The replica is based on this Mark IV tank which reached Poelkapelle in 1917.

Team building full scale replica of British tank appeal for funds

Posted on on 14 July 2016
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The following report has been sent to us by Rob Kirk:

Enthusiasts in a Belgian village just outside Ypres are building a full-scale working replica of a British tank which took part in the Battle of Paschendaele – the Third Battle of Ypres – and they’re looking for a bit of help.

The project’s inspired by a specific Mark IV tank, Damon II, which reached Poelkapelle in October, 1917, but was shelled to a standstill in the village centre. Three of the crew were killed.

The damaged hulk sunk into the road. It remained there after the war and the village was rebuilt around it, until the wreck was moved aside and became an inter-war tourist attraction.

It was a favourite playground for village children, who charged tourists pennies to have their pictures, and became known as the ‘Penny Children’, many of whom are still alive.

The tank was removed when the Germans returned in 1941.

Now a project is under way to build a full-scale replica in time for the centenary of the battle in 2017, when enthusiasts hope to drive the tank from St Juliaan to Poelkapelle just as it did a hundred years ago, and then take part in the commemorations of the tank Battle of Cambrai in November next year.

The replica already has an engine, a strong metal frame and its own tracks, and can move forwards and backwards and from side-to-side.  To get this far has cost around 90,000 Euros.

Now the team need to raise about a further 30,000 Euros, but they’re concentrating immediately on raising 10,000 Euros, or £8,000, to build 200 metal plates for the tracks. Ideally, the team would like to have the plates fitted in time for the 99th anniversary, on October 8th, 2016.

People can donate via a crowd-funding scheme. The organisers say a contribution of 50 Euros will entitle you to a ride and having your name on the tank. If you donate 250 Euros, you can even drive the tank.

Johan Vanbeselaere, one of the organisers, says: ‘This project represents a huge dream for the village, so we can truly honour the men who fought here a hundred years ago. It has taken a great deal of effort to get this far. The finishing line is in sight. With a little help from our friends, we will get there’.

To see more about the project, see the Poelcapelle 1917 Association blog or search for ‘Tank Poelkapelle’ on Facebook.