Glass Slide Sets:
The first British tanks were probably as deadly to their crews as the enemy. But then the same could be said of aircraft at the outset of the war.
|Interior view of a St Chamond tank, looking forward. The front machine gunner (just visible on the right hand side of the left image) was also responsible for loading the 75mm gun, which meant he had to get up from his machine gun position to pull rounds from the ammo storage rack and load the gun. This image, and the one below were shot in 6 x 13 format. The vertical white bars are added to make the cropped image suit typical 45 x 107 dimensions.|
|Now we're looking toward the rear. This is actually a double exposure, which makes the image a little confusing. You can see just how poorly the side machine gun positions were thought out. The gunner has to crouch down in an awkward position. His shin is inches from a sharp corner of the arch over the tracks. The heat and noise from the engine, located a foot or two away, must have been unbearable. Imagine trying to man this station while the tank lurched across a pockmarked battlefield under enemy fire.|
The first time I saw this image it took a minute to realize what was going on. In the foreground is the most comprehensively blown up tank I have ever seen. The second destroyed British tank in the background is easier to identify, except it obviously has been captured by the Germans and put to use. I have read of one encounter between British and (captured British) German tanks in 1918. Could this be the aftermath of that battle?
|Here is a better quality shot of the same scene. The photo above appears a few generations removed from the original negative. Notice too how it had a crude mask applied to make a 6 x 13 image fit the 45 x 107 format of the slide on which it's printed. In this view we can clearly see the tank's frame rails and engine.|
|In WWI, tank duty was tantamount to a death sentence. If the heat and carbon monoxide didn't kill you, German artillery probably would. In this typically gruesome image, the mangled body of an officer may be seen through the open doors below the gun turret. Who knows where the kill shot came from, but there is clear evidence of a major hit visible on the left side of the right hand image in this pair.|
|This shot, and the one below, are the personal photos of a British medical officer, most likely taken while touring about after the armistice. This is the interior of a "male" MkIV or MkV British tank. Tanks were identified as male or female based on armaments. Males had a six pounder naval gun in addition to a complement of machine guns. Females only carried machine guns.|
|Here we have a close up of the gun. I'm not knowledgeable enough to say if this is the same type as used in the first MkI tanks, or if it is an improved design. Careful inspection of the original scans makes it apparent these shots were taken in two different tanks. The gun station in this photo has some ancillary electrical equipment which is missing from the tank above.|
|Whippet tank and crew at a tank depot. This shot also comes from the medical officer's photo set.|