The Mystery of the Tank that came back from the War

Originally published: September 2014

Investigations have revealed that a famous Lincoln tank is not quite what it seems. For more than 30 years, the tank has taken pride of place at the Museum of Lincolnshire Life, loaned by Bovington Tank Museum to honour the city’s role in the invention of the machine. 

During that time, it was believed to be Flirt II, a tank that had been damaged during the war in France, captured by the Germans, taken to Belgium for propaganda reasons and then never seen again until she reappeared at Bovington. However, late last year, evidence came to light suggesting it was in fact a different Mark IV Female tank that had returned. Sara Basquill, collections access officer, said: “Last November, we were doing some filming of the tank for our new digital tour guides. “During the shoot, a partial serial number was found inside by Richard Pullen, Chairman of the Friends of the Lincoln Tank. “That proved that the tank we all thought was Flirt was, in fact, a different one.” Interestingly, this find supported a theory proposed just a month earlier by tank historian Gwyn Evans. 

Gwyn said: “The evidence is that Flirt is, in fact, tank number 2743, which was possibly known as ‘Daphne’ and saw service in France with 12th Company, D Battalion of the Tank Corps in August 1917 “After the war, it was presented to the city of Gloucester and stood in Gloucester Park until the 1940s. Later, it arrived at the Royal Armoured Corps Centre at Bovington Camp, Dorset, where it became one of the first exhibits of the Tank Museum

“There are still gaps in the knowledge of this tank though, so I’m continuing my research. “I’d be pleased to hear from anyone who may have information or photographs of this tank from any stage in its history, and I’m especially keen to locate its logbook, which I believe was still inside the tank when it arrived in Gloucester in 1919. “I’m also interested in speaking to people who worked on the tank when it was restored at Ruston Gas Turbines in Lincoln. “Once we know more about its history, we’ll share the details with the public.” Gwyn may be contacted through either the Tank Museum or the Museum of Lincolnshire Life.