Nugent Welch, Tank, HMLS Diehard, c.1918
More About this Record
The HMLS (His Majesty's Land Ship) "Diehard" was part of the British Army's Tank Corps. Tanks were first used in the First World War by the British at Flers during the Battle of the Somme, in September 1916.
In 1915 the British Government established a Landship Committee made up of naval officers, engineers and politicians. The committee oversaw the development of the tank, and once its uses were proven it was ordered into production. Prior to the formation of the Tank Corps the vehicles were assigned to the Heavy Branch of the Motor Machine Gun Corps. The British produced over 2100 variants of tank during World War One. In comparison the German military had around 20 built, as they were not convinced of the merits of the tank in the field.
Tanks were originally known as "landships", an influence of the naval members of the committee who saw the tank as a land version of a warship; "tank" was the codename given to the landship, whose design remained secret, because the shape of the vehicle's shell was similar to that of water carriers.
It is possible that this scene was painted during the Battle of Amiens, during which the New Zealand Division seized the town of Bapaume.
Watercolour, 175 x 255mm
Western Front, Battle of Amiens