Tanks were a big game changer in the First World war. As trench warfare developed, the usefulness of the armoured car diminished. The idea for the tank was approved by Winston Churchill, who at the time was an admiral in the Royal Navy. The first tank constructed was constructed by the British, and was called ‘Little Willie’. By 1916, 100 tanks were ordered and sent to France and Belgium.


Tanks were first used at the Somme in 1916 (49 British Mark I tanks at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette). Many of them broke down but a good third broke through to the frontlines. There was also the added weapon of fear itself, which must have struck the German side when they first saw these goliath machines coming towards them in no man’s land.

Sir Douglas Haig, Commander-in Chief of the British Army who is well known in history for his foolish, dated tactics which sent many men to the slaughter was not a fan of using this new machine. However after many other failed strategies, he gave into this new weapon. This may have saved many lives on the British side.



– The tank could move forward over trenches and through the mud (although they did often break down.)
– The machines made great shields for the soldiers behind, with its thick bullet proof armour.
– Armed with machine guns and 6 pound guns (like you find on naval ships), they could devastate the enemy trenches rapidly.
-The mere sight of a tank meanwhile would often strike panic into the opposing forces. It is no wonder therefore that all combating nations began designing their own tanks, after the Somme.
– Tanks often broke down and got stuck in the mud, they were nowhere near as fast or developed as the tanks of WWII.
– If you became trapped inside a tank if it caught on fire, you were often doomed.
– Tanks are very cramped and require a large crew to drive, command, load ammo, fire ammo and maintain the engine.

tank diagram










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Daniel is a history geek who has written about all periods of history during his student days from Tokugawa Japan to the American revolution to the collapse of the Soviet Union. As an illustrator and writer he combines history with a fun and intriguing graphical style. Now he presents a book series for children who have a curiosity about the world around them and its rich past, in the form of his new series 'Simple History'. Send your Fanmail to me! to: simplehistorybooks@gmail.com