At a time when some defence and security commentators are questioning the value of tanks on a modern battlefield, Alexander Turner will return to the era of their birth, in search of the fundamental reasoning behind this extraordinary and predominant innovation. Using the Battle of Cambrai as a backdrop, the talk will discuss how modern ‘combined arms manoeuvre’ came into being in autumn 1917. It will highlight the challenges presented at the inception of the tank, and signpost the footprints from this ground-breaking Great War period that are still visible on the battlefields and training grounds of today.
The tank was created to address deeply practical problems that mud and metal still impose. For all the promise of subsequent military innovations, the chimera of invulnerability is as elusive as ever.