Tank Men: The Story of the First Tank Crews

In 2016, The Tank Museum marked the centenary year of the first tank attack in history with a new exhibition titled `TANK MEN` focussing on pioneering tank soldiers.

Tank Men: The Story of the First Crews focuses on the stories of eight men who crewed tanks during the First World War.

Exhibitions Officer Sarah Lambert said; “The 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 histories.”

The exhibition features Elliot Hotblack, Sydney Hadley, Archie Smith, Basil Henriques, Walter Ratcliffe, Albert Baker, Clement Arnold and Dorset born Cyril Coles – 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.  “They were 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.  A number of them attended the opening.   Sarah said; “This added another dimension to the way in which 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 displays what is the 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.  The exhibition was introduced as a part of a range of activities and events The Tank Museum hosted and participated in to mark 100 years since the first tank attack in history.

Learn more about one of the Tank Men, Albert Baker here.

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