The first use of tanks in a world war.

The first world war was a terrible conflict of attrition and destruction which it soon became clear was not going to have any definitive winner. As the years rolled on the leaders of the war seemed content to waste their youths in the fields of France. The tactic of running at the enemy’s trenches en-masse, remembering of course to blow a loud whistle first so that the other side knew you were coming and could get their machine guns ready were getting them nowhere. But as it wasn’t the generals that were going over the top and doing the fighting the rush to reach an end was not pressing. So, the men on both sides sat in their trenches and waited. However, there was a move to bring technology into the fight. In England a motorised mobile gun system was being trialled that would break the deadlock and bring about the final victory and end the war. The Tank was on its way. You can get an idea of what it was like to drive a tank if you have a Tank Driving Experience day at you might get an idea.

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The First tanks were developed to end the war. They were however very cumbersome things and most did not even feature caterpillar tracks. The first mainly ran on rubber wheels but eventually there was a mixture of track and wheels until it became clear that caterpillar tracks were by far the best way to go as they provided an all-terrain option. They would be unleased on the German infantry as their own tank development was stalled and a lack of fuel resource meant that they were unable to develop the concept, a mistake that they were not to repeat in the second world war where the German tanks were the most advanced.

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It was on the field of Cambrai that the tank was first introduced, the plan was that the tanks would spearhead an attack and the infantry would swarm along behind. As with most plans of the British and Allied armies this was not the case. The plan was to launch a surprise attack and for the first part the operation was a great success as the tanks forced the Germans into a full retreat across the front that was attacked. The plan was to follow this up with cavalry which use had already been proved to be axiomatic by this point. Most of the tanks by this stage had been lost or incapacitated and the Germans regrouped and regained all the territory that had been won as was the usual case. However, a point had been proved as the tank had shown itself to be the a most useful and successful device. The Tank would now go on to play a major role in any future conflict.

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