The First Tank Crews

The Lives of the Tankmen who fought at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, 15 Sep 1916 by Stephen Pope

The operational history of the tank as part of the ‘Heavy Branch’ of the Machine Gun Corps began at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette during the Battle of the Somme over 100 years ago. It was defining moment in the history of the tank, some would say premature, as not only were the tanks themselves not fully developed and prepared, their crews were far from ready for what they were about to experience.

This hefty book, which weighs in at 1.4kg, is the result of 13 years research by ex-Army officer Stephen Pope. The book concentrates on all of the British tankmen who took part in the Battle of Flers-Courcelette. From their recruitment, through their training, rapid deployment, experiences in action and those lucky enough to survive, the author has continued their stories until their final passing. With the help of official documents, newspaper reports at the time and support of their families, the author has compiled an outstanding piece of work.

The books 400 pages are broken down into a list of photographs, a list of maps, acknowledgements, 21 main chapters and five appendices which contain the first tank crew deaths (1916-1920), tank crews and their companies, ‘We improve our line’ by ‘Tankard’, order of the battle and the naming of tanks rounded off by a note on sources and the index. There are approximately 110 black and white photographs of generally good quality, 16 colour photographs of how the battlefield looks today and 16 high quality colour maps. A worthy tome to the memory of these brave men and an excellent insight into the early operational debut of the tank. Thanks to Tom Bonnington at Casemate for our review copy which is available from


ISBN: 978-1910777773

Price: approx £20

Pages: 400

Format: hardback – 250mm x 178mm

Publisher: Helion and Company