Tanks At Passchendaele

 
 

It all started when...

The British Mark 1 tank was the first tank in history. They were first put into use at the Somme in 1916. They would be deployed again at Passchendaele along with the newer, improved models. Tanks came in two forms, male and female. The male featured 2, 6 pound cannons and the female featured 4 machine guns. These were mounted in turrets on either side called sponsons. A variety of bells and whistles were added to tanks, from tools designed to help break barbed wire for infantry, to grenade deflecting mesh and various forms of camouflage. The crew of most tanks consisted of 8 men including gunners, gearsmen, and drivers. Tanks were notorious for a lack of reliability. Later on in the war, they would break the trench warfare stalemate and give Britain and her allies a massive advantage in the battles to come but at Passchendaele however, these lumbering behemoths were more of a liability than a wonder weapon. They'd get bogged down in the mud and were easy prey for German Artillery. They'd often arrive late to a rendezvous or just wouldn't show up at tall, meaning the infantry had to once again face machine guns with no support. Business as usual.

 
 

The Germans were taken completely by surprise when it came to tanks, though they immediately looked for ways to deal with them. The first new weapon they created was the grenade bundle. By lashing together anywhere between 3 and 8 stick grenades, or potato mashers as the tommies called them, one could multiply their destructive potential. Next up came AT mines which were very deadly against tanks but wouldn't be triggered by infantry due to the fuze requiring greater pressure to detonate. The Germans also developed specialised ammunition for soldiers, called K-rounds. These were useful against the Mark 1's when fired from the standard German rifle, the Gewehr 98, however the greater armour of later models resulted in them being used more effectively in machine guns instead. German manufacturer Mauser, designed a massive rifle intended to fire a round that could penetrate the armour of a tank and ricochet inside making a cup-o-soup of the crew. Despite all of these new innovations, artillery was the biggest killer of tanks and their crews in the war.

 Dragon's teeth tank traps were devised by the Germans when construction of Ludendorth's Sigfried Line was adapted to deal with the new threat of British and later French tanks.

Dragon's teeth tank traps were devised by the Germans when construction of Ludendorth's Sigfried Line was adapted to deal with the new threat of British and later French tanks.

 This tank was bogged down in the mud at Passchendaele when a German artillery barrage destroyed it.

This tank was bogged down in the mud at Passchendaele when a German artillery barrage destroyed it.

 Here, some New Zealand soldiers pose with a captured German T-Gewehr, a massive anti-tank rifle. These guns were deadly to tanks as they could penetrate their armour but were rarely used effectively and no one wanted to shoot them for very long!

Here, some New Zealand soldiers pose with a captured German T-Gewehr, a massive anti-tank rifle. These guns were deadly to tanks as they could penetrate their armour but were rarely used effectively and no one wanted to shoot them for very long!

 Often, the Germans would try to salvage British tanks because before 1918, they had none of their own. They would then use any captured tanks against the Entente (The allies of World War 1).

Often, the Germans would try to salvage British tanks because before 1918, they had none of their own. They would then use any captured tanks against the Entente (The allies of World War 1).

 Some improvised German Anti-Tank grenades. Landships like the one in my poster used mesh to deflect these away from the hull.

Some improvised German Anti-Tank grenades. Landships like the one in my poster used mesh to deflect these away from the hull.

 The Germans dug many ditches like this one to trap tanks. This could stop advances that relied on tanks, dead in their tracks. Thus, at Passchendaele at least, tanks while used extensively, failed to have the desired impact on the tide of the war.

The Germans dug many ditches like this one to trap tanks. This could stop advances that relied on tanks, dead in their tracks. Thus, at Passchendaele at least, tanks while used extensively, failed to have the desired impact on the tide of the war.

Tanks were used to destroy barbed in order for infantry to advance.