Title: War History of the Sixth Tank Battalion
Author: Lord Somers
Edition: 2nd Edition
Publication Date: 2003
Cover: Soft Cover without Dust Jacket – 247 pages
Comments: The record of a tank battalion on the Western Front from May 1917 with Mark IV Tanks to the end of 1917 and then with Whippets.
Nominal roll of all who served with the battalion in France and Flanders.
In April 1919, in Blangy-sur-Ternoise where the battalion had been billetted since the armistice, the CO of the 6th Tank Battalion, Lord Somers (late 1st Life Guards) summoned a meeting of all his officers, NCOs and men at which it was unanimously agreed to devote the private funds of the battalion to publishing the battalion history for the benefit of all surviving members and late members, and also of the next-of-kin of all who had fallen in battle or died since joining the battalion.
At appendix III is the nominal roll of 242 officers and 1151 other ranks who served with the battalion on the Western Front, for whom the book was written, and I am sure the recipients must have been well satisfied with the finished product. The battalion was formed in Wool (Dorset) in October 1916 and designated 2nd Battalion with A, B and C Companies, and these early days form the opening narrative. At the end of December 1916 the Battalion became known as ‘F’ Battalion with the companies redesignated 16, 17 and 18. On 13 May 1917 ‘F’ Battalion landed in France and further instruction was carried on with Mark IV training tanks, a month later the Battalion received their fighting tanks.
For the first six months the Battalion fought with Mark IVs, at Third Ypres and Cambrai, and then, in January 1918 they converted to Whippets, or Medium Mark ‘A’, and the Battalion title was again changed; it now became the ‘6th’ Battalion. With the Whippet the battalion fought through the last year of the war, from Amiens through the advance to victory. By the time of the armistice the 6th Battalion had fought in 27 separate actions employing 290 tanks, of which 83 were knocked out with total casualties of 92 officers and 305 other ranks.
There are excellent descriptions of the fighting, often recording the actions and fate of individual tanks, especially at Third Ypres and Cambrai. At the end of each action the casualties are listed by name as are any decorations awarded. Among the latter was Lt Col R.A.West who won the VC while in command in September 1918 having been awarded a Bar to his DSO and the MC during the previous three weeks. His VC was posthumous.
This is a very fine history, full of action, and it has a very useful table giving details of each action fought with dates, the number of tanks employed and casualties in personnel and tanks.