3665 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR.
aeroplane signaled that a tank was "walking" up the high street of Flers followed
by cheering British soldiers. The message
aroused great enthusiasm
In this engagement and later many
strange things happened to the tanks.
Some, of course, were destroyed or were
stalled in shell craters. Now and then
a tank fought large numbers of Germans
single-handed. Instances occurred in which
Germans charged a tank, hurled bombs
at it, clubbed it with their rifles, even
climbed on top of it-all to no purpose.
It was said that a German officer once
found and opened the door to a tank, only
to be seized by those inside and hauled in
The tank known as Creme de Menthe,
on its way to Courcelette, was greeted
with showers of bullets which glanced
off its armor or fell flattened by its sides.
At one place its advance was barred by a
wall, but the tank pushed forward against
the wall, which fell with a great crash
of bricks. The tank then passed on over
the ruins and walked straight into the
midst of the enemy. Another tank was
in action for twenty consecutive hours.
It advanced far beyond the infantry and
then turned back to find out what had
become of its human companions. It
discovered that they were held up by a
machine-gun emplacement full of Germans,
"so the tank obligingly sat on the emplacement, shot down the Germans, and led
the men on to further victories."
"It must not, however, be imagined,"
says a participant, "that the proceedings
of the tanks were quite as amusing to
those inside as they appeared to the
British infantry, who had barbed-wire
leveled for them and machine-gun emplacements crushed as they advanced. The
cramped quarters, the head-splitting noise,
and the difficulty of ascertaining what
was going on outside made the lives of
the tank crew anything but agreeable in
battle. Their periscopes were apt to
be shot away; the work of steering, never
easy, became almost impossible. The mere
manual labor of moving the levers of the
engines and turning apparatus was enormous, especially in these early machines.
The crew had difficulty in communicating
with the outside world, and had to rely
chiefly on two carrier pigeons taken with