Wednesday 3 June 2020

Why do we name weapons?

Why do we name weapons?

On 15 September 1916, tanks were used in combat for the first time at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette. These early tanks were slow and unreliable, shown by the fact that only 25 of the 49 tanks deployed actually moved forward at the start of the attack. But more strangely, half of those 25 tanks were male and the other half were female. So why do tanks have genders and why do we name weapons at all?

More tanks

The first official photograph of a tank going into action at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, 15 September 1916
© IWM (Q 2488)
First World War
How Britain Invented The Tank In The First World War
The concept of a vehicle to provide troops with both mobile protection and firepower was not a new one. But in the First World War, the increasing availability of the internal combustion engine, armour plate and the continuous track, as well as the problem of trench warfare, combined to facilitate the production of the tank.
Infantry tank Mk I Matilda I (A11)
© IWM (KID 1081)
Second World War
Britain's Struggle To Build Effective Tanks During The Second World War
For much of the Second World War, the British Army was saddled with a succession of tanks that ranged from the bad to the barely adequate. Some were rushed into service too quickly and proved notoriously unreliable. Others spent too long in development, or only achieved a degree of usefulness after numerous modifications. Most lacked the armour to resist enemy anti-tank weapons, and nearly all were under-gunned.
The Battle of Flers Courcelette. The Mark I tank (D 17) surrounded by some of the infantry from 122nd Brigade whom it led into eastern part of Flers on 15 September 1916. Photograph taken on 17 September 1916.
First World War
Voices of the First World War: Tanks On The Somme
Episode 24: Since the onset of trench warfare, British military and political leaders had wanted to develop an armoured vehicle that could carry troops over the shell-holes and barbed wire-strewn battleground of the Western Front.