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Time to Talk Tanks: History Trip to Bovington for Year 9

3rd December 2014

What is a tank and why was it considered useful when it was first used almost 100 years ago?

These were some of the questions our Year 9 students were looking to answer when they visited The Tank Museum in Dorset recently.

According to Wilkipedia, The Tank Museum (previously The Bovington Tank Museum) is a collection of armoured fighting vehicles at Bovington Camp in Dorset.  The collection traces the history of the tank, and with almost 300 vehicles on exhibition from 26 countries it is the largest collection of tanks and the second largest collection of armoured vehicles in the world.  Did you know that it includes Tiger 131, the only working example of a German Tiger I tank, and a British First World War Mark I, the world's oldest surviving combat tank?

It is the museum of the Royal Tank Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps, and Bovington Camp, in which the museum is located, trains most sections of the British Army in tracked-vehicle driving as well as repairing and maintaining the vehicles in its workshops.

By all accounts the students had a great day. And to answer the original questions, we will leave you with the following explanations taken from a display board in the museum itself:

‘The tank…. is a time-saving machine, secondly a shield – it is in fact a mechanical horse.’  Major General J.F.C.  Fuller, Chief of Staff, Tank Corps, France 1917-18.

‘A modern tank is big, noisy and dangerous. Today’s tanks are very mobile, well protected, and use a large gun to destroy the enemy. Yet the tank was invented for a very different purpose. During the First World War, tanks were used to flatten barbed wire and provide cover for soldiers trying to cross the muddy trenches.’