The Hinckley Tank

The First World War Mk IV Female Tank No.269 that was given to Hinckley in 1920.

The Hinckley Tank first world war
The Hinckley Tank c.1920.

1916 The government during the First World War to reduce borrowing and raise money for the war effort. The National Savings movement started during 1916 to encourage the people of Britain to 'Save and prosper'.

Local War Savings Committees were created across the country, Hinckley's committee was headed by George Kinton JP as the Chairman and the secretary was George Coxhead, who was the headmaster of the Grammar School.

The government came up with a scheme where Savings products were sold to the public and the funds went to the Treasury, the Savings Products were bonds, certificates and savings stamps. The Savings products could be purchased in the local Post Office or Building Societies. Savings groups were established in the local factories, shops, clubs, an appointed collector would do the rounds each week to collect the certificates.

The students at the Grammar School took to the scheme quickly which was probably encouraged by George Coxhead the headmaster.

1917 The Grammar School Magazine for the spring semester recorded, 'Our Savings Association contains at present 78 members who have contributed over £200, while 253 certificates have been purchased'.

1919 The Grammar School Magazine for the spring semester included an article about how the contribution from the school was approximately £6 per head each week, and the school was to be presented with a captured German rifle for their contributions to the National War Savings campaign.

The Hinckley Tank and Field Cannon at Granville Gardens
The Hinckley Tank and Field Cannon at Granville Gardens.

The National Savings Campaign led to the idea that after the war some of the Tanks could be presented to some towns that has 'done their bit'. Hinckley was able to gather £750,000 in war bonds and savings certificates, which is why Hinckley was one of the 263 fortunate towns to be chosen to receive a Tank.

The Tank that was to come to Hinckley came from France, via Ramsgate and travelled to Hinckley on the back of a Railway wagon with the members of the Tank Corps. It arrived at Hinckley Railway Station and trundled its way through the town to the Gas Works on Brick Kiln Street, where is waited for the official presentation to the town to take place. A Field Gun was also presented to the town as well. While the Tank was waiting its final resting place, a plaque was attached to the shell of the Tank.

3rd February 1920 the official presentation of the 'Mk IV Female Tank No.269' to the town took place Granville Gardens along Coventry Road, where the Tank was to be permanently placed. On its way to Granville Gardens from the Gas Works, that Tank was put through its paces by making its way over a pile of logs in a short display. A large concrete plinth and platform was made to house the heavy 27.4 ton Tank.

the hinckley tank plaque
The Hinckley Tank plaque.

The presentation party consisted of Lieutenant A.L .Roberts of Loughborough who had served with the 1/5th Battalion Leicestershire which many local men had served, and for a time Colonel Griffiths of Sketchley Dyeworks was the commanding officer. The Tank was accepted by Mr G.Kinton on behalf of the Local War Savings Committee which he was Chairman, and Mr Cholerton spoke on behalf of the Hinckley Urban District Council representing the local people. There was a large crowd of people which were added to by the boys from the Grammar School and St.Marys School who had been given the day off for the occasion.

A few days after the presentation, the Tank was immobilised and the working parts removed.

The Tank held an enormous curiosity value for the general public at the time, they were one of the innovation of the First World War.

During the 1940s when metal was scarce, the presentation Tanks were taken and scrapped for recycling. The plaque that had adorned the Tank survived the first cut of the guillotine as it was saved and mounted on a special wooden plinth. Today the plaque is displayed in The Hinckley & District Museum.

Mk IV Tank

The Mk IV Tank was a British tank that was first introduced in 1917 that has a crew of eight. A total of 1,220 were built: 420 'Males', 595 'Females' and 205 Tank Tenders (unarmed vehicles used to carry supplies), which made it the most produced British tank of the First World War.

The Mark IV 'Male'(28.4 tonnes) carried three .303 Lewis Machine Guns, one in the hull front and two in the sponsons. There was also two 6-Pounder 6 cwt Guns that was also in the sponsons.

The 'Female' (27.4 tonnes) carried five .303 Lewis Machine Guns which two of the machine guns were operated by the gun loaders.

The Mk IV was first used at the Battle of Messines Ridge in 1917, it remained in official British service until the end of the War.

mark iv male tank mark iv female tank and crew
Mark IV 'Male' Tank (left/top), Mark IV 'Female' Tank and Crew (bottom/right)