Friday, 28 April 2017

Landships for Palestine.

These are the 1/56 Mk I Tanks from JTFM Enterprises in Canada. They have had a minor alteration to make them look like the eight Mk1 tanks that were sent to Palestine in 1917. They were sent by error. The original plan was to send Mk IVs but eight Mk I tanks from the training establishment at Thetford, Norfolk, were dispatched instead. By the time the error had been discovered the tanks were already stowed in the bottom of the holds of cargo vessels bound for Egypt. They were covered with tons of supplies and other material. Rather than unpack the Mk Is and risk delays finding Mk IVs, these "old" tanks set off on the voyage. They arrived with the Egyptian Expeditionary Force still covered in Thetford mud.

Both H.M.L.S. Nutty and H.M.L.S.Otazel took part in the Second Battle of Gaza, April 1917. Six Mk Is fought in that battle.

H.M.L.S Nutty supported 163 Brigade on their attack on "Tank Redoubt". Nutty was a  Mk I ‘Female’ tank under the command of 2nd Lt Frank Carr which held a crew of 7. 

Private 3247 Joseph Emms of ‘B’ Coy from the 1/5th Norfolks described Nutty’s advance;

‘We suddenly heard a tremendous rattling noise coming from behind and keeping my head as low as possible I chanced a look behind and saw a tank coming at full speed not a hundred yards behind and firing all her guns which was a fine sight to see.’

As soon as the Turks saw the tank, every gun they had fired upon it causing high numbers of casualties among the Norfolks following in its wake.

Nutty reached the redoubt. It was hit and burst into flames. Five of the crew, all wounded, appear to have managed to get out. They were captured. Lt Carr died of his wounds some days later.

H.M.L.S. Nutty prior to the Second Battle of Gaza.

The view towards Tank Redoubt from 163 Brigade's position.

The wreck of a Mk I female tank at Gaza with turkish troops in the foreground. I have seen this image labeled as the wreck of H.M.L.S Nutty.

A good description of the fight at Second Gaza can be found here.

The Imperial War Museum has a piece of footage showing both H.M.L.S. Otazel and "H.M.L.S. Nut" (this has to be Nutty) training prior to Second Gaza. It can be seen here.

The Mark I "Male" tank H.M.L.S Otazel was ditched in a wadi at Second Gaza. It was dug out and recovered. Below is an image of Otazel on a beach somewhere with the right track peeled up. Perhaps undergoing some sort of maintenance.

After Third Gaza, the Mk Is seem to have been relegated to a supply and transport role. Here is Otazel with her sponsons and guns removed. The extra ventilation must have been very welcome to the crew. The hole in her armour is perhaps battle damage and I believe the photograph below is a close up of that same damage.


Moiterei_1984 said...

Mighty fine work yet again and an interesting lesson in history. Really didn't know a thing about thae whole affair.

Phil said...


Michael Awdry said...

Oh Mark these are rather wonderful, bravo Sir.

Mark Hargreaves said...

Thank you, Michael. I have to say that both tanks look better in the flesh than they do in these close up photos.