One of the most complete stories of one man’s service with the Tank Corps is to be published for the first time by The Tank Museum.
Museum visitors will recognise Albert (Bert) Baker from the Tank Men exhibition, where he is featured alongside the Graincourt gun – his prize from the Battle of Cambrai.
His Grandson Jonathan Baker has used this incredibly detailed source to tell Bert’s story.
He said; “Bert was no more prepared to fight in a war than any of the countless thousands of others who streamed into army recruiting offices in the autumn of 1914. His life up to that point had been confined to a small family dairy in south London.”
Initially Baker served in the trenches, but his wartime story is inextricably bound up with his service in the tanks.
“Tanks had a painful infancy,” said Jonathan. “But as an officer in the Tank Corps, he featured in two actions that helped establish it once and for all as a frontline weapon – winning a Military Cross in the first and a bar to it in the second.”
In the first action, a successful raid outside Ypres known as The Cockroft, the tanks showed what they could do when used properly.
In the second, tanks were deployed in their hundreds at the Battle of Cambrai, they were the spearhead of a spectacular advance that finally overcame the doubts of even the most sceptical commanders.
“But the book is also a social history,” he added. “Growing up in the newly emerging suburbia of London, the ins and outs of running an urban dairy and his own post-war involvement as a chemical analyst in the efforts to produce milk that was safe to drink.”
Watch Cambrai: The Tank Corps Story to learn more about Albert ‘Bert’ Baker’s story and other stories of the early tank men.