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Whale Island Mark IV

A TANK IN YOUR TOWN – WHALE ISLAND

May 20, 2016
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Tanks were not only presented to towns and cities under the National War Savings Scheme, they were also donated, by the Tank Corps to locations where tanks or components of tanks were built, or to places that had been instrumental in tank development in other respects.

One such was Whale Island in Portsmouth Harbour. Whale Island was the home of HMS Excellent, the Royal Naval Gunnery School where some tank gunners had been trained in 1916.

Whale Island Handover Ceremony

Whale Island Handover Ceremony

The tank, a Mark IV male training machine carrying the number 102, was delivered to Whale Island at the end of March 1919 but the official handover ceremony did not take place until 1 May 1919 when Brigadier-General E B Mathew-Lannowe, commanding the Tank Corps Centre, supported by a Tank Corps Guard of Honour, officiated at a ceremony at HMS Excellent.

Although displayed at Whale Island and kept clean it was starting to deteriorate internally.  In 1940 a Second Lieutenant Menhinnick, then in the Army but anxious to transfer to the Navy, went to a lot of trouble to get it running again. Using bits taken from the presentation tank on Southsea Common, with a machine-gun position on top and now painted in camouflage colours it was intended to use it to defend Portsmouth in the event of a German invasion.

Commanded by a Lieutenant Day R. N. and with a crew of sailors the tank made a number of trips ashore, into Portsmouth, and on one occasion was in collision with a private car. The tank was retired from active service in 1942 but remained on display at Whale Island until 1971 when it was given back to the Army and after further restoration was presented to the Tank Museum in 1972 where it remains on display.

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