An impressive display of period tanks and vehicles will be the highlight of an event commemorating the centenary of the beginning of the end of the First World War at The Tank Museum next week.
On 8 August, The Tank Museum plays host to a number of historic vehicles to mark the centenary of the Battle of Amiens. Four First World War tanks and 10 military transport vehicles will take part in an arena display that will also feature a mock battle, explaining how the war was fought and won by the British Army and its Allies. The display will be finished with a carousel of modern tanks; successors to their First World War counterparts.
The Tank Museum has an astonishing relic from the first day of the Battle of Amiens. Lieutenant Clement Arnold, DSO, served in the Tank Corps and on the first day of the battle his Whippet tank, Musical Box, went through German lines, causing much damage.
As losses mounted, Arnold’s tank became the lead, and engaged a German artillery battery with his machine guns.
The attack was devastating, but the volume of fire Musical box attracted resulted in inevitable damage, in this case a fuel leak. Two subsequent shell hit set the Whippet ablaze, and on escaping Arnold and his crew were met by a group of German soldiers. Arnold’s driver was killed and he and his gunner were savagely attacked with rifle butt and bayonet.
The black day of the German Army
A German officer, Ritter Ernst von Maravic, intervened and saved the life of Arnold and his gunner, who were both taken prisoner. Arnold showed his gratitude by gifting von Maravic his watch, given to him by his father for his 21st birthday.
The two made contact again in 1931 and formed a close, unlikely friendship. During one of their visits von Maravic returned the watch to Arnold. His family subsequently gave it to the museum where it is on display with other personal possessions. Members of his family will be at the museum on the centenary of the battle on 8 August.
Also on that day an MC was won by Harold Whittenbury in the very tank the museum has on display.
“The 8 August is the centenary of the Battle of Amiens. It was such a stunning success that it turned the tide of the war – and was described as `the black day of the German Army’ ”, said Curator David Willey, who added: “In 2014 we marked the start of this long conflict and now it is time to look at how the Allies managed to reverse their fortunes and win this gruelling war.”
Visitors will also have the opportunity to see a demonstration of First World War cavalry tactics on horseback and see a real First World War biplane up close.
Children can enter the event for £1 when they colour in and bring the Amiens poppy to The Tank Museum on 8 August. Visit tankmuseum.org for details.