The dire situation in April 1917 saw unarmoured, training tanks go into combat: the Mark II.
The Mark II was built as a training tank for use here at Bovington. It wasn’t designed for the battlefield, so it had no armour. Due to a shortage of tanks in April 1917, 26 Mark II tanks were sent out to France to take part in the Battle of Arras.
They performed well but, as you can see by the holes in this tank, were easily pierced by German shells. After the first tank battle in September 1916 the Army ordered 1,000 new tanks but there were no trained crews to drive them. Bovington’s role was to provide these crews, who were trained on unarmoured Mark II tanks.
The Tank Museum’s Mark II
This is the last surviving Mark II, all the others were scrapped. After its battle service, it was modified into a supply tank – the guns were taken out and it was loaded up with fuel, oil and ammunition. It is the oldest surviving tank that saw combat in the world.