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Can you help date this photograph album – part 1 (Tank Parade)

William Oates from the University of New England and Regional Archives has sent us three photographs from their collection.  They come from the White Family of Saumerez and it is hoped that by getting some dating information about them it will help to date the broader collection. Some photographs from this collection have also been featured in an earlier post.

This “Can you date?”post is also a bit of an experiement, we will be splitting it into three parts to allow one post per photograph so feel free to let us know what you think about that as well!

“Of particular interest is the parade of the early model tank in the streets of Armidale. I suspect this is a mock model photographed before the end of the war.  If so this is within a year of the tank being a hugh military secret. Could it be something from the peace celebrations of 1919? Is it a time even later than 1919?”

15 July 2010 Edited to add:

– William Oates has supplied two more images of the Tank Parade that may be useful.

Can you help date this photograph album – part 2 (Nurse Photographers)

Can you help date this photograph album – part 3 (Ebor Hotel)

  • Robert Mills says:

    It could date from near the end of the war when mock up tanks were used for fundraising or recruitment purposes. A similar event occurred in Bondi Junction c1917.

    July 12, 2010 at 10:07 am
  • Robert Mills says:

    On second thoughts the banner reading ‘Do it now ‘ strongly suggests that recruitment is the reason.

    July 12, 2010 at 10:08 am
  • Robert Mills says:

    Tanks were first used in combat around September 1916 on the Western front. So this image probably dates to 1917-1918.

    July 12, 2010 at 10:14 am
  • Iain Stuart says:

    This is a Female tank – Mark IV which was never issued to Australian forces. I would suggest that this is a picture of the British Mark IV sent to Australia to take part in War Bond Rallied in 1918 mentioned in Paul Handel’s history of Australian AFV’s “Dust, Sand and Jungle.

    No doubt further information could be extracted from the AWM or from Paul at the Army Tank Museum.


    July 12, 2010 at 1:09 pm
  • Gordon Smith says:

    The reverse of the “Do it now” sign says something like “Invest in War Loan” which support the Bonds theory.

    July 12, 2010 at 5:52 pm
  • Melissa says:

    The other side of the banner appears to say “Invest in a War Loan”, which then ties in quite well with the “Do It Now” message. This also corresponds with the comment by Iain about the Mark IV tank being used in Australia for the War Bond Rallies in 1918.

    In order to get the specific date of the picture, I would think that the parade would have made it into the Armidale Express newspaper sometime in 1918.

    Interestingly, the photo appears to have been taken from the Imperial Hotel (based on the Court House location). Judging by the shadows, it was likely taken in early-mid afternoon. However, as indicated by William’s earlier post regarding “using shadows to date photographs”, a more precise time of the day can always be determined.

    July 12, 2010 at 6:54 pm
  • beachcomberaustralia says:

    “TANK WEEK Fight for War Bonds” April 3-10, 1918 –

    July 12, 2010 at 7:16 pm
  • Robert Mills says:

    Close inspection of the shadow in front of the ‘tank’ shows that the track does not appear to be in contact with the ground. There is no track impression in the main street (tanks weighed about 30 tons) behind the vehicle and no dust is present in the air.

    The 4 circular holes punched into the front plates (just above the glacis) are disturbingly large for a vehicle meant to protect its occupants against small arms fire and shrapnel. Also the track seems to lack the appropriate definition/shape for the real machine – its just composed of flat featureless ‘plates’. All of which suggests that the vehicle is a mock up and not the real deal.

    Yes the ‘tank’ is modelled on the British female type with machine guns – not cannon.

    Moving a real tank around NSW towns in that era would require use of the railway system. An accurate mock up could be driven around at will on the dirt roads.

    July 13, 2010 at 10:01 am
  • Iain Stuart says:

    Actually on closer inspection the whole front of the tank looks odd in comparison with the preserved Mark IV’s.

    Of course asking an expert at the AWM or the Army Tank Museum would no doubt nail it down.

    It should be remembered that railways were used to moving heavy objects like tanks and dirt roads often were found wanting even for light vehicles such as cars.


    July 13, 2010 at 3:52 pm
  • Jenny says:

    By WW1 there well and truly existed both the expertise and flair for building on horse drawn vehicles some amazing mock-ups of buildings, statues and oversized advertising models eg. huge beer barrels, for parades and publicity. This was carried over quite quickly on to motor cars and trucks so that vehicles adapted for both short and long term use were not all that uncommon, in fact early cars and truck chassis lent themselves relatively easily to customised coachwork – trains, planes and ships often being built on to motor vehicles.

    SMH April 17 1918. Campbeltown. “The war loan tank visited here yesterday. It was scheduled to arrive at noon but owing to heavy rain the previous night and also in the moring parts of the road were very bad which delayed progress.”
    Melbourne Argus 1918 TANK WEEK CAMPAIGN Successful Opening. “Slowly moving along Swanston Street a “tank” constructed as closely as possible to the model of those used on the battlefields of France attracted considerable attention.”
    photo at 18 April 1918 “residents of Harden and district, NSW, gather outside the Mechanic Institute’s Public Hall to hear speeches for a war bonds drive. Identified from left, standing on a replica Mark IV tank, used as a prop to support the drive”
    photo at shows another mock-up tank in Brisbane as does for South Australia.

    July 14, 2010 at 1:26 pm
  • Fiona Sullivan says:

    Some great detective work in this post! William Oates at UNERA has supplied two more images from the Tank Parade which I have edited in above.

    July 15, 2010 at 12:29 pm
  • William Oates says:

    Thank everybody for the additional references and suggestions so far. We are working through these leads to confirm a date.

    There are two rounds of War Bonds in 1918, the first in April and the second in September. Our photographic expert, volunteer Mick Reed are reviewed the Armidale Express and the Armidale Chronicle without finding enough information to confirm either date. Both are possible.
    Also interesting, is the examination of shadows in the photo. There is no doubt that it is about 3.00pm on the day in question but Mick reports that the caculation of the vanishing point of the photo required for using the shadows for dating has been made more time consuming by the cropping of the original image.
    With more work reviewing the alignment of the buildings, this point in the photo can be determined.
    Shadow dating also relies on other techniques to pick the right date from the list of possible dates generated from the mathematics.

    July 15, 2010 at 1:36 pm
  • Julie Morgan says:

    I have located the following articles in the Sydney Morning Herald – Thursday 26 Sept 1918 Page 8
    “War Loan – Success of Tank Tours” article about country tour of “sunset” the tank and the amounts they were raising for each town.

    Earlier article in SMH – Wed 13 March 1918 Page 10 “Tank Week – Fight for War Bonds”.

    SMH – Monday 7 Oct 1918 Page 4 ” War Loan” The tanks are doing splendid work in the country districts. ” Southern Cross” which is touring the south…..”Sunset” which is going through the west….”Northern Star” which is invading the north.

    I also think that the local papers would have had covered such a major parade which would give an accurate date.

    August 5, 2010 at 2:25 pm
  • Melissa says:

    Interestingly, the SMH of 10 April 1918 indicated that Armidale’s contribution to the War Loan Fund had reached £150,500 (page 12). A subsequent SMH article on 6 May 1918 (“Armidale Welcomes Troops”) indicates that Armidale had subscribed £237,000 to the ‘last War Loan’ (which would have been the 6th as the September War Loan period was the 7th).

    August 10, 2010 at 8:43 am
  • Fiona Sullivan says:

    @Julie Morgan Thanks for the extra information about the “Tank Tours”. I wonder if the tank in this photo has a name. If the photo was taken in September it is most likely “Northern Star”. Your idea about local papers is a good one. William Oates and the staff at UNE heritage Centre have tracked down a reference to the Tank Tour in a Glenn Innes newspaper and a reader who dropped in for a visit mentioned seeing an article in a Parkes newspaper.

    @Melissa Until you pointed it out I hadn’t realised how vast the sums of money involved were! That is one very financially productive tank.

    August 10, 2010 at 10:07 am
  • R Robinson says:

    The arrival of a real Mk IV tank in Australia (with an Australian crew) in 1918 for use in war loan fund raising events (for examply at Unley) sparked off many similar events across the country using dummy tanks such as this. I have so far identified six such ‘tanks’. The original tank survives in the Australian War Memorial Museum as Grit

    September 1, 2010 at 9:08 pm