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THE BATTLE OF CAMBRAI

20/1/1917

By J. C. Allnatt
From The Tank November 1955, pages 77-80

This account of the battle of Cambrai will be of particular interest to all past and present members of the Regiment.  It is the story of the battle seen through the eyes of a driver of a tank.

The Author was a Sergeant at the time and was given a commission shortly afterwards.

 

In October, 1917, I was a Sergeant in XIX Company “G” Battalion, Tank Corps, which was one of the three Battalions of the 1st Brigade Tank Corps.1  I was in Section 3 and was a Section Sergeant, which meant that I had control of the crews of five tanks and one or two supernumeraries.  We had a Crew Officer to each tank and a Section Officer, usually a Captain, in charge of each Section.

My job at this time was to drive a tank, and to drive a Mark V tank [sic – Mark IV tanks were used at that time] successfully one had to be physically strong and, if I may say so, quite resolute.  I know I was physically very strong.  I was then aged 27, I was trained to a hair and I weighed 15 stone 3 lb.  I probably had as much driving experience as any member of the Tank Corps and I was the only Sergeant or Senior N.C.O. of the 1st Brigade allowed to drive a tank.  The driving was usually done by the second N.C.O. in a tank, usually a Lance-Corporal.

In the middle of October we moved from the Ypres salient for what were described as “very big manoeuvres” with the Infantry.  No one was sorry to see the back of the salient and it gave us quite a jar when the train on to which we had loaded our tanks, broke in two, the rear half running backwards until someone had the presence of mind to jump down and apply the brakes.

On the following morning we were not surprised to find ourselves at the Tank Driving Area at a little place called Wailly, which is east of Arras.  We were soon practising driving and maintenance work over the now quiet battlefields which had been vacated after the Arras push some twelve months before.  We did an immense amount of tank driving over the old trenches by day and particularly at night.  This went on for a fortnight and we left with our tanks in good shape and our morale as high as it could possibly be.

We were then taken by train to a place which I have never been able to find on the map called Plateau.2  There, at the railhead, where we disembarked, was a maze of sidings which were occupied by trains similar to our own.  This must have been, I think, about November 10.  The troops were still certain that they were going on manoeuvres, but this soon became immersed in doubt when certain things began to happen.  One of the most notable operations was to fit upon the nose of each tank a huge bundle of long strips of brushwood which were made into fascines weighing 30 cwt.  The idea was to drop these fascines into any trench which was thought to be too deep or too wide for a tank to tackle without aid.  We also fitted spuds to the tracks.  These were a kind of steel blade clamped at right angles to the track so as to get a better grip on the ground.  The spuds certainly did this but they also made the going rather heavier and were apt to get entangled with barbed wire.

I remember the weather was very cold and the nights were long.  I remember night after night, when darkness fell, creeping through the woods trying to find a place to lie down to sleep.  We had no cover of any kind and no blankets and every morning the ground was hard with frost.  One was very lucky to find a ditch or an old fox-hole to crawl into.  It was with the greatest difficulty that we kept warm even in the daytime, but as we had plenty to do did not notice it too much.  It turned out to be a blessing that the weather continued to be fine although cold.

A few days later the tank crews were busy filling up Lewis Gun trays with ammunition and we noticed that it was the type usually issued to us for battle.  This was the first really definite sign that the manoeuvres were going to prove to be something very different.  A few days later we were issued with aviation spirit instead of the usual M.T. petrol.  This surely, too, was something unusual for manoeuvres and we had little doubt, in spite of the continued denial from Headquarters, that there was a battle ahead for us and, moreover, in a very short time.

Then, one night (I suppose it must have been about November 17), we were ordered to load our tanks upon one of the various trains that were waiting.  It seemed that there were hundreds of tanks – as indeed there were – and that every tank-bearing truck in England as well as France had been mustered to accommodate them.  I remember one truck, which had a definite and ominous looking sag in its middle, was avoided by everybody until the last tank of all was forced to take it.  What a cold night that was – we never knew where the Officers went to on these occasions (by the way, I was a Sergeant at the time).  I took it upon myself to light a fire of some old cases which we had collected and we walked about all night warming ourselves in turns by the fire.  It cast a red glow up into the sky, giving an excellent target to any enemy ’plane which happened to be about.  However, nobody reprimanded us.  The morning came and still we waited.  Towards the afternoon, however, we were ordered to man the train and with two engines in front and one behind started to move out.

We had no idea where we were going as we went down single-line tracks, where the trees on either side almost touched the trucks and passed through stations which we could not recognise.  We arrived at Beaumetz-en-Contre3 at about nine or ten o’clock on a dark wintry evening and immediately unloaded without the aid of lights and started on our journey – where to we did not know.  Driving a tank at night was a nightmare, and without lights far worse, but we struggled along passing many Army vehicles and troops on our way.  Eventually towards dawn we found ourselves in a thick wood which proved to be (although at the time we did not know) Havrincourt Wood.

As dawn approached on November 19 we had time to look about us.  So far as we could see we were in a tremendous wood, a thick wood too, and it was clear that it contained a great concentration of tanks.  We had little doubt by this time what we were there for and when we heard the sound of gunfire about two or three miles away, became quite certain.

Although we had had no sleep for two days and nights we worked all day on tank maintenance.  This was a very big job in itself and required the whole attention of the entire crew.  For instance, it took one man the whole day to do the greasing up and I remember that I myself took the carburettor and magneto entirely to pieces, as was my custom, cleaned them and put them back, confident in the knowledge that everything was as it should be.  We filled up with oil and petrol (aviation spirit), we stripped our Lewis Guns and took on spare ammunition for the Infantry and bombs for all other purposes.

During the afternoon I was called to the Section Officer’s Headquarters4 – a bivouac – and gave me a map (which I still have) and also, what was more important and useful to me, an oblique aeroplane photograph taken in the direction in which I was to go.  He told me that he would want the Section out on the edge of the wood at six o’clock that evening.  I issued orders accordingly and at a quarter to six we started to move out.  We assembled in line-ahead – first there was my tank called the “Gravedigger,” a Mark V [sic], female5 (all the tanks in our Battalion were named with the initial “G”), and behind me ranged the four other tanks of my Section, and to my surprise two tanks from “E” Battalion and one from “D” Battalion, making eight tanks in all,6 truly a formidable weapon of destruction.

Soon after this, before we moved off, I remember feeling quite satisfied that my tank was in perfect order, as indeed it was, and I knew that the other tanks too had had great care and attention.

I strolled along the line and remember approaching Section 4, the next Section to mine, who also had eight tanks.  I saw Sergeant Morgan,7 who was in the same position as myself in his Section.  He was standing apart, as if contemplating.  I went up to him and said “Jolly good luck, Morgan.”  He looked with rather a sad expression on his face and said “Before this time tomorrow I shall be dead.”  I said something to the effect that he should not talk like that and he replied that he was certain that it would be so, but he did not feel afraid or sorry, he just knew it, and he showed, I must say, no sign of fear but of complete resignation.  Now I knew that Morgan was a resourceful tank man and I knew that whatever he could do to improve the fighting capabilities of his tank would have been done.  Morgan had four spare cans of aviation spirit and it was his intention to carry them on the top of his tank.  I did not approve of this myself but never said anything about it, mores the pity [sic].  These cans of petrol proved to be his undoing as you will presently see.

I continued my walk down the line, speaking to several of the Sergeants and Corporals.  We were dressed like most soldiers of the time, except that the gas masks were divided into two so that the drivers and some of the gunners could wear their steel face shields, instead of the eye pieces of the gas masks.

Then the order came to move off.  My Crew Commander8 took his place on my left inside the tank and it was his job to operate the two hand-brakes, one on each track.  At the last minute a runner came up, bringing us two pigeons in a crate, and then the Section Commander4 and his runner also got in, making us ten in all, leaving very little space in which to move. We synchronised watches – I had one on either wrist because I knew how important the exact time is on such occasions – and went down the edge of the wood.  Now and again a Section would break off, No. 1 breaking off to my left and No. 4 to my right.  No. 2 Section were not there, they were engaged on a job of wire-pulling, which meant that they had to go behind the fighting tanks and drop chains and anchors amongst the barbed wire and pull it out of the way for the Infantry to go through.  There was a bit of shelling when we reached our forward jumping off point and it was not long before we heard that three tanks of No. 1 Section had been hit.

I should mention that my Crew Commander was a man who had had no previous battle experience.8  The Section Commander too was fresh to the Section and he may or may not have had previous battle experience.4  It should be known too that the N.C.O.s in “G” Battalion, especially the senior ones, had had a great deal of tank experience.  I think all of them had been in the Tank Corps since its inception in May, 1916.  On the other hand most of the Officers I think all the junior ones, or in other words the Tank Commanders, had had no previous experience as they had come straight to us from a Cadet Battalion.  The Cadet Battalion did not specialise in tank work, they were simply volunteers to go to the Tank Corps.  This could have made the relations between the junior Officers and the much experienced N.C.O.s difficult, but each side treated the situation with great tact with the result, almost without exception, that the actual man who took charge in battle was the senior N.C.O. – as it proved to be in my case.  It seemed quite natural, therefore, in fact I did not think about it at all that I should be the one to give instructions.  As we approached the line I halted the tank and I gave instructions to the gunners.  There were two gunners on each side, each armed with a Lewis Gun and each of them were expert in their particular work.  I told them that I was not satisfied with the amount of fire we had given in our previous experience and that this time I wanted them to fire at every conceivable or inconceivable opportunity and I explained further that I would try to get as close to the enemy line as possible under cover of the semi-darkness and try to bring my tank on to the German front-line and astride it within a few seconds of zero.

There were several machine guns operating that night in order to drown any noise that the tanks might make in their approach.  It is normally supposed that a tank makes a terrific noise.  This was not so, unless it is under speed pressure, so therefore there was very little noise to drown as the tanks were just creeping slowly along with their engines ticking over.  The machine guns brought a certain amount of retaliation from the enemy in the way of field gun shells, which came alarmingly close.

I think people often wonder what tank crews felt like just before going over the top.  Of course, people are affected in different ways and I can only say what I felt myself.  I cannot say that I felt any fear, but there was a good deal of anticipation and I did toy with the question as to whether I would see another sunset.  Of course no-one likes going into battle and I am certain that the man who says he does is either a fool or a liar, or perhaps both.

We could tell from our watches that dawn was approaching and about ten minutes before zero hour I said to both my Crew Commander and Section Commander that I would try to get a bit farther ahead so as to catch the enemy completely by surprise.  This I did.  I got into bottom gear and allowed the engine to tick over and went forward at a very slow pace in complete silence.  I could tell from my map and my oblique aeroplane photograph exactly where I was.  I was 150 yards from the German front-line.  There seemed to be very little activity on this part of the front.  From time to time there was a burst of machine gun fire and rifle fire and an occasional, in fact rather more than an occasional, shell.  One of these exploded just under the nose of our tank, the “Gravedigger.”  It filled the Crew Officer’s eyes with dust as it did mine and a splinter from the shell lodged in the back of my hand.  I pulled it out and allowed the blood to dry, so as to stop further bleeding.  I then decided that as zero hour was so close I would try to get a bit nearer.  I got into bottom gear and allowed the tank to ease itself forward a few more yards until I judged that I might be about 25 yards from the German front-line.  I had hardly arrived at this point when there was a tremendous crash of gunfire, shells went screaming overhead and there was no doubt that the battle had begun.

I immediately got into second gear, revved up the engine and shot forward as fast as possible.  I am sure I was on the German front-line within ten seconds of zero hour.  The Gunners did exactly as they were told, and when we were astride the front-line they let the enemy have it for all they were worth.  I did not hesitate, however, and having given them about 25 seconds to get off as much ammunition as they could, went on.  We raced as hard as we could to the second support line and could see the flashes of our shells bursting upon the third line.  I knew that the safest place was just behind one’s own barrage and this I endeavoured to do.  This did not please either the Tank Commander or the Section Commander, as they said that we would get cut off.  I promptly explained the reason for it and told them that they had better leave it to me.

The going was excellent, the soil being dry and firm and ideal for tank work.  The dawn had almost broken and already the Germans had got to their guns and were giving us something in return.  Our own barrage was superb, it was very accurate as to position and the timing was quite precise.  If at any time I had any doubt as to where we were I had only to look at my watch and at the position of the barrage and I could find out exactly where my own position was.  This is very important because it gives much needed confidence.  I kept off the roads because they were almost certainly mined and the going there could not have been any better than it was across the fields.  There was a certain amount of machine gunning from the enemy and I could hear the tattooing on the outside steel plates.

I eventually arrived at the place where I had to make a half-left turn and cross a sunken road in order to get to my correct position near the village of Havrincourt, but before I could get there I had to cross a very, very wide and strong barbed wire defence.  I suppose it could not have been less than 50 yards across.  It is true there were a few gaps but a tank must always avoid a gap in barbed wire defences because they are almost certainly mined.  I ploughed my way through, with some satisfaction, knowing that where I had rolled the wire down the Infantry could make a crossing.  I got through seemingly safely and moved to where I thought I would cross the sunken road.  I then noticed that the tank was not behaving as it should, the steering was rather sluggish and the engine seemed to be losing power.  I could not make this out because I was quite sure that the tank was in perfect order.  The answer came, strangely enough.  There were two German soldiers lying wounded in my path.  I had no intention, of course, of running over them but I could see that they were terrified.  I could see no reason for it until it suddenly dawned upon me that they were not afraid of the tank but of what I was drawing behind.  I looked out of my rearward peephole and saw that I was dragging a mass of barbed wire the size of an ordinary house and it was that which was causing the sluggish engine.  The wire was also winding itself round the tracks, but I thought that the power of the tank would break it to pieces and I should shake myself free, so I avoided the wounded Germans and made for the sunken road.

On the other side of the sunken road I could see a steep bank, steep enough for any tank, even though free of barbed wire.  I had a go, in fact I had several goes to get over, and I just could not manage it.  We only had 105 h.p. engines and it was simply too weak for the job.  So I backed down into the sunken road and told the two second drivers, who were acting as secondary gearsmen, to get out and cut the wire away from the tracks so that I could pull myself free.  It is a pity that the tanks which were following me did not pull out and go ahead, leaving me to effect the necessary adjustments.  Unfortunately they also stopped and as a result the Infantry, who had now caught us up, suffered some needless casualties.  However, they did their job very well and under most unpleasant conditions and we went on again, climbing up the steep bank and coming out into level and open country before approaching the strong points, which we were supposed to destroy, to help our Infantry.  It was obvious, at the very first glance, that we were late because the ground in front of the strong points was strewn with our own dead.  It was also clear that our Infantry had succeeded in taking the strong points and that no mercy had been shown for the defenders of them.

We pushed on at a good speed, perhaps up to eight or nine miles an hour, catching up and passing the Infantry.  They were only in very small numbers and it is true to say that in the whole of the battle I saw no more than 50 altogether.

My machine gunners were doing good work and obviously enjoying themselves.  The port gunners in particular were finding targets to suit themselves and several times they got out and ran alongside the tank to locate targets and, jumping in again, would let the enemy have a burst of fire.  It was about this time that I spotted some Germans on our left flank and rather ahead of us, running away.  I called my Crew Officer’s attention to them but he was unable to get the gun to swing far enough to the left, so I asked him to hand it to me, which he did – I must have been the only tank driver who actually operated a machine gun at the same time as driving a tank, and I believe I hit them.

 

 

Part II – The Hindenburg Line

From The Tank December 1955, pages 111-3

 

It was an awe-inspiring spectacle and as we drew near, I knew that I had to perform the operation of dumping my fascine into it and “have a go.”  I therefore got to the edge of this enormous trench and pulled the lever which was supposed to drop the fascine forward.  Nothing happened and on looking out of one of the roof-holes I found my fascine had gone.  Further investigation showed that not only had the fascine gone but the unditching gear as well.  I feel quite sure that these had been knocked off either by an enemy shell or one of our own.  However, I would not surrender my place as leader and I “had a go” without these aids.  We tipped forward, going down and down until the nose started to press into the bottom of the trench.  Then was the crucial time, would the tank lift itself up on to the farther bank or not, or would it try to push itself into the far bank?  There were seconds of suspense, until the tracks, aided by the spuds which I have described, began to operate.  We gradually heaved ourselves up and after a good climb just managed to make it – and that was all.  But we did manage it and I felt very pleased about things.

We went on and on and there is not much more to tell about the actual fighting, as by this time the enemy resistance appeared to have broken.  So far our own casualties had been nil.  I then wondered how the other two Sections had fared.  I could see both of them and could count only four tanks in Section 4, and three tanks in Section 1.  They had each started with eight tanks, so I knew that some disaster had overtaken them.9

We then released one of our pigeons and sent back a message describing the general situation and what had happened so far.

I forgot to mention that just before approaching the Hindenburg Line over on our left I had an unusual view of a bridge in mid-air.  It was one of the bridges which the Germans blew up in their retreat.  I actually saw it apparently poised in the air without support either end.

As there was no further resistance we made straight for our final objective which we reached without further trouble.  We had not been there long when a runner arrived, who we found had come to get information rather than to give it.  As he had been to Section 4 we asked him how that Section had fared.  His tale was a sad one.  They had suffered casualties and Morgan, the Sergeant whom I spoke to just before we came into battle, had been struck in the eye by a bullet and was not expected to live.  He did, in fact, die that evening.10  Several others had been killed, some of them being driven out of their tanks by Germans getting on top and pouring lighted petrol down inside.

Whilst we were standing talking the Germans opened fire on us with machine guns and made us hop quickly back into our tanks.  Shortly after this a Brigadier arrived and he questioned us as to who we were and asked us why we had stopped.  We explained that we had reached our final objective and had no orders to proceed further.  He asked us if we were all right and able to move ahead.  We replied that we were and he suggested that we should move on to the next road.  We immediately restarted our engines and pushed ahead to the main Bapaume-Cambrai road.  Up to this point we had advanced about five miles.  When we got there, at about midday, I stopped the engine and opened up the aperture in front of me to get as much fresh air as possible.  It was a beautiful day, not cold, and as I began to relax there was a sharp tap on the plating.  I did not realise what it was until it was followed by another and another, and suddenly it flashed upon my mind that an enemy sniper was trying to get a bullet through the aperture which I had opened.  I immediately slammed down the shutter, only just in time, for the next bullet spread itself upon the shutter.

I have often been asked what kind of view the driver had through the driving aperture.  He could regulate the amount of vision and it was sometimes more important to take a risk and open the aperture fairly wide to make quite sure the tank went where the driver wanted it to and did not become ditched.  The driver could close his aperture altogether and still get some kind of view by means of a prism slit or periscope – neither of these were satisfactory and I never used them.

As darkness approached we withdrew our tanks a distance of about two or three hundred yards from the position which we had occupied and went in search of somewhere to sleep and some food – bully beef and biscuits as usual.  We found a convenient German dug-out and passed a fairly comfortable night.  I remember getting up once in the night, thinking there were some Germans left in the dug-out because of the noise – some rattling and scuffling.  I drew my revolver and went along the connecting tunnel.  All I found were a number of rats, no doubt discussing the change of occupier of this particular dug-out.  This was the first night’s rest, or in fact sleep, that we had had for three days and three nights and we made the most of it.11

At dawn we pushed our tanks forward to the sunken road and then came the question of refuelling for the next day’s battle.  We had thought that a supply tank would come up to refuel us.  We waited and waited, wasting precious time when we could have gone forward and probably have made a clean break-through.  The time went on and it was not until about 10.30 that a supply tank did arrive but, alas, only to enquire of us where the supply dump was.  This we luckily happened to know.  I realised that a full load of the supply tank would be insufficient to fill the eight tanks in my Section, so I volunteered to go back with him to bring an extra load of much needed petrol, water and oil.

On arrival at the supply dump, a distance of a mile and a half, we started to fill the tank with cans of petrol.  I vaguely realised the danger of carrying petrol cans in a fighting tank but the acuteness of it was not brought home to me until later.  I instructed my crew to get out and place cans of petrol into the tank, building them up behind me and around me, sitting in the driver’s seat.  We completely filled our tank and foolishly though it may seem, some of the petrol cans were within a couple of inches of an almost red-hot exhaust pipe.  I ordered the rest of the crew to stay outside and walk back.  This they did and I turned round and made for our old position.  I only realised then the sort of risk that was being taken.  Some shells fell round me and I wondered what might happen should my tank be hit.  There was no escape hatch at the front end of the tank for the driver, and his only means of escape was to go past the engine and out by the door in the sponson.  However, we reached our destination safely, where the petrol, oil and water were quickly unloaded and distributed to the eight tanks.

We then proceeded with the attack, I think without instructions.  I cannot remember the Section Commander receiving instructions from any source.  We went on in a Northerly direction hoping to find the enemy.  There was no resistance beyond an occasional burst of machine gun fire.  Neither was there any Infantry support other than artillery fire from our guns.

After moving forward about a mile and a half a terrible noise broke out in the internals of my engine.  I quickly decided we had got a “big end.”  I informed the Section Commander, who asked me if I thought I could repair it.  I told him “No,” and that the only thing to do was to take the tank back very slowly in order to avoid it being captured should the Germans counter-attack.  To this he agreed, and I turned the tank about very slowly and commenced to go back the way we had come.

I was horrified to see through the backwards observation hole that the other seven tanks had done likewise.  The next thing was to either persuade the Section Commander to transfer to the second leading tank, or to send a messenger to tell them we had broken down and were returning and that they must proceed with the battle.

We were now being spasmodically machine gunned and when I selected one of the crew, named Graves,12 to go and tell all the other tanks what had happened there was a cheer and a laugh, as we knew that Graves would have to be either nippy, or very lucky.  I then drew up behind one of the other tanks to let him get out in safety, and it was surprising how quickly he delivered his message!

There was very little one could do about signalling from one tank to another, but I did know, and the others of my Section should have known too, that the hoisting of a spade over the top escape hatch indicated a breakdown.  This we did, but no notice was taken.  Of course, the Section Commander ought to have transferred immediately the breakdown occurred, but he did not.

I reached ralIying point by evening, and having faced the tank in the direction of the enemy, reported to my O.C. Company13 and told him what had happened.  The next morning I was ordered to get all available men, those who had lost their tanks and take up rations to those who were still in the battle.  This lasted for the next three days.  We loaded ourselves up with tins of bully beef, jam, biscuits and water, and set out, with the idea of calling at Company Headquarters, which had by this time moved up closer to the battle.  After walking for about four miles I could see our Headquarters which were being heavily shelled and H.E. was falling about their dug-outs which had been so lately occupied by the Germans.  I therefore kept my men well spread out and when I got within about 50 yards of the dug-outs the Company Commander hopped out of the ground and shouted, “What the hell are you doing up here?”  I replied that I had brought rations for the Company.  He shouted, “Go back, go back.  We are all coming back.”

We about turned, selected some high ground with a handy trench, opened up some of the rations and had a good meal.  We also had a grandstand view of a German counter-attack, which was then taking place.  We then took what was left of the rations back to camp and reported the situation.  And so after three days’ continuous fighting the battle of Cambrai, for my tank crew, was over.  Later we received much praise for our part in the battle and it was very nice to know that what we had done had been appreciated.

 

 

Notes:

1.    G (later 7th) Battalion of the Tank Corps consisted of three companies, numbered 19, 20 and 21.  1st Brigade Tank Corps then consisted of D, E and G Battalions.

2.    Plateau railhead was south-east of Albert.  It was dismantled after the war and now consists of nothing but farmland, hence his difficulty in finding it.

3.    No village of this name has been located.  Tank Corps HQ War Diary shows G Battalion entrained at Beaumetz-lès-Loges, near Wailly, but detrained at either Bertincourt or Ruyaulcourt – just south of another village called Beaumetz-lez-Cambrai.

4.    The G Battalion Battlegraph for November 20, 1917 (in National Archives ref. WO 158/430) shows No. 3 Section was commanded by Captain Moore.  Medal records show at least four officers matching these details, but the History of 7th Tank Battalion (in the War Diary in the National Archives, ref. WO 95/100) mentions a Captain R. N. Moore, who was mentioned in dispatches.  The second initial may be an error, as the closest name to this is Captain Robert Henry Moore.  He had previously been in the Royal Artillery, and his medal card shows he returned there after serving in the Tank Corps.

5.    As noted previously, the fighting tanks in use at that time were Mark IVs.  The Battlegraph for November 20, 1917 does not show tank names for No. 19 Company, but the one for July 31 (in 7th Tank Battalion War Diary, in National Archives ref. WO 95/100) includes G10 Gravedigger.  The Battlegraph for November 20 shows there was a tank numbered G10 in No. 3 Section, so presumably this was Gravedigger.  However this may not be the case, as Allnatt’s account is not completely consistent with the Battlegraphs.

6.    The Battlegraph shows only four tanks in No. 3 Section, plus one from D Battalion and one from E Battalion, making six in all.

7.    From subsequent events he can be identified as Sergeant 201346 John Clifford Morgan, from Wigmore in Herefordshire, who was 22 years old.

8.    The Battlegraph for November 20 shows G10 was commanded by Second Lieutenant Jukes.  Allnatt says he had no battle experience, though the Battlegraph for July 31 shows that Second Lieutenant Jukes was to command G53 Gracchus in that attack; however this was a “non starter” and did not go into action.  In addition, the battalion War Diary shows G10, commanded by Second Lieutenant A. E. Jukes, was in reserve during the successful attack on August 19, 1917.  Records show that Arthur Edgar Jukes had previously been a lance-corporal in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and was commissioned at the end of 1916.  Douglas Browne says in A Tank in Action that Jukes later took on a reconnaissance officer’s role.  He died in 1928.

9.    This does not completely agree with the Battlegraph, which shows No. 1 Section contained only six tanks, of which one suffered a direct hit and two others broke down at the start – which would indeed leave three tanks.  No. 4 Section also contained six tanks of which one transferred to another section.  Of the remainder, one broke down, one became bellied, and one suffered a direct hit, though these mostly occurred later in the attack.

10.  Commonwealth War Graves Commission records and Soldiers Died in the Great War show Sergeant John Clifford Morgan died of wounds on November 20, and is buried at Rocquigny-Equancourt Road British Cemetery (grave I. E. 16.).

11.  G Battalion Battlegraph shows G10 ended up ditched and with mechanical trouble on the Brown Line (i.e. the second objective).  G10 does not appear in the Battlegraphs for November 21-23.

12.  Medal index cards show there were at least nine soldiers called Graves in the Tank Corps, and sadly without more evidence it has not been possible to identify him.  In view of this and later entries, he seems to have deserved a gallantry medal, but there is no record of him receiving one.

13.  The History of 7th Tank Battalion shows the commander of No. 19 Company was Major Francis Hood Fernie.

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