Top-Rated Free Essay


Topics: World War I, Trench warfare, Tank, World War II / Pages: 5 (2055 words) / Published: Feb 6th, 2015
Tank used in World War One today are a very controversial topic today as now we can see that they were used for mainly two different topics; which are for propaganda (spreading information, ideas or opinions (through films, posters etc.) to change public opinion with the intention of benefitting the organizations or people distributing the information -Source: Mr. Pearson) and also military use. We could say that they were successful in both cases however this is as mentioned before quite a controversial topic as there are many factors which support both sides.
First of all, let’s start off with the strengths of a tank military-wise. Tanks were very good for infiltrating German trenches, if troops had been used; it would’ve been very ineffective as the Germans had developed barbed wire in a way that soldiers could get injured by them while they kept shooting at them, where many British soldiers could potentially die. On the other hand, if tanks had been used, they would crush the barbed wire effortlessly with their huge weight. Not only that, but, they would also act like a shield for the infantry so they could advance forward, allowing protection as tanks can resist fire power from small artillery as close as 10m and this is due to their 6 to 12 mm steel plated armour. Not only could tanks go through the Germans’ barbed wire but they could also crush through brick walls as a source from “A W Bacon I was there!” Suggests:
“… Suddenly I noticed a brick wall right up against the nose of the tank, but we had been through so many before I did not hesitate, bust just trod on the gas and charged straight through. A terrific rumble of masonry followed…Gosh, we were inside a church, and had routed (destroyed) a machine gun nest.”
An example for where the impact of tanks was so great and effective was during the Battle of Cambrai, November 1917. During this battle, the British used the tanks to get troops over the barbed wire –which the tanks would crush. At this battle, nearly 400 tanks were used of a 6 mile front, and the tanks managed to cross these effectively. So effective in fact that Mark Dillon, Tank driver had said,
“A child and a donkey could have walked through,” giving us the impression that the barbed wire had seemed no more of a threat to the soldiers as they were completely crushed away with the tanks that even a donkey and a child could get through without being hurt –evidence to show how effective tanks were military wise.
However, despite all the strengths that a tank may have military-wise, it also has many weaknesses. For example, let’s start off with the actual experience for soldiers who were inside it and the conditions for them inside. Mark Dillon, a tank driver had shared some of his experiences, he had said, “the noise was terrific and the heat was considerable.” This shows us how uncomfortable it would’ve been for soldiers inside, making it quite ineffective for soldiers inside to focus on operating the metal beast. Not only was the heat and noise an issue, but also it was quite common that the actual tank materials could harm the soldiers. This was possible as when bullets had struck the tank from the outside, it had caused sharp steel splinters to break away inside. Due to this issue, a solution had to be thought out, and it was for the soldiers inside to wear chain masks as if they would’ve done in the crusades. This solution however was not that effective as it had only increased the heat and uncomfortableness of the soldiers. In addition to this, Eric Potten, also tank driver, had said that if you had entered a tank “you were completely done,” suggesting that it would be like hell inside a tank. There are many battles for when we would see whether the use of tanks were effective. One of them would be the Battle of Somme. Before the Battle of Somme, 49 tanks were set to take part but it was a real let down as only 32 had made, showing that tanks were not that reliable at all, and not only that but the whole reason that only 33 had made it to the starting point was because the rest broke down. But, it does not end there, because out of the 32 which had made it to the starting point, only 18 had successfully attacked while 5 got stuck in trenches and 9 broke down. It was also clearly evident that this was not so good for the reputation of tanks as Winston Churchill said, “My poor landships have been let off early and on a petty scale.”
The 3rd Battle of Ypres had even shown us how bad tanks had performed on the battlefield in 1917. Hundreds of tanks were sent to battle but the outcomes were not very pleasing:
“The ground was too soft. We lost more tanks there than anywhere.”(Eric Potten)
Also there was the Battle of Cambrai, one of the most unsuccessful for the British. This was because many tanks had broken down therefore it had allowed the Germans to capture 50 of them and use them against the tanks’ own army. The defeat did not get on to British news, which we will later link on to the propaganda for tanks as this was so high for the British nation that if only a single bit of bad news had entered their joy, it would break their pride which was a result of their country’ amazing weapon, the tank. There are just a few more reasons I would like to discuss for why tanks were ineffective and one would be that at the time, they could not go into water and also a source from The Myriad Faces of War 1968 had said, “… The tanks on their own had no way of holding the territory that they had captured.” This is showing us that there a few glitches in how they were designed in terms of their battle tactics.

The above poster and annotations show us an example of a propaganda poster in WW1 of the use of tanks and how the different effects of them made people think proudly of their country and make people think that they were going to win the war. The use of propaganda to make tanks look good plays an important part in the contribution of tanks to win WW1, however it is a controversial topic as many may argue that it was the military strengths that did this.
During WW1, the propaganda impact with the use of tanks was enormous, as tanks were used in Britain to make the public think that they were winning. During the time, there were many newspapers pinned up on walls with articles on how amazing tanks were and this effected the public as they had never seen this new technology before, therefore they would get very excited and start to think of how this could benefit their country.
Tanks were hailed as ‘Wonder Weapons’ and this was supported by many important people showing great enthusiasm towards them for example, David Lloyd-George, Minister of Munitions had said, “At last we have the answer to the German gun fire!” and this would’ve made the public agree with this statement too even though it was not proved. David Lloyd-George had also called the tanks, “the Great War-winning weapon!” showing great enthusiasm towards the tanks. Supporting these important figures’ statements, there were also many exaggerated newspaper articles which had contained stories on how amazing the tank was and how it would win the war for the people.
The media had played a very important part in making the tanks look good. As mentioned before, many people had read the newspaper back at the time as they were very interested in news concerning the war, and therefore publishers had used this as an opportunity to publicise the great tank, and people had got more and more excited.
Another way that propaganda was portrayed through the media was through film made. There were many films that were made in the style of propaganda during WW1. 20 million British people went to see the film ‘The Battle of the Ancre’ which had shown the tank, it was more of a film showing tanks than the actual victory of the war, and this was done on purpose as it was the first time the public saw the tank since it had been a secret. The effects were actually immediate. Once the public saw a tank every time it appeared in the film, they would cheer, as it was a light of hope.
After the defeat at the battle of Cambrai, another propaganda film was made by Brig. General Ellis to make the tanks look good. The film was called ‘The king visits the tank corps’. It put a lot of pride into those who watched the film that even the king came to visit the tanks. N this film, the use of tanks was much exaggerated as it showed a tank getting over an ammunition bunker when those on the actual battlefield could not do that, the one shown in the film was specially prepared just for the film itself, as this is what the public had wanted to see.
During the time the war was still going on, souvenir manufacturers capitalized the public’s tank mania by making tank piggy banks and teapots, only increasing the joy of these so called ‘wonder weapons’. Not only this but Britain had started to open tank banks in support of funds for the war, and this seemed a very successful case as the public had already raised £25,000 in the first week, as you can see that the propaganda had made them all so high and made them want to contribute something to the war. Relating to the ‘tank bank’ another propaganda film was made and this was made showing a tramp, Dick Dolan, investing a wind fall of money into the tank bank instead of spending it on drinking, which really made the public want to give more to the tank bank.
The whole point of all this propaganda involving tanks was so that it would make the public think that they were winning the war, and if so, it would give a sense to them to join the army and fight using the tanks, as they had a sure chance of winning. Propaganda kind of bribed the public to go and fight in the war as there were not much articles on actual events that happened during the war e.g. the number of deaths etc. newspapers just liked to exaggerate the ones which made the public happy.
In conclusion, we can see that there were many good aspects and properties of a tank military-wise as they really used to put fear into the enemy on the battlefield and also worked effectively in many way (for example crushing barbed wire) but also there were many downsides to them; they could not cope on soft land, they caused uncomfortableness for the crew inside and also their unreliability as working machines. We have also seen how the propaganda value has had a great influence on the public and there were many techniques and methods used to do this e.g. the media. Out of the different uses for tanks in WW1, I believe that only one stood out the most strongest for me and this would be the propaganda value for tanks. You can see that through my essay that the weaknesses of tanks weigh out heavily the strengths and only the propaganda values help to balance it out as Britain did not want the public to see that they were losing in any way. One example/observation that I had made during the research towards my essay was that propaganda was used to cover up the defeat at the battle of Cambrai. So to sum everything up, it was clear that the propaganda effect of the tank was the main contribution of tanks towards winning WW1 for Britain.

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