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The First Tank Crews: The Lives of the Tankmen Who Fought at the Battle of Flers Courcelette 15 September 1916

The First Tank Crews: The Lives of the Tankmen Who Fought at the Battle of Flers Courcelette 15 September 1916 (Hardback)

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Synopsis

This remarkable new book reveals the hitherto unknown story of the soldiers who took the first tanks into action on the Somme battlefield in September 1916. Drawing on official records, contemporary newspaper reports and family memories, Stephen Pope provides a fascinating insight into the lives of the First Tank Crewmen, covering their recruitment, scant training, rapid deployment and their premature use in battle. He then traces their inter-connected lives over the next two years as tanks played a key role in the defeat of the Germany Army in 1918. He reveals the story of their return to civilian life and their often difficult struggle to build a family life. Sadly many of the First Tank Crews died young, some due to injuries or illnesses developed as a result of their wartime service. Amongst the stories revealed are those of the grandson of the social reformer Joseph Rowntree, the champion rose grower Bill Harkness, the Scottish chemist Stuart Hastie who introduced science into the whisky distilling process and the Liverpool school teacher Graham Nixon who tried to teach John Lennon mathematics. None of those who fought in the tanks achieved great fame for their actions and few revealed their wartime secrets to their families. However, many became pillars of their local communities, giving a life of service to those around them.



This book tells the previously untold stories of bravery, determination and dedication by a group of unsung heroes. The author has used his contacts with more than fifty relatives of those who fought at the First Tank Action and used their input to provide a detailed description of their lives after the war. He has also gathered together many previously unpublished pictures including many of the tankmen in France, and has revealed the backstory to several well known photographs. Above all, he has linked individual lives together to create a fascinating story of ordinary men who took part in extraordinary events. The story of the First Tank Crews is one well worth reading.

BiographyBiography: generalBiography: historical, political & militaryHistory & PoliticsMilitary HistoryFirst World WarHistory & PoliticsMilitary Studies Publisher: Helion & Company Publication Date: 25/03/2016 ISBN-13: 9781910777770  Details: Type: Hardback Format: Books
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Stephen Pope has been an Army officer for almost 40 years. Born in Hampshire, he first served with the Wessex Regiment and then joined the Royal Corps of Transport, seeing service in England and Germany, with several operational tours. Whilst serving as the senior Logistics officer at the British Army's armoured training centre in Canada, he started to gain an understanding of the unique lives of tank crewmen. Later, he lead several battlefield tours during which he used the selection, training and leadership of tank crews to support team building amongst military and civilian staff. Preparing for the first of these tours, he discovered there was little known about those who fought at the first tank action on 15 September 1916. His research over the past thirteen years has led to his now being considered the subject matter expert on these tank crewmen. He is intimately involved in the centenary commemorations which will take place in France in 2016. He is also contributing to a new Tank Museum exhibition which opens in March 2016, and writing the first volume of a new history of the Tank Corps which will be published by Helion and Co in 2017.

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