The Tank Corps
Location: the headstone is situated in the couryard of the hotel- restaurant La Cour de Remi
GPS coordianates: 50.406044, 2.228106
Access: Wheelchair access is possible, please contact La Cour de Remi for more information
On 15th September 1916, General Douglas Haig, Commander of the British Forces in France directed a powerful attack at Flers in the Somme valley to the left of the French army. The attack was supported by tanks, the British Army's new secret weapon. It was the first time this revolutionary machine was used. The Germans were completely surprised and panicked. Within a few hours, the British had made inroads of up to 2km into a 10km deep enemy front. Despite the capture of over 2000 prisoners, this victory sadly had no long-term impact on the course of the war.
The machine had been built in utmost secrecy and to avoid any word leaking out, this new weapon was given the code name "tank", the word used for a water storage device. The name stuck.
Shortly before the offensive, the British Tank Corps commanded by General HJ Elles had set up its Headquarters at the Chateau de Bermicourt, which at the time belonged to Count Jean de Hauteclocque. The Headquarters remained stationed there until the end of the war.
At the end of hostilities, General Elles commissioned a scaled-down bronze model of the Mark 1 to commemorate the event. The model tank was placed on a small stone column just in front of the Chateau at an official ceremony and a plaque was mounted to explain the history of the monument. However, during the Second World War a German commander ordered it to be taken down and melted. Shortly after its end, veterans from the British Tank Corps (now the Royal Tank Regiment) decided to make a pilgrimage to France. Arriving at Bermicourt and hearing the story of the Mark 1, they decided to order a new copy of the Mark 1. The new version was dedicated in the place of the first monument at a second official Franco-British ceremony and now stands at the side of the Cour de Rémi (hotel/ restaurant).