Tank Men: The Story of the First Crews

New exhibition opened by HRH The Princess Royal

22nd March 2016

HRH The Princess Royal has opened a new exhibition at The Tank Museum to mark the centenary year of the first tank attack in history. 

Princess Anne openingTank Men: The Story of the First Crews, focuses on the stories of eight men who crewed the first tanks during the First World War and is open now.

Exhibitions Officer Sarah Lambert said; “The new exhibition tells the stories of eight British tank soldiers who were among the pioneers of armoured warfare.  These individuals were carefully chosen following extensive research in the Museums archives, allowing us to draw upon previously unseen materials – documents, images and supporting collections - to assemble their service histories.”

The exhibition, partially funded by the Wolfson Foundation, features Elliot Hotblack, Cyril Coles, Sydney Hadley, Archie Smith, Basil Henriques, Walter Ratcliffe, Charles Baker and Clement Arnold – examining their wartime exploits and the impact the conflict had on their lives.

“These aren’t household names – they were just ordinary soldiers,” said Sarah.  “Chosen because their remarkable experiences illustrate dramatic and moving stories that have stood the test of time and continue to have a powerful and emotional impact today.”

Researchers traced surviving relatives of the featured soldiers, who were approached to provide a personal insight into the men.  Sarah said; “This added another dimension to the way we could bring the men to life. The relatives all spoke with a freshness of affection and pride that belies the passing of 100 years.”

Alongside the personal stories, the Museum is redisplaying what is finest collection of First World War tanks in the world – including the world’s only surviving example of the Mark I tank that first saw action 100 years ago.

Tank Men: The Story of the First Crews is a permanent exhibition and is now open.