The Mark IV tank, discovered by local historian Philippe Gorczynski after lying buried for decades, sits at the heart of the new Cambrai Tank Museum 1917 in France (Photo: Nord Tourisme)

Cambrai tank veteran 'Deborah' keeps vigil in new home

Posted on on 22 November 2017
Share |

A first glimpse has been revealed of the Battle of Cambrai veteran Deborah in her final resting place, 100 years after she fought in the first mass tank attack.

Tank D51 is the centrepiece for the new Cambrai Tank Museum 1917, to be formally inaugurated this weekend, as events commemorating the 2017 Centenary culminate in Northern France.

Fittingly, Deborah now sits next to CWGC Flesquières Hill British Cemetery, reunited with four of her crew - Joseph Cheverton, Frederick Tipping, William Galway and George Foot. They were killed when she was knocked out on 20 November 1917, in some of the fiercest clashes on the opening day of Britain's armoured assault on the Hindenburg Line.

Gunner Cheverton had just turned 20. Gunner Frederick Tipping, at 36, was the oldest crewman. The tank's commander, Second Lieutenant Frank Heap, helped three other surviving crew members reach British lines, and was decorated with the Military Cross for his actions.

Descendants of Frank Heap and Frederick Tipping are taking part in this week's Cambrai commemorations.

Jennifer Dodd, Frederick Tipping's granddaughter, presents his medals at a ceremony in Cambrai (Photo: Nord Tourisme)

British and French media have been retelling the remarkable story of how a prolonged hunt by local historian Philippe Gorczynski resulted in Deborah's discovery beneath fields near the village of Flesquières in 1998.

The tank's whereabouts had been forgotten for decades after the First World War.

Deborah, as she was called by her crew, was moved to the new museum site in July 2017 after being temporarily displayed in a village barn for 17 years.

The Cambrai Tank Museum 1917 will be officially inaugurated at an invitation event on Saturday (November 25). The museum opens to the public in spring 2018.  

On Sunday morning (November 26), Britain's Royal Tank Regiment will be presented with the keys to Cambrai and its soldiers will parade through the town with the French 501st Tank Regiment, closing the Centenary commemorations. See Cambresis 14-18 for details of this week's events.

A centenary blog tells the story of 'Deborah' and her crewmen.

See also Deborah and the War of the Tanks 1917 by John Taylor - and The Tank Museum's newly-released documentary about the Battle of Cambrai and its historic significance.

Also in Centenary News:

Tank stands guard at the Cenotaph for Cambrai centenary tribute.

Cambrai remembered at Ashford tank memorial.

Information & images: Nord Tourisme

Posted by: CN Editorial Team