Tanks

Some Thoughts on Tanks  or  Tanks for the Memory

Words  & Photos: Tom Dine

Guest Editor’s Note : It is part of the remit of the W O Bentley Memorial Foundation to continue to research the life and works of W O.  Now that Rotary Aero Engines  have been covered , although this is continuing, Tom is uncovering further connections with the Great Man as an on-going exercise.

 

The recent research I have been carrying out seems to confirm that the Bentley/Daimler Sleeve Knight engine that WO is credited with , squeezing another 20hp (a 20% improvement) out of was used in, amongst other things, Mark IV supply tanks. 

Because of their extra power they were particularly suitable for transporting ammunition, troops and other supplies up to the front, in relative safety, across ground unsuitable for any other transport.

 

SupplyTank.jpg

 

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712 - "Dodo" - Supply tank at Messines June 1917. making its way across a trench and out towards the front line

 

It must be remembered that the machine gun was not the great killer of the war, artillery was and could strike some distance behind the lines as my Grandfather could attest. Any way of protecting men from the high explosive shells and the shrapnel that rained down was a life saver.

 

BEF France.JPG

 

Granddad was in a mobile Anti Aircraft battery and on one occasion they were set up in a French field, some miles behind the front line, where the harvest had just been gathered. All of a sudden one of the hayricks around them disintegrated as it was hit by a German shell. They got out of the field very quickly!!! (See Above, he is the driver of the searchlight, the lorry in the middle)

 

The supply tanks took over from horses which were much more vulnerable and so supplying the men could be carried out more safely and reliably  The fact that the improved engine made the using tanks for supply work considerably more practical almost certainly saved a large number of lives and was just as important to the war effort as the fact that Culley could not have shot down the Zeppelin without his Bentley engine.

 

So again, although in the background and unacknowledged, WOs efforts were fundamental in saving lives and helping the troops.

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