A replica Mark IV tank, similar to that presented to the town of Waltham Cross following the Great War, has been mounted on the same plinth constructed for its forbear, Craig Moore reports.
On July 1 the replica was driven into Cedars Park in Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire, 12 miles north-northeast of London. The project was funded by the Borough of Broxbourne as part of the centennial anniversary of the Great War, in memory of the men and women who lost their lives during that conflict. From 1919, many British towns and cities were offered tanks in recognition of the substantial sums they raised to help fund the war effort. These ‘presentation tanks’ were used as memorials, with some placed in town squares, in front of churches or cathedrals, next to medieval city walls or in local parks.
Cheshunt Urban District Council (now the Borough of Broxbourne) received its Mark IV Female tank in 1921. It was placed on a concrete plinth in Cedars Park and remained there until 1940, when, amid a greater national struggle, the council authorised it to be cut up for scrap. In May 1940 it was dismantled by Messrs Cox and Danks for £27, 16 shillings and 10 pence. Records show that this Mark IV tank (hull number 2740) saw action in France during the Third Battle of Ypres with ‘D’ Battalion, Tank Corps. On August 22, 1917, 2740 received a direct hit from a German shell and was one of four tanks put out of action the night before a planned attack. She was repaired.
In May 1940 it was dismantled by Messrs Cox and Danks for £27, 16 shillings and 10 pence. Records show that this Mark IV tank (hull number 2740) saw action in France during the Third Battle of Ypres with ‘D’ Battalion, Tank Corps.
From 1918, Mark IVs were gradually replaced by the Mark V, but the older tanks were often retained for use in support roles. The Cedars Park tank was converted into a ‘top draw sledge hauler’. A large rectangular block was attached to the roof, at the rear between the unditching beam rails. Two cables ran from this to a large wooden sledge that would be packed with fuel cans, rations and ammunition. The unditching beam rails had to be modified to allow the beam to slide past the added block, the curve in both rails is visible near the rear of the tank. The towing block is also still visible.
In 2006, a working Mark IV Male tank replica was constructed by Dr Tony Cooke and Kevin Jepson for the film Magic Flute. It appeared in several other productions including Wonder Woman, Transformers 5, episode three of In Love and War and Tommy. It was a deliberately shorter than original Mark IVs to enable better movement around on set.
In 2018 it was decided to use the engine and track system from this tank to construct a working replica of a Medium Mark A ‘Whippet’. The Borough of Broxbourne offered to buy the external body if it could be converted into a memorial. Conversion work started in early 2019 and progressed quickly, being completed by June. ∎