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Tank built by Guy Martin part of battle commemorations

Guy Hill with the first world war tank
Guy Hill with the first world war tank

Military vehicle enthusiasts from the Newark area were in France during the Remembrance period to commemorate the first world war Battle of Cambrai.

The commemorations featured a replica tank built for a documentary by television personality and motorcycle racer Guy Martin.

Mr Guy Hill, of Newark, secretary of the military enthusiasts’ group, Callsign Alpha, was among those to take the tank to France.

Mr Martin had planned to drive the replica Mark IV tank up Lincoln High Street to the war memorial as part of the city’s Remembrance Day parade.

The scenes will feature in Guy Martin’s WW1 Tank
The scenes will feature in Guy Martin’s WW1 Tank

Health and safety concerns, however, meant that was not possible, and filming for the documentary’s driving scenes was switched to France.

The scenes will feature in Guy Martin’s WW1 Tank, due to be aired on Sunday on Channel 4 at 8pm.

North One Television made the one-off special to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Cambrai — the first occasion that tanks were used in combat.

Led by General Julian Byng, a British force of nine infantry divisions, five cavalry divisions and three tank brigades launched a surprise attack near Cambrai, on November 20, 1917.

Although the British tanks and infantry overwhelmed German defences on the first day, cavalry progress was slow to develop.

On November 30, the Germans counter-attacked and regained ground.

The battle was officially over by December 7, having demonstrated the power of tanks and altered the course of future warfare.

Birthplace of the tank

In his programme, Mr Martin aims to ensure the British engineering skills, which created the world’s first battle tank, are remembered — particularly as the birthplace of the tank, in Lincoln, was just a few miles from his home.

William Tritton, managing director of William Foster and Co Ltd, and naval officer Walter Wilson scrawled their ideas on to the back of cigarette packets, which led to the development of the first battle tank.

Mr Martin had only four months to complete the replica.

He gives an insight into the history of tanks and can be seen visiting the Cambrai battlefield, where he sees one of only seven original Mark IV tanks still in existence.

He joins the Royal Tank Regiment on manoeuvres on Salisbury Plain and learns what it is like to work in a modern Challenger 2 Tank.

- Callsign Alpha raised £1,594 for the Mayor of Newark’s Poppy Appeal.

Members collected donations as they displayed ex-military vehicles in the Market Place on three Saturdays in the run up to Remembrance Sunday.

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