With the Tanks 1916-1918: Memoirs of a British Tank Commander in the Great War (Eyewitnesses from the Great War)
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William Watson was a young Oxford post-graduate at the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. Along with several friends from Oxford he enlisted in the army expecting the war to last six weeks. Watson began his service in the Great War as a British Army motorcycle despatch rider. He saw active service during the key battles of 1914 and early 1915. Watson was then commissioned and became a tank commander and saw active service with the tanks most notably at Cambrai in 1917. This well written and evocative memoir was originally published under the tile 'A Company Of Tanks' it constitutes a wonderful primary source and is an invaluable addition to the library of anyone with an interest in the evolution of the tank as a decisive weapon on the battlefield. Highly detailed, but nonetheless accessible this superb new illustrated edition, edited by Emmy AwardTM winning historian Bob Carruthers is greatly recommended for serious enthusiasts and casual readers alike.
aeroplane photographs. At dusk Jumbo and I started out in the car for Noreuil, but at Vaulx-Vraucourt we decided to leave the car as the road was impossible. It was heavy with mud and slush and we were far from fresh. We passed Australians coming up and much transport - in places the road was almost blocked. After an hour or more we came to the valley above Noreuil, full of new gun-pits. Our tanks lay hidden against the bank at the side of the road, shrouded in their tarpaulins. My men were
bearings. As he was climbing out, a shell burst against the side of the tank and wounded him again in the leg. The tank was evacuated. The crew salved what they could, and, helping each other, for they were all wounded, they made their way back painfully to the embankment. Birkett was brought back on a stretcher, and wounded a third time as he lay in the sunken road outside the dressing station. His tank was hit again and again. Finally it took fire, and was burnt out. Skinner, after his tank
mud. The fighting virtues of the crews could not be questioned, for the gallantry of the corps was amazing. Time after time the men started out to fight in the full knowledge that unless some miracle intervened they must stick in the mud - and either spend hours under a deadly fire endeavouring to extricate their tanks or fight on, the target of every gun in the neighbourhood, until they were knocked to pieces. There was the famous tank “Fray Bentos,” which went out in front of our infantry and
Colonel that, if we had taken Flesquieres, it was difficult to account for the machine-gun fire which apparently was coming from the neighbourhood of the village, and half-convinced, he sent his Scout Officer with me to find out what was happening generally, and to endeavour in particular to approach Flesquieres from the west. We set out at once, taking our direction by a little copse which lies on the hillside a mile or so to the west of Flesquieres itself. We were tramping across the open
then walking to the camp at Meaulte. Even when the tanks had been detrained at Le Plateau, the most desolate railhead on earth, and driven to the chilliest of tankodromes by the ruins of Bécordel-Becourt, half an hour’s walk from the camp, we were not rid of the war. The line to which we had fallen back was none too stable, and to strengthen it tanks were posted at intervals behind the guns. It was intended that these tanks should break the enemy attack, demoralise their infantry, and act as