Another member of the first Tank Corps who is represented in the Tank Men exhibition is Albert Baker, the chemist who won two Military Crosses during the First World War.
Albert Baker was an analytical chemist by profession and worked for F W Gilbert of Derby, and later United Dairies.
He served in the Tank Corps right from its early days in 1916. By 1918 he had won two Military Crosses for bravery.
One of Baker’s actions, in particular, has gone down in Tank Corps legend. During the Battle of Cambrai, the first large-scale use of tanks, Baker was in command of his Mark IV tank ‘Gorgonzola II”. During the advance on the German-held village of Graincourt, the British tanks were sustaining considerable damage from a battery of German field guns.
In partnership with another tank from the company, who destroyed the first gun, Gorgonzola II managed to see off the gun crew and capture the gun intact.
For leading his tank in the face of two German field guns and creating a route for the infantry to push on and capture the village, Lt Baker was awarded a Bar to his Military Cross.
The gun is now on display in the Tank Men exhibition. Baker’s actions at Cambrai and the capture of the Graincourt Gun made him a prominent figure in the Tank Corps. In the 1930s, Baker was photographed in the press alongside the Graincourt Gun.
To honour its place in Baker’s story and the significance it holds for the Tank Corps’ history, a mannequin of Baker is featured in the exhibition striking a similar pose next to the gun.
After the war, Baker returned home to Uttoxeter and went back to his pre-war job as an analytical chemist in the dairy industry. Baker and his family consistently collected all mention of tanks in the newspapers and kept his paperwork from the war, compiling it in a scrapbook. It was donated to the Museum in the 1990s and is on display in the Tank Men exhibition, opened in 2016.
Learn more about the first tank crews here.