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The 'Female' Tank at Bachelor's Acre
1920 - 1940

The tank at Bachelor's Acre 1935

Photographed in 1935 by Mr C P Davies (age 14), this First World War tank was a feature in Bachelor's Acre for 20 years.

The tank was supplied to Windsor complete with its engine on 29th May 1920, arriving by train at the GWR goods yard (now the coach park) and then driven at a brisk walking pace, and attracting much attention, along Goswell Road, Arthur Road, Alma Road and Clarence Road, to Victoria Street and Bachelors Acre where it was officially handed over to the Mayor, Mr W Fairbank, by Sir Victor Mackenzie, DSO, MVO, 1st Scots Guards in recognition of the aid, some £1.3 million, raised by the people of Windsor towards the expenses of the 1914-18 war.
  The tank's petrol engine, rather than 'oil', was at some later date sold to a 'Mr Farrow of the Electric Light Works in Peascod Street at a low price'. After some correspondence in the local paper the engine was returned to the tank but "dumped on the chassis, not bolted down."
  According to the Tank Museum at Bovington, the tank is a female, (armed with machine guns in barbettes at each side), Mk. IV, no. 6039, and saw service in France, possibly in the battle of Bourlon Wood between Arras and Cambrai, in November 1917. The tank had suffered battle damage in the form of bullet holes as well as two 'missiles' embedded in it.
  In the photograph above three stripes are clearly visible at the front. These were coloured white - red - white and distinguished British tanks from those captured by the Germans and used against the Allies.
  Approximately 1200 of these MK IV tanks, weighing some 27 tons each, were made between 1916 and 1919 of a total of around 2000 tanks in all. A description of the tank's arrival in Windsor is included in the Windsor Express of 5th June 1920.
  Another item of first world war surplus armament was the field gun located in
Alexandra Gardens but both the tank and field gun were removed in February 1940. Mr F N Macrae, Borough Engineer at that time, had the metal of the tank tested and it was found to be made of valuable gun-metal (an alloy of copper and tin) and not of iron as originally thought. At the start of WWII there was a considerable effort nationwide to collect together as much scrap metal as possible for the war effort but it is possible that Windsor's tank, field gun, and many railings, fences and gates, some very ornate, were lost when the ship carrying them was bombed and sunk in the Thames Estuary. The slab upon which the tank had stood was shortly thereafter used as the foundation for an Air Raid shelter.

An earlier view of the tank

An earlier view of the tank before the railings were erected to reduce vandalism. This photo supplied by Mr John Maxwell, of Oakley Green, taken by his brother in the early twenties.

In 2008 we were delighted to receive the following story from JW:

The tank's delivery crew stayed at The Bull in Peascod Street. My mother, at the age of 9, and in what started out as a spotless summer dress, was allowed to ride inside the tank as it was driven around Windsor before being driven onto its concrete base and deactivated.

According to my Aunt Mercia, who had charge of her younger sister that day, 'the inside of the tank was filthy and so was Mum's dress when she got out at the other end of the ride.' Aunt Mercia said Grandma Maud was furious that she had allowed Mum to get so dirty, "Nice gels don't get dirty!" she said!

When Mother died, amongst her papers I found a 'Bull Hotel' menu card autographed by all of the delivery crew and annotated with 'Jos Wilson' who rode in our tank around Windsor and the date. I sent a copy to the Bovington Tank Museum - who hadn't known up to that point that Windsor had been one of the towns to be given a tank under the scheme.

More details of the Bachelor's Acre tank appears in Windlesora No 13 published by the Windsor Local History Group.

The Tank Museum, Bovington

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