The introduction of tanks revolutionised warfare and changed the whole nature of how battles were fought. Before their introduction, the wars were being fought from trenches and aims were to wear down the opponent, although very little progress was made. For this reason, tanks were introduced in order to bypass the need for trenches as they were able to traverse them without any difficulty. They were to have a very significant impact especially seeing as they forced the opposition to reluctantly alter their tactics to combat the tanks as well as having to recalculate their lines of attack. Regardless of the limitations of the tanks, there were many more positives that came from their use and once used correctly it was clear that they were extremely successful and revolutionary.
The beginning of First World War proved a real difficulty in terms of tactics with a clear stalemate between the sides. This led to the premature deployment of the tanks which suffered severely when first introduced as they were far from battle ready “These early tanks proved notoriously unreliable during testing and application”1. The tanks were severely unprepared for battle and vulnerable to the bullets of the enemies “One of the Tanks was not bullet-proof; it came crawling back past our H.Q. with a very frightened officer inside whose first sight of fighting this had been. The steel walls were riddled with bullet holes. I imagine that by mistake inferior boiler-plate instead of armour-plate must have been put in”2. Philip Neame’s evidence enlists how the tanks were very badly prepared and put out into battle without being checked, putting the lives of many at risk. Very little precautions were taken with the tanks and many setbacks occurred as a result. Furthermore, Neame also describes how the officer inside of the tank had yet to encounter battle and his first experience went very badly which portrays how inexperienced men were put in charge of premature dangerous machinery. The evidence reiterates the idea that the tanks were not combat ready which is also to be evident in the outcome of the Battle of the Somme.
General Douglas Haig had called for 50 tanks in total at the Somme with only 24 remaining due to mechanical and other failures. Even though the tanks managed to surprise the Germans, they proved unreliable due to the lack of development the tanks had undergone3. By the end of 1916 a total of 100 out of the 150 tanks deployed by the British had been destroyed4 proving just how ineffective they had been and in complete contrast as to what Maj. General Ernest Dunlop Swinton had dictated “these are the weapons that could win the war”5. However the initiation of tanks into warfare wasn’t all bad, The Battle of The Somme had a vast psychological impact as it boosted the morale of the British Soldiers “Tanks that are to go over with us pass us on the road, to the intense delight of the men”6. Furthermore, when the tanks were governed correctly they actually proved very successful which led to General Haig putting another 1000 into production. As well as this, the tanks had actually succeeded in their initial aims – to bypass the need for trenches “At the present moment normal trench warfare has to a great extent ceased to exist”7. As a result of the British use of tanks the Germans were forced to compromise tactics and thus allowing Britain to gain other non-military successes.
The battle of Cambrai in 1917 proved to be very different to that of Flers and Somme for the British. Tanks were used for the first time as an attacking force to support the infantry. The number of tanks used in this war was like nothing ever encountered before and the battle was pivotal for the tanks. They had been developed intensely since their last featuring in the battle of Flers and with a new approach to warfare these tanks were to shape the way in which future battles would be…