Ever since I discovered a little postcard featuring a prominent memorial in Carmarthen (Picton Monument) with a World War I tank parked alongside I've become somewhat obsessed with it.
Today, that tank no longer exists. All local knowledge of the tank is gone, no markers or signs remain. The only evidence for it being in online newspaper articles (below) and a few postcards.
My personal goal is to find out more about it: the type of tank it was? serial number? did it serve in WWI? are there more pictures of it? what happened to it?
In all probability, it was simply scrapped for its metal (sometime prior to WW2), as were many other 'gift' tanks of the period. Most veterans probably didn't want to see such large reminders of a horrific war around town either, so it's understandable that the majority of these tanks no longer exist.
Going by the picture alone, my best guess:
The vision slits at the front of the tank suggest that it is a Mk.IV and the smaller side sponsons are a sign of it being a 'female' tank (mounting machine guns only!). Until I see better pictures, it could still be a different mark or even a hermaphrodite
Whilst browsing the website Britain From Above I was able to find another fortuitous image of the tank, which gives a sense of its position and scale, but more importantly a date too: 1929. So I/we now know for certain that the tank sat on the site for a period of at least 10 years. Also, in the comments section associated with the picture, a user called "Carmarthenshire Archive Service" states that "the tank by the Picton Monument was dismantled in 1930". Interesting!
Friday, 17th May 1918
Tank Coming to Carmarthen
"JULIAN JUNIOR" ARRIVES JUNE 13.
"Julian Junior" will arrive at Carmarthen on the 13th of June. He is not a racehorse or a musical celebrity, but a tank. He is coming to deal in War Bonds and Savings Certificates, and will be under the supervision of Mr E.C.Murbidge, official organiser of the National War Savings Committee, who visited Carmarthen this week making the preliminary arrangements. Business will commence at 10 a.m. and continue outside the Guildhall. The Council Chamber will be used as an office.
Friday, 21st June 1918
The following poetry on the visit of the tank 'Julian' to Carmarthen was composed by Evelyn Evans, of Richmond Terrace. When it was considered that she is only about 18 years of age, it will be agreed that her effort is a commendable one.
- Last Thursday in Carmarthen
- Excitement reigned supreme
- And flags hung from the windows
- In red, and blue and green
- A holiday was given
- And every one turned out
- From shops and every office
- And farms all round about.
- For what d'you think did happen?
- A tank came to the town,
- And some old bags and wire
- It easily knocked down.
- The Square was full of people-
- Gaping mouths and eager eyes-
- Who viewed the whole performance
- With very great surprise.
- Old men were there, and women,
- Who craned their necks so high,
- And trod on other people's toes
- To see the tank pass by.
- Big boys and little children,
- Fat girls and thin ones too,
- Tall men and short ones also.
- All types mixed through and through.
- The tank rolled slowly onward,
- The people cheered loud;
- But when it crept upon the bags
- it thrilled the watching crowd.
- Enthusiastic watchers
- Stared till their eyes grew round;
- The looking on was very tense,
- One hardly heard a sound.
- At last the tank was over
- The breathless moment passed
- The ice was broken - people brought
- Most of their cash at last.
- Carmarthen turned up sporty
- The bonds went up with bounds
- And then we found we'd gathered
- Two hundred thousand pounds.
Friday, 28th March 1919
A Tank for Carmarthen
Mr. J. Howell Davies. hon. secretary of the Borough War Savings Committee has received a communication from the National War Savings Committee to the effect that they are now able to offer the borough a Tank, which will permanently commemorate the notable achievements of its inhabitants in promoting the financial side of the war. The Mayor has accepted the offer and will report to that effect at the next meeting of the Council. Fuller particulars will appear in our next week's issue.
Friday, 19th June 1919
INTERESTING PRESENTATION CEREMONY.
The town was gaily decked with flags and bunting on Wednesday in last week in order to celebrate the coming of the Tank to Carmarthen, which was the gift of the National War Savings Committee in appreciation of the ancient borough's meritorious war savings efforts. A procession was formed at the old station and marched in the following order to Picton's Monument (the Tank's permanent home):— Mounted Police (P.C. W. Llewellyn and P.C. Daniel Davies), St. David's C.L.B. Band, Schoolboys, Demobilised Sailors and Soldiers, Salvation Army Band, the Mayor (Aid. Wm. Evans), the Town Clerk (Mr. H. Brunei White), and Corporation; the Tank; pupils of the County Girls' School and Elementary School children, and the general public. The school children carried flags. Head Constable W. Howel Evans marshaled the procession.
Unfortunately, the Tank, which was working on its own power, broke down on the Quay, and It was found necessary to proceed without it. This unfortunate incident caused a great deal of disappointment to the hundreds of people who witnessed the procession. Upon arriving at Picton's Monument, the Mayor said he was sorry for the unfortunate occurrence. The machinery of the Tank had gone out of order. However, he was pleased to say it was not out of order when fighting the Germans (applause).
The Lord Lieutenant (Mr. John Hinds, M.P.), on behalf of the National War Savings Committee, asked the Mayor to accept the Tank for the town as a token of the Committee's appreciation of the great work Carmarthen had done with regard to the War Bonds and War Savings Certificates during the four and a half years of stress and strife. He congratulated the town on the honorable part it had played during the past five years, and the Tank would be one of those memorials by which their children's children would know what their forbears had done in the great war. The Lord-Lieutenant concluded by referring to the excellent work accomplished by the Mayor, and especially Mr. J. Howell Davies, M.B.E., hon. sec. for the Carmarthenshire War Savings Movement (applause).
The Mayor, amid cheers, said he had great pleasure in accepting the Tank as a reward for the town's meritorious war savings efforts. On the 13th June last, when a Tank visited Carmarthen, the townspeople were asked to subscribe £50,000 towards the prosecution of the war. The townspeople responded nobly and greatly exceeded their quota, no less than £250,000 being realized. Their thanks for the success of the war savings work in the borough were due to Mr. J. Howell Davies who, they were all glad to know, had been invested by the King with the M.B.E. (hear, hear).
Mr. J. Howell Davies, who was cordially received, took the opportunity of publicly thanking the inhabitants of Carmarthen for their splendid contributions of War Bonds and War Savings Certificates, and also thanked all for the support accorded the War Savings organizers in the town and district. Captain Foster, who directly represented the National War Savings Committee, was proud to come to Carmarthen and present the town with a Tank, a gift which was being made to the largest towns in the country.
The singing of "God save the King" brought the proceedings to a close. Later in the day, they succeeded in putting the Tank in working order and a large crowd escorted its slow but sure march up to its resting place.
Letters to the Editor
Friday, 16th May 1919
Kindly allow me a little space to call the attention of the many readers of the "Journal" in Carmarthen to the above subject. The offer of a Tank for the town having been accepted, I hear that the question of its location and the expense connected therewith is exercising the minds of the Town Council and many of the rate-payers. I am given to understand that the internal machinery will be removed so that all that will be left will be the bare hulk. Now, I think everyone will admit that, however useful it may have been as an instrument of warfare, there is nothing very artistic or attractive in the bare hulk of a Tank, and its huge proportions make it difficult to know what to do with it or where to place it. I believe several sites have been suggested. One suggestion was that it should be placed in Guildhall square. If this were done I feel sure that very soon the inhabitants would be clamant for its removal. Another suggestion was that it should be placed on the western side of the Fusiliers' Monument, between the monument and the fountain, but this was abandoned as the space was found to be too small; yet another proposal was that it be placed within the railings in front of Picton's Monument and that several of the trees should be cut down to make room for it. I am sure all your readers will agree with me that it would be nothing short of a crime to cut down those fine trees for such a purpose. Where then can it be placed?
I see by the papers that the Parks Committee of Swansea had a meeting the other day to consider the location of their Tank. It appears from the report that the Park Superintendent suggested the Promenade as a suitable place. Mr. Lewis suggested Cwmdonkin Park. Mr. Peacock moved that it be placed at the lower end of the Recreation Ground, while Alderman James thought, it would be a good idea to sell the Tank as scrap iron, and Mr. Richards said the Tank would only be an eyesore, and he did not think they should go to any expense in regard to it. After the Superintendent had said that-owing to its great weight—some 26 tons—the cost of the foundation would probably be about £50. Mr. Peacock's motion was carried, and the Tank was relegated to the Recreation Ground, which is a long way from the centre of the town. Seeing that our rates are unprecedentedly high (13s. in the £), I sincerely hope our town councilors will follow the lead of the Swansea Committee, and not go to any expense in the matter. In conclusion, I would respectfully suggest that the Tank be placed somewhere in the Park until the time comes for it to be sold for scrap iron, and I venture to say that would not be very long.
Yours faithfully, A RATEPAYER.
P.S. I find that some towns have refused the offer of Tanks, and, if not too late, I would suggest that our Town Council should do the same.
National War Bonds Totals
Friday, 19th July 1918
Swansea's £3,890,715 in 41 Weeks.
In the following table of National War Bond Purchases, it will be seen that Swansea's total last week was £1,162,720 bringing the total for the last 41 weeks comprised in the table to £3,890,715.
Place / Quota / Week Ending July 13 / Total to 41 Weeks
Aberavon £6,500 £2,200 £471,305
Carmarthen £5,110 £4,220 £420,160
Llanelly £16,030 £22,275 £1,284,760
Neath £8,790 £1,505 £696,445
Pembroke £7,830 £350 £253,765
Swansea £63,050 £1,162,720 £3,890,715
Haverfordwest £15,000 £0 £120,200