“I don’t want to be a Millionaire, I just want to drive a Tank”

From the Archives

24th January 2019

A tanky song has been found in The Tank Museum Archives, written by a Second World War tank soldier.

CheesemanCorporal Ernest Cheeseman joined 5th Battalion Royal Tank Corps in 1935. He served with 5th Royal Tank Regiment in North Africa from December 1940 to September 1943, in which he was injured twice. Originally training as a wireless operator, he would later specialise as a mechanic and fitter, also fighting in Italy and North West Europe.

Cheeseman gave talks about his experiences in the desert in his native North East before donating his typed memoirs, photograph album, talks and audio tapes to the Archive.

Found handwritten on note paper in his collection, these delightful lyrics are from ‘The Tanky Song’ and dated circa 1943. With only the date noted, we unfortunately can’t identify the author or what music the words were sung to.

I don’t want to be a Millionaire,
A John Barrymore or a Fred Astaire,
I don’t want to be Lord Nuffield’s Heir,
I just want to drive a tank.

I don't want to fly with the Brylcream boys,
In the RAF or the High Falloys
I don't want to shout out Ship Ahoye
I just want to drive a tank.

Over the hills and far away
Ploughing the whole world down,
Laughing at troubles that come my way
With the little black beret on the top of my crown.