First World War tank unearthed

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The Independent Online
ONE OF the first tanks deployed successfully in battle, a British machine used during the battle of Cambrai in 1917, has been unearthed almost intact by a French enthusiast.

The tank, one of 381 that briefly broke through the German lines, is the first to be recovered in nearly complete condition since the First World War ended 80 years ago next Wednesday.

"It is a historic find and extraordinary in its way," said Philippe Gorczynski. "But perhaps not so extraordinary. We knew the tanks were there. It was just a question of patience and hard work to find one."

Mr Gorczynski hopes to excavate the tank completely on 20 November - the 81st anniversary of the Cambrai battle, with help from friends in the Royal Tank Regiment. Ultimately, he hopes it will form part of a permanent memorial to the men who died in the battle.

The discovery, under six feet of soil in a field near the village of Flecquiers, ends a six-year search by Mr Gorczynski, a local hotel owner, and expert on the use of tanks in the Great War. Using German aerial photographs from 1918, British military dispatches and old, eyewitness accounts, he identified the rough locations of half a dozen tanks abandoned during the battle.

He believes the tank he has found is nicknamed Demon 2, which was commanded by 2nd Lieutenant G H Vose, who survived a German shelling that killed several crew members.