of ARKs being used in NW Europe then please share it.

The Tank MUSEUM - THE WORLD’S BEST COLLECTION OF TANKS An Independent Museum and Registered Charity No 1102661

In recognition of the 70th anniversary of D-Day, The Tank Museum is putting together a special exhibition in the WW2 hall. It will feature a number of items relating to D-Day, including models of the Funnies, documents from our archives and items exploring the troops’ preparations for the amphibious landings on D-Day. One significant area of this, particularly for the crews of the floating tanks, was preparing for an emergency situation in which they might find themselves in the water. From 1943 troops were sent to Fritton Lake, Suffolk to begin their amphibious training on the new DD tanks. One of the most important things they learnt was how to escape from a sinking tank. The risk of drowning while going down with your tank was very real, not just for those inside but even those “on deck” who were liable to get caught if the screen collapsed inwards. At first it was assumed that escape would be no more difficult than from a sunken submarine so tests were carried out with the Davis Submarine Escape Apparatus (DSEA), originally intended for use by submarine crews, which comprised an inflatable pack worn across the chest and a little reservoir of oxygen. In practice the DSEA proved too bulky, so a more compact device known as the Amphibious Tank Escape Apparatus (ATEA) was developed by the Siebe Gorman Company and proved far more suitable. The ATEA would go on to be supplied to Sherman DD tank crews for the Normandy landings. This DSEA pattern went out of service in 1950, and few still exist.

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The Tank Museum - April 2014

From the

Editor

Andrew Sawyer The opening of Warhorse to Horsepower marked the culmination of years of work by The Tank Museum’s Curatorial team. It was a reminder of the importance of the stories we tell and how our ability to tell them impacts on our visitors. The new exhibition forms a part of our efforts to commemorate the First World War and our constant endeavours to ensure that our visitors are engaged and informed. As we look ahead, there are a number of exciting changes going on at the Museum, meaning there is always something to come back for. Our ever popular Tanks in Action display, which takes place on the weekdays of most school holidays, is having a facelift; visitors will now be able to see the First World War battlefield brought to life in our arena. Our 4th August event, which will be one of the biggest in Dorset to mark the centenary, offers another chance for remembrance. Plans are also being drawn up to refresh our trench experience in the future and there are a number of new exhibitions in the pipeline. Whilst the D-Day anniversary offers another opportunity for us to look at the ingenuity of the Second World War and the terrific challenges faced by the Allies, in the context of our collection. With Warhorse to Horsepower now open to the public, another successful Tiger Day under our belts, followed by a jam-packed Easter holidays, we now look forward to Tankfest. There is so much going on at the Museum and we hope you’ll have an opportunity to come for a visit soon.

www.tankmuseum.org

The Morris Brothers Towards the end of last year we received a donation of items, now on display in our new Warhorse to Horsepower exhibition, which documents the journey of two brothers during World War One, from their enlistment to the Cavalry to their final roles in the Tank Corps.

Corps on 28th September 1918. His parents received confirmation of this terrible news in a letter from James’ Commanding Officer:

Brothers, James and Lawrence Morris, were very close and worked as butchers in civilian life. Together, in 1915, they joined the King Edward Horse, following each other then into the Northumberland Fusiliers and finally the Tank Corps.

These letters, along with James Morris’ medal group and memorial plaque, cap badges, sweetheart brooches and photographs of the brothers, not only demonstrate the great technological progress at this time but also the personal story of two close brothers who, like so many thousands of others, were just aiming to get through it all and return home safely to their family.

Amongst the items donated are letters and postcards written between the brothers and their parents. Their parents were of course always keen for news of their sons’ safety:

“He was buried yesterday by his tank and as soon as possible a suitable cross will be put up.” (1st October 1918)

WHAT’S ON

24.5.14 – 1.6.2014

May Half Term Visitors will have the chance to learn more about D-Day with talks, tour, trails and activities. *Children go free.

28.6.2014 – 29.6.2014

TANKFEST 2014#

“I am very anxious to know how you are, as everything seems so gloomy and we get very little news. I have just got a letter from Lawrence, he is thinking they are coming back ...

The world’s best display of moving armour returns for 2014! Some historic vehicles will make their show debuts, with a number of old favourites returning to the arena.

I do wish you were coming with him.

James Lawrence

Morris

From your loving Mum and Dad.” Unfortunately only one brother would return home - James was killed in action whilst serving with 11th Battalion Tank

Lawrence Henr

y Morris

4 August Event Update th

The Tank Museum’s 4th August Commemoration Event is taking shape, with a series of planned arena displays, talks and tours.

World War and the origins of the War, among others. A Living History display, with a real trench system, will feature near the Vehicle Conservation Centre.

The Kuwait Arena will see our Mark IV and A7V replicas trundling round, accompanied by the Great War Air Display team and the Gordon Highlanders. There will also be a tank mobility display later in the day, featuring both First World War and modern vehicles.

Activities for children include medal decoration, writing war poetry and painting wooden tanks. Children who wear a decorative Tank Museum poppy will be given free entry on the day – see tankmuseum.org for details.

Talks will be going on at the Museum throughout the day, including “Tommy in the Trenches”, a look at tanks in the First Andrew Sawyer Editor

Tel: +44 (0) 1929 405 096

Normal admission prices apply on 4th August and Annual Pass holders will be admitted as usual.

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The Tank MUSEUM - THE WORLD’S BEST COLLECTION OF TANKS An Independent Museum and Registered Charity No 1102661

4.8.2014

WW1 Centenary Commemoration Commemoration of the outbreak of the First World War, with talks, tours, living history, a mock battle and air display.

20.9.2014

Britain at War Show This yearly event returns, looking at the events surrounding D-Day with talks tours and activities throughout the day. #You may not use your Annual Pass for re-admission on these dates. *See our website for details.


Tank Times | May 2014