At dawn on November 20, 1917, an armada of almost 500 British “land ships” emerged from the mists to wage the Battle of Cambrai, northern France, the first in history where tanks were used en masse with air support.
But the surprise charge famously broke the Germans’ “impenetrable” Hindenburg Line and hastened the demise of trench warfare, prompting church bells to ring across England.
A century on, Deborah – one of the last surviving Mark IV tanks and among the most important relics of British military history – is the centerpiece of Cambrai Tank 1917, a €1.5m (£1.3m) “interpretation centre”.
Buried after the war, Deborah, officially tank D51, was miraculously unearthed 19 years ago by a local French hotelier and history buff.
Philippe Gorczynski found her after a painstaking six-year hunt following a tip-off from a local old lady. He had kept her in a nearby barn ever since.
She now lies movingly in her new bunker-like sunken “grave” only a few yards from where she fell and where four of the tank’s eight-man crew are buried in the Flesquières Hill British Cemetery.
This diorama is inspired by this tank.